Today I'm coming to you with a two-part series explaining all things Friendsgiving. You've probably heard this term tossed around in the last few years, but this celebration occurred long before there was a pithy word attached to it. My high school friends and I would have a meal the weekend before Thanksgiving when we were all home from college. While Friendsgiving can be a substitute for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, it can also be in addition to your "normal" Thanksgiving dinner, a chance to spend time with the people that might not otherwise be at your family's holiday.
An interesting read on the rise of Friendsgiving: The Atlantic
If you decide to enjoy a meal with friends leading up to Thanksgiving, the last thing you want to do is be in charge of all the cooking. Pot-lucks are a perfect way to involve everyone. Make a shared google doc and have all your guests sign up for a dessert, side, or drinks. Today I'm sharing a guide to hosting a Friendsgiving meal. Check back next Sunday for part 2: what to take to Friendsgiving.
I feel like I need to add a little disclaimer that you do not need to kill yourself trying to plan the perfect Friendsgiving. What's important is spending quality time with friends and family, not trying to perfectly set your table. (Especially if you have a second Thanksgiving meal with a turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, etc.) One of my favorite college Friendsgiving memories involves a group of us standing around the kitchen island eating buffalo chicken dip and guacamole off paper plates. It does not need to be a fancy three course meal. With that being said, here's what I did for Friendsgiving this year:
To host, provide the entree and an appetizer. I chose to serve non-traditional Thanksgiving foods to prevent guests from feeling oversaturated with turkey.
Set the table.
Make apple chutney.
Buy ingredients for cheese board.
Prepare pork tenderloin, refrigerate.
Assemble cheese board.
Roast tenderloin 30 minutes before guests arrive.
Let tenderloin rest.
I use a formulaic approach to cheese boards. Start with your cheeses, then add in bread and crackers, condiments, and finally any fruits and nuts. I used three cheeses: a triple creme goat brie, a buttermilk blue, and a 12-month-old Manchego. I like to use cheeses that have different textures and flavors. For this cheese board, I used one blue (the buttermilk blue), one firm (the Manchego), and one soft (the brie.) This adds more interest to the cheese board. I added some cranberry hazelnut crackers, some whole wheat flax pita crackers, and some slices of seeded loaf bread. The cranberry hazelnut crackers are particularly good with the brie. For fruits, I added dried apricots, candied ginger, dried cherries, and slices of pink lady apple. (I had some leftover dried fruit from making Ina Garten's French chocolate bark. This was the perfect way to get rid of the excess.) For nuts, I added some sweet and spicy pecans and some toasted walnuts. Finally, for condiments, I added some honey from a local producer and some fig preserves. I especially like the honey with the Manchego. If you don't have a large enough cheese board, you can always use your cutting board, or even butcher paper.
Cheese boards are a great appetizer to serve for a party. Everyone can help themselves and there's no cooking involved. I found all of the ingredients for this board at my local grocery store. Assemble the board before guests arrive. This is perfect for a potluck as guests will have something to snack on while you wait for everyone to arrive.
For the entree, serve herbed pork tenderloins. (If your guests don't eat pork you could always do a roast chicken or turkey breast instead.) Rub the outside of the tenderloins with an herb mixture of rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper, then wrap, in prosciutto, truss with butcher's twine, and roast. I used 2 pounds of pork, which is the perfect amount for 4-5 people. This recipe can easily be increased, just double or triple the herb mixture accordingly.
You can assemble the tenderloins ahead of time (even the night before), then roast about a half hour before guests arrive.
Serve apple chutney to accompany the pork. Ina Garten's apple chutney is a multiplex dish consisting of apples, onions, ginger, mustard, and vinegar. Make the chutney the day before, then rewarm it in the microwave while the tenderloins are in the oven. I like to slightly mash the apples to reach a smoother texture once the chutney is finished.
Get the Recipe: Barefoot Contessa Herbed Pork Tenderloins with Apple Chutney
Get the Look:
I found these Thanksgiving crackers to leave as a little happy at each place setting. I added some indigo linens and our everyday white china. I added multicolored pumpkins and tea lights for an understated but festive centerpiece. The pumpkins were especially handy as they gave me more flexibility to prepare. I set the table a few days early to have one less thing to worry about, which would not have been possible had I used fresh flowers. To preserve the pumpkins, I soaked them in a solution of 2 parts water 1 part vinegar. I love how this table turned out and plan to reuse this for my family's Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanks for reading! Check back next Sunday for part 2.