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Thanksgiving Dinner Revisited

10/30/2009 04:55AM ● Published by Wendy Sipple

Photos by Leigh Beisch (Chronicle Books, 2008)

In the midst of the holiday season hustle and bustle, Thanksgiving dinner provides our families with a special day of gathering to give thanks for our blessings...

and give our tummies a filling. Since it is the season of change, why not mix up your menu and splash in some new dishes that shake up old favorites – even the turkey! This month, Style has compiled a dinner itinerary from the pages of some great cookbooks on the market that take turkey dinner favorites up a notch. Caution: New trends could occur in your future holiday dinners.

OUT: Dry Martini
IN: Lava Lamp

(The Bubbly Bar by Maria C. Hunt)

  • 1 ounce Pama pomegranate liqueur or 3 tbsp. pomegranate juice
  • 5 ounces brut sparkling wine
  • 3 pomegranate seeds

Add the pomegranate liqueur or pomegranate juice to a champagne flute. Fill the glass with sparkling wine. Drop in the pomegranate seeds, and serve. Makes 1 cocktail.


OUT: Cheese Log
IN: Bruschetta with Cranberry Relish

(Get Togethers with Gooseberry Patch by Vickie Hutchins and Jo Ann Martin)

Cranberry Relish:

  • 1 16-ounce whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 6 ounces sweetened, dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. rum extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 baguette, cut into 1/4-inch think slices
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

For Relish: Stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Next, brush baguette slices lightly with olive oil. Arrange on a broiler pan; toast lightly on one side under broiler. Turn slices over; spread with Cranberry Relish. Sprinkle with combined zests, then with pecans and blue cheese. Place under broiler just until cheese begins to melt. Makes 18 to 20.


OUT: Waldorf Salad
IN: Big Salad with Caramelized Pumpkinseeds, Pears and Pomegranate

(New Vegetarian by Robin Asbell)

  • 1 cup pumpkinseeds, raw
  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 large romaine lettuce, washed and dried
  • 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 large bosc pears, sliced
  • 4 ounces Pecorino cheese, sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 tbsp. fresh mint, optional
  • 2 tbsp. pomegranate juice concentrate
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seed or olive oil
  • 1 small pomegranate, seeds removed and set aside

Make the pumpkinseed topping up to a week ahead. Heat the oil for a minute in a medium non-stick skillet. Add the pumpkinseeds and toss in the pan over high heat, until the seeds are popping and browning, about 3 minutes. Take off the heat and add the brown sugar and toss constantly until seeds are coated with melted sugar (careful-it will burn easily). Quickly mix in the spices and salt, then spread on a plate to cool. Cool completely and store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Make dressing in processor by mincing garlic and mint. Add pomegranate concentrate, lemon, honey and salt and pulse to mix. Gradually drizzle in oil with machine running.

Wash and dry romaine, then slice across the leaf in 1/2-inch wide strips. Arrange on plates or in bowl. Top with shallots, pears and cheese. Drizzle over the dressing and top with the pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds. Serve right away. Serves 6.


OUT: Mashed Potatoes
IN: Mashed Potatoes En Croute

(Delicious Flavors by Victoria Amory)

  • 6 to 8 large Idaho potatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, (store bought) thawed at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp. Parmesan, grated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel and dice the potatoes and transfer to a large bowl of cold water to prevent them from discoloring. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes, milk, bay leaf and salt. Cook until the potatoes are soft and very tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, drain the potatoes in a colander and return to the pot. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until soft and fluffy. Using a heavy-duty wire whisk, beat in the cream and butter. Season with nutmeg and salt to taste. Whisk in the egg yolk and set aside.

Line an 8-inch pied dish with one of the pastry sheets, allowing the edges to hang over the sides. Spoon the mashed potatoes into the dish and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Top with the remaining sheet of puff pastry sheet and crimp the edges with a fork. Trim away excess pastry. Make a few decorative slits using a sharp knife and sprinkle the other two tablespoons Parmesan cheese on top of the pastry. Bake until the pastry has risen slightly and is golden, about 20 minutes. Serve hot, cutting into wedges. Serves 8.


OUT: Stuffing with Sausage
IN: Sourdough Stuffing with Roasted Chestnuts and Apples

(The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan)

  • 1 lb. loaf sourdough bread, crusts removed, bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1-1/2 lbs. fresh chestnuts
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh sage
  • 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 cups homemade chicken stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

To prepare the chestnuts, using a sharp paring knife, make a long slash on the flat side of each chestnut, cutting through the outer shell and inner brown skin. Spread the chestnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Every 15 minutes, sprinkle the chestnuts with a little water. Peel the chestnuts while they are still quite warm but cool enough to handle. Using the paring knife, remove the outer shells and the inner brown skins. Discard any chestnuts that look rotten. Set aside any chestnuts that are hard to peel, then rewarm them in the 375 degree oven for 2 to 3 minutes or place them on a paper towel and microwave on high for 45 seconds. Repeat as needed until easy to peel. You should have about 2 cups peeled nuts. Break all the chestnut meats into small chunks and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Coat a deep, 9 x 13-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Place the bread cubes and chestnuts in a very large bowl. In large sauté pan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat the pan and add the onion, carrots and celery. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the apples and sauté for 2 minutes longer. Add the parsley, thyme, sage, salt, and a few grinds of pepper and sauté for 1 minute longer. Add the apple mixture to the bread cubes and stir to combine.

Add the eggs and stock to the bowl and mix well. Scoop the stuffing into the prepared pan and bake, uncovered, for about 1 hour until the top is lightly browned and crusty.

If you have room in your oven, bake the stuffing while the turkey is roasting. Otherwise, bake it beforehand and reheat it once the turkey is out. Serves 12.

Cooks Note:
If you prefer not to roast your own chestnuts, you can buy peeled chestnuts in vacuum-sealed packages, cans, or jars at specialty food stores. You will need about 2 cups. Drain any liquid in which they are packed. Prepared chestnuts are usually boiled rather than roasted, resulting in a bit of flavor loss. However, placing them on a rimmed baking sheet and roasting them at 375 degrees for 15 minutes really improves their flavor.


OUT: Turkey in a Bag
IN: Juniper-Brined Roast Turkey with Chanterelle Mushroom Gravy

(The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan)

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large rib celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • One 12-to-16 lb. brined turkey made with juniper brine
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Chanterelle mushroom gravy

Combine the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, sage, thyme, and a few grinds of pepper in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. Position a rack on the second-lowest level in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Have ready a large roasting pan with a roasting rack, preferably V-shaped, set in the pan.

Put 1/2 cup of the vegetable mixture inside the neck cavity and 1/2 cup inside the chest cavity of the turkey. Scatter the remainder on the bottom of the roasting pan and add 1 cup of water to the pan. Truss the turkey. Using a pastry brush, brush the turkey with half of the melted butter. Place the turkey, breast side down, on the roasting rack. Roast for 30 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Baste the turkey with the pan juices and roast for 30 minutes longer.

Remove the turkey from the oven. Using silicone oven mitts, regular oven mitts covered with aluminum foil, or wads of paper towels, turn the turkey breast side up. (It won’t be very hot at this point.) Baste with the pan juices and the remaining melted butter, and return the turkey to the oven. Continue to roast, basting with the pan juices again after 45 minutes. At this point, check the internal temperature of the turkey by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone. (As a point of reference, when the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 125 degrees, the turkey is about 1 hour away from being done. Of course, roasting times will vary, depending on the size of the bird, its temperature when it went into the oven, whether or not it is stuffed, and your particular oven and the accuracy of the thermostat.) The turkey is done when the instant-read thermometer registers 160 to 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of a thigh away from the bone.

When the turkey is done, tilt the body so the juices from the main cavity run into the pan. Transfer to a carving board or serving platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let he turkey rest for 30 to 40 minutes before carving, to allow the juices to redistribute. (The internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees while the turkey rests.)

Strain the juices, vegetables, and browned bits from the roasting pan through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large glass-measuring cup. Set aside and allow the fat to rise to the top. Spoon off the fat. The pan juices from a brined turkey are usually too salty to add gravy, so I refrigerated them and add to the water for making stock from the carcass; the juices provide additional flavor and the salt is diluted by the water.

Chanterelle Mushroom Gravy

  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3/4 lb. chanterelle mushrooms, wiped or brushed clean and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup instant flour such as Wondra or Shake & Blend
  • 3 cups turkey stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian option) for gravy
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper

In a 2 1/2-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and swirl to coat the pan. Add the shallot and sauté until soft but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms soften and give up their juices, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the flour and 1/2 cup of the stock until the flour is dissolved.

Add the remaining 2-1/2 cups stock to the mushrooms in the pan and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the flour mixture and simmer until the gravy thickens, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve. Yields 3 cups.


OUT: Green Bean Casserole
IN: Green Beans with Lemon-butter Bread Crumbs and Toasted Almonds

(The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan)

  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or other plain dried bread crumbs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 1/2 lbs. fresh green beans, stem ends trimmed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • Freshly ground pepper

In a small skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp. of the butter. Add the panko and toast, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Fill a large saucepan two-thirds full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tbsp. of salt. Add the beans and cook for about 2 minutes until bright green and still very crisp. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl two-thirds full of ice water. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, immediately transfer the beans to the ice water. Let cool in the water for 2 minutes and then drain thoroughly, blot dry with paper towels, and set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 3 tbsp. butter and swirl to coat the pan. Add the green beans and sauté, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes until the beans are heated through and crisp-tender. Add the lemon juice and almonds and sauté for 1 minute longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl. Sprinkle with the panko toping and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.


OUT: Sweet Potato Casserole
IN: Roasted Carrots and Parsnips with Fresh Dill

(The Christmas Table by Diane Morgan)

  • 7 parsnips (about 2-1/2 lbs.), peeled and cut into 3 x 1/2-inch sticks
  • 1-1/2 pounds tender carrots, peeled and cut into 3 x 1/2-inch sticks
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. kosher or sea salt

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large roasting pan or 9 x 13-inch baking dish, toss the parsnips and carrots with the olive oil, dill, pepper, and salt. Roast, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife and lightly caramelized in spots, about 45 minutes. Serve immediately, or cover and keep warm for up to 1 hour before serving. Serves 8 to 10.

OUT: Dinner Rolls
IN: Sweet Potato Knots

(Get Togethers with Gooseberry Patch by Vickie Hutchins and Jo Ann Martin)

  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 3/4 cup canned sweet potatoes, mashed and liquid reserved
  • 3 tbsp. butter, melted and divided
  • 1-1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 5 cups bread flour, divided
  • Melted butter

Dissolve yeast in milk in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, one tablespoon of butter, salt and egg yolks; whisk together, add a tablespoon (or 2) of sweet potato liquid if mixture is too stiff. Add 4-1/2 cups flour, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Add remaining flour one tablespoon at a time until dough no longer sticks to hands. Place in a large bowl sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray. Turn to coat; cover. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, until double in bulk. Punch down; let rest for 5 minutes. Divide into 24 portions. Shape each into 1 9-inch rope, then into a knot, tucking top end under roll. Arrange roll on 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Spray lightly with non-stick vegetable spray; cover and let rise 30 minutes, until double in bulk. Bake on bottom 2 oven racks at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Rotate baking sheets and bake an additional 7 minutes, until golden. Cool on wire racks; brush with melted butter. Makes 2 dozen.


OUT: Store-Bought Pumpkin Pie
IN: Pumpkin-Caramel Ice Cream Pie

(Seriously Simple Holidays by Diane Rossen Worthington)

Crust

  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped pecans
  • About 25 gingersnaps, ground into fine crumbs in a food processor (1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 2 pints pumpkin ice cream
  • 4 tbsp. chilled caramel sauce (your favorite)
  • 16 pecan halves for garnish

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Tightly line a 9-inch pie plate with 2-inch sides with aluminum foil. In a bowl, mix together the pecans and gingersnap crumbs. Add the butter and toss the crumbs to blend well. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and sides of the pie plate, using the back of a spoon, the heel of your hand, or your fingers. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Bake for 6 minutes, or until just set. Let cool.

Chill the crust in the freezer for 2 hours. Remove from the freezer and unmold the pie shell onto a flat surface. Very carefully peel away the foil so the shell stays intact. Return it to the pie plate.

To make the filling, soften the ice cream in a large bowl and mix with a large spoon until thoroughly blended and no lumps remain. Spoon into the pie shell and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. With a teaspoon, dot the top of the pie with 3 tablespoons of the caramel. Use a skewer to make a pretty swirl or other design, moving it back and forth about 1/2 inch deep into the ice cream. Arrange the pecans around the outside edge of the pie, pushing them into the ice cream.

Freeze the pie for at least 2 hours. When it is frozen, cover tightly with foil. To serve, thaw slightly in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve with the your favorite warm caramel sauce. Serves 8 to 10.


RESOURCES

The Bubbly Bar by Maria C. Hunt
Photos by Paul Body
(Clarkson Potter, 2009, $17)

Get-Togethers with Gooseberry Patch by Vickie Hutchins and Jo Ann Martin
(Gooseberry Patch, 2005, $25); gooseberrypatch.com

New Vegetarian by Robin Asbell
Photographs by Yvonne Duivenboorden
(Chronicle Books, 2009, $20)

Delicious Flavors by Victoria Amory
Photography by Eric Striffler
(Casa Rota, 2008, $30); victoriaamory.com

The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan
Photos by Leigh Beisch
(Chronicle Books, 2008, $25)

Seriously Simple Holidays  by Diane Rossen Worthington
Photos by Noel Barnhurst
(Chronicle Books, 2007, $25)

The Christmas Table by Diane Morgan
Photos by E.J. Armstrong
(Chronicle Books, 2008, $20)

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