Glazed Root Vegetables:
(In this case either carrots or sweet potatoes—we need some color on that plate.) Root
vegetables are always available. This version uses a touch of brown sugar to add sweetness and a
scraping of fresh ginger to provide a kick in the pants. (That was truer than her readers would
ever know, she thought.)
1 lb of either sweet potatoes or carrots—peeled and cut into small moon shaped pieces.
2 TBL butter
About an inch of peeled fresh ginger, grated with a microplane grater.
1 cup of either orange juice or apple juice
1 cup of chicken stock
Bring the liquids to a boil in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Dump your veggies in. Cook
until tender with the lid on. When just fork tender—use a slotted spoon to remove the half
moons. Allow the liquid to boil down until it’s about 1/2 cup. Add butter, brown sugar and
ginger. Return vegetables to pot and stir to coat with glaze. It’s better if this isn’t done ahead of
time. The texture suffers. This dish is all about balance—sweet and spicy—familiar and unusual.
Absolutely worth the effort.
-I know, I know, your mother made meat loaf on Wednesdays and it was covered in gloppy
ketchup and you did not learn to cook so that you could go make loaves of meat. Got it.
However, the simple fact remains, as my grandfather used to say when I was in chef’s school and
throwing balsamic reduction and tarragon in everything, “Honey, a man likes a tune he can
whistle.” So true, Poppa. Therefore, I present to you a flavorful, juicy meat loaf. Magnificent
alongside scalloped potatoes. Even better in a sandwich. (Recipe in index)
I let it get to just warm before slicing thickly and serving atop white sandwich bread with
mustard and white cheddar. I can’t even whistle (I can’t—not a single note—so I gave up my
goal of being a Native American tracker early in life) and I know this is a lunch to sustain
anyone—whether they are roofing or getting ready for a parent-teacher conference. Make it
today. It’s delicious!
To be clear, I am not roofing. I tried to put the stickers in the right spots on my Barbie
townhouse when I was eleven and learned right then that construction was not for me. Unlike
me, Killian can do anything he decides to do. It’s one of the many irresistible things about him.
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
3//4 cup cracker crumbs from saltines—finely ground
1 large onion finely diced-sautéed for about ten minutes over very low heat—just until
softened. Add 4 cloves of minced garlic—cooked with the onion. Allow to cool a bit off of the
1TBL prepared horseradish (not the creamy mayo type stuff)
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper
1 TBL horseradish
1 TBL brown sugar
4 TBL ketchup- don’t need to measure- just squirt, stir, and eyeball.
Pour the milk over the cracker crumbs—once they are soaked through, combine all
remaining meat loaf ingredients. Spray a 10” Bundt pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl,
combine 1 TBL horseradish, 1 TBL brown sugar and 4 TBL ketchup. Spoon into the bottom of
your Bundt pan and lightly spread it around. Press the meat mixture into the pan and then place
the Bundt pan into a large roasting pan. While the oven preheats to 350 degrees, bring the kettle
to the boil. Pour boiling water around the Bundt pan and carefully hoist the whole shebang into
the oven. Forty minutes later, remove from its sauna and allow to cool in pan for at least ten
minutes. Using oven mitts that you have never liked anyway, lay a plate a top the meatloaf and
flip it over—gingerly loosen the pan and allow the glaze that you very cleverly put in the bottom
of the pan to ooze down over your crown of meatiness. Be careful with this—there might be
grease that oozes out of the upended Bundt pan and you don’t want to get burned.
Now, fresh is always best—and yet—pitting cherries is for the birds. Instead, we are
going to use several bags of frozen cherries. If you are a masochist, go ahead and use the fresh
ones. Who am I to judge how any of us gets our kicks? Do not for one minute, however, think
that it makes you a martyr for your art since in this case, it does not.
• 3 bags of frozen cherries 1 lb each
• 1 cup light brown sugar
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• – A vanilla pod
• 3 cinnamon sticks broken in half
• 3 strips of orange peel-peel shallow- we don’t want the white stuff
• 3 cups rye whiskey don’t hesitate to use good stuff for this since it won’t be
wasted—After steeping our ruby gems it can then be drunk.
• 6 1/2 pint jars with lids—you can reuse the jars—but you must use fresh metal
lids and rings each time.
Dump the cherries into a colander set inside a non reactive pot (that means no cast iron
or copper) let them sit for several hours and when they seem thawed put a bowl on them to force
as much of the juice out as possible. If you’re so inclined feel free to do this in your fridge. I am
not so inclined. That would involve putting a plate or something under them and that just sounds
too much like work. After they have drained (save the juice), squeeze with your hands and then
arrange the cherries in your jars—you want them to be about 2/3 full. You might not need all six
jars. My powers of prognostication are not infallible. Add the honey, cinnamon and bourbon to
the juice and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not try to hurry this along. We don’t have
to have met for me to know that you look better with eyebrows. Whiskey is more than a wee bit
flammable. Once everything is dissolved and syrupy, remove from heat and stir in the scrapings
from the vanilla pod. Cut the pod into as many pieces as you have jars and distribute among
them. Use a skewer to push the orange peel down deep into the cherries and pour your boozy
syrup over all. Make sure each jar has a piece of cinnamon stick. Leave about 1/2 inch
headspace. Run a damp paper towel over the rim and quick as a wink apply the lids and screw
the rims on. The heat from the fruit will seal it all up. Between the sugar and the alcohol you
don’t really need to worry about botulism with these babies, but should you see anything that
looks like mold, don’t be a hero—toss it forthwith.
And now for the fisticuffs:
The only likelier way to pick a fistfight with another foodie would be to say “Real chili
has no beans or tomatoes.” Precisely the best way to enjoy an old fashioned is up for fierce
debate. I would skirt the entire issue by attaching a cute label that says “bourbon cherries—perfect on ice cream or in cocktails.” And that’s IT—they are on their own—no one has time for
that much conflict. Now, for myself, I prefer to fill a short glass with some ice—squeeze an
orange slice over the ice and then drop the slices into the glass. Add two fingers of rye and then
top up with another two fingers of our cherry bourbon (I have skinny fingers, your mileage may
vary). Garnish with at least one of our succulent Rubenesque cherries. Delicious. In fact, I think
one may be just what I need to finish this awful packing…
Make it delicious, Cass
Homemade sausage and french toast praline casserole. You’re welcome.
Homemade Sausage: Okay, there are two ways to go with this. You can begin with about 2 pounds of pork butt and 1/2 pound of pork fat (you can buy fatback) and grind it coarsely in your meat grinder. (It will be much easier if the meat is very, very cold.) We have a meat grinder that belonged to Hazel’s grandmother—it’s manual, weighs about thirty pounds and cleaning it is a pain, but whenever I suggest we get a new electric one, you would think I’d suggested we go spin on Grammy’s grave. When I lived in Chicago, I most certainly did not have a meat grinder. So you can go with two and a half pounds of ground pork; it will still be delicious. Season with kosher salt (about t2 teaspoons) 1 and 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper, 2 tsp brown sugar, 2 tsp fresh sage—cut as finely as you can get it, 1 tsp. Fresh rosemary (same) and a nice grating of fresh nutmeg you want about 1/2 tsp. Eyeball it. You can also add cayenne pepper here—if you have any doubt at all—add a pinch and fry up a tiny patty to see if the heat is right. I do not. If I’m serving with eggs, Killian adds hot sauce anyway, and I find that all I taste is hot when I add it. Now, my secret weapon. This is optional but takes it into the stratosphere of yumminess-3/4 tsp liquid smoke. Combine thoroughly and in a perfect world let it set overnight in your fridge. I know, life isn’t perfect, so if need be—proceed. Portion into small parties (I use a tablespoon as a measure) and fry over medium heat. You may need a little slick of oil for the first batch. You want them just cooked through—not fried until fluffy and dry in the middle. Yuck. These can also be cooked ahead and then warmed—covered with foil in a low oven. Praline Pecan French Toast Bake: 1 loaf of French bread—crust sawed off and cut into 1 inch slices Baking spray 1/2 cups half and half 6 eggs 1 tablespoon white sugar 2 tsp vanilla 1 tablespoon light brown sugar 4 tablespoons butter 1 cup chopped pecans Whisk together cream, eggs, vanilla, speck salt, white sugar. Spray a 9×12 baking dish with baking spray. Pour about half of the custard base into the pan and set the bread slices into it and then pour the remaining custard over. Cover with cling wrap and weight it with a smaller baking dish—leave overnight in fridge. The next morning, put the brown sugar into a saucepan and cook over low heat until it begins to melt and lose its graininess. Add the butter, when melted, stir in the pecans. BE careful—nothing burns like caramel—Nothing. Take your casserole out of the fridge and unwrap—pour the caramel and nuts over the top (weighting it down has meant that the bread doesn’t come up to the top and given you room for your sweet sludge of scalding…) Put the casserole into an unheated oven and turn the heat up to 325 degrees. You don’t ever ever want to put a glass pan straight from the fridge into a hot oven. That is asking for a shattered dish and an oven floor full of raw eggs and bread, a bad business all around…
Braised Red Cabbage: 1 head red cabbage—very finely shredded 2 tart-sweet apples (Braeburn or the like) 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon brown sugar 2 tablespoons cider vinegar Finely shredded cabbage is a problem. Throw any and all available kitchen technology at it. I use a food processor. You could use a mandolin—but, for the love of God do not skip using the hand guard. Grate the apple. Melt the butter in a large non-cast iron skillet. Toss in the cabbage and stir to coat. Keep the heat fairly brisk, but stir often. If it seems in danger of scorching, toss in 1/8 cup of water. Once the cabbage is fairly soft but still a wee bit toothsome, add the apple. Allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes and then stir in the brown sugar and vinegar. Toss thoroughly. This side dish has the distinction of seeming both very Germanic and yet, depending upon what it is served with, very old school English. It adds a nice jot of color to the plate and spanks your taste buds just a little bit. Very nice dish to have at your disposal.
All right , so Mr. Tom the plump Turkey has sat in his salt mask for at least two days. Pull him out of your chill chest. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Now—I am not big on insisting that everyone needs the same things in their kitchen—but you really do need the kind of meat thermometer that stays in the bird. Mine attaches by a cord that sits outside of the oven. You don’t want to continually open your oven, and poking it several times will merely release those juices we spent THREE DAYS creating. That would be crazy. Place your turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Take a large piece of foil and press it over the breast. Remove it and set it aside. You will need it later and doing that to sizzling hot turkey will result in your eating a Twix from the vending machine at your local burn unit on the third Thursday in November. Be prepared. Meanwhile—in your food processor—combine a stick of butter (totally soft), two cloves of garlic and several tablespoons of olive oil. This is not the meal where we worry about fat. Go for it, it’s traditional. Whiz to a fine fluffy cloud of garlicky, buttery goodness. Again with the scrubbing your hands—get them good and clean and dry. Then you are gong to gently work your hands under the skin of the turkey—it isn’t attached to the flesh any more but it’s dry so you need to be gentle. You are going to rub your butter into the gap. It’s okay if you have small globs of butter in some spots—massaging from the outside, work the fat as evenly as you can around the bird. Place your meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. If its programmable, set it for 165 degrees. Slide the turkey into your oven and immediately drop the heat to 350 degrees. No stuffing in the bird. I am sorry, but stuffing makes it harder for your breast and thighs to be ready at the same time. Yes, your grandma did it that way. She also used Listerine as a douche (I am not making that up—go google it—I will wait.) Do not worry about your stuffing—it will be meaty and rich—I swear. We will get to that recipe soon. Now look through your oven window. Avoid opening the door. Closer to the end of cooking you are probably going to have to open the door to slide in some things that need to cook, like the stuffing, or the sweet potatoes, so don’t do it now if you don’t have to. You don’t really need to baste, that’s the butters job—and frankly it’s much better at it than you are. The only reason to open the oven and look at the turkey up close is if you think the drippings are scorching. That must be avoided, since we are going to use those for our gravy. If it appears that they are burning, pour a few cups of broth into the pan—that’s why you need the rack, so your burnished, crispy turkey is not sweltering in a pool of liquid. The basic rule of turkey cooking is thirteen minutes per pound. Now, this formula assumes a commercially raised turkey—they will be far meatier and less muscular than a wild turkey. You may need to make adjustments for a wild bird. See ya soon from Slick Trench—this Thanksgiving is going to be delicious!
I’ve gotten a few questions about this so let me clarify—we do not raise turkeys at the lodge. A smelly loud poultry pen would not add much to the holiday experience of our guests. However, we do purchase farm raised turkeys from our neighbors. Here’s the thing—a turkey not raised in a tiny pen will have a very different flavor than a battery bird. It will. And there is something to be said for that rich and wild flavor. BUT—and it’s a big one, a wild turkey will be less predictable in terms of tenderness. AND the flavor we all know and love in our holiday feast is the mild, white breast of a turkey of Mae West proportions. In short, I don’t think your November feast is the place to try something new. I am here to assure you, my foodie friends, that a supermarket turkey is perfectly acceptable. Perfectly. If you want to order a heritage turkey from your local butcher—do so. You may love it and certainly it gives you foodie bragging rights. But you don’t need to mortgage the children to have a notable turkey feast. Let the grousing begin (see what I did there?) Much has been written about how to prepare a turkey and most of it is best ignored. The days of baking a turkey for eight hours and constantly basting it are over—thank heavens. The little pop up thermometer that comes in your supermarket turkey—pull it out. It’s near the thigh and the breasts will be sad echoes of their juicily luscious selves by the time it activates. For years I brined our turkeys and it works, although it’s a bit onerous—scouring out the cooler, making the brine, submerging the turkey in water that sort of starts to look like bodily fluids that you shouldn’t ever come into contact with. Last year I began dry brining our birds and I am a convert. Total convert—you might find me in the airport giving away flowers with a tag that says “dry brining is the way.” It’s not entirely without effort—you will need to clear a large space in your fridge. The beer may need to go on the back porch. Sorry, fellas, we all have to make sacrifices for the holidays. Rules for dry brining: • Do not use a kosher turkey—they have been pre-salted. • Wash your hands like you are a surgeon prepping to do a heart transplant on your own mother. • Combine-3 TBL sea salt—not coarsely ground • 1 tsp light brown sugar—rub the mixture between your hands to get rid of any lumps. • Begin 3 days before you want to cook it—so look at the date on the bird and pick the freshest one you see. With your spotless hands, slide your fingers between the skin and the flesh. Start at the breast but work your hands all over the bird. Be careful not to break the skin, but work as far down the legs as you can. Now you are going to rub the salt/sugar mixture onto the flesh–under the skin. Work it in, like you are its massage therapist in a sketchy “have a good time” type parlor. No, you won’t make it too salty. No, you shouldn’t add herbs at this point—the salt/sugar is using osmosis to make the cells of turkey juicy and delectable—anything else just gets in the way. It’s like the turkey is you at your middle school dance and the salt is the cool eighth grader who never noticed you. Your neighbor who played D&D at the lunch table right out in the open every day is the herbs. His interest in the turkey (which is you in this tortured analogy) makes it harder for the salt to be attracted to your burgeoning breasts and thighs.) The turkey tolerates the herbs because her mom makes her, but she hates him and wishes he would fall in a hole and die. Now—set your salty bird on a rack on a cookie sheet and put the whole thing in the fridge. Do not cover it. I know this is a scary notion and you may not want your mother-in-law to see it (unless your mother-in-law is Hazel, who is fazed by nothing) but we need the bird to dry out. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about roasting Mr. Tom Turkey and his shatteringly crisp skin…
The best Pumpkin Pie: Okay—here I lose half of you—buy the pre-rolled pie crusts in your local refrigerator section. No, they aren’t quite as good as perfect homemade pie crust, but they are foolproof and you have plenty to be getting on with. They are also a sight better than not very good homemade crust—so get over yourself. You will need two (that’s one package) for this pie 1 can of cooked pumpkin—NOT pie filling. Vacuum packed pumpkin. If you want to you can cook a fresh pumpkin and then sieve it to get rid of the fibers. I do not want, it isn’t better and it takes a lot longer. 1/2 a stick of butter 1/2 of a cinnamon stick 4 cloves About 1/4 of a nutmegThese must be whole. You need a spice grinder—or a pestle or mortar for this. I am sorry, but perfection has its costs. Grind them together. 4 eggs 1 cup white sugar 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1/2 cup half and half In a large skillet melt butter and dump in pumpkin—you will cook over medium heat until it smells a bit roasty and has become darker in color—this will add a richness to this pie that you will not believe. Set the pan aside to cool. In a large bowl, mix 4 eggs, 1 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup light brown sugar, half and half and the spices. When the pumpkin is cool enough that it won’t cook the eggs, add it to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Put your pie crust into a metal pie plate. Using a leaf cookie cutter—or any shape you want really, cut shapes out of the remaining circle of pie crust. Pour your filling into the pie crust. Using a bit of water apply the leaf shapes around the edge of your pie—this gives your beautiful edge. On a baking sheet—this is IMPORTANT—if your pie overflows without one, you will have to stop and scrub out your oven. Ain’t nobody got time for that, bake at a 325 degrees for about forty minutes. You should have the merest hint of a wobble when you pull it out. Allow to come to room temperature.
for one- the original Campbell’s soup kids… where did they go? They used to look like this:
You have to wonder if those chubby little kids will someday end up on a VH1 “Behind the Commercial” tell all….Secondly:Green Bean Casserole. It was invented as a recipe to induce housewives who must have had their tastebuds dulled by all of the smoking they did in the 1950’s, to buy cream of mushroom soup. It somehow became a family standard. Today I am going to talk you through improving the gloppy green bean casserole that we all grew up with. The original is ghastly. But you have to serve some version of it, or you might have a revolt on your hands. Not to worry-This is much better. 2 lbs green beans—you will need to cut the tails off. “Frenching” green beans—slicing them thin lengthwise is a very good way to need stitches. Instead, simply stack them up and cut them into about three pieces. 1 onion diced 1 lb mushrooms—diced 1/2 cup dried mushrooms—finely snipped with scissors 1/2 cups milk (whole) 3 cloves garlic 1/2 cup Butter Flour 1 can of those fried onions Soft breadcrumbs from 4 pieces of torn bread Soak the dried mushrooms in hot milk—heat it in microwave—set aside to steep. Blanche the green beans in a large pot of salted boiling water. Sauté the onion in the butter. When it is soft, add the mushrooms and stir until most of the water evaporates from them. Sprinkle 3 TBL flour over the onions and mushrooms. Stir like crazy. Pour over the milk from the dried mushrooms and use that liquid to make your sauce. You want a mushroom sauce that is full of pieces of vegetables. Stir the green beans into the sauce and combine with a few firm strokes. Spray a 9×12 baking dish with cooking spray and pour in the beans and cream sauce. You can cover it with cling wrap and refrigerate it for up to three days at this point. Melt a generous pat of butter in a large skillet and stir in bread—when golden, dump into your food processor. Add the canned onions (no one wishes more than I that they were not necessary—it’s just not the same without them.) Mix with a few quick pulses (this can also be done days ahead, but don’t top the casserole with them until you are sliding the whole shebang into the oven.) Bake at 350 degrees for about forty-five minutes. It’s pretty forgiving though, it can loiter in the hot oven for a while if you need it to.
Cranberry Sauce: There are lots of ways to cook cranberries. I find that the Thanksgiving plate needs not only that jolt of ruby red, but some tangy crunch—hence I make the following: 1 bag of cranberries 1 cup of sugar 2 crisp apples (Braeburn is about perfect for this—Granny Smith is too tart and Red Delicious are mealy and disgusting) 1/4 cup port (this is not as wasteful as it may seem—you can serve port at Christmas, so it’s okay to buy some now) Combine berries and sugar in saucepan and cook until they begin to pop. Stir in the apples and port and set aside to cool. This is acerbic and boozy and bright.