Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Stock is magic.

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Thanksgiving dinner is a pause. I somehow put everything down for three days and focus on bringing one meal to the table. In a life filled with multi-tasking and the constant feeling that I lost a week somewhere in 2003 that I desperately need to get back, it’s a moment of peace.

That peace begins with a deep breath and a pot of stock. Even before I’ve finished the menu, the house fills with the scent of roasting meat and rough-chopped aromatics. Stock is effortless and rote, a handful of ingredients with no complex techniques, simply roasting and simmering with a little deglazing in between.

But, for its simplicity, stock adds great complexity and depth to the meal that lades the table Thanksgiving day. It brings satisfying richness. It elevates pan drippings into gravy, layers the simple sugars that glaze sweet potatoes and parsnips, transforms day-old bread into moist, herbed stuffing. Let’s hit the kitchen.

Rich Turkey Stock

Ingredients:

  • 6 pounds turkey parts like necks, legs or wings, cut in 3-4″ pieces*
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1.5 cups dry white wine or dry Vermouth
  • 4 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 6-8 parsley stems, about 2″ each
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns

*You’re looking for cheap meat, less than $3 a pound, with some bone in it. Have your butcher chop it down for you.

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place turkey pieces in a single layer in a heavy bottomed roasting pan (you’re going to put the pan on the stovetop later). Do not crowd the turkey. Roast in two batches if needed.
  • Roast the turkey until rich brown, about 1 hour. Remove turkey to a large stockpot.
  • Add carrots and onion to the same roasting pan. Toss them in the rendered fat from the turkey and place in the oven. Reduce heat to 375.
  • After 30 minutes, toss the roasting vegetables in the tomato paste and return to the oven. Turn the oven back to 400 and roast for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, watching carefully not to burn. Remove vegetables to stock pot with roast turkey.
  • Place the roasting pan over two burners on medium high and add white wine. When wine comes to a simmer, scrape up all the brown goodness. When wine reduces to 1/4 cup, add additional water if needed to finish scraping the brown bits from the roasting pan.
  • Pour deglazed pan juices into stock pot and add remaining ingredients.
  • Fill pot with cold water to cover turkey and vegetables by 2 inches.
  • Bring the pot to a simmer over medium low heat, partially covered. It will take about 45 minutes. Skim off any foam that collects on the surface.
  • Continue to simmer stock, partially covered, just a bubble or two every few seconds, for three more hours. Be careful not to let it come to a boil. Add more cold water if needed to keep meat covered. Skim any additional foam that collects on the surface.
  • After three hours, strain the stock and remove the solids, discarding them. Strain the stock through a fine sieve and then one more time through a sieve lined with a  layer of paper towels or double layer of cheese cloth. You will have to change out the towels or cheese cloth several times, as they become clogged.
  • Place strained stock in the fridge overnight. In the morning, skim the coagulated fat from the surface.
  • Taste a little stock with a pinch of salt. If needed, reduce stock by up to 25% to concentrate flavor. It should make about 3-3.5 quarts.
  • Refrigerate for three days, or freeze up to 6 months.
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Of patricide and proteins.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

The first time I made this dish I nearly killed my parents.

Zabaglione is simple, in concept. Whisk together 8 egg yolks, 1/3 cup of Marsala wine and 3/4 cups sugar. Place it in a metal bowl, over a pan of simmering water, and whisk until it increases to three times it’s volume and will hold a soft peak. Serve over fresh berries. There, wasn’t that easy?

There are a few finer points. The basic chemistry of this dish relies on whisking egg yolks over the gentle heat of a double boiler, allowing their tightly-coiled proteins to uncoil in long strands. Those strands interlock forming pockets of air. As the air expands and the egg yolks slowly cook, the whisked custard expands in volume creating an airy foam. Et voilà! Zabaglione. (There’s a joke in there somewhere. Linguistic humor is hilarious!)

How can such a simple dish go wrong? Cook the custard over high heat and fail to whisk constantly, allowing the eggs to scramble before the proteins can uncoil and form air pockets. Then, you end up with about 1 cup of custard, barely a few tablespoons per person, of highly concentrated fat, sugar and alcohol. Which is exactly what I served my parents the first time I made it.

Despite several near heart attacks that night, everyone remains healthy to this day and we continue to enjoy much lighter Zabaglione, like this autumnal version I’ll be serving up at Thanksgiving dinner.

Calvados Zabaglione With Apples

Ingredients:

For Zabaglione:
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup Calvados

For Apples:
2 apples, cored and thinly sliced
4 tbs butter
1/4 cup maple or brown sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg, fresh grated
1/4 cup Calvados
2 tbs Cinnamon Pear Balsamic vinegar*

*Sapore’s new winter vinegar. You can substitute a syrupy aged balsamic vinegar and a pinch of cinnamon.

Directions:

Zabaglione:

Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and wine in a metal bowl placed over a saucepan filled with simmering water.
Whisk steadily, keeping water at a simmer, until cooked through, and volume triples. about 5-7 minutes.

Apples:
Melt 2 tbs butter in large sauté pan over medium heat.
Sauté 1/2 apples for five minutes. Remove, add additional tbs butter and sauté remaining apples. Remove from pan.
Add sugar, nutmeg, Calvados, vinegar and remaining butter. Simmer until thick. Add apples and toss to mix.
Serve apples topped with custard.

Civil disagreement.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

November 2012 reveals great divide amongst the American people. Tomorrow’s election will leave 45+% of us deeply concerned about the next four years. Thanksgiving day will leave even more people deeply concerned about their fellow Americans’ palates. Forget politics and religion, it’s food that reveals the true regional and familial diversity in this country.

Moving to DC 10 years ago, the Southern traditions of greens and sweet potatoes were exotic and foreign. In New England, the only thing we boil for several hours is brisket, and we don’t add molasses or marshmallows unless we’re serving dessert. This past week, in the heated run-up to Election Day, I was determined to find common ground.

Maple sugar brings sweetness and depth to the potatoes while a complex Autumn Apple vinegar delivers balance and brightness. Nutmeg and white pepper give complexity to these simple, bold ingredients. Richly sauced, the sweet potatoes needed grounding, and earthy kale, quickly fried or baked, adds both texture and grassy greenness to the dish. Best of all, it’s simple and brightly colored, a perfect addition to Thanksgiving tables filled with browns, beiges and whites.

As for tomorrow’s election? We’re a diverse country, currently under great economic duress and social change. The division amongst voters and slow movement of our government reflects a system that is working, awaiting clear(er) direction from a strong(er) majority of voters. Like the growing diversity of my Thanksgiving table, I’ll celebrate the diversity of our country: not just of race or religion, but of the people, geography, industry and education that shapes our beliefs and perspectives.

Whatever you believe, please vote tomorrow. Then we can begin arguing about whether stuffing belongs inside the bird (it clearly does).

Sweet And Sour Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Kale

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs + 1/2 cup olive oil separated
  • 2 large sweet potatoes cut in 1/2” by 3” wedges
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbs Autumn Apple Vinegar, separated*
  • 2 tbs maple or brown sugar
  • 4-6 cups water
  • Nutmeg
  • White pepper
  • 2 cups Tuscan kale cut in thin ribbons

*While most cider vinegars are overpoweringly acidic with little depth, Sapore’s Autumn Apple provides balanced bite with fresh apple sweetness. To substitute, use a good sherry vinegar and add 2 cups of fresh apple cider to the braising liquid.

Directions:

  • Heat 2 tbs oil over medium high heat in a large skillet or sauté pan. Toss in potatoes and cook until beginning to brown, turning once or twice to caramelize on a couple of sides.
  • Deglaze pan with 1/3 cup Autumn Apple Vinegar and sprinkle potatoes with sugar. Add water and cook covered for about 15 minutes until softened but still very firm in the center.
  • Uncover potatoes and let liquid reduce as potatoes finish cooking. Add additional liquid if more cooking time is needed.
  • When sweet potatoes are tender in the middle, but not mushy, toss with 2 tbs additional vinegar and let liquid reduce to a glaze. Season to taste with nutmeg and white pepper.
  • While potatoes finish cooking, heat 1/2 cup oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Fry kale, remove to paper towels to drain. Season with sea salt and serve over potatoes.*

*Kale can also be baked in the over. Toss with olive oil and salt and back ribbons at 400 until crispy. Watch carefully to prevent blackening.

 

An island in the storm.

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About seven bites into the plate I couldn’t help but load as high as the laws of physics would allow, Thanksgiving dinner begins to feel like an onslaught of flavors. Roasted turkey, fluffy and buttery mashed potatoes, stuffing hot out of the bird, winter vegetables mashed, roasted and glazed, and the whole plate dripping in thick, flavorful gravy. My palate cries “Uncle!”

Cranberries provide an island in that storm: tart, black-red and jammy. That is, unless you plop the cloying, wobbly log of jello out of the can. While my brother requires its presence on our Thanksgiving table, I instead look to whole cranberry compote, fresh, minced cranberry salad, or even a savory cranberry mold to deliver much  needed relief.

Cranberries see the world in black and white: all acidity and no sugar. So even the tartest cranberry dish needs sweet balance. This compote delivers it with Cippolini onions, glazed with maple sugar, butter and rich stock. The cranberries cook down in port wine to a thick, jammy texture. One spoonful per dinner guest will satisfy. But make a double batch. Blended with a little mayo, it will transform the sandwiches you’ll inevitable be sharing around the kitchen table later that night.

Cranberry Cippolini Compote

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cippolini or pearl onions
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 3/4 cup maple sugar*
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1.5 cups vegetable or veal stock
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup port
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
*You can substitute a mixture of half light brown sugar and half white sugar for the maple sugar.
Directions:
  • Blanch onions in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove to an ice bath. Trim tips and roots of onions, be careful to leave the base of the onion intact so that they don’t fall apart. If the onions are larger than bite sized, cut them in half.
  • Melt butter over medium heat in a 3 qt saucepan. Add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown in places.
  • Add 1/4 cup sugar, garlic and rosemary. Cook 1-2 minutes until garlic is golden.
  • Pour in stock, reduce heat and simmer until liquid reduces to a thick glaze. Be careful not to burn the garlic as the liquid reduces.
  • Add cranberries, port, and cider. Simmer over low heat until liquid is reduced to a glaze and cranberries have turned jammy. The cranberries will pop delightfully as they cook. but don’t worry, the juices don’t spatter out of the pot.
  • Season to taste with balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and additional sugar if needed.