As Americans head home this week to awkwardly catch up with their extended families over traditional autumnal dishes, it can be tempting to just get stoned out of your mind to disengage from the drama, the inevitable arguments about politics and the boredom.
But why not include your family in the fun—by turning traditional favorites like sweet potato pie into some kind of sweet potato high? Perhaps the blissful effects of edibles will smooth out your dinner guests’ rough edges, inspire random acts of love and kindness and move conversation in trippy new directions.
To find out the best ways to get started, MEL consulted with L.A. chef Holden Jagger, whose company Altered Plates organizes private, cannabis-centric dinners (including a barbecue MEL attended this summer) and who will soon debut a weed-cooking TV show. What follows is his course-by-course set of instructions for tips and tricks to make weed food that tastes good and gets you high without getting you too high. After all, Thanksgiving already inspires enough of a food coma without a healthy helping of psychoactive ingredients.
Soups and Salads
The best way to get weed into your harvest salad or pumpkin soup, per Jagger, is through an oil infusion. “You could make a rosemary oil and infuse a certain amount of cannabis into it,” he says. That way, when you drizzle the oil over a soup to finish it, you’re dosing your dinner guests with a controlled amount.
Jagger encourages chefs to blanch cannabis before using it to make an oil so as to take out some of the skunky, chloroform-y flavors. Additional flavors for the oil are pretty much endless, but Jagger recommends toasted spices, coriander, fennel, citrus and/or garlic to pair best with Thanksgiving flavors.
For a truly California-style salad, Jagger envisions greens like frisée, radicchio and endives, sprinkled with persimmon and pomegranate seeds, dates and candy walnuts, and tossed with a white miso-citrus dressing, mixed with weed-infused sesame oil. (For extra credit: Add ginger, lemongrass and garlic to the sesame oil infusion.)
Rolls and Breads
For Kentucky-bred Jagger, no Thanksgiving is complete without cornbread. “Obviously you can go about using canna-butter for that,” he says, but he’s more excited about infusing weed into honey that can be drizzled over the bread. “I take honey from a farmer I know locally,” he says, and pours it over trimmings from his cannabis plants. “Then I let it sit for a month.”
Veggies and Sides
You could just sauté your green beans in pot butter and call it a day, but “there are more creative ways” to dress up your greens with weed. For example, for a classic dish on Jagger’s family’s table—sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping—he recommends using cannabis sugar. “With legalization there are actually cannabis sugar brands. You could use a number of those to create a batch of marshmallows.”
Speaking of weed sugar, Jagger says you can also use it to make a heady cranberry sauce. Most recipes will tell you to add some orange juice and sugar near the end of the process, which is the perfect time to add weed sugar. Another option for weed veggies: Sprinkle some cannabis salt over the dish.
“If you want to infuse anything that’s going with the turkey, I think it’d be the gravy,” Jagger says. “Once you have a nice rich sort of sauce going, you can add canna-butter.”
But that’s not the only way to add THC to the main course. “I don’t like my stuffing cooked inside the turkey,” Jagger says. “I’d rather just stuff my turkey with a bunch of aromatics, citrus, herbs and shallots.” Obviously, the definition of “herb” can stretch to include weed, and so, Jagger says you can throw even whole buds into the bird’s cavity: “I use cannabis fresh as often as I can. It’s something I find exciting, and it’s a way to get flavor out of cannabis that you don’t get out of the dried buds.”
Another option would be to make a compound butter with fresh herbs and herb, and shove pads of it under the skin. “If I was having a very adult Thanksgiving, that might be the way that I go,” Jagger says.
Jagger loves sweet potato pie and pecan pie for Thanksgiving, but says that pecan pie isn’t ideal for weed cooking because it “usually gets a little hot.” Not sweet potato pie, however, which you can cook at around 325 degrees. “At about that temperature, you’re pretty much guaranteed to activate all the cannabinoids and have as minimal loss in them as possible.” (Jagger has his own recipe for “infused sweet potato pie,” here)
Additionally, you can put weed into the whipped cream through the sugar technique, but Jagger says to avoid changing the crust recipe. “You’re going to sacrifice being able to cook the pie dough as dark as you like,” which typically needs to happen at around 375 degrees to get the butter to caramelize. “Crust is my favorite part of the pie. So I’d never want to mess with it very much.”
In other words, as usual, pie trumps all else—even the desire to get high.