The Fusion of a Lifetime: Hanukkah and Thanksgiving

11/22/2013 04:52 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

It is a hot topic! Hanukkah and Thanksgiving falling at the same time this year has made the headlines, and rightfully so. It is a once in a lifetime shot at experiencing something new, and creating fusion cuisine that has never experienced before.

To squeeze everything we can out of this big opportunity, here are a few ways to make your Thanksgiving/ Hanukkah mash up a "Channu-copia" of great-tasting fun!

  1. The Tur-Brisk-en:

    To ensure that nobody is disappointed during the great fusion, the meats from each holiday should not be missed. A turkey stuffed with a brisket that is wrapped around a chicken is the ultimate homage to both feasts. It leaves but one question -- could this thing be fried whole?

  • A Great Stuffing Happened Here:

  • Whether in bird or dish, Challah Stuffing would be a great twist to the Thanksgiving meal. Challah, the delicious Jewish egg bread, would make a fine stuffing, even in non-fusion years. Bagels could also make for a great stuffing -- perhaps a pumpernickel bagel with added sage? Mmmm...

  • Pass the Cheese, Judy!:

  • This year there is an opportunity to reinterpret a part of the Hanukkah story with a Thanksgiving twist. In the story of Judith, this brave widow saved her town by getting the Greek commander Holoferenes drunk. She fed him cheese, which made him thirsty, then wine, which made him sleepy. Once asleep, it was off with his head. Being leaderless, the Greeks just packed up and left. The town was saved -- go, Judy! In this year's holiday reinterpretations, it will be the turkey that made Holoferenes sleepy. This story also reminds us that more cheese should be served at Thanksgiving! Roasted vegetable and cheese casseroles! Cheddar cheese mashed potatoes! Cauliflower and cheese latkes! Crispy frico in the stuffing! Even fried cheese makes sense!

  • The Noodles:

  • The noodle makes it on many Thanksgiving tables, often as mac and cheese. This year, the noodle kugel, sweet or savory, is perfect for the fusion feast, and it is another vehicle to deliver cheese and other dairy to the celebration in a delicious fashion.

  • The Donuts:

  • Finally, a reason to make donuts for Thanksgiving! Pumpkin pie is good, apple pie is great, pecan pie is fabulous, but to have donuts would be a game-changer. Stuffed with pumpkin mousse, mandarin orange-cranberry jelly, chocolate gelt, or sweet potato and roasted marshmallows will make this mash up unforgettable! Need an easy way to make those donuts? Use pre-made, refrigerated, biscuit dough! Be sure to make enough for eight days!

  • The Soup:

  • Make this one easy. Matzo ball soup made with turkey stock instead of chicken. A simple switcheroo. Butternut squash matzo balls? That would be good, too!

  • The Oil:

  • Frying the turkey is obvious this year given the importance of oil to the Hanukkah story. But don't forget, when making the roux for the turkey gravy, that olive oil will work, too. Also, those roasted vegetables can be taken to the next level with a variety of infused oils.

  • The Leftovers:

  • Finally, we cannot talk about Thanksgiving without talking leftovers. Sandwiching that cold turkey between 2 potato latkes (or 2 donuts with mandarin orange-cranberry jelly) instead of bread will be a fine treat!

    What makes Thanksgiving and Hanukkah both great, is that both are all about getting together to celebrate our hard-won freedoms, and being thankful for all the miracles big and small in our lives. They have a lot in common. The fusion of these holidays makes them even more fun and tasty while at the same time giving us the opportunity to see a new perspective and have new experiences to remember. It helps us create something new while keeping great traditions alive.

    The experts say that the Gregorian and Jewish Calendars are slowly drifting apart. After the year 2070, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah may never coincide again. It only means that the chances of Thanksgiving and Passover coinciding are even greater. An unleavened Thanksgiving? Pass-giving? Thanks-over? We better start getting the Thanks-over recipes developed now.

    What is your favorite holiday fusion? Let us know in the comments!