Get Ready for Saintsgiving

When reflecting on the year 2010 and remembering what to be thankful for, many New Orleanians will give thanks for family, friends, good health, financial stability – but it wouldn’t be surprising if one of the top (if not the top) thing for which to give thanks is the fulfillment at long last of the unlikeliest of hopes and dreams: the New Orleans Saints as Super Bowl Champions.

In that spirit of gratitude and celebration, it’s only appropriate to cheer for “our boys” on Thanksgiving Day as they take on the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on Nov. 25 at 3:15 p.m. This game marks the first time the Saints will play on Turkey Day; combine a holiday that’s all about eating exorbitant amounts with a high-octane Saints game and who knows what kind of decadent indulgence will ensue.

The only hiccup in this holy grail of eating, drinking and cheering is the fact that no loyal citizen of the Who Dat nation is going to want to slave away in the kitchen when the game is on the line. Here are a list of places to have an early, pre-game Thanksgiving lunch; places that will cater Thanksgiving dinner; and, finally, places to pick up ready-made birds, such as fried turkey and Turduckens.

For a quintessential New Orleans Thanksgiving lunch, Muriel’s Jackson Square Restaurant (801 Chartres St., 568-1885) offers traditional holiday food with a Louisiana twist, not to mention a location that abuts its eponymous local landmark. The Thanksgiving lunch menu, offered 11 a.m.-4 p.m., will feature a three-course meal including a choice of soup, appetizer or salad; entrée; and dessert for $39.95 per person. Menu highlights include Duck and Wild Mushroom Gumbo, Shrimp and Goat Cheese Crêpes, Oven Roasted Turkey with traditional sides (oyster dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy), Wood Grilled Petit Filet Mignon and Shrimp, Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée and Pumpkin Pie with Crème Chantilly.

Thanksgiving Day at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots (1751 Gentilly Blvd., 948-1171) is a long-standing tradition in New Orleans, but there will be one change this year: The day’s events will start earlier to accommodate the Saints game. “You can’t beat the Saints in this city, but people have been coming to the Fair Grounds for Thanksgiving for decades,” says Jim Mulvihill of the Fair Grounds. “It’s the same traditional Thanksgiving meal.”

First post is at 11 a.m. and races will end around 3 p.m., with a fixed price buffet menu served throughout. (Tickets range from $50 to $100, depending on the quality of table location.) “We will offer people the opportunity to stay and enjoy the game at the racetrack,” he says. “We’ll offer additional menu items for the Saints game.” Making reservations as early as possible is encouraged. For racetrack patrons who’re interested in more casual fare, the Fair Grounds will offer a solution. “Thanksgiving at the racetrack isn’t limited to the clubhouse dining,” says Mulvihill.

“There are thousands of New Orleanians who come in, pay general admission and have a corned beef sandwich or half dozen oysters to tide them over before they head home for their meals.”

For a jazzed-up Thanksgiving lunch, The Court of Two Sisters (613 Royal St.) will be serving its regular Jazz Brunch buffet, including a few special holiday dishes, on Thanksgiving day 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saints fans can fill up on all-you-can-eat food while getting pumped for the game with Who Dat tunes from their Jazz Trio. For a late dinner, The Court of Two Sisters will be serving its usual dinner menu 5:30-10 p.m. They recommend early reservations by calling 522-7261.

For those who don’t want to leave the comfort of their homes on Thanksgiving (and who could blame them?), but still want a great meal, having a dinner catered gives everyone the chance to kick back and enjoy both the game and a great meal.

To have Thanksgiving dinner taken care of early, Martin Wine Cellar (714 Elmeer Ave., 896-7350) caters orders the day before, Nov. 24, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Soups include Roasted Butternut Squash and Shrimp Bisque; Crab and Corn Chowder; and Duck and Andouille Gumbo. As for entrées, choices include spiral-sliced ham, slow roasted turkey and local favorite Turducken. (See sidebar for more places to find this three-in-one bird.) No Thanksgiving meal is complete without side dishes, and Martin Wine Cellar offers a variety: Brussels sprouts with shallots and bacon; cornbread and andouille dressing; praline-glazed roasted sweet potatoes; and an array of pies (apple, pecan, pumpkin, sweet potato and lemon meringue – why not try one of each?).

Health food-lovers are probably already addicted to the selection at Whole Foods (5600 Magazine St., 899-9119; 3420 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, 888-8225), but they might not know that the organic-friendly chain caters holiday dinners, including traditional Thanksgiving and Hanukkah meals, vegan choices and side dish only options. Whole Foods will also offer centerpiece arrangements (so Saints fans don’t have to spend game day creating cornucopias, or whatever miscellany goes into a centerpiece), as well as gift baskets, à la carte items, dessert platters and a seasonal “Top 10” wine list. They also offer appetizers, including choice cheese platters such as Brie En Croute, Antipasti, seafood platters, spring rolls, chicken tenders and more. Holiday meals include a classic turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry-mandarin orange relish and dinner rolls for $64.99 (four people) or $84.99 (six to eight people); a Southern Turkey Dinner for $129.99 (six to eight people); a Vegan Holiday Dinner for $49.99 (four guests); and an organic turkey dinner for $149.99 (six to eight guests).
 

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