Thanksgiving is the only time many Philadelphians cook a turkey or make gravy and pumpkin pie. Market stands like Keven Parker’s, The Original Turkey and the Dutch Eating Place, by contrast, make such foods every day.
On the eve of America’s biggest cooking holiday, we asked these Market experts for some tips on tackling this meal (from setting the table to serving dessert), as well as information on ready-to-serve or -use Market products that can help if you’d rather not do it all yourself.
Use napkins spread out in a diamond shape instead of placemats to show off a nice wooden dining table. And/or give everyone at the table a different-colored napkin — “both as a conversation-starter and so that it will be easy for them to find their place when they come back to the table for dessert,” says Laura DiFrancesco, whose Contessa’s French Linens stand has plenty of napkins as well as tablecloths, towels and laminated bread baskets perfect for Thanksgiving.
“Keep the wine light,” is Dallas Drummond of Blue Mountain Winery‘s advice about the wine to serve with a heavy meal like Thanksgiving. That means Beaujolais Nouveau or pinot noir for a red, and a fruity riesling or vidal blanc white “to cut through all the flavors of the food.” Various vintages of Blue Mountain’s Riesling and pinot noir have both been award-winners in state and regional wine competitions.
Cooking the bird needn’t be complicated, at least not if you do it the way the Dutch Eating Place does to make their hot and cold turkey sandwiches. “Sprinkle the turkey with seasoning salt and put water in the bottom of the pan. Cook for about two hours,” says Dutch Eating Place’s Ruth Ann Lapp of their 5-pounders. Lapp double-checks for doneness by inserting a knife in the middle and making sure nothing looks red. What could be simpler? Only stopping by the Dutch Eating Place on Wednesday before 3 p.m. and taking out a hot turkey sandwich platter and an apple dumpling to eat on Turkey Day.
Dean Frankenfield of Godshall’s Poultry has important information for purchasers of the fresh turkeys that he sells and so many Thanksgiving dinner hosts now favor. “They cook a lot faster than even a completely defrosted frozen turkey, faster than a lot of people expect,” he says. Should you find yourself thusly surprised, “Don’t panic,” Dean says. “Just foil it and let it sit while you work on the rest of the meal. It will be fine.” Don’t want to deal with the whole cooking-turkey adventure? Godshall’s is one of several Market merchants that sells fully cooked whole smoked turkeys and/or turkey parts that only require reheating.
Marion “Tootsie” D’Ambrosio of Tootsie’s Salad Express offers this easy and potentially more healthful alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving candied sweet potato casserole. “Peel and chunk some sweet potatoes. Add butter, cinnamon, vanilla and white sugar — as much or as little as you want. Place in a shallow baking pan, cover with foil, put it in a medium oven and forget about it for an hour,” says D’Ambrosio, whose catering menu includes half and full trays of sweets as well as mashed potatoes, collards, stuffing, mac and cheese, string beans, even sliced roast turkey with gravy. In the generous spirit of the holiday, Tootsie is also offering seniors dual-serving-sized cups of sweet and mashed potatoes, collards or gravy for just $1 each (although like all her Thanksgiving items, these must be ordered in advance).
Is mac and cheese a tradition on your Thanksgiving table? Alex Jones of the Fair Food Farmstand makes cauliflower cheese instead. Just blanch the veggie’s florets in some boiling water, place in a casserole dish and cover with heavy cream, shredded Gruyere or cheddar cheese and bread crumbs, and bake in a medium oven until the cauliflower is tender. The Farmstand even sells some orange-hued cauliflower you can use to make the dish look more mac-and-cheese-like. The stand’s no-work offerings include cheese, jam and crackers (served together as a light appetizer), Wild Flour Bakery drunken apple pie and pumpkin eclairs (preordered by this Friday, Nov. 22) and frozen desserts from Little Baby’s Ice Cream and Weckerly’s in holiday-appropriate flavors like sweet potato burnt marshmallow and apple cider.
Is your Thanksgiving gravy usually greasy? Amy Podolsky of Amy’s Place recommends using a gravy separator. “You pour the turkey pan drippings in it and it separates out the fat. Just add a thickener and some seasoning.” Podolsky also carries pie birds (to keep your pie crusts from cracking and their fillings from dripping), granite slabs with chalk to serve and identify cheese, and rack roasting stands, to keep the bird’s bottom dry, among many other Thanksgiving meal helpers.
Roger Bassett of The Original Turkey also has a gravy idea. “Stuff the turkey with vegetables like celery, onions, carrots and fresh herbs. Then after the turkey is cooked, take the vegetable stuffing out and smash it, strain it and add it to the pan drippings to up the flavor of your gravy” — gravy being one of many Thanksgiving dinner items Bassett provides as part of The Original Turkey’s Thanksgiving catering packages (detailed at www.theoriginalturkey.com), if you’re feeling lazy.
Beiler’s Bakery makes the crusts for their pies with vegetable shortening, flour, salt, cornstarch, sugar and precisely the right amount of water. “Make sure the dough is not too sticky,” advises Kevin Beiler. “It shouldn’t stick to your hands. If it does, add more flour.” Or else just buy slices, or half or whole already-made pecan, pumpkin or apple pie from Beiler’s or another Market bakery.
A guest at someone else’s table? On a communal occasion like Thanksgiving, Pennsylvania General Store manager Josh Wolf recommends bringing “something everyone can eat” that also is not likely to duplicate what the host has already planned — his stand’s “Goody Trays” of candy and cookies or a box or tin full of chocolate-covered pretzels, for instance.
Carolyn Wyman is the Market’s news correspondent and operator of the Reading Terminal’s bi-weekly Taste of Philadelphia Food Tour. Posted on 11.18.13
Will Eagles veterans catch on to Chip Kelly’s high-octane offensive game play? Will Michael Vick learn how to hang onto the ball? Will the defense keep Vick off the disabled list?
Reading Terminal Market is not the place to get the best answers to those questions. But it is the perfect place to go if you plan on partying in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field before an Eagles game or plan to tailgate at any other local college or high school football game.
Here are some ideas for sourcing your next tailgate party at the Market — most, more interesting than what’s available at your local supermarket — listed by meal part, whether you want to put the raw ingredients together yourself or not.
Warm-Up (appetizers/snacks): Cider or other doughnuts from Beiler’s; pumpkin coffee cake from Termini Brothers Bakery; fresh pretzels from Miller’s Twist or the Pennsylvania General Store; hard pretzels, potato chips or other bagged snacks from Pennsylvania General Store or Jonathan Best; pierogis from Franks-A-Lot; Cajun-spiced cooked shrimp from Golden Fish and John Yi Fish Market; Cajun crab, hot jalapeno, horseradish or Buffalo Blue cheese dip from Riehl’s paired with crackers from Jonathan Best; bruschetta from Mezze; multigrain or spelt bread from Metropolitan or olive, garlic and cilantro or oatmeal sesame bread from the Market Bakery dipped in Tuscan herb olive oil from the Tubby Olive; bacon and cream cheese “jalapeno skewers” from L. Halteman; stromboli (cut into appetizer-size pieces) from By George’s; hummus from Kamal’s, Border Springs Lamb Farm or Jonathan Best; miniature spinach and cheese pies from Kamal’s Middle Eastern and Olympia Gyro; deviled eggs from Beiler’s; dare-worthy pickled jalapeno or Buffalo eggs from Kauffman’s; crackers and cheese from Downtown Cheese, Valley Shepherd Creamery, Salumeria or L. Halteman’s; meatballs from By George’s, Beiler’s or Tootsie’s Salad Express. Or get mini crab cakes from John Yi’s and cook them yourself.
Mains: Baby back ribs from The Rib Stand, barbecued chicken from Dienner’s or Franks A-Lot or fried chicken from Keven Parker’s Soul Food Cafe; smoked turkey parts from L. Halteman, Martin’s, Godshall’s or Giunta’s; cut-up hoagies from Carmen’s, Salumeria or Spataro’s; corned beef from Hershel’s or turkey sandwiches from The Original Turkey; muffuletta’s from Beck’s Cajun Cafe; lasagna, eggplant or chicken parmigiana or baked ziti with chicken or beef from By George’s; quarts of chili to-go from the Dutch Eating Place; kielbasa & sauerkraut, or sausage, peppers and onions from Tootsie’s Salad Express; jambalaya or gumbo from Beck’s; Hungarian goulash or sauerbraten (i.e. pot roast) from Wursthaus Schmitz; or a whole roasted pig (definitely ordered ahead) from Martin’s or Wursthaus Schmitz.
Do-it-yourselfers might want to buy 10-pepper- or portabella-mushroom-and-smoked-gouda-spiked burger patties from L. Halteman; flavored sausage grillers from Smucker’s, L. Halteman, Martin’s or Wursthaus Schmitz (offbeat flavors at Martin’s include chicken sausage with apricot and jalapeno; Wursthaus actually offers a tailgate-perfect grilling package of sausages and salads); one of a number of Steven Raichlen grilling books stocked at The Cookbook Stall; luncheon meat from Hatville Deli, Salumeria or L. Halteman or Buffalo chicken salad from Beiler’s placed on bread from Metropolitan Bakery or the Market Bakery or tortillas from 12th Street Cantina; steaks from any Market butcher marinated in dark espresso balsamic vinegar from the Tubby Olive or fish from any Market fishmonger soaked in blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar from Tubby; beef ribs from any Market butcher (or lamb Denver ribs from Border Springs or turkey ones, cut from thigh meat) dressed in barbecue or jerk sauces or rubbed with spices from Jonathan Best and the Head Nut.
Sideline Action: Big fried mac and cheese balls from Beck’s Cajun Cafe; Pasta salad from By George’s or Mezze; ketchup or relishes (hot dog, onion, even zucchini) from Kauffman’s; mac and cheese from The Rib Stand; baked lima beans, smackaroni (a potato salad/mac and cheese blend) or broccoli and cauliflower salad from Beiler’s; black bean (among many other) salads or baked ziti from Tootsie’s Salad Express; roasted vegetables with Parmesan cheese or Italian potato salad (with green beans) from Salumeria; or squash-zucchini, spinach or lentils from Nanee’s Kitchen.
Pre-Game Wrap-Up (Desserts): Trays of banana, rice or bread pudding from Beiler’s; Guinness stout or almond polenta cake from Metropolitan Bakery; Jewish apple cake from Termini Bakery or Hershel’s; impressive, pie-stuffed Pumpple cake, spice cupcakes or pumpkin chai whoopie pies from Flying Monkey Bakery; shoefly, egg custard and whoopie pies, or pumpkin rolls (with cream cheese filling) from Beiler’s; cookies from Famous 4th Street or Hope’s (via the Pennsylvania General Store), banana split cake (featuring bananas and pineapple) from Tootsie’s Salad Express; baklava from Olympia Gyros; chocolate praline brownies or bread pudding with bourbon sauce from Beck’s.
Posted on 09.26.13
Note: Although most of these items are on the merchants’ regular menus, it’s wise to call ahead to make the food you’re interested in is in stock. Pre-ordering is essential for a gathering larger than 10.
Carolyn Wyman is the Market’s news correspondent and operator of the Reading Terminal’s bi-weekly Taste of Philadelphia Food Tour.
How did you discover your favorite dishes in the Market? Your own explorations? Advice from friends? A Yelp search? One other common way, especially for people who aren’t able to get to the Market that often, is reading Philadelphia Magazine’s annual Best of Philly issue, highlighting the best things to see, do and eat in Greater Philadelphia, including at the Market.
In the 40 years since the magazine has begun bestowing these prizes, Reading Terminal Market and its merchants have been honored more than 85 times for more than 50 different dishes.
That makes Reading Terminal Market “most likely … the address with the most Best of Philly awards,” allows Philadelphia Magazine brand editor Ashley Primis, cautiously. There is little doubt that the Market is the nexus for the most Best of Philly food awards. On July 27 and 31 at 2 p.m., a dozen of these Best of Philly award-winning Market stands will be the focus of a special food tour and tasting, one of 40 events being held in Greater Philly during the next few weeks celebrating Best of Philly’s milestone 40th year.
Famous 4th Street Cookies and Termini Bakery are tied for most Best of Philly awards, at 11 each — although these awards – and Metropolitan Bakery’s 9 wins — were for their baked good at all locations, not just at the Market. Bassetts Ice Cream got the most nods for a Market-only business at 8 – though if you filter out the two awards for turkey sandwiches before that part of their business was spun off into the Original Turkey Stand, they’re tied with Salumeria and the Market itself, with six awards each.
Salumeria was honored most often for its Italian hoagie, which also placed high in WIP radio host Glen Macnow’s 2009 hoagie “challenge.” Among the other usual Market suspects to win Best of Phillys: DiNic’s roast pork sandwich, Dutch Eating Place’s breakfast, Miller’s Twist’s pretzels, Down Home Diner’s meatloaf and Dienner’s chicken.
More surprising, perhaps, in a city (and a Market) awash in wonderful cheesesteaks and hoagies was Beck’s Cajun Cafe’s 2011 win for best sandwiches (“the authentic Muffulettas and Po’Boys have stolen our love,” the judges gushed) and Termini’s 1993 award for Religious Experience (though we do understand what they mean).
How does Philadelphia magazine decide on the prizes?
In the early days, shops were asked to deliver their food to the magazine’s office for a taste-off. Today they are mainly staff picks informed by year-round reporting. Writers and editors submit their list of favorites in various categories, the lists are compiled and the internal lobbying begins. In-dispute awards are resolved by anonymous staff visits and also, in the past few years, at public tastings of the finalists. (Salumeria, Chocolate by Mueller and Famous 4th Street all recently participated in taste-offs for 2013 Best of Philly awards in the hoagie, candy and cookie categories, respectively).
This week for the first time the public will also get a one-stop chance to judge the judging of Best of Philly’s past during a special tour and tasting. It’s an afternoon variation on the Market’s regular bi-weekly Taste of Philly food history tour that will include bites of more than a dozen Best of Philly award-winning dishes. Tour-goers will get to try bites of Miller’s pretzels, Beiler’s whoopie pies, Termini cannolis, Fair Food Farmstand produce, 12th Street Cantina’s guacamole, Beck’s Train Wreck Po’ Boy, Salumeria’s Italian hoagies, Bassetts Ice Cream, Famous 4th Street Cookie’s chocolate chip cookies, Downtown Cheese’s cheese, Metropolitan’s bread, Pennsylvania General Store’s chocolate-covered potato chips and Chocolate by Mueller’s nonpareils, among other treats. They’ll also learn how whoopie pies got that wacky name, what flavor Bassetts was favored by Barbra Streisand and why a 12th Street Market cookie stand has Fourth Street in its name, among many other things.
Best of Philly Magazine Market Tour and Tasting, offered at 2 p.m., Sat., July 27 and again at 2 p.m., Wed., July 31, $19 adults, $13 kids, leaves from the Market Information Desk, 12th and Filbert sts., 215-545-8007 (information) or 800-838-3006 (reservations), www.tasteofphillyfoodtour.com.
Carolyn Wyman is the Market’s news correspondent and author of The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book (Running Press).
Posted on 07.23.13