Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving

We will be traveling to see family for Thanksgiving this year, but decided to put together a few of our favorite T-day recipes a week early and share them with some good friends.

Thanksgiving

The bird was made with what is becoming my standard turkey recipe on the Big Green Egg.

A new recipe for this year was Michael Ruhlman’s custardy Thanksgiving Dressing.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dressing
1 cup butter
4 medium onions, chopped
6 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
12 eggs
6 cups turkey or chicken stock
16 cups cubed white bread (1 Udi’s gluten-free commercial 33 ounce, 20 slice loaf), torn into 1-inch chunks and left out to stale overnight
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat,  melt the butter and then sweat the onions until they begin to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the sage and thyme and season with a tablespoon of sea or kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

Reduce the heat a bit and continue cooking until the onions have just about melted themselves into the butter, but have not started to brown (about another 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.

Whisk the eggs together in a medium bowl. Add the turkey stock and whisk to combine.

In the biggest bowl you can find, combine the onion mixture, bread, custard (eggs and stock mixture), and parsley. Toss everything to coat, then set aside while the bread soaks up the custard. Stir and press the bread down into the liquid every 10 minutes or so until all of it is wet.

Butter a 6-quart baking dish (this recipe expands as it cooks, so use a bigger dish than you think you need) and pour in the stuffing. Dot the top of the stuffing with extra butter. Cover and bake until the mixture has set (45 to 60 minutes), then uncover and bake until golden and crispy on top (another 15 to 30 more minutes).

Thanksgiving

Continuing with the butterscotch kick I’ve been on, dessert was Nancy Silverton’s Butterscotch Budino topped with David Lebovitz’s Best Chocolate Sauce.

Butterscotch Budino
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed raw or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons cornstarch
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum

In a large bowl, combine the cream and milk and set aside.

In a large, heavy pot, combine the sugar, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking often to prevent burning. Cook until the sugar has caramelized to deep, dark brown and starts to smells nutty.

Reduce the heat slightly and continue whisking for a teensy bit longer until you get that first bitter whiff of the sugar starting to burn.

Remove from the heat immediately and slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Be careful – as it will steam and spit and the sugar will seize. Return to the heat and continue whisking until the sugar melts and caramel is fully combined. Increase the heat and bring to a boil while stirring frequently. Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Temper the egg mixture by slowing adding  about half of the caramel cream, 1/2 cup at a time, while whisking constantly.

When the egg mixture is warm, pour it back into the caramel cream and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a very thick custard forms (about 2 to 3 minutes).

Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and rum, stirring until the butter has completely melted. Pour the custard into your serving dish, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

The Best Chocolate Sauce Recipe
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder. When all of the sugar has dissolved and it just begins to boil, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips until melted.

Pour into a covered container and stash in the refrigerator until just before you are ready to use it. Rewarm before serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Between these recipes and the dishes our friends brought, it was a very fine meal, a lovely evening, and we have much to be thankful for.

I see all of these recipes making repeat appearances on our table. This is the second year for this turkey recipe, and it is definitely a keeper – moist, tender, and tasty.

The dressing was just plain outstanding. I never would have thought of dressing as just a savory custard, but it tasted great – very rich and dense, but not at all gummy like some dressings can get.  Next time, I would combine the stock with the onion/herb mixture, let them simmer together for a bit to infuse the flavors, then taste and adjust seasonings before mixing everything together. Also, adding a bit of sausage wouldn’t hurt either.

The budino was amazingly rich and thick. It was almost more of a ganache than a pudding or custard. And the chocolate sauce was the perfect foil for it – the semi-sweetness playing well with the burnt sugar to keep it from being too sweet. Definitely a dish to serve with coffee.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, everyone!

Butterscotch Pots de Crème

Pots de Creme

My dear wife and I were planning meals for the week using the highly recommended Our Groceries app. I had read a post over at Zoe Bakes that I really wanted to make as a surprise. So I read off the ingredients without telling her what I was making and she added them to the grocery list on her phone.

When I got done she looked at me quizzically and asked, “So how much chocolate do you need?”

“I don’t need any chocolate.”

“Well, there isn’t any in the house, so how much should I get?”

“No, the recipe doesn’t call for any.”

“No chocolate!?! You’re making a dessert, right?”

“Dessert doesn’t always have to have chocolate in it.”

“Okay, I suppose…”

Butterscotch Pots de Crème
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup raw or brown sugar, packed
4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 large egg yolks

In a heavy, medium sauce pan, whisk together the butter and sugar over medium heat until they begin to melt into each other. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to brown. Be careful that the sugar does not burn. One of the keys to butterscotch is that lightly scorched taste. So don’t be afraid to back off the heat a little at this point and gently roll up to that fine line between browned and burned.

When the butterscotch is the dark, reddish-brown of an old penny and just at the point where it starts to smell smoky, remove the pan from the heat and pour in one cup of the cream in a thin stream, whisking continuously.

Note: The butterscotch will not like this in the least.

It will hiss and spit at you and start to harden up. Keep the pan over medium heat and keep stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the rest of the cream, vanilla, and salt and continue cooking until the mixture just begins to boil.

Remove from heat and taste. Having the right amount of vanilla and salt is essential to having butterscotch taste like butterscotch, so feel free to make adjustments at this point.

Pot de Creme
Bright golden yolks from farm-fresh eggs.

Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. To combine the eggs and butterscotch without cooking the eggs you need to temper them by slowly whisking some of the hot butterscotch into the yolks. Do this a quarter cup at a time until you have warmed the yolks slightly.

Slowly pour the warmed yolks into the pot of butterscotch and whisk to combine.

Pot de Creme

Preheat your oven to 325°F and bring a large pot or kettle of water to boil on the stove.

Arrange your serving dishes (demitasse cups, teacups or ramekins work fine) in a large baking or roasting pan. Fill each serving dishes about half to two-thirds full of the butterscotch custard mix. Slowly add the hot water to the pan surrounding the serving dishes until the water is level with the filling inside.

Slide the whole works into the oven and tent loosely with foil.

Pot de Creme
Half of the batch in their own little 8×8 pan.

Bake for 30 minutes then check to see to see how they are setting up. Total baking time can vary a lot depending on the temperature of the mixture when you put it in the oven and size and shape of your serving dishes. You want the tops and edges to be firmly set, but they should still be a bit jiggly in the middle – about 150°F internal. They will firm up as they cool.

Remove from water bath and let cool, then stash in the fridge until chilled, at least 2 hours.

To serve – remove them from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving and dollop with some whipped cream or drizzle with a bit of chocolate syrup.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Pots of cream – the name says it all – rich, thick, smooth, and custardy. Almost burning the sugar not only took the edge off the sweetness but also and gave it a really deep and complex flavor.

To quote my dear wife, “Wow, these are great, and I didn’t think I even liked butterscotch!”

Grilled Ribeyes with Steak Butter

Ribeye

I have been very happy with my “hot off the grill” technique for steaks. There’s something very primal and satisfying about cutting into a still sizzling steak. The only thing that could make it better? Butter, of course!

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
1 – 2 anchovy fillets

In a small saucepan, melt half the butter over medium-low heat. Add anchovies and simmer until they melt into the butter, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the herbs, Worcestershire, paprika, salt, and pepper.

Remove from heat and let cool until mostly solid. Add the remaining butter and whisk to combine. Spoon mixture onto a large ramekin, cover with a sheet of waxed paper, and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

Season the ribeyes with a heavy coating of sea salt (2 to 3 teaspoons per side) and a few grinds of black pepper blend. Stash uncovered in the fridge while you get your grill set up for a direct cook at a sub-nuclear 700°F.

Sear steaks for 60 seconds, then rotate the 90 degrees and give them another 30 seconds on that side. Flip and repeat the process on the other side. After both sides have been seared, keeping flipping them every minute or so while checking for doneness. These steaks only took another 2 minutes of flipping to hit a nice medium-rare 125°F internal.

Ribeye

Move the steaks straight off the grill and onto your plates, pausing ever so briefly to spoon a dollop of steak butter onto them.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
I was expecting the butter to be a umami bomb – rich and savory, but I was pleasantly surprised that the herbs gave it a much brighter taste. Between the anchovy and the herbs it had a fresh, almost briny, flavor to it that really woke up the steak.

Chicken and Noodles

Jovial-Chicken-Noodles

Jovial Foods was kind enough to send me some of their gluten-free Brown Rice Tagliatelle pasta to review. With the nasty cold and wet weather we’ve been having lately, the first recipe that sprang to mind was a hearty Chicken and Noodles.

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2-3 cloves or garlic, crushed and diced
1 (12-ounce) box Pacific Natural Foods Organic Condensed Soup Cream Of Chicken
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 box (9-ounces) Jovial Gluten-Free Brown Rice Tagliatelle

Heat the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and cook until the onions start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about another 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until everything is heated through and the onions have just started to brown a little bit.Jovial-Chicken-Noodles

Add the soup and milk and stir to combine. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the carrots are tender.

While the chicken and veggies are simmering, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Rinse with cold water and let drain.Jovial-Chicken-Noodles

Add the cheese to the chicken and veggies and stir until it is melted in. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve hot over noodles. Top with a sprinkle of cheese if you feel like it.

Jovial-Tagliatelle-Traditional-Egg-Pasta-Organic-Gluten-Free

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Good egg noodles are one on the things that I have really missed since going gluten free. Jovial’s Gluten-Free Tagliatelle sure hit the mark here – tender but with substantial, with enough thickness and body to it to stand up to the sauce.

What impressed me the most was how different the Jovial pasta is from a lot of other gluten-free pastas I’ve tried. It wasn’t sticky or starchy. It didn’t solidify or dry out while it was draining. There where no “off” flavors, grittiness, or odd textures. If I didn’t know this was a GF pasta, I don’t think I could have told the difference.

One thing to note is that your cooking times may vary. I always start checking GF pastas for doneness at about half the recommend cooking time, and then every minute there after. Like any good pasta, you want it to be al dente – firm, but not soft. This is a narrow window that can be even narrower with GF pastas. My pasta ended up being done almost 2 minutes early.

Peach Spare Ribs

ribs
My dear wife saved me two of her precious peaches for this sauce. In the end, she said it was worth the sacrifice.

The recipe uses a wet blending technique that I’ve become very fond of. Rather than chopping up all of your ingredients individually, just cut them to a manageable size (quartering is usually enough), add a bit of liquid to float the goodies, and then pulse them in a food processor or blender until you reach the desired consistency.

Peach Barbecue Sauce
1 pound of peaches, quartered and pitted (2 -3 peaches)
1/2 cup red bell pepper
1 small onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup honey
1/4 – 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon raw or brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 teaspoons salt

Combine all ingredients into a food processor or blender. Give it all a whirl until well-combined, but not pureed. You want some chunks of this and that floating around.

Peach Spare Ribs

Pour into a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until it has reduced to about a pint (about 15 minutes depending on how much water you used). It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Let cool, bottle, and stash in fridge.

Spare Ribs
Set your grill up for a raised direct cook over low (250°F) heat. On the Big Green Egg I used a Woo2 ring to get the cooking grate further from the heat. When the grill is up to temp, add some wood for smoke (apple this time).

While the grill is heating up, trim the rack down as much as you care to. I like a St.Louis-style rack, so I remove the chine (breast) bone and the connective tissue between the chine and the ribs themselves. I also removed the tough membrane that covered the bone side of the ribs to let more flavor in.

After the ribs are trimmed, season them with a dusting of your favorite rub. I went with just salt and pepper on these to let the sauce shine through.

When the wood smoke goes from white (bad) to blue (good), move the ribs to the grill.

Spare ribs take a good 5 to 6 hours to cook. Start them bone side down and then flip them end-to-end and top-to-bottom ever hour. This helps even out the hot spots that can happen when you cook with direct heat. At hour 5 they should start showing signs of doneness – meat pulling back from the bone, and meat cracking when you lift up the rack at the end. When in doubt, check the internal temperature of the meat between the bones – it should read at least 180°F prior to saucing.

ribs

Sauce the ribs with the Peach Barbecue Sauce – and let them cook for 10 minutes. Sauce the meat side and let them go for another 10 minutes. Then sauce the meat side again and move the ribs off to a plate to rest for 10 minutes. Serve with remaining sauce.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Wonderful, clean peach taste with just enough sugar and just a tiny hint of rosemary. It’s very versatile and is great both spread on toast and dolloped on pork chops. Must make gallons of this next year.