A Special Feast

Fresh-from-the farm ingredients make this Thanksgiving meal extra delicious.

More than any other meal of the year, Thanksgiving dinner is the one when we pause and reflect on our good graces, family, friends and tradition. But before the turkey is carved, the gravy is passed and the pumpkin pie sliced, look at the bounty that fills the table. Does it reflect the abundance from Ohio’s more than 14 million acres of farm fields, orchards and pastures tended by some of the most dedicated and diligent farmers and producers? If it does, you’re about to taste another reason to be thankful.

A traditional Thanksgiving feast is one of the easiest meals to source from local foods, thanks to the more than 260 farmers markets scattered throughout Ohio, some of which run until the biggest food holiday of the year. Producers and growers arrive with hardy root crops like potatoes, beets, carrots and squash; leafy greens like arugula, chard and kale; and late-variety apples such as Winesap, Melrose and Granny Smiths. They bring rustic grains for making rolls, breads and pastry; butter, eggs and milk; cheeses from Ohio’s artisan and homestead cheese makers; and turkey — the centerpiece of this celebratory meal.

It used to be that the choice of turkey at the table was limited to dark or white meat. Local food movements spurred the demand for pasture-raised standard breeds as well as the return of heritage breeds such as the Bourbon Red, Narragansett and Bronze. Doug Raubenolt, an organic inspector for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, raises these heritage breeds on his Loudonville farm. “They are as close as you can get to the turkey your great-grandmother served,” says Raubenolt. “They are better grazers and meatier — they even fly. Their richly flavored meat is a result of grazing, diverse diets and longer life.”

As the demand for locally grown and raised foods increases, Raubenolt sees independent grocery stores — including Heinen’s and Mustard Seed Markets in Northeast Ohio, Dorothy Lane Markets in the Dayton area and North Market Poultry and Weiland’s Gourmet Market in Columbus — selling New Carlisle-based Bowman and Landes turkeys at Thanksgiving. Don’t look for them in the frozen food case, says Raubenolt. “You won’t find fresh turkey there.”
Pumpkin, another iconic food of the holiday, appears on many farm stands in colors and shapes far from the classic orange orbs. Squat buff-colored varieties called Long Island Cheese yield a bright orange flesh, while the dusky-blue-colored Jarrahdale’s flesh is thick, sweet and a warm gold color. Cinderella and Fairy Tale pumpkins are French heirlooms that when baked, roasted or puréed add color and a silkiness to homemade pies and soups.

“People tend to buy these for fall decoration,” says Richard Aufdenkampe of Aufdenkampe Family Farm in Vermilion, who sells about 2,000 pounds of the vining fruit and its winter squash cousins each season. “The truth is, they are old world varieties — edible, delicious, with a lot of flesh and a wonderful texture.”

So before that last piece of pumpkin pie leaves the plate, tip your fork to Ohio farmers and local producers who add the fresh flavor and sense of place to the foods we gather and enjoy.


Here is a partial list of late-season farmers markets around the state — good, one-stop destinations filled with the season’s best and all the fixings for your family’s Thanksgiving celebration.

Aufdenkampe Family Farms
Operates an on-farm market in Vermilion from spring until early November. Call for directions and stand hours.  440/984-3844; afamilyfarm.com

Athens Farmers Market
1000 East State St., Athens. Open Saturdays year-round and Wednesdays from April through December, including the day before Thanksgiving. King Family Farm will take turkey orders at 740/698-3940 for market pickup. Everything to round out the holiday dinner will be at the market, including potatoes, spinach, salad greens, root vegetables, breads and stuffing fixings. athensfarmersmarket.org

Clintonville Market
North High and Orchard Lane, Columbus. The Annual Harvest Market will be held on Saturday, November 17. Cota Farms will bring their heritage turkeys to market that day. Reserve yours by calling 419/768-2744. Look for winter squash, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, garlic, onions, apples, cider, artisan cheese and breads, rustic flours, honey, maple syrup, flowers and more. clintonvillefarmersmarket.org

Oxford Farmers Market uptown
East Park Place, Oxford. Order organically raised turkey from Morning Sun Farm by November 13 by calling 937/787-4885. On Saturday, November 17, pick up the fixings for the meal at the market — potatoes, root crops, squash and pumpkins, baked pies, breads, eggs, flowers, wheat and spelt flours and organic lard for homemade piecrusts. oxfordfarmersmarket.com

Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow
4040 Riverview Rd., Peninsula. Thanksgiving Market is on Saturday, November 17. Order a turkey from Tea Hills Farms for pickup that day by calling 419/685-1689. Expect to find potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, celeriac, leeks, onions, garlic, cabbage, winter squash, arugula, salad mixes, pastry flours, pies, breads, homemade croutons for stuffing and plenty of fresh herbs. cvcountryside.org

Greenacres Farm
8255 Spooky Hollow Rd., Cincinnati 45242. Farm-raised turkey can be ordered until November 14 by calling 513/891-4227. Pickup at the farm is the day before Thanksgiving. Seasonal, homegrown produce will also be available. green-acres.org

Bowman AND Landes
Invite an Ohio pasture-raised, vegetable-fed, antibiotic-free, fresh Bowman and Landes turkey to dinner this Thanksgiving. For information on where to find your bird, call 937/845-9466 or go to bowmanlandes.com

For More Information
Use these online directories to search by location, farm or product.
USDA Farmers Market Search, search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets
Local Harvest, localharvest.org
Eat Well Guide, eatwellguide.org

Courtesy of Marilou Suszko

Roasted Heritage Turkey
Makes 10–12 servings

1 heritage or pasture-raised turkey (about 15 to 18 pounds)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 fresh lemon, halved
1 apple, unpeeled, cored and quartered
1 bunch fresh parsley
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pat the bird dry with paper towels. Mix the olive oil and butter into a paste. Rub all over the turkey, under the breast skin, and into the cavity. Loosely stuff the cavity with the onion, garlic, lemon, apple, parsley, and thyme. Season the outside of the bird with the salt and pepper. Place on a roasting rack and roast for 30 minutes.

Drape a piece of oiled parchment paper over the breast. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast, basting frequently, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the thigh reaches 150 degrees. Total cooking time should be between 2-1/2 and 3 hours. Remove from the oven; cover loosely with foil, and let rest at least 15 minutes and up to 45 minutes before carving.

For more information on handling and roasting turkey, visit the National Turkey Federation website at eatturkey.com.

Do-Ahead Gravy
Makes about 6 cups

2 turkey wings, wing tips removed
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into large pieces
1 garlic clove, crushed
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the wings, onion, carrots, celery and garlic on a large heavy baking sheet. Drizzle the oil over the top and stir to coat evenly. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until the wings and vegetables are browned. Place the wings and vegetables into a large stockpot, scraping in the brown bits from the roasting pan. Add the white wine, chicken stock, water and thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.

Strain the broth into an 8-cup measure or large bowl and discard the solids. Let the broth stand a few seconds until the fat separates from the meat juice. Skim off any fat from the surface and add it to a 2-quart saucepan.

Whisk the flour into the fat and cook over medium heat. Continue whisking until the flour turns golden brown. Gradually whisk in the broth and cook until the gravy boils and thickens slightly. Pour into a 2-quart container, cover and refrigerate.

Spiced Pumpkin Pie in a Cornmeal Crust
Makes one 9-inch deep-dish pie

For crust:
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup medium grind cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small dice, chilled
1 egg yolk, beaten
4 tablespoons chilled water

For filling:
1 pound (about 2-1/4 cups) fresh pumpkin puree  
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
2-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
Sweetened whipped cream, to accompany

To make the crust, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt and brown sugar. Cut or rub the butter into the flour mixture. Combine the egg yolk and water. Add to the flour mixture, mixing until the dough comes together. Flatten the dough into a round disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place all of the filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Blend on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about one minute. 

Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate, fold over the edges and crimp. Pour the filling into prepared crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight, if desired. Serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.