We don't mind celebrating the bounty of the fall harvest; we just don't want to have to raise, chop, pick, gather, butcher, or forage for it. To say nothing of three full days of mashing, roasting, and baking. That's why God invented takeout.
And it's why she created women like Ellen Cirillo, who year after year does all the Thanksgiving prep for families who'd rather just get to the feasting part. Her catering company and restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, By Word of Mouth (3200 NE 12th Ave., Fort Lauderdale), has been turning out Thanksgiving dinners for 26 years ("We were doing this before anybody else ever thought of it") — either the whole shebang or those sides of sweet potatoes and fruit pies your witless relatives forgot to bring. Sautéed apples with corn-bread stuffing, roast turkey, and green beans with cashews are all $10 a pound (there's a two-pound minimum for sides). Deadline for turkey orders is Friday, November 16, and Monday, November 19, for sides and desserts. See the full menu at www.bywordofmouthfoods.com/holiday, or call 954-564-3663.
Carol and Paul Freiser's Grapevine Gourmet (256 S. University Dr., Plantation) has been whipping potatoes for the third Thursday of November for a decade. Catering manager Michelle Slavin says this year their Thanksgiving-to-go menu includes dishes like a mascarpone-pesto-sundried tomato torta, sweet eggplant caponata, and artichoke dip, plus traditional gourmet variations: butternut squash soup, corn pudding, broccoli casserole, apple pecan corn-bread stuffing, and tricolor roasted potatoes (red bliss, Peruvian purple, and white spuds tossed in oil, garlic, and herbs). And for dessert: chocolate bourbon pecan tart and deep-dish pumpkin pie with Chantilly cream, for starters. Carved roast turkey breast is $6 per eight-ounce serving; side dishes run $2.50 to $3.50 per person. Deadline to order is Friday, November 16. Call 954-475-1357.
For the health nut in the family, Whole Foods sells a hazelnut cranberry roast stuffed with apples and crystallized ginger in puff pastry for $10.99 per pound, a whole organic turkey from Diestel Ranch for $6.99 per pound, and a vegan field roast for $7.99 per pound with vegetarian gravy, sourdough and sage dressing, cranberry relish, and vegan mashed potatoes. They've got the traditional artery-clogging stuff for dedicated carnivores too — turducken for $19.99 per pound and spiral ham for $7.99 per pound. And their Isigney St. Mere brie stuffed with apricots and white cherries makes an elegant appetizer. Deadline to order is Monday, November 19, but Bill at the Federal Highway location in Fort Lauderdale (954-565-5655) told me they never turn anyone away. Find them at various sites in Broward and Palm Beach and at wholefoodsmarket.com.
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Tedesco's Deli and Pizzeria (218 Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea) has a long tradition of Thanksgiving meals to go; they'll serve two people to 20-plus. Dinner for two, which includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pie, and lots of other goodies, is $37.95 inclusive. Call them at 954-493-9233 and they'll fax you a menu.