A Gluten Free Thanksgiving
Over the river and through the woods to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving this year. She offered to take on Turkey Day, and then we are hosting Christmas at our house. My family is very traditional when it comes to these holidays. No fancy salt crusted turkey roulade with a cranberry foam for my people. We like the bird as it comes, with two legs, two wings and (as my dad always put it) the part that goes over the fence last. Mashed potatoes are de rigueur, as is the can shaped cranberry jell on a plate. My hostess sibling is doing the turkey and her world famous apple pie and I’ve been charged with making stuffing and lefse.
For the uninitiated, lefse is a Norwegian potato bread which is rolled out flat like a tortilla and baked on a griddle. It is a long standing tradition in my family, and I’ve been making it every year since I was a kid. My sibs agree that I’m the designated hitter when it comes to making it as I inherited the special rolling pin used in its preparation. My husband and I rolled up our sleeves and got to work last weekend. Our freezer is now stocked and ready for the holiday.
One of my family members needs to have a gluten free diet, (and is bringing their own version of stuffing), so I decided to experiment this year and make a batch of lefse using rice flour as a substitute. I did a straight substitution, but found that I needed to use my stand mixer to get the flour incorporated into the potato. I was worried that too much working of the dough would cause the glutens to over-develop and it would become tough. But then I realized DUH! it’s gluten free. So I didn’t worry so much about overworking it.
The dough was wonderfully smooth and rolled out really nicely. Like pancakes, the first one you fry never turns out. It proved to be a warmup, turning out like a crispy flatbread rather than having the soft texture required. But we turned down the heat and gave it less time on the griddle and it turned out right. It seemed to taste pretty good—I’m just hoping it survived its time in the freezer. If it doesn't work, I will let you know by posting a comment to this blog post.
Do you have someone at your Thanksgiving table that has special food requirements? If so, we’d love to know if you have any ideas to share.
Gluten Free Lefse
Adapted from the Hagen Family Recipe
2 cups hot mashed potatoes (use a ricer to make sure there are no lumps)
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp salt
1 cup rice flour plus additional for the board
Mix all ingredients (except the flour) together; cover and chill well.
Place the potato mixture into a stand mixer. Sprinkle with ½ cup rice flour. Mix for 8-10 minutes, gradually adding in another ½ cup rice flour.
Roll into a snake type cylinder and then cut into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Dust your work surface with flour and flatten one of the dough balls. Then using a grooved rolling pin, covered with a pastry cloth, roll into a thin round. (My Grandpa always said you want it to be thin enough to read through, but not too thin so it falls apart.)
Transfer to a griddle and cook until lightly browned (This could be less than a minute up to 3 minutes) When brown spots appear on the underside turn and cook for an additional minute or so.
Place under a layer of damp towels to steam and cool. Store in plastic bags in fridge for about 4 days or freeze.
FYI, I wrote a blog about lefse on 11/20/10 and one on stuffing on 11/22/11. If I can get the links to work, you can view them here (otherwise check the archives): http://gazettextra.com/weblogs/savory-faire/2010/nov/20/time-to-make-lefse/
Lisa Parsley is a Janesville native writes about food and cooking for Gazettextra.com. Lisa is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. Her opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.