Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. it’s a great time for family and friends to enjoy time together enjoying good food, wine and conversation.
Everyone has their favorite wines, beers and spirits to enhance the conversations, so I’m going to stay out of that part. Besides, not everyone likes what I like.
The Menu is what I want to talk about. Thanksgiving can be Dinner for 6 with an unchanging, century old menu. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing gravy, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. Whoops, don’t forget the can shaped glob of cranberry sauce. Do the Pumpkin pie, turkey, potatoes and gravy your way, but lively-up the sides. It’s really all about the sides.
Make one thing a tradition. In our house, it’s Barb’s grandmother’s Rolls. This year, rumor has it, Barb is passing the tradition to our daughter. I guess that will make them Great-Grandmother’s Rolls now. They are always great.
This is my plan…… Cranberry Mushroom Stuffing (eliminating the need for the can of red goo), Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Vegetable Eggplant Boats and Caramel Pear for dessert.
Cranberry Mushroom Stuffing
- 1 loaf of crusty white bread, sour dough and/or French. Cubed and dried.
- 1 pound of portabella mushrooms, chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, diced
- 1 stalk of celery, sliced
- 1 cup of bourbon (dry white wine works)
- ½ cup of butter
- 12 sprigs of fresh thyme, 6 fresh sage leaves and 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary tied together with butcher’s twine and bruised.
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup of dried cranberries
- 2 cups of vegetable stock. Have extra handy.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a large sauté pan cook the portabella mushrooms in olive oil, about 4 minutes.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes
- Add the celery and cook until tender.
- Deglaze the pan with bourbon
- Add butter and cook until melted
- Add the vegetable stock and the herb bundle.
- Simmer for 15 minutes and remove the herbs
- Mix in the bread cubes and cranberries.
- Add more vegetable stock if necessary to moisten all the bread.
- Stuff the turkey and / or fill a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
The Non-Vegetarian version is to replace the Portabella Mushrooms and olive oil with chopped Bacon cooked crispy, keeping the oil. Chicken stock can be used in place of vegetable stock.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice 24 Brussels Sprouts in half, length-wise and put in a large bowl.
- Drizzle with Peanut Oil.
- Roast 1 teaspoon each Coriander Seed and Cumin Seed and grind. Sprinkle over the Brussels Sprouts.
- Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of Chili Flakes over the Brussels Sprouts and stir to coat evenly.
- Arrange, flat side up, on a baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese, salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- Bake until the cheese is golden brown.
Eggplant Boats (4)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Quarter a medium eggplant, length-wise and core out all but ¼”.
- Brush the meat side of the eggplant with Olive Oil and lightly salt it. Bake the boats for 15 minutes.
- Small chop the eggplant core along with 1 medium onion, 1 medium bell pepper, 1 – 10” zucchini and 1/2 pound of mushrooms.
- Season to taste, the vegetable melody with salt, pepper and dried basil.
- Sauté the vegetable melody until medium done. Deglaze the pan with dry white wine and evaporate it.
- Spoon the vegetable melody into the boats and sprinkle the top with fresh chopped basil and Parmesan cheese.
- Bake until the cheese is golden brown
- While hot, sprinkle the top with crumbled goat cheese and let melt before serving.
Caramel Pear Dessert
- 12 graham crackers, finely ground (1 1/2 cups)
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined.
- Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom but not up sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Bake until crust is fragrant and edges are golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
- ¾ cup of butter
- 1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup of cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Combine butter, brown sugar, water and salt in a medium saucepan, over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Bring to boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the cream and vanilla.
- De-stem 2 ripe pears, core and quarter length-wise.
- Slice the pear quarters with a mandolin.
- Arrange the pears on the crust, single layer.
- Medium / large chop almonds and sprinkle over the pears.
- Broil in a hot oven until pears are golden on top.
- Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top and sprinkle with flaked finishing salt.