Okay, when it comes to food for Thanksgiving, I think the turkey is the lame part of the meal. What’s good is the stuff on the side–stuffing especially.
I’m at the age (and have been for a while) when this holiday is usually a gathering of a bunch of people and all of us cook, which is way nicer than the days when I was responsible for the whole shebang myself, but also nicer than the days when I was little and had to eat whatever the fuck was put in front of me no matter what.
It’s great fun to just get to concentrate on doing a few side dishes and doing them well. Riffs on the traditional stuff, as it were.
If you’re in the same position for coming up with a couple of things for this meal, here are some groovy things to try your hand at in the coming week.
This was just in the New York Times food section a couple of weeks ago, and I made it for dinner a few days ago:
Roasted Cauliflower and Raisins with Anchovy Vinaigrette
Time: 45 minutes
1 large cauliflower, cored, trimmed and separated into florets
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sherry or balsamic vinegar, or to taste
4 minced anchovy fillets, with a little of their oil, or to taste
½ cup raisins, preferably golden
½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put cauliflower in roasting pan, drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil and some salt and pepper; toss. Roast, turning once or twice, for 15 minutes or so, until cauliflower just starts to soften.
2. Meanwhile, make vinaigrette by combining remaining oil with vinegar, anchovies and a little salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasoning. Remove pan, drizzle cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette, and toss. Roast, turning once, until a thin-bladed knife pierces a piece with little resistance, for 15 minutes. (Recipe may be cooled at this point, covered tightly and refrigerated for 2 days.)
2. At last minute, put cauliflower in salad bowl and add raisins, parsley and remaining vinaigrette and toss. Taste and sprinkle with salt, if needed, and lots of pepper, then serve.
Yield: 8 servings.
Here’s some thing newish to do with sweet potatoes, if you’re sick of the whole marshmallow thing: mash them with one chipotle pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce, with a nice big spoonful of the adobo mixed in. A little orange juice, maybe, with zest of the orange. Top with some crumbled bacon. Gives them a nice smoky-sweet savor that rounds the whole thing out.
And if you’re sick of same-old same-old turnips, there’s a beautiful recipe for turnips mashed with some rice and cream in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking:
- 2 cups milk, if needed (or more)
- 1 cup rice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon italian seasoning
- 4 large turnips, peeled and roughly chopped
1. Bring the milk to a simmer. Add rice, butter, and garlic
2. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes.
3. Stir in turnips. Add more milk if needed to submerge the vegetables.
4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until turnips are tender.
5. When the liquid is almost absorbed, puree in a food mill or food processor.
6. Reheat before seasoning. Stir in butter or cream and adjust seasonings.
7. Garnish with fresh parsley.
This is a deeply gorgeous way to serve turnips–they come out sweet and creamy and with a beautifully silky texture. They do look an AWFUL lot like mashed potatoes, though, so you might want to stir in some turmeric just to give them a little visual difference.
Also, I’ve become a huge convert to Brussels sprouts over the last couple of years. Because basically when you have anemia, they taste better than cheesecake.
Take some sprouts, cut the ends off, and toss them in a baking pan with a bunch of cloves of garlic, a generous dollop of olive oil, and the juice and zest of at least one lemon. Roast them in a 400-degree oven for about half and hour, tossing around occasionally. They’re good to go when they’re starting to brown on the outer leaves and aren’t too crunchy any more if you stick a fork in them.
Okay, ‘ratis, what’s your favorite thing to cook for Thanksgiving?