Over the years, David Ouimet has become a Thanksgiving dinner expert. The owner and chef at Bistro Eleven 88 and Purple Sage Catering has been planning and arranging these meals for well over a decade.
“We’ve done the traditional Thanksgiving dinner for years,” he said with a laugh. “We’ve done it ever since Purple Sage opened, which was 2015. It gets bigger and better every year.”
Of course, things are very different this go-around. Namely, more families are opting for smaller gatherings. Many are also looking to outsource the cooking. That’s just fine for Ouimet, who is all too happy to take on the task.
“I think a lot of people just don’t want to handle themselves. Some have elderly folks they’re looking after too. But I think they just don’t want to be in a big group either,” he said.
To help, they’ve come up with two solutions. The first is a reservation-based, in-person dining option on Thanksgiving Day at Bistro Eleven 88, 1188 Chapel Crossing Road, Brunswick. Registration is still open, and the menu is available for viewing at www.bistroeleven88.com.
“We are still taking reservations for that. We’re planning it so that people are spaced apart and can enjoy their meal without worrying,” Ouimet said.
If families would rather stay at home, the restaurant is also offering dinners to go. The meal is $27 per person and can be customized to fit any dietary restriction such as gluten-free, Keto or vegetarian.
“We have white and dark meat turkey so folks don’t have to fight over it. We will have green bean casserole made from scratch, cornbread dressing, baked sweet potatoes, a citrus cranberry relish and dinner rolls,” he said. “Then we have the choice of pumpkin pie or chocolate pecan pie. All of that can be ordered individually too.”
The meal can be delivered for a $25 fee. It will come with re-heating instructions. And Ouimet notes that this feast will likely keep on giving for days to come.
“We tend to over-serve our customers ... we have very generous portions,” he said with a laugh. “There’s going to be a lot of food.”
Because of that Ouimet has a few ideas on how families can repurpose their meal into additional dishes.
“Everyone does the standard leftover turkey sandwiches and salad. But you can do some different things depending on what you have left over. If you have some dressing and mashed potatoes left, you can do a tater and dressing fritter. That’s great for watching football,” he said.
Another interesting option is to use a wonton and roll up leftovers to bake or fry.
“Everything is already seasoned so that’s really easy. Just cut things up into smaller pieces and wrap it up,” he said.
Then, there’s a Thanksgiving pizza. Ouimet says it’s an out-of-the-box way to use leftovers — in addition to being a fun family activity.
“You can take a pre-made crust and lay down the gravy as the sauce. Then you top it with whatever you like. Let the kids play with it ... they love it,” he said.
Ouimet has tons of similar ideas that will prove useful as the holiday season kicks into full swing. And it’s something he is always eager to share with his guests.
“We love to share ideas and new meals. Every other month we do a feast of sorts at the Bistro. We like to do something nontraditional like pheasant or quail. We’re going to be doing one for Christmas once we get past the Thanksgiving hurdle,” he said.
Tater and Dressing Fritters
2 cups mashed potatoes (leftover)
2 cups dressing (leftover)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
2 each green onion, green part only, sliced thinly
3 each Eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
Panko breadcrumbs as needed
Oil for frying
Heat oil in a pan on the stovetop to 350 F or preferably, use a countertop fryer. Combine first four ingredients thoroughly. (No need to season as that is already done.)
Form into 1.5 inch balls and set aside. Combine eggs and milk to make an egg wash. Dip the tater/dressing balls in the eggwash, then into the Panko. Fry until golden brown and drain on a wire rack. Serve with ranch dressing or cranberry mayo, if you have leftover cranberry sauce. Just combine 1 cup cranberry sauce with 1/2 cup mayonnaise.