I know, I know… we’ve all moved on from Thanksgiving to year-end holidays. But, after any big feast, I like to take a few days to digest (pun mostly intended) and rehash the successes and failures.
With few exceptions, the menu was pretty much an epicurious.com freak out. I’m linking to the original recipes, scroll down for my reviews:
- Crudite plate with roasted red pepper hummus
- Cheese plate with crackers
- Spiced pumpkin soup
- Porcini mushroom turkey with mushroom gravy
- Apple-raisin stuffing
- Twice baked mashed potatoes
- Roasted sweet potato rounds with garlic oil and fried sage
- Green beans with lemon and pine nuts
- My grandmother’s mushroom recipe
- Kale and Brussels sprout salad
- Spiced apple cake with eggnog sauce
- Paul’s pumpkin pie
Spiced Pumpkin Soup
- 1½ T butter
- ¾ C chopped carrot
- ¾ C chopped celery
- ¾ C chopped ripe banana
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 whole clove
- 5 C low-salt chicken broth
- 2 C canned pure pumpkin
- ¾ C canned unsweetened coconut milk
- ¼ C sweetened condensed milk
- 1 t ground nutmeg
- ½ t ground cinnamon
- ½ t ground coriander
- ½ t crumbled dried sage leaves
- ¼ t ground allspice
- ¼ t yellow curry powder
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot and next 6 ingredients and sauté until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Transfer mixture to processor and blend until smooth. Return mixture to pot. Add broth and all remaining ingredients except cilantro. Boil soup over medium-high heat 15 minutes to blend flavors. Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate.)
Bring soup to simmer. Divide among 8 bowls.
Do not be afraid by the long list of ingredients. This is a super easy recipe to make. Also, don’t be afraid of the banana in the soup. It works with the other flavors, and although smells weird when cooking, it works well. I like to make this recipe because I have a set of fun pumpkin soup bowls. (Thanks, Mom!)
Porcini Mushroom Turkey with Mushroom Gravy
- 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 C boiling water
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- ¾ C (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ C chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 T chopped fresh thyme
- 1 T chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 t chopped fresh mint (I know, weird, right? Don’t fret. It’ll come out OK.)
- 1½ t salt
- 1 t freshly ground black pepper
- 1 14- to 16-lb turkey, rinsed, patted dry inside and out; neck, heart, and gizzard reserved
- 10 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
- 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 C turkey stock or water
- 1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 T chopped shallot
- 1 C dry white wine
- 2 C turkey stock
- 1 C heavy whipping cream
- 2 T water
- 5 t cornstarch
- ¼ C chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 t chopped fresh mint
For mushroom butter:
Place porcini in small bowl; add 1 cup boiling water. Let stand until softened, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Drain mushrooms, reserving soaking liquid. Chop mushrooms. Transfer half of chopped mushrooms (about ⅓ C) to small bowl; reserve for gravy.
Chop garlic finely in processor. Add butter and next 6 ingredients, then remaining porcini. Blend to coarse paste.
Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 325°. Sprinkle main turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Spread with 2 T mushroom butter. Starting at neck end of turkey, carefully slide hand between skin and meat of breast, thighs, and upper drumsticks to loosen skin. Spread mushroom butter over thighs and drumsticks, then over breast meat under skin. Fill main cavity with herb sprigs. Tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Tuck wing tips under.
Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Rub outside of turkey all over with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour 2 cups stock into pan. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, about 3 hours. Tilt turkey so juices from main cavity run into pan. Transfer turkey to platter. Tent very loosely with foil; let rest at least 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees). Reserve pan.
Scrape juices and browned bits from reserved roasting pan into large glass measuring cup. Spoon off fat, reserving 3 T.
Heat reserved 3 T fat in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add crimini mushrooms, garlic, and shallot. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl and set aside. Add wine to skillet. Boil until reduced to ½ C, about 3 minutes. Add reserved ⅓ C chopped porcini mushrooms, reserved mushroom soaking liquid (leaving any sediment behind), 2 C stock, and degreased pan juices. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to reduce slightly, about 10 minutes.
Add cream and crimini mushrooms to skillet. Mix 2 T water and cornstarch in small bowl until smooth. Whisk into gravy. Continue to simmer until reduced to desired consistency, whisking occasionally, about 5 minutes. Mix in parsley and mint. Season gravy to taste with salt and pepper.
First, I love this mushroom butter. (Remember, I have a love affair with compound butters). This one would taste great on toast. It also tastes great inside a turkey. Those brown bits are mushroom left over once the butter melted on the outside. Incredibly juicy and tender.
The gravy was surprisingly good as well. Kind of a modified cream sauce. I was a bit worried when the cornstarch slurry started. (I have a loathing of thickening sauces this way. It just seems like a cheater’s shortcut.)
This was the only recipe I used from the Food Network. I have re-formatted it from their site as it was impossible to use the way it was presented.
- 1 stick butter
- 2 red onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 apples, peeled and diced
- 1 T fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 t aniseed
- 1 C golden raisins
- 4-6 C chicken broth (I used just 4 C as that’s all that would fit in my pan.)
- 3 eggs
- 1 scoop grainy mustard
- 3 T fresh parsley, chopped
- 3 T fresh tarragon, chopped
- 8 C pumpernickel cubes, toasted (about half a rustic loaf)
- 8 C sour dough cubes, toasted (about half a rustic loaf)
In a large deep skillet, sauté onions, garlic and celery stalks in butter for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and add apples, thyme, aniseed and raisins; cook 5 minutes. Pour in chicken broth. Simmer until needed in next step.
In a large bowl, mix eggs, parsley and tarragon. Add bread and hot broth mixture to the bowl to the bowl.
Gently toss the stuffing, then spread in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Dot the top with butter or turkey pan drippings, cover and bake 30 minutes at 350°. Uncover and bake until golden, 20 more minutes.
On the surface, I liked the idea of two types of bread—especially the pumpernickel. (The leftover loaves make for great turkey sandwiches the next day.) But, this recipe had too much tarragon for my liking. I felt that’s all you could taste, even over the sweetness of the apples and raisins. I feel like this was the biggest failure of the meal. (And, nope… I don’t pre-test my recipes before subjecting guests to them. That’s the kind of mean chef I am.)
Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Garlic Oil and Fried Sage
- 3 large garlic cloves
- ¼ C olive oil
- 2½ lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½”-thick rounds
- ⅓ C olive oil
- 24 sage leaves
Roast sweet potatoes:
Preheat oven 450°F with rack in upper third. Purée garlic with oil and ¾ t salt in a blender until smooth. Toss sweet potatoes with garlic oil in a large bowl, then spread in 1 layer in a 15-by 10-inch shallow baking pan. Bake until golden in patches and cooked through, 20-30 minutes.
To fry sage leaves:
Heat oil in a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then fry sage leaves in 2 batches, stirring, until crisp, 30 seconds to 1 minute per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
Serve sweet potatoes with sage leaves scattered on top.
And, this was the second disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, they were good. I like the garlic oil for roasting the potatoes. I’d just leave off the fried sage as it didn’t really add anything to the dish.
Green Beans with Lemon and Pine Nuts
- 1½ lb green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
- ¼ C pine nuts, toasted
- 2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1½ t finely grated fresh lemon zest
- 4 t extra-virgin olive oil
Cook beans in a 4-qt saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes, then drain well in a colander. Transfer to a bowl and toss with nuts, parsley, zest, oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
My sister was mightily peeved that this wasn’t green bean casserole. I thought it would be a tangy alternative to the heavy dishes on the table. Boy, that lemon zest goes a long way. Super duper lemony (so lemony that people thought I had put lemon juice in the dressing). Also, the pine nuts just sort of sat there. Next time, I’d use walnuts or another toasted nut and then chop them.
Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad
- ¼ C fresh lemon juice
- 2 T Dijon mustard
- 1 T minced shallot
- 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
- ¼ t kosher salt plus more for seasoning
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1½ lbs total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
- 12 oz Brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
- ½ C extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ⅓ C almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
- 1 C finely grated Pecorino
Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, ¼ t salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded Brussels sprouts in a large bowl.
Measure ½ C oil into a cup. Spoon 1 T oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.
Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.
Oh, this is good. So very very good. I’ve been on a kale kick lately (which is good because I overbought kale and now have a ton in my fridge). And, I’ve never thought of raw Brussels sprouts, but it worked. Imagine this picture with the nuts on top (I added them after I took the pic.)
I’m going to deal with the dessert in a future blog as I think it could work for any winter holiday—not just Thanksgiving. So, that’s it for my favorite holiday until next year.