If you thought Halloween was hit hard by the now-interminable impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, brace yourselves for the rest of the upcoming holidays. With large gatherings off the table and small gatherings now equally implicated in the spread of the novel coronavirus, our Thanksgiving plans are going look dramatically different this year—in fact, nearly 70 percent of Americans are planning a non-traditional Thanksgiving celebration this year.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some savory home cooking (and leftovers!), and Chef Edouardo Jordan has teamed up with recipe delivery service Blue Apron to help, launching a Thanksgiving feast meal kits for a very unique Thanksgiving. It’s not every day one can have the assistance of a two-time James Beard Award-winning chef in our home kitchens; Chef Jordan, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., had stints at the famed French Laundry and Per Se before opening three now-acclaimed Seattle establishments (Salare, Junebaby and Lucinda Grain Bar). Can you fit all that culinary genius into a box? Well, with Blue Apron’s help, Jordan says yes.
“There was already kinda like a mutual love, and kind of like, peeking in to see ‘what you guys are doing’ kinda thing,” he told The Root in a recent phone conversation, noting that the collaboration had actually been in motion well before the coronavirus imposed nationwide quarantines—a rare stroke of luck for all of us in an otherwise very unfortunate year. “It’s been something that we had in the works and it happened to come together,” he continued. “So I’m excited to at least get my name out there, get my food out there—especially [during] a time that people can’t really get to Seattle and celebrate in my restaurants and eat and have a good time like they used to.”
While Chef Jordan is a culinary star, like many other chefs and restaurateurs, he has keenly felt the impact of the pandemic upon his business and the industry at large.
“It’s been a little bit nutty,” he admitted. “You know, there’s a lot of, as they call it, chasing the tail. So I’m spinning in circles a lot and going nowhere really fast—but at least I keep moving,” he laughed. “We’re just trying to navigate everything. It is staying alive; we’re being creative as possible, we are getting our food out there the best that we can...now through Blue Apron. And just trying to let people know that we’re out here. I want to be able to have my name and my restaurant out here 20, 30 years from now, as we should be, and not let this pandemic just destroy a lot of our community and all the work and dreams that have been put forth.”
In a year in which an unprecedented health crisis converged with an uprising for equality and racial justice, Chef Jordan—who among other accolades won Best Chef: Northwest, and Best New Restaurant for JuneBaby at the 2018 James Beard Awards—is also laser-focused on the disparities chefs of color still face. Ironically, the James Beard Awards, long considered the Oscars of the culinary industry, had no Black winners this year, a development that stalled the momentum many had praised from the foundation in recent years, and that many attribute to the ultimate cancellation of this year’s awards ceremony.
Chef Jordan simply called it “walking backwards—and we can’t let that happen. You know, like, we’ve got to be boisterous. We have to be diligent. We have to keep pushing ourselves, you know, like we can’t give up too. We face many challenges in our lives,” he continued. “this is an opportunity for us to really jump on stage and put our food, put our culture, put our agenda out there.”
So, how is Chef Jordan centering our food, culture and agenda in Blue Apron’s Thanksgiving kits this year? “This menu is a reflection of my roots, my stories and my history,” he said in a statement. “Inspired by my Southern roots and the cuisine of the African diaspora, I created these simple recipes, in collaboration with Blue Apron’s culinary team, to encourage home cooks to have fun in the kitchen and celebrate over a great meal.”
“The menu is kind of a take on things that I would personally eat during Thanksgiving, so definitely Southern-inspired,” he further explained during our conversation. “We’re doing the classic take on my cornbread but we’re adding in poblano peppers. We have collard greens, but we’re not doing the classically cooked smoked pork collard greens; we’re using mushrooms and making a stock out of that to cook our collard greens. So it’s kind of like the classic take, classic ingredients, flipped just a little bit so it can be approachable for most of America. But at the same time, it’s introducing folks who may not have experienced this type of Thanksgiving to what Southerners have as Thanksgiving dinner,” he added. “It’s a little reflection of me and the food that I cook in my restaurants at the same time.”
Recipes offered include the Thanksgiving Meal Prep Feast ($134.99/ feeds 6-8 people), which features:
- Spiced Roasted Turkey Breast
- Pimento Cheese-Style Mashed Potatoes
- Sage Gravy & Cranberry Relish
- Roasted Carrots in Ginger Syrup
- Mushroom Braised Collard Greens
- Cheesy Cornbread
- Peanut-Glazed Apple & Persimmon Crumble with Maple Syrup and Quatre Epices
There’s also a 2-piece core menu Thanksgiving offering, which includes a Spiced Pork Roast, Pimento Cheese Style Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Cranberry Relish ($69.99 total price); Roasted Carrots in Ginger Syrup and Mushroom Braised Collard Greens ($6 upcharge on the core menu, or $25.98 total price), and a Peanut-Glazed Apple & Persimmon Crumble with Maple Syrup and Quatre Epices (no upcharge).
Aside from being delicious, Chef Jordan said the menu is also infused with some sentimentality since, like many of us, he won’t be able to reunite with most of his family this year. Part of the appeal of the Blue Apron box is the opportunity to still virtually share the same meal with loved ones, even if we can’t share the same table.
“Thanksgiving has always been the biggest and best holiday for me...and it’s been difficult over the last few years because I’m I’m way in Seattle, three thousand miles or so away from my family,” he said. “And I don’t now get the opportunity to gather and hang out and just celebrate the way that we used to, so it has been difficult. So, I have to figure out new ways to entertain myself and entertain the people that are around me, and now with the pandemic, it’s going to be doubly hard. So, you know, this Blue Apron box is an easy way to get four or five people together and have a not-so-stressful Thanksgiving and build a meal that still feels like you’re having a feast, but it’s not all the work,” he concluded.
Customers can order Chef Jordan’s Thanksgiving recipes through the Blue Apron website or app; Thanksgiving recipes will be sent to customers beginning the week of November 23. But should your need to hold onto more familiar comfort food compel you to adhere to your own recipes this Thanksgiving, there are other ways to try out Chef Jordan’s recipes this holiday season. Blue Apron has collaborated with him on three more meals, available in two- or four-serving sizes, which include:
- Dukkah-Spiced Steaks and Freekeh with Brussels Sprouts, Figs and Marinated Radish; available the week of November 30
- Roasted Peanut Chicken with Cilantro-Dressed Pasta and Garlicky Green Beans; available the week of December 7
- Crispy Skin Salmon with Risotto-Style Farro and Mushrooms; available the week of December 14.
Additionally, Chef Jordan will be on Blue Apron’s social channels sharing tips and tricks throughout November and December, so you can hone your skills with a well-seasoned pro. To follow along, visit Blue Apron’s Instagram and Facebook pages...because if we must stay at home, there’s no reason we shouldn’t get our home cooking on, says the chef: “It’s just kind of bringing joy during this dark time.”