Ah yes, it’s Thanksgiving and I have so much to be thankful for. I’m excited for the joy and satisfaction I get from fixing this delicious dinner for my family. I think the last time I was able to fix a multi-course Thanksgiving was 2004.
Of course every course has a story and none of these are new recipes. I didn’t experiment this year. I did pick up a few tips on carving and shelling chestnuts which I describe below.
8 ounces low-fat cream cheese ( Neufchatel)
8 ounces low-fat Sour Cream
1 tablespoon capers — drained
2 tablespoon s anchovy paste
3 whole green onion — chopped
1 tablespoon caraway seed — crushed
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1) Combine the cream cheese, green onion, caraway seeds, paprika, mustard and cayenne pepper in a food processor. Whirl until pureed.
2) Transfer puree to bowl. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
and now, from Electric Bread here is Pumpernickel Bread
1/4 cups water
1 1/2 cups white bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup of rye flour
1 1/2 tablespoons dry milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup corn meal
2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
3 1/2 tablespoons of molasses
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
2 teaspoons caraway seed
3 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Place all ingredients in bread machine. Place Whole Grain Cycle. 10 minutes after kneading starts, check dough. If crumbly add 1 tablespoon water. If not forming a ball, add 1 tablespoon flour.
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms
1/2 cup parsley chopped
1/2 cup red onion finely chopped
2/3 cup finely chopped pancetta or other quality italian cured meat
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese plus extra for sprinkling on top when baking
1 egg beaten
3/4 cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter plus extra for baking
1) Wash and dry mushrooms and carefully remove the stems. Roughly chop stems. Set aside.
2) Sauté onion and stems in butter till liquid is rendered from mushrooms. Remove fron heat; add parsley, beaten egg, cheese, meat.
3) Slightly mound the filling over each mushroom.
(At this point you can refrigerate till ready to prepare)
4) Preheat oven to 400. Melt some butter and spoon a bit over each mushroom. Sprinkle with cheese and bake 15-20 minutes
2 turkey wings
2 turkey thighs
2 celery stalks
1 onion unpeeled studded with cloves
1 head of garlic, unpeeled top cut off
2 stalks of sage
2 stalks of rosemary
2 stalks of thyme
3 juniper berries crushed
1)2 days before Thanksgiving make turkey broth. Put all of the above in large crockpot; cover with water and cook on low overnight, or 8-10 hours.
2) In the am strain and put in jars or a bowl in the refrigerator to use in the gravy and dressing.
I usually make this one or two days before Thanksgiving.
Butternut Squash Gratin
(from Family Circle ’96)
3 lb Butternut Squash
6 tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Flour
1 cup Milk
1 whole Bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 whole eggs — lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts — chopped
1) Heat Oven to 350. Coat shallow baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2) Steam fresh squash 15 minutes or until tender. Puree cooked squash in food processor along with sugar. Scrape into fine mesh strainer; drain 15 minutes pushing down occasionally. Transfer to bowl
3)Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in flour until smooth; cook, stirring 1 minute. Whisk in milk until smooth. Add bay leaf, salt , pepper, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook stirring over low heat 10 minutes. Let cool. Remove bay leaf. Whisk eggs into squash. Whisk in cooled white sauce. Transfer squash mixture to baking dish smooth top. ( may be made ahead to this point and refrigerate)
4) Bake in lower third of 350 oven for 35 minutes or longer if refrigerated until set in center.
5) Prepare topping: Heat butter in small naonstick saucepan over low heat. Stir in sugar; cook 5 minutes. Stir in walnuts. Sprinkle over baking dish for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Sourdough, Chestnut, Sausage and Apple Dressing
It must have been 1999 since I made my own chestnut dressing with real chestnuts. Christmas 1990, Richard and I stood in the kitchen, peeling chestnuts and we had wood in our fingernails for weeks. Years later Richard insisted I only buy shelled chestnuts in a jar. (Those are horribly expensive) I always read everything I can about shelling chestnuts and always the same thing. “make an X across the chestnuts and bake in a 400 degree oven.” Sorry folks that *never* worked for me. Then I found this video on YOUTUBE:
Here are my results:
Another trick I attempted this year is that I chopped the rosemary, sage and even the caraway seeds in an old coffee grinder. It worked wonderful!
2 lbs of sourdough bread cubes (I make cubes from leftover sourdough and freeze in plastic bags)
4 large shallots
1 lb chestnuts shelled and chopped
1 lb mushrooms
1.5 lbs sweet italian sausage
2 large granny smith apples peeled cored and chopped roughly
2 eggs beaten
2 tbs chopped fresh sage
2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbs fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1 quart of chicken stock
3/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup butter
1) Sautee the shallot and mushrooms in the butter till liquid is rendered. Place in bowl. Add rest of the ingredients adding turkey broth till bread is moistened.
2) When ready to cook; place in shallow pan in 350 oven. Cook till top is crisp. (about 40 minutes)
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Pie crusts don’t come easy to me. They always taste good, but I have no luck with the transfer from roll-out to pie plate. As evidenced by the photo above, I usually end up piecing it together. Of course then I never had that wonderful overhang that makes for a beautiful fluted edge. I have picked up a good tip recently from Cooks Illustrated; I use vodka in addition to the water which prohibits the formation of gluten and makes for a more flakey crust.
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
2 cup pecan halves
3 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon good-quality bourbon
3 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cover bottom of pie crust with pecans.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, sugar, bourbon and the chopped chocolate. Stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour mixture into the pie shell over the pecans and place on a heavy-duty cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for an additional 25 minutes or until pie is set. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Last Thoughts on Turkey
I cooked a 21 lb fresh turkey this year. At 325 it took about 5 hours. I did learn a few things about carving this year from Alton Brown. Cut the breast off the turkey in one big slab and slice it across the grain. That worked well.
It was a great day and an even greater weekend. I think having time to spend with your loved ones is the most wonderful gift God gives us.