THANKSGIVING INSPIRATION TIME + AJ’S FAMOUS BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Ahoy dear readers. It’s Thursday, November 19th which means you have exactly 6 days to think about what you are going to make for Thanksgiving. If you haven’t shopped and ordered your turkey you are SCREWED. Just kidding. You’re not screwed. It’s totally fine. We make such a big deal about this meal when really it’s just meant to bring us together. But the undercooked turkeys and desperate last-minute ingredient hunts just seem to tear us apart. Cooking a Thanksgiving meal can be FUN! Even if you’ve agreed to host 25 of your closest friends and their significant others.

But have no fear. Kitchen Princess is here with a ton of ideas to make your Thanksgiving meal delicious and effortless (relatively).

brussels

1. AJ’S FAMOUS BRUSSELS SPROUTS

There’s nothing terribly special or secret about these Brussels sprouts other than the fact that they are insanely delicious. The secret is high heat on metal and rock salt.

Are you ready?

One pound of Brussels sprouts will feed about 4 people so double as needed. They shrivel up.

Ingredients

1 lb. Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon rock salt aka very large nuggets of salt aka coarse crystals*

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the bottom stem off the sprouts just a bit so the sprout stays in tact. You will loose a few leaves, that’s okay, save them. Then halve the sprouts lengthwise and add to a bowl with the excess leaves. Toss with olive oil and salt until perfectly coated.

2. Spread the sprouts on a heavy duty baking sheet in a single layer, 90% should have the insides facing up. Roast at 400 for about 25 minutes. You want a bit of charring but not completely burnt. Serve warm or at room temperature and DON’T make ahead. They will get sad and soggy.

*very important. Regular salt won’t work

stuffins

2. PEAR AND CHANTERELLE STUFFINS

Stole this from the New York Times. It’s a fabulous recipe and you should make it for Thanksgiving.

Pear and Chanterelle Stuffing

Original recipe appeared on November 9th in the NY Times. 

Time: One hour plus 24 hours for drying bread

1 large loaf Pullman or other firm white bread (I used cheap while pre-sliced Italian…shhhhh)

1 pound chanterelle mushrooms (I ALWAYS use Shitakes) 

1/3 pound pancetta, diced small

10 tablespoons butter, more for greasing muffin tins (seriously?)

1 large chopped onion

1/4 cup minced shallots (about three)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup white wine

3 1/2 cups diced pears (about four or five firm, ripe varieties like Bartlett or Anjou) plus one whole pear

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

1/4 cup minced chives (I skipped the chives)

1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley

2 cups turkey stock. (low sodium chicken broth was on sale for $00.33 so I used that, also I hate turkey as you probably already know)

1. Tear bread into small pieces (you should have about 16 cups) No way…I had about 10 cups. and set in roasting pan or bowl. To dry bread, cover with paper towels and leave out overnight. Or, place on a baking sheet in batches and lightly toast. Set aside. (I think I screwed this part up, since my stuffins weren’t as crispy as the Times’)

2. Wipe mushrooms with a clean, damp towel. Trim tough ends. Slice some thickly, chop others. Set aside. Place pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook slowly until fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Remove to a large plate.

3. Add 2 tablespoons butter to fat in pan and turn heat to medium high. Add onion and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft. Do not brown. Remove to plate holding pancetta.

4. Add 3 tablespoons butter to pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and quickly sauté until starting to brown. Remove and add to plate.

5. Add wine to pan and deglaze over medium high heat, cooking until wine reduces by about half. Pour remaining liquid over mushrooms. Wipe out pan and add remaining butter. Add pears and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Sauté pears, in batches if necessary, over medium high heat until they begin to brown slightly.

6. In a large bowl or roasting pan, add sautéed ingredients to bread. Toss lightly to combine. Add herbs and toss again. Slowly pour one cup stock over mixture and toss. Add more broth to make a very moist stuffing. (I think I added too much broth, I’d say skip this step) Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. If you are stuffing a brined turkey, remember that the bird will add a bit more salt. Ew, I hate stuffing from inside a turkey.

8. Just before roasting turkey, place some room-temperature stuffing lightly inside a prepared bird. Place whole pear in opening of cavity to help hold stuffing in the bird. NOPE

9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter muffin tins and fill each with stuffing, pressing down so each cup is well filled. Top each with one tablespoon stock. (forgot to do this) Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until a golden crust forms on bottom. (The actual cooking time was much closer to 40 minutes and I still never got that golden crust right) To serve, use a butter knife to remove each stuffing muffin and invert onto the plate.

Yield: Enough stuffing for a 12- to 14-pound turkey and a dozen muffin tins. If not stuffing a turkey, recipe will fill two dozen muffin tins or a small casserole dish.

Kohlrabi gratin

3. KOHLRABI GRATIN

It’s fun to make your guests eat Kohlrabi!

Kohlrabi Gratin with Shallots and Garlic

Makes 1 casserole that serves 8

Ingredients

3 lbs. Kohlrabi (about 12 small ones or 6 large ones)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 garlic cloves

2 large shallots

2 Tbs olive oil

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Equipment:

A mandolin

A small round casserole dish (le cruset) 

Directions 

1. Preheat your oven to 360. Chop the onion and garlic very finely. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until they start to brown. Add the chicken broth and cook for 3 minutes in high, then turn the flame down to a simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the mixture has thickened. You may want to add some salt if you used low-sodium chicken broth.

2. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on the bottom of the pot. Using a peeler and knife, remove the outer skin and dark green layer of the kohlrabi. Then, using a mandolin, slice each vegetable into paper thin pieces. Add a thin layer of them on the bottom of pot so they resemble fish scales. Drizzle 2 Tbs of the mixture on top of the first layer, then repeat with a second layer fo kohlrabi slices. Continue this process until you have 6 layers or you run out oh kholrabi. If you run out of sauce, quickly fry up some garlic in olive oil and add another 1/2 cup of chicken broth.

3. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top and bake, with the lid on for 35 minutes. Take the lid off and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese forms a nice crust.

ombre carrots

4. OMBRE CARROTS AND SWISS CHARD

Ombre is not just for white girl’s hair and tapestries! It’s for food! Martha Stewart, kitchen minx that she is, featured this gorgeous dish on her February cover this year. I think it’s a delightful splash of color for the Thanksgiving table.

Ombre Carrots and Chard

Serves 4 as a starter 

Ingredients 

8 large rainbow carrots in various colors (or twenty baby ones)
1 bunch swiss or rainbow chard, stems only, cut into 3-inch spears
10 mint leaves, roughly torn
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon sumac
pinch of salt and cayenne pepper

Directions

1. Peel and chop the carrots into spears about 3 inches long. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes, remove and cool in an ice water bath. Cook the chard in the same boiling water for 3 minutes, remove and cool in an ice water bath.

2. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a bowl.

3. On a plate, arrange the carrots and chard according to color. Drizzle dressing on top and sprinkle mint leaves. Serve cold or room temperature.

DSC_0935

5. ROASTED SWEET POTATOES WITH FIGS

This recipe comes from the master of VEG: Yotam Ottolenghi. His book Jerusalem is full of brilliant vegetable combinations. This one is perfect for Thanksgiving!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Figs

Adapted from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem

Ingredients 

3 large sweet potatoes
2 Tablespoons + 3 Tablespoons olive oil
5 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup chopped scallions (green onions in thin 2-inch pieces)
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh chili (I used a habenero) *optional
6 ripe figs
sea salt and black pepper

Directions 

1. Preheat your oven to 450. Cut the sweet potatoes into large wedges and toss in a bowl with salt, pepper and 2 Tablespoons olive oil.

2. Lay the potatoes skin side down on a baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes, using a spatula to turn them occasionally.

3. Make a balsamic glaze by combining the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small pot over medium-high heat. Cook it for two minutes as it starts to bubble and then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 7-10 minutes until it thickens. Set aside off the flame. You might want to heat it up for a minute with a splash of water before serving to reconstitute.

4. Heat 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and quickly fry the chili and green onions. The onions should  get barely crispy in about 3 minutes. Arrange the potatoes and figs on a plate and pour the onions, chilies and leftover olive oil on top. Drizzle the balsamic glaze on top and serve right away.

pigs in a blanket

6. PIGS IN A BLANKET

Because you didn’t make enough food and your guests will hate you until you shove one of these babies in their mouths.

Pigs in a Blanket

Makes 40

You will need:

2 rolls of Pillsbury crescent roll dough (comes pre-sliced and usually found near the butter in the refrigerated section)

40 cocktail weenies (I used Boar’s Head Brand)*

1/4 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

Mustard to serve

*If you can’t find the mini ones, just use regular hot dogs and slice into 2-inch pieces

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 cookie sheets with 2 pieces of parchment paper or  Silpats.

2. Peel and break 1 roll of dough and spread out on a cutting board. You should have about 6 pre-cut triangles. Slice each one of those triangles into 3 smaller elongated triangles.

3. Starting from the thickest end, roll each weenie in a dough triangle and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the second roll of dough to fill up the second sheet. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the pigs and use your fingers to press it into the dough.

4. Cook in the oven for 12 minutes total, rotating the tray halfway through. Serve immediately with mustard.

Now that I’ve lured you in I’m going to tell you something that may shock you. So be prepared. But also, TRUST ME.

chicken marbella

7. DITCH the TURKEY

Yup, I’m calling it. Turkey is overrated. It’s bland, nearly impossible to cook in a standard oven and no one actually wants to eat it anyway. Please feel free to argue with me but the turkey portion of the meal causes such stress and fanfare and nonsense that I say SKIP IT. Just buy one of these fabulous paper turkey centerpieces and make Chicken Marbella instead. What is Chicken Marbella you ask? Only the greatest main dish for a large group ever conceived! It’s chicken with olives, prunes and white wine and it’s about 75,000 times more delicious than turkey. SHAKE THINGS UP. IT’S 2015.

Chicken Marbella

(adapted from epicurious.com)

makes 20 servings

You will need:

4 lbs. fresh chicken (I used about 15 thighs and 12 drumsticks)

1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed

1/4 cup dried oregano

coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2cup red wine vinegar

2/3 cup olive oil

2 cups pitted prunes

2 cups pitted Spanish green olives

1/2 cup capers with 2 Tablespoons juice

6 bay leaves

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white wine

1/4 cup Italian parsley

20 fingerling potatoes

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine chicken quarters, garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them. Add the potatoes and coat in marinade.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice. (Maybe it was my oven, but the chicken took almost two hours to cook evenly)

With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat. (there was soooo much juice, I had to remove some during cooking to keep the chicken from poaching. I wanted a bit of a crust)

To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter. If chicken has been covered and refrigerated, allow it to return to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juices over chicken.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s