There's something about cranberry sauce—straight from the can—that makes a Thanksgiving dinner. It might be that slurping sound as the stuff slowly slides out of the can, or maybe it's that squishy feel and the tart taste of the first bite. Whatever the reason, it's good.
While canned cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving dinner staple, let's not forget that headliner—turkey!—and the rest of the fixings. Preparing a Thanksgiving feast is not an easy thing to do; those tasked with this duty have to go pick the right bird and assemble all of the side dishes—while remembering to give thanks in the process. Unfortunately, that cranberry sauce is the easiest part of the meal to prepare. After all, there isn't yet an iPhone app for making holiday dinners.
While waiting for that iPhone app to be introduced, you can head to the Oro Valley Farmers' Market, which this Saturday is having a special afternoon market, including a Thanksgiving FEASTable.
The event will include dinner ideas—offered alongside the fresh and local ingredients—to help you prepare for the big day. Tucson's 2009 Iron Chef champion, Ramiro Scavo, will be there to demonstrate some of those fine ideas.
Scavo is the corporate chef and a co-owner of the MaRKeT Restaurant Group. He organizes and oversees the menus at Zona 78 and the company's newest venture, Harvest, on the northwest side of town. Scavo also manages Hacienda del Sol.
"My passion is local and organic fruit, vegetables and livestock," Scavo says about what goes into his cooking.
At the Thanksgiving FEASTable, he will prepare fun, traditional favorites—with his own twist.
Before starting the demonstration, Scavo will get his ingredients from the farmers' market.
"I like to walk around, pick fruits and vegetables, and talk to people," he says. "I'll bring my own organic raised turkey." Available items that he may select include winter squash, pomegranates, pumpkins, lettuces and spinach.
Scavo likes to get his livestock from local farms and ranches; that way, he can see how the animals are raised. Places in Oracle and Sahuarita are his favorite.
So ... how does an Iron Chef cook a turkey?
"I'll put it on the grill, keep it covered and add woodchips," he says. "You don't have to watch it as much; I can cook other items."
While the turkey is on the grill, Scavo will show everyone how to prepare hors d'oeuvres. Chef Colin King from Harvest Restaurant will be cooking, too.
King says one of the side dishes they'll make is cranberry chutney, done two ways.
"We'll do the more traditional sweet-and-sour, and then a more Southwestern twist," says King, "with habaneros to make it a little more spicy."
"We'll describe what we're doing when we're making the dishes," King adds. "We'll also have some pre-made, pre-jarred stuff, too."
Scavo and King each bring unique backgrounds into the kitchen. Neither attended formal cooking school; however, they've both worked in restaurants since they were teenagers.
King recently returned from France, staging, or interning, with chefs there. He also reported for a newspaper, but chose the kitchen instead. "It's a little more exciting," he says.
Scavo was raised in an Italian and Mexican home, where his parents and grandparents were all excellent cooks, he says. "The table was a respected place growing up," says Scavo. "I use my family as inspiration and put a piece of my life on menus."
Both chefs will be adding—and combining—their personal styles while preparing turkey and stuffing. But beyond that, what's a traditional item that they like to serve at their own dinners?
"I always make a soup," says Scavo. "Butternut squash or pumpkin soup."
"I like stuffing, regular stuffing," says King.
After the demonstration, you can purchase holiday pies, baked goods and even breads and tortillas to add to your dinner.