Saturday, November 19, 2016

What Makes Your Thanksgiving Traditional?

The one holiday ALL Americans can celebrate is Thanksgiving. It is a time when all religions and cultures can come together and be thankful for the blessings granted to us all as citizens of the United States. Every family has favorite dishes, from turkey and other proteins to sides, breads, cake and pies. But with so many dishes to prepare time management is essential to a successful meal. How do you decide what to make from scratch or semi-homemade and what to buy ready to serve? 

There are always options, but I've posted three favorite dishes here that will definitely amp up any Thanksgiving table and are worth making from scratch. 

Alex Patout’s Sweet Potato Casserole with Praline Topping 
    This recipe has graced my family's Thanksgiving table since the first time it appeared over    
    a decade ago!  It's worth the extra effort and every calorie because it is so delicious! 
5 large sweet potatoes or yams½ cup (1/4 pound) butter, softened½ cup sugar2 eggs, beaten1 teaspoon vanilla1/3 cup milk½ cup heavy cream1 cup light brown sugar1/3 cup melted butter1 cup chopped pecans Preheat the oven to 350*F. Scrub sweet potatoes or yams well and place them in the oven. Bake until tender, about 40 minutes, and remove. When they are cool enough to handle, halve them and scoop out the insides into a large mixing bowl. Mash well. You should have about 3 cups (it's fine if your potatoes come out to 3 1/2 cups).  Mix the softened butter into the mashed yams or sweet potatoes along with the sugar, eggs, vanilla and milk. Pour into a baking pan or casserole dish large enough to hold the potato mixture. Don’t forget to allow some room for the topping. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Cook the mixture over medium/medium high heat until it reaches the soft-ball stage on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and the chopped pecans well. Pour this mixture over the yams. Bake until very hot and beginning to brown. Serves 6-8. 

   Green Bean Casserole with Cremini Mushroom Sauce
   1 pound shallots, thinly sliced 
   1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
   Vegetable oil for frying
   2 1/2 pounds fresh green beans
   2 tablespoons unsalted butter
   1 medium onion thinly sliced   
   1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
   Freshly ground pepper
   1 pound cremini mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thinly sliced
   1/2 cup crème fraîche
   2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the shallots with 1/3 cup of the flour; shake off any excess flour. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of oil until shimmering. Add the shallots in 2 batches and fry over moderate heat until very crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer to paper towels, then sprinkle with salt. 

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the beans until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain  and refresh under cold running water; drain and pat dry. 

Melt the butter in a large, enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cayenne and a large pinch of pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add mushrooms, cover and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour and gradually stir in the stock until smooth.  

Simmer the mushroom sauce over low heat, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the crème fraîche, lemon juice and beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large glass or ceramic baking dish. 

Preheat the over to 400F. Cover the Casserole with foil and bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Uncover, scatter the shallots over the top and serve. 10 servings. 

The assembled casserole can be refrigerated overnight. Let return to room temperature before baking. The fried shallots can beeped overnight in an airtight container. Recaps in a 350° oven and let cool. 

Cremini mushrooms are actually baby portobellos and can be replaced in this recipe with a variety of small mushrooms from white button to chanterelle. 

Sausage Cornbread Stuffing

I always thought stuffing referred to when you actually stuff your turkey with a bread/cornbread or a variety of fillings. However, I have been informed that anything south of the Mason-Dixon Line is referred to as dressing whether or not it has been cooked inside the bird or not.  That being said there are many ways to prepare dressing. I prefer the old fashioned way made with homemade cornbread, however there are many versions to choose from. So whatever you call it, enjoy it! I like this recipe because it is takes dressing to a new level, especially if you make your cornbread from scratch the day before.  I might add about a cup of roasted chestnuts to the recipe next time I give it a go! 


Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, small dice
3 ribs celery, small dice
Kosher salt
1 pound spicy sausage, casing removed, broken into bite-size chunks
3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely diced
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
10 sage leaves, finely chopped
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped
10 cups stale cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups dried cranberries
3 to 4 cups chicken stock.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a large saute pan with olive oil, add the onions and celery and saute over to medium heat. Season with salt and cook until the vegetables start to become soft and are very aromatic. Add the sausage and cook until the sausage begins to brown. Stir in the garlic and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the walnuts, sage and rosemary and cook for another minute, then remove from heat.

In a large bowl mix together the cornbread, cranberries, and the sausage mixture. Add chicken stock and knead with your hands until the bread is very moist, actually wet. Taste to check for seasoning and season with salt, if needed and transfer to an ovenproof dish.Bake the stuffing until it is hot all the way through and is crusty on top, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Anne Burrell 2009
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