I don’t know about you, but for me Thanksgiving is about everything but the turkey. Every Thanksgiving is the same. You grab a little turkey, a little stuffing, some cranberry sauce, and your essential mashed potatoes with gravy. Then, you stare at all the other sides – macaroni and cheese, perhaps some roasted brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, maybe creamed spinach – and you wonder how the heck you’re going to fit all of it in your stomach, let alone your plate. Salad is simply a waste of time, and who even has room for dessert after all that?
Sure, you can get a great fresh, young, well raised turkey from a small farm. Sure, you can brine it and roast it so that it’s perfectly juicy and delicious, but without all the trimmings, it would be really boring wouldn’t it? There is so much tradition surrounding Thanksgiving, I like to keep the turkey preparation really simple – roasted on a bed of classic mirepoix, and the cavity stuffed with thyme, sage, and bay leaves. People have such expectations and associations when it comes to Thanksgiving, I’m even nervous about messing with classic mashed potatoes. The rest of the sides though, leave room for a little fun and experimentation.
As usual I will be working and making dinner for 250 or so people on Thanksgiving day. So Buddy and I celebrated a few days early. It was good because it gave me a chance to try out some new recipes on a smaller scale (as in, dinner for two with leftovers for 4). I started by playing with different stuffing recipes. Last year I made cornbread stuffing for the first time, and this year I added some Smoky Maple Bacon, apples, and chestnuts. Every year I make an orange cranberry compote, but this year I cooked in some orange rind as well as orange juice, so it was more of a marmalade. For vegetables this year, I kept it really simple – Honey and Ginger Glazed Carrots, and Haricot Verts with Glazed Pearl Onions.
You’ll most likely want to stick to straightforward mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, but if you and your guests are feeling adventurous, try adding a little root vegetable puree for a subtle yet flavorful departure. I used parsnips, but rutabaga or celery root would work nicely too.
Mashed Potatoes with Root Vegetable Puree
INGREDIENTS, serves 4-6:
5-6 large russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 large parsnips (or 1 rutabaga, or 1 celery root), peeled and sliced thinly
1-1/2 c. whole milk
1-1/2 c. heavy cream
3-4 Tbsp. butter
salt & pepper
Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil, and add a large pinch of salt. Lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, place the parsnips (or other root vegetable) in a small saucepan. Add just enough milk and cream in equal parts to cover the vegetables. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat immediately. Add salt to taste, and simmer gently until the parsnips are cooked through, taking care not to burn the milk and cream on the bottom of the pot. Puree the mixture with either a blender or an immersion blender until smooth.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and immediately mash or pass through a food mill or ricer. Stir in the root vegetable puree, and butter. Add more milk and cream as needed and add salt and pepper to taste.
Other useful recipes for the Thanksgiving table:
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Carrots are such a sadly overlooked vegetable. Although they are a kitchen staple, their flavor is so often lost in making stocks, soups, and braises. We rarely appreciate that good fresh carrots have a sweetness and aroma all their own. You may be able to find many different varieties at your local farmer’s market – from common baby carrots in different colors, to more unusual shapes such as thumbelinas and nantes. Choose young tender carrots and glaze them with honey and some warming spices to really bring out their flavor. I prepared the following recipe for a mini-Thanksgiving trial run earlier this week and my sister asked what I added to the carrots that made them taste so floral. It was the carrots themselves!
INGREDIENTS, serves 4-6:
1 lb. small young carrots, peeled and sliced thick
1-2 Tbsp. butter
1-2 Tbsp. honey
1″ piece of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1. Place the carrots in a shallow saucepan just large enough so they fit in a single layer. Add water to just halfway up their sides. Add the ginger, butter, honey, a large pinch of salt, and a small pinch of cayenne pepper. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to medium.
2. Cut a round of parchment just large enough to fit inside the saucepan and cut a hole in the center. Cover the carrots with the parchment lid and simmer until the water is almost evaporated and the carrots are tender.
3. Remove the lid and cook off the remaining liquid, shaking the pan so the carrots are nicely coated and shiny.
NOTES AND IDEAS:
You may omit the parchment lid, but then you will need to use more water to account for increased evaporation.
Try using chicken stock instead of water. This adds flavor, and the gelatin in the stock makes the glaze stick to the carrots better.
See Haricot Verts with Glazed Pearl Onions for photos of glazing technique.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Glazing is an excellent technique for bringing out the flavor of firm root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and pearl onions. Here sweet glazed pearl onions are paired with haricot verts – thin and tender french green beans – for a fresh, light alternative to green bean casserole for Thanksgiving. It’s so quick and easy, it makes a good side dish for any day of the week too.
INGREDIENTS, serves 4-6 as a side:
1/2 lb. haricot verts, trimmed (a.k.a. french green beans)
6 oz. peeled pearl onions
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. sugar
1. Blanch the haricot verts: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously then add the haricot verts. Cook on high heat until the beans turn bright green and are tender. Remove and plunge immediately into ice water or strain under cold running water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
2. To Glaze Pearl Onions: Place the onions in a shallow saucepan. Add just enough water to come halfway way up the onions. Add a large pinch of salt and the butter and sugar. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to medium-high heat. Cut out a round of parchment paper to fit just inside the saucepan, and cut a small hole int he center. Cover the onions with the parchment lid, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the onions are tender. Remove the parchment and continue to cook the onions, shaking the pan intermittently so that they brown evenly.
3. Add the haricots verts to the onions, with a tablespoon or two of water to deglaze the caramelized sugar from the pan and just warm the beans through. Serve immediately.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )