The Thanksgiving Feast: From Ordinary to the Extraordinary
If you're looking for new ways to spice up your traditional Thanksgiving feast, give these unique recipes a try.
The Thanksgiving feast is, by its very definition, steeped in time-tested traditions that have survived literally hundreds of years. For many, the menu for this annual American Fall celebration includes such classic favorites as sweet potato casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, pan gravy, fresh-baked rolls, pumpkin pie and, of course, oven-roasted turkey.
However, with the growing number of cooking shows, food and gourmet cooking websites there is an increasing interest by the average Pasadena cook in expanding their repertoire in the kitchen. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to venture outside of the standard, traditional fare with some very unique twists on the old classic recipes.
These unique Thanksgiving recipes are a delicious yet easy way for any cook to create crowd-pleasing holiday meals, wow friends and family with a gourmet twist on classic dishes and maybe even start their own Thanksgiving traditions.
Wild Rice and Double Oyster Casserole (Tracey Welch)
This is a delicious alternative to the traditional oyster dressing. The oyster mushrooms and fresh herbs make this hearty dish a fragrant, savory compliment to the main course.
12 ounces wild rice and long grain rice mixture
5 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
½ cup green pepper, diced
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
¼ cup celery, minced
1 cup dry white wine (always use wine that's good enough to drink)
½ cup fresh Italian parsley, minced
3 tablespoons salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
½ teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
½ teaspoon fresh basil, minced
½ teaspoon fresh marjoram, minced
2 cups oysters, drained
¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Prepare rice mixture in chicken stock according to package instructions. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add green pepper, garlic and celery and sautee until tender. Add mushrooms and wine and sautee until mushrooms are tender. Add parsley, salt, pepper and remaining fresh herbs and continue to sautéed approximately 2 minutes or until fragrant. Combine mushroom and wine mixture with cooked rice and transfer to a greased 3 quart baking dish. Melt remaining butter. Dip oysters in butter and place on rice. Baked uncovered in preheated 325 degree oven for 30 minutes. Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and serve.
Sauteed Holiday Spinach Medley (Tracey Welch)
This dish is quick, easy and healthy and should be prepared last and served immediately. The vibrant green and red colors and earthy pine nut flavor provide a beautiful, tantalizing presentation on the Thanksgiving table.
2 lbs fresh baby spinach
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ fresh ground pepper
4 tablespoons dried cranberries
4 tablespoons pine nuts
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Rinse spinach well in cold water and drain thoroughly. Plunge briefly into boiling water; shock spinach in ice water and drain. Heat butter with the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a garlic, salt and pepper and sautéed for 2-3 minutes. Add cranberries and pine nuts and sautee an additional 2 minutes. Add spinach and sautee just until reheated. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.
Turkey Roulade with Swiss Chard (From Foodnetwork.com)
For the main course, this is a moist, delicious and healthy alternative to the ordinary roasted turkey and stuffing. With a sumptuous combination of fresh herbs, cheese and pancetta, this dish will surely be the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table.
1/2 cup arborio or other medium-grain rice
2 bunches (about 2 pounds) Swiss chard, stems removed
12 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 ounces gruyere cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper
4 large eggs, beaten
1 skin-on, boneless turkey breast half (3 to 4 pounds)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups white wine
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rice and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Strain the rice and transfer to a large bowl, then bring a fresh pot of water to a boil. Drop the chard into the boiling water and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, then squeeze dry and chop. Mix the chard and pancetta into the rice.
Chop the garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a fine paste using a knife or a mini chopper. Add to the chard-rice mixture along with the cheese, scallions, basil, parsley, lemon zest, nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the eggs and stir to combine.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the skin from the turkey breast in one piece and reserve. Place the meat smooth-side down on a cutting board and butterfly it: Slice down the middle of the breast with a sharp knife, but do not cut all the way through. Open the turkey like a book.
Sprinkle the meat with a teaspoon of cold water and cover with plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a mallet, or a rolling pin, pound the meat into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Season with salt and pepper, then pile the chard stuffing down the center of the rectangle, packing it into a tight log. Fold the meat over the filling, overlapping the sides slightly. Stretch the turkey skin over the roulade to cover the seam and tie the roll at 2-inch intervals with kitchen twine. Fold in the ends and tie the roll lengthwise to seal.
Place the meat skin-side up on a rack in a shallow baking dish. Brush with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour the wine and 2 cups water into the dish and roast until a thermometer inserted into the roll registers 160 and the skin is golden and crisp, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes. Meanwhile, strain the pan juices. Remove the twine and slice the roll into 3/4-inch-thick pieces. Serve with the pan juices.
These recipes are a great way to build on the old Thanksgiving classics and take the traditional Fall feast from the ordinary to an extraordinary dining experience.