Cannabis-infused Thanksgiving dinner, anyone? Experts offer DIY tips

Beth Greenfield
Senior Editor
Why not infuse your Thanksgiving spread with some green-leaf goodness? Experts tell you how. (Graphic by Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)

Thanksgiving is here, and with it, the results of over-indulgence — lethargy, sleepiness, and bloat thanks to tons of carbs, sweets and meats. But now some are opting to add THC to the mix — for fully-informed, adult diners only! — turning Thanksgiving into a bona fide high holiday.

Fully legal in 10 states (and Washington, D.C.), weed has already found its way into smoothies, candies, and baked goods — and now, increasingly, savory dishes, whether at specialized restaurants or pop-up events. The internet is also bursting with cannabis-infused recipes, with many of them geared perfectly to your adults-only Thanksgiving spread.

Take, for example, the introduction of a weed-infused turkey gravy that’s taking Twitter by storm — especially its recommendation by Sunset magazine (which had longtime readers so freaked that editors added a disclaimer: “We are not seriously suggesting you dose your family (or anyone!) on Thanksgiving (or any day!). We’re simply offering up a bit of holiday humor—something we could probably all use a dose of this week”). 

Kiva is the maker of the psychedelic gravy mix, and noted in a Nov. 20 blog post on its website, “Just in time to take your Thanksgiving dinner to a higher level, Kiva would like to introduce you to our new limited-edition, cannabis-infused Turkey Gravy. This cheeky take on a normally mundane holiday staple features a groundbreaking, fast-acting technology that allows for faster THC absorption. Awkward family dinner conversation? In just under 15 minutes you’ll start feeling the effects, so you can sit back, relax, and let the holiday cheer wash over you.”

Please pass the gravy — cannabis-infused, of course. (Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Weber/ AutumnCommunications)

But what if you don’t live in California, the only place where you can purchase the extra-special gravy?

Not to worry — cannabis chefs have your back. Including Jessica Catalano, a classically trained chef, food writer and author of the Ganja Kitchen Revolution: The Bible of Cannabis Cuisine, who has been making waves in Colorado with her pioneering cannabis cooking for many years now. And luckily, her website is full of recipes.

“Traffic is pretty high generally; however, it definitely goes up a notch when it comes to major holidays,” Catalano tells Yahoo Lifestyle of her online hub. “I believe people are becoming very excited about cooking with cannabis as it is becoming more socially acceptable. And they are eager to share recipes with their loved ones to showcase the amazing flavor profiles, nutrient dense health properties, and medicinal benefits of the plant. Sharing is caring, as they say!”

Among the holiday recipes on her site are those for Cannabis-Infused Pumpkin PieArtisan Bread and Kush-Infused Turkey — with plenty of other sites rounding out the full-Thanksgiving offerings, such as Cooking with Laurie + Maryjane’s Canna-Mashed Spuds and Stoner Stuffing (or Cannabis Cheri’s Marijuana Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic, Sour Cream and Chives), and Merry Jane’s Canna-Cranberry Sauce.

Kiva's cannabis-infused turkey gravy promises to be "fast-acting." But if you can't get your hands on it, we've got plenty of ways to try cannabis cooking at home. (Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Weber/ AutumnCommunications)

After all, notes Laurie Wolf in the introduction of her Stoner Stuffing recipe on her website, “Thanksgiving is a great time to come together in the name of gratitude. What a perfect day for those who like to partake in the wonderful world of cannabis and what an easy meal to medicate.” (Note: THC-infused recipes are meant for adults-only meals.)

Wolf stresses three important points of advice for first-time canna-chefs: “Use the best quality cannabis you can, don't let the cooking temperature get above 340, and go slow,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Canna-butter and canna-infused oil can be extremely potent. If you know the potency, you can figure out the dosage to the mg. Don't overdo — less is more.”

In preparation for the big day, Catalano shared some more tips for Yahoo Lifestyle readers, particularly those who are novices.

If you’ve only ever smoked cannabis, be aware…

“Ingesting THC is very different than smoking, as it is converted to 11-Hydroxy-THC in the liver, which creates stronger and longer-lasting effects,” Catalano says. “It also has a delayed onset, which means it can take as long as two hours or more to kick in depending on body chemistry, height, weight, how much you ate, and how healthy your liver is.” She always recommends starting at the lowest dosage for first-time adult users, slowly going up from there. “A great starting point range is 2mg-10mg, with 2.5mg being a great first-time dose for novices.”

Some important points to keep in mind when planning a cannabis-infused, adults-only Thanksgiving meal

“One big thing to keep in mind is to cater to your guests so that no one is being over or under medicated,” Catalano notes. “I would recommend infusing one item, such as a 10mg dessert, if you wanted to lightly medicate your dinner party. And increase the [number of] medicated side dishes to a few or several for parties looking for a more infused experience.” What the cannabis chef would not recommend, however, is infusing every dish at the table, as it could cause adult guests to consume too much. “Also, be mindful of serving alcohol to people consuming cannabis (known as cross-fading), as it can be a very overwhelming experience for most people,” she says.

On using the right amount and strain of cannabis.

“A good rule of thumb is to always calculate the THC percentage before cooking with any flower,” Catalano suggests — because, while the answer may be as easy as reading label of your legally-purchased flower, there is no official industry standard for calculating, and different producers calculate it in different ways. Find calculation tips on Cooking with Laurie+MaryJane, or follow Catalano’s advice:

“If a gram of flower tests at 19 percent THC, then 1/4 cup coconut oil for example, infused with one decarbed [a.k.a. activated; see below on how to activate] gram, would contain 190 mg of THC. Therefore, substitute the number of your cannabis’s THC percentage and the amount of flower you have and do the math to figure out your dosing. If you want a smaller dose, cut the flower down to a smaller portion. For a larger dose, add in more. Keep in mind, however, that dosage can vary slightly due to temperature fluctuations in the oven, on the stovetop, and handling the flower when breaking apart the flowers.”

And before even getting as far as calculating, Catalano says, “You need to decide whether you want an Indica, Sativa, or hybrid strain,” referring to the different properties. Indica is typically more of a mellower, while Sativa tends to have more stimulant properties; hybrid is a balance of both. “Keep in mind that all strains possess different terpenes (essential oils responsible for flavor and smell) and should be paired according to which recipes you are preparing.”

On the biggest mistake a novice cannabis chef can make

“The biggest mistake is to not decarboxylate your flower or concentrates before cooking with them,” she says. To activate (or decarboxylate, or decarb) your flower or concentrates (also called kief), grind full buds and place them in a small baking dish and onto a clean baking tray; cover with tinfoil. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees F. Once the oven is hot, add the pan to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool. “Now,” Catalano says, “you can infuse your flower into any lipid or food recipe of your choosing.”

Finally, Catalano offers one more recipe — for an adults-only, vegan-alternative pumpkin pie, with Ener-G Egg Replacer and plant-based condensed milk:

Vegan Herjuana Pumpkin Pie by Jessica Catalano. (Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Catalano)


Vegan Herijuana Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Ingredients for filling:

2 cups organic puréed sugar pumpkin

1 can organic sweetened condensed vegan milk

2 vegan egg replacers, such as Ener-G Egg Replacer

4 tablespoons (half a stick) organic vegan butter infused with Herijuana

1 ½ tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg)

1 teaspoon maple extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Ingredients for crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled vegan butter

4 tablespoons ice water

1 teaspoon turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions:

Step 1: For this recipe, you need to start the dough the night before or 1 hour before cooking time for the crust to set properly. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. With a knife, cut the stick of butter into 8 slices and drop into the bowl.

Step 2: Mix by hand until the butter starts to meld with the dry mix. Add in 4 tablespoons of ice water and continue to combine until the mixture is fully incorporated. Press lightly into a semi-flat circle about 6 inches wide and then wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for 1 hour prior to cooking time 

Step 3: When you are ready to prepare your pie dough, roll out onto a floured surface and transfer to a 9-inch pie tin. Flatten the dough into the tin and pinch the edges to form a crust on the top. Take a fork and pierce little holes throughout the bottom and sides of the crust. This prevents the crust from bubbling out during the baking process.

Step 4: Preheat your oven to 375° F. In a separate bowl, mix the puréed pumpkin, condensed milk, vegan eggs, Herijuana cannabutter, maple extract, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice until fully combined.

Step 5: Pour your pumpkin mixture into your pie crust and lightly tap the pan against a counter to release any air bubbles. Put into the oven and bake for 55 minutes. Pull from oven and let the pie set at room temperature. Decorate with fresh, organic whipped cream for the most comforting fall dessert. Enjoy!

Dosage:

If a gram of Herijuana flower tests at 25 percent THC, then 250mg will be infused into the vegan butter for the filling. Therefore, substitute the number of your cannabis’s THC percentage and the amount of flower you have and do the math to figure out your dosing. If you want a smaller dose, cut the flower down to a smaller portion. For a larger dose, add in more.

Strain Suggestions:

When preparing this recipe for classic pumpkin pie, I would recommend pairing strains that possess earthy, hashy, woodsy or sandalwood-like terpenes and flavonoids. The following strains would be ideal: Alaskan Ice, Purple Haze, S.A.G.E, or Burmese Kush. If you do not have access to these strains, then use your nose and taste buds to find other strains that have similar smell and flavor profiles.

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