18 Nov2009


The concept of a Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate the bountiful harvest of the past summer and to give thanks for all the good things in life before the hard cold winter sets in is something I have always enjoyed. Of course it also happens to have become a major food holiday so that can’t hurt either. But if you’ve lived in New England and can empathize with the early English settlers in the region some 400 years ago, and the harsh winters they endured, it’s easier to appreciate the underpinnings of the holiday. When we first moved back to Manila, we used to have a Thanksgiving dinner every year, complete with turkey and and several side dishes. But in the last few years, we have skipped the holiday due to other commitments, or scaled it back a bit. Last year, we had what I will call a “Mock Thanksgiving Dinner”…


Instead of a turkey, we had a medium sized capon, at say 3-4 kilos that we roasted with butter and herbs. It was good for about 6 persons and had a nicely golden skin and moist meat. The capon was roasted on a rack over several root vegetables like potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs.


We also served a cranberry relish as a side dish to approximate the normal Thanksgiving menu, and for greens we did some french beans with bacon and roasted chestnuts.


If you wanted a variation on the roasted root vegetables, roughly mash them all together to get this colorful and chunky mash. Add some gravy to your sliced chicken and for less money and a lot less time in the kitchen, you can still enjoy the essence of the holiday with just slight alterations to the typical menu. Oh, and we threw in a pumpkin pie just to finish this off on a really traditional note. Minus the pumpkin pie and cranberry relish, this could also very well just be a nice meal at any other time of the year. I hope those of you in North America are gearing up for your own Thanksgiving celebrations next week… Happy Cooking!




  1. bagito says:

    Thanks, MM! Not only happy cooking but happy eating to us, too!!

    Nov 18, 2009 | 1:07 pm


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  3. botchok says:

    It’s hard to find a capon here, where did you buy it MM? I love the juicyness of a capon. Looking forward to thanksgiving dinner, i’m excited na.

    Nov 18, 2009 | 2:11 pm

  4. Marketman says:

    botchok, you are right, capons are VERY hard to find these days, apparently it doesn’t make financial sense to feed them till they get really large, only to sell them at retail chicken prices… this one came from a family friend that raises just a few and sells them to acquaintances… and supplies are totally erratic and seasonal. :(

    Nov 18, 2009 | 2:29 pm

  5. terrey says:

    is thanksgiving tomorrow or thursday next week? what’s a capon?

    Nov 18, 2009 | 2:36 pm

  6. Marketman says:

    terrey, thursday next week. It is always on the 4th Thursday of November in the U.S. A capon is a castrated cock, I mean rooster, and it is fattened up so basically it is a really big chicken…

    Nov 18, 2009 | 2:39 pm

  7. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    MM!!! hahahahaha….”a castrasted cock”….you are hilarious!!!

    Levity aside, while living in the states, we also started a tradition (in my family) of calling up everyone (on thanksgiving day) who help us one way or another and thank them for their deed.

    About the only thing I hated about thanksgiving (in the states) was making them pumpkin pies. I was always assigned to baked them on thanksgiving day at the bakery I used to work in. I would be baking over 200 pies the whole day.

    Hmmmm, I wonder if we can find them capons here in Cebu. It would be nice to roast one of them this thursday. Hey Wahini and Susie B, do you have a source?

    Nov 18, 2009 | 2:52 pm

  8. fried-neurons says:

    Thanksgiving is the one time of year when I cook an entire multi-course meal. Nobody in my family likes turkey, so I always make a standing rib roast as the centerpiece of the meal. This year, I haven’t decided on the rest of the menu yet. I’ve called the butcher to reserve my roast, but other than that (and green bean casserole, which I absolutely love during the holidays) I still haven’t decided what to serve. Toying with the idea of serving the Arpège eggs that I had at Manresa but not committed yet. It’s a good thing I’m taking the entire week off!

    Nov 18, 2009 | 3:35 pm

  9. The Artist Chef says:

    Wow! Here in Vietnam, surprisingly I will celebrate my first Thanks giving dinner. Since I am an expat working here and met a lot of foreign dudes, I am excited to prepare my first in this life. Any tips how to do it Market Man?

    And by the way have you tried goose in replacement for Turkey? :p

    Nov 18, 2009 | 4:52 pm

  10. sister says:

    If you want to approximate what the Pilgrims and Indians possibly ate, since there is no written record, you might want to think along the lines of oysters, clams, eel, cod, venison, swan, duck all boiled or roasted over an open fire. No hams then,or pies, and possibly not even a lot of turkey.
    Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday because anyone and everyone can celebrate it with whatever meal or company they choose and every family has it’s favorite dishes. Nothing like making the same menu year after year, luckily only once a year!
    Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are!

    Nov 18, 2009 | 5:13 pm

  11. Susie says:

    Sister, I am with you…Thanksgiving IS a wonderful holiday. My multicultural family has celebrated it every place in the world that we have lived. My British husband is just glad for the excuse to have turkey!
    Artisan, I will send you the telephone number of someone in Cebu who supplies free range poultry. I just have to dig around for it. Remind me! He might just be able to supply you with a capon!

    Nov 18, 2009 | 6:05 pm

  12. Sam says:

    Hello, MM! nice touch with this post as I finalize the goodies I have to slave over on Thursday. This year’s theme on the invites I sent out to dinner guests was: “WTF’s: A Fun, Fab Feast on Thanksgiving!”, a humorous riff on the celebratory vibe of a late fall gathering for about 20 closest friends who have no families to visit at this time of the year, :D!!!! The guest list is atypical, including my loved one and mum-in-law, from as far as Tahiti, London, Madrid, Mexico, Tehran, Finland, and God knows where else this year. Never mind that I only have a table for six. 20 wandering souls have been trooping to celebrate a very unique American tradition with me and love it, returning each year, like birds ending their migratory flight.This time, I bumped it up and asked each guest to bring in foods that evoke their sense of fun celebration. I tried to stay clear and defer, but I was asked to do lechon this year, to grace the table with the traditional turkey (and of course, the requisite lumpia Shanghai, which I did not roll myself, but ordered,LOL!!) I do not have a roasting pit for the humongous lechon. Thankfully, I found a supplier of nicely butchered pigs prepped and ready for roasting ,and successfully hunted down an authentic and much in demand Pinoy lechon roaster. When Thursday comes around, I will toast you for the inspiration you have given me, after reading all your posts over the course of five years!!!. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I share with you my deepest appreciation for everything you have shared. Thank you for your generosity and wish you a great holiday in your part of this wonderful planet. Salamat!

    Nov 18, 2009 | 6:28 pm

  13. Connie C says:

    I also take this occasion to say many thanks to you MM for the joy of reading your posts every morning in my retirement years.

    And in two weeks, if my internet connection allows me, I shall be commenting from Puerto Princesa, perhaps my computer will locate me in the ‘Pins then.

    And if I get a chance to be in Salcedo market sometime, I shall be on the look out for a tall guy sporting a Panama hat, in a chartreuse shirt with real pearl buttons carrying a Moroccan French market basket….minus the talong of course. Don’t worry, I won’t ask for an autograph.

    Nov 18, 2009 | 7:54 pm

  14. leigh says:

    Any idea where we can get good pumpkin pie in Manila? I was thinking of bringing some home from NY last week, but my sked was so tight, didn’t get round to it. My sister tried to make some, but the only thing I can say about it is that it wasn’t one of her better efforts … by the way MM, I’m actually in Manila, not sure why I’m tagged as being in the US …

    Nov 18, 2009 | 7:58 pm

  15. millet says:

    i laughed myself silly over the “castrated cock”! i thought it was a result of the soap featured here a few days ago :-)

    when i was growing up, my dad managed a farm that included capons. most of them were as big as small turkeys, and my mom always made a huge rellenong capon for christmas.i remember capons were unanimously preferred over turkeys since the former are more tender and more flavorful. every year around this time, my mom and i wonder where we can get a couple of capons. magnolia sometimes has big chickens but they’re not that big, and are hard to come by.

    Nov 18, 2009 | 8:07 pm

  16. Rebecca says:

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. My husband’s grandmother is making pernil and yucca.

    Sam- what a lovely sentiment! It really captures the soul of Thanksgiving: loved ones and good food.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    Nov 18, 2009 | 8:50 pm

  17. noes says:

    I’m so glad that I’m not cooking this year for thanksgiving. My family and I is going over to a friend’s house. I’m gonna bring pumpkin pie.

    Nov 18, 2009 | 9:18 pm

  18. Nina says:

    Connie, I would love to hear your PP escapades as we’re planning to go to Palawan next year and just like you, I start my day with a cup of coffee and MM’s blog.

    Nov 18, 2009 | 9:54 pm

  19. Mari says:

    Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season…a time to be thankful for a lot of things. I especially thank MM for being so generous in sharing his love for food, recipes and his day to day life with everyone. And to all on the blog who shares all their ideas, recipes and links….thank you. It has been a rollercoaster ride for several years, but thankfully, this year has been calm.

    I usually look forward to Thanksgiving,trying to think of what appetizer/dessert to bring for the feast. But for the past 3 yrs of hosting the turkey in the BBQ…my husband and I decided to go away for a short break. I will still miss the food that we normally prepare and have mastered in such a short span… Yes, BBQ’d turkey…wild rice with sausage and chestnut stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, braised brussel sprouts with bacon, homemade cranberry & quince relish, pecan pie and pumpkin pie with cranberry topping…drooling now. And of course the meals that come after the big day…LEFTOVERS!!! Turkey panini with the stuffing, cranberry and gravy!!!! YUMM!

    To all: May you have a wonderful and festive holiday amidst your friends and family… and Happy Cooking! Happy Eating!!!!

    Nov 18, 2009 | 10:06 pm

  20. wahini says:

    hey artisan, i’ll trade you a pumpkin pie for a capon.

    come over next thursday. deep fried turkey with all the fixins!

    Nov 18, 2009 | 10:07 pm

  21. faithful reader says:

    Last year was the first time I made a Turducken (A deboned chicken stuffed inside a deboned duck then both stuffed inside a deboned turkey?. It turned out really good. I’ll probably be making that again for Thankgsgiving. Also doesn’t a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap cookie crust sound so good.

    Nov 18, 2009 | 11:02 pm

  22. Connie C says:

    Nina: I spend winter months in PP and will be there till April 2010. Let me know if you will be visiting anytime on the dates mentioned, maybe we can dine or have a fun fish market day together.

    Thanks MM for allowing the connection.

    Nov 19, 2009 | 12:06 am

  23. sunflowii says:

    just to round out the info (and since no one from my neck of the woods has commented here), Canada celebrates Thanksgiving more than a month earlier than the US. It is always on the second Monday of October. So this year, it was Oct 12. Canadians also celebrate with turkey but since I’m not fond of it, we always eat something else. And just like Sam, it’s friends with no extended family here that we celebrate with, only difference is, we all originated from Pinas. =)
    And unlike the US, we only get 1 day off work and we don’t have sales as huge as their “Black Friday”.

    Nov 19, 2009 | 12:29 am

  24. Nina says:

    MM, sorry for the digression! Connie, pls. e-mail me at nnyc67@yahoo.com so we can e-mail privately.

    Nov 19, 2009 | 12:55 am

  25. Vicky Go says:

    No one likes turkey (or chicken either) in my family except for my daughter. So we have 2 whole Peking ducks from Chinatown. I reheat in the oven at very high heat (start at 400 deg & jack it up to 450 deg for last 5-10 minutes) & re-glaze/baste skin w a mixture of hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sugar & honey on a rack in a roaster pan.
    We have it w rice of course, and for veggies, we have buttered sweet white/yellow shoe-peg corn kernels & baby peas (but I’ll serve roasted broccoli this time). I make yams/sweet potatoes baked w lots of butter, maple syrup & dark brown sugar & a little cinnamon. My sisters in law bring pies for dessert – apple or mixed berry pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie; but my favorite is a tart lemon meringue pie or key lime pie.

    Nov 19, 2009 | 3:02 am

  26. Vicky Go says:

    Has anybody posting here ever tried a “turducken” – a Southern specially that can be ordered for delivery (frozen – you’ll have to cook it yourself) – a stuffed hen, inside a duck, inside a turkey. I think down South, they deep-fry this but they send instructions for roasting when ordered. Have always wondered how this would taste ; also would the turkey end up too dry to ensure that both the duck & the hen are cooked through?
    Calvin Trillin (of Alice Let’s Eat & The Tummy Trilogy) once reported on this specialty in a previous New Yorker Food issue – but he went down South & ate it there at the place where it originated. He liked it, but I don’t think he recommended making it yourself.

    Nov 19, 2009 | 3:13 am

  27. junb says:

    Hi Vicky I saw something like this @ Food network. Cooking time is 13 hrs at 200 F so I guess everything will be nice and tender without drying the turkey. You may want to do a variation and insert a quail in the chicken hehehehe….Anyway I also saw also a lechon variation where a whole chicken is inserted in the lechon. The chicken taste heavenly as it slowly cooked in a pigs fat. I’m sure the chicken in the turkey will taste heavenly too as it is slowly cook in the turkey and duck fat….FAT FAT FAT :)

    Nov 19, 2009 | 4:19 am

  28. Weng says:

    Thanksgiving is that one great day I look forward to every year since we came here in Maryland. We are having our friends over to the house for Thanksgiving dinner. I do a lot the day before, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc. so its not that bad. Really the only thing I do the day of is a vegi., mac n cheese and the turkey. I guess I cheat a little, I buy my pies already made….hello to you, MM. I’m a constant reader of your posts.

    Nov 19, 2009 | 8:58 am

  29. Lava Bien says:

    Yup, Thanksgiving is one of our best holidays celebrated here and almost all my family get together, moreso than any other holidays. We make it non-religious (though our food is mostly kosher hehehehe), just some good food with the good company of friends and families. I can cook a killer Turkey, crisp on the outside and moist inside, been doing it for years.

    Just being thankful for all the blessings we could share….hoping to carry it with us when we settle back home.

    Nov 19, 2009 | 4:09 pm

  30. Lava Bien says:

    @ faithful reader,
    Pumpkin Cheesecake, best cheesecake ever!!!!! (beside mango cheesecake from Singapore) IMHO hehehehe.

    Nov 19, 2009 | 4:14 pm

  31. el_jefe says:

    ”Castrated cock”…Hwehehehehe!!! :=> MM…Ano pong herbs ang nilagay nyo sa “castrated cock”? Atsaka po doon sa roasted sweet potatoes and carrots?

    Nov 19, 2009 | 8:47 pm

  32. atbnorge says:

    This “mock Thanksgiving” menu can wait till Christmas Eve here. I would not want a large turkey on my table; just a small free-range chicken will do for me and my family. The last time we had turkey for Christmas Eve, it lasted up to Valentines day!

    Nov 19, 2009 | 9:02 pm

  33. kurzhaar says:

    Artist Chef, I am in a home that conmingles US/European traditions so we frequently feature roast goose for holiday meals.

    I have roasted the occasional turkey but only either a heritage bird from a local farm or (if lucky) a wild turkey. Most commercially raised turkeys aren’t worth the effort…or perhaps I should rephrase that and say it is VERY much worth the effort and forward planning to source a heritage bird that’s been pasture raised. After all this is supposed to be a special meal. :)

    The usual accompaniments to the goose include roasted brussels sprouts (usually with chestnuts, sometimes with cauliflower or Jerusalem artichokes) and roasted or mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, sometimes red cabbage, usually a cranberry and nut relish (not very sweet, we don’t share what seems to be a very common taste for highly sweetened foods). Neither are we fans of pumpkin pie or most (too sweet) pecan pies, so any pie is usually a fruit pie or more frequently an open faced fruit tart. More typically we have a cheese course with wine rather than a traditional dessert. Regardless, the meal is always festive and an occasion to review the cellar’s contents for a few special bottles. :)

    Nov 20, 2009 | 4:05 am

  34. ted says:

    @comment #18, #22, #24 , how about inside the turducken you would stuff a cornish hen, then quail, then pipit, that would be like the russian version of the “matryoshka” ;-) My made from scratch ham leg is happily hanging in my garage; will be part of the main dish for Thanksgiving dinner…I will be out and about starting tomorrow and next week so might not be lurking, so Happy Thanksgiving to ALL!!!

    Thank you Millet for your tip on the turboCrispyPata, it will be part of the main dish for Thanksgiving.

    Nov 20, 2009 | 6:56 am

  35. Lilibeth says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to Marketman and family and to the rest of the readers! I love Thanksgiving because I get to connect with relatives we don’t see the rest of the year plus all of the delicous food of course. I always bring desserts but my husband’s cousin (our host) makes one of the best turkeys and his secret is brining the turkey for days. I think I will try this out and do my own turkey for Christmas. I also love the yam casserole with pecan and brown sugar topping. Delish!

    Leigh: I have tried the pumpkin pie recipe at the back of the Libbys pumpkin can and it is deliciously creamy but following Marketman’s line of thinking on the leche flan, I will sub the evap milk with heavy cream this time and I’m sure it will even be better. I also use the cream cheese pie crust recipe. I suggest you bake your own because home made tastes better.

    faithful reader: Pumpkin cheesecake is so delicious! I have a recipe that has gotten rave reviews from my family. Here it is in case you want to try it out:


    (Preheat oven to 350o )

    For crust:
    1 cup pecans (about 4 oz.)
    1 cup graham cracker crumbs
    2 tbsp. sugar
    5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

    For filling:
    4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
    1¼ cup sugar
    ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
    ¼ tsp. ground ginger
    1 15-oz. can solid pack pumpkin
    3 large eggs
    1 tbsp. vanilla extract

    Make crust:
    Blend first 3 ingredients in processor until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter; process until moist crumbs form. Press onto bottom and 1-inch up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2¾-inch-high sides. Bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Cool. Wrap outside of pan with a double thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

    Make filling:

    Using electric mixer, beat first 4 ingredients in large bowl until smooth. Add pumpkin; beat until blended. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until smooth. Transfer to crust. Set in roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come 1 inch up sides of springform pan.

    Bake cake until top is golden and begins to crack an center is set, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove from roasting pan. Cool. Chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.)

    Serves 10-12.

    Nov 20, 2009 | 11:54 am

  36. Lilibeth says:

    Leigh: I would like to add, you can find the cream cheese pie crust recipe on epicurious.com and if you can’t get hold of a Libbys pumpkin, just google search it. Happy eating!

    Nov 20, 2009 | 11:57 am

  37. leigh says:

    Thanks, Lilibeth!

    Nov 20, 2009 | 1:11 pm

  38. Faithful reader, United States says:

    Thanks Lilibeth. Instead of the gramham cracker crust I think I’ll use ginger snap cookies.

    Nov 24, 2009 | 11:45 pm

  39. Didi says:

    Been wanting to try making a turkey – but it’s just too much for 4 people!!
    Is there such a thing as a midget turkey??

    Happy thanksgiving!! :)

    (I really want to have a thanksgiving dinner!!! aaaaaaak!!)

    Nov 25, 2009 | 2:30 pm

  40. jenn says:

    @Vicky Go..Turducken (layers of turkey, duck and chicken) is a Louisiana dish, so is boudin and gumbo.

    Jun 20, 2010 | 7:25 am

  41. jenn says:

    Everytime we have thanksgiving I always invite a native american guest. we have turkey and cranberry sauce, dressing,cornbread, kare-kare and kanin.. after eating turkey ,youfeel sleepy while watching football… goodtimes!

    Jun 20, 2010 | 7:33 am

  42. jenn says:

    @Sister: my husband is part Cherokee and they’re not Indians..they are native americans. Indians are the “bombays” that we call in the Philippines. They’re totally different. Venison and fish would have been the main dish during the thanksgiving.

    Jun 21, 2010 | 12:54 am


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