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Thanksgiving Food Pairings

Looking for a new pre-meal idea?

The guests are gathering. The main course is in the oven. What now?

Chef and party planner Linnea Johansson has created a new cocktail pairing specifically for small plates and some of those Thanksgiving "extras." Johansson, who has planned events for celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Kardashian, and who has been a food expert for FOX National News and food columnist for ELLE Magazine Europe, is well versed in the idea of cocktail pairings.

She offers two reasons why you should consider pairing cocktails with food on Thanksgiving:

  • Alcohol helps aid with the digestion of foods, and in many, countries they actually have schnapps (a little shot) to drink with a heavy meal.
  • Food paired with different cocktails also will give your guest a unique & flavorful experience they are sure to enjoy!

And, she suggests two ways to go about determining your pairings:

1. Match a flavor in the dish

  • Keep in mind not to pick up the main flavor of a dish; for example, pumpkin soup paired with a pumpkin cocktail would be too much.
  • Instead, pick up a smaller flavor and make it come alive with the cocktail; so for pumpkin soup, think about a nutmeg infused cocktail instead to pair, this would work lovely as the cocktail would bring alive the more subtle flavors of the soup.

2. Balance flavor

  • In other words, if you are serving something spicy, pair with something with something sweet or even, slightly a bitter cocktail

“Serving your guests a few small bites and pairing each with a festive libation is a great way to kick off a Thanksgiving feast,” says Johansson. She suggests pairing Chèvre & candied figs, for example, with her Coconut & Agave Refresher. To make the Chevre dish, simply take 3/4 pound Chèvre or other goat cheese, then add four fresh figs (or 1/2 cup dried figs), 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, and three tablespoons of brown muscovado sugar or brown sugar. Then, just
 
1. Slice the chèvre log, and place on an oven pan. Cut the figs into rounds.
2. Pour the balsamic vinegar and sugar into a small pot, and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer until the mixture is reduced and sticks to the back of a spoon.
3. If you are using dried figs, place them in the vinegar mixture and let them absorb some of the fluid while the mixture cools.
4. Heat the Chèvre cheese slices quickly by using your oven's broiler function for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese has slightly started to melt. Place the cheese on a serving plate, and top it with the candied figs and vinegar mixture. Serve warm.

Pair it with Johansson’s Coconut & Agave Refresher (click for recipe).

According to the chef, the juices pair well with the sweetness of the fig. "They also work to mellow the out the richness and saltiness of the goat cheese," she says. The cocktail also contains coconut water and agave nectar, which, she says, "are highly refreshing and work to cleanse your palette after the earthy flavors of this dish."