cranberry sauce

What–No Turkey? My Top 6 Recipes for Thanksgiving

by Anne Maxfield on November 20, 2017

Accidental Locavore My Slow Roasted Duck for ThanksgivingThe other day, I was talking with a friend about Thanksgiving and comparing notes on what we were planning. Since there’s still time to add or subtract dishes, here are a few that have, or will, grace my table. Which ones look good to you?

  1. Slow Roasted Duck: As some of you know, this is not my favorite holiday, mostly because turkey is my least favorite poultry. Since it’s just the two of us (so far), we decided that duck was a much better choice. This one takes a while, but you only have to check it once an hour and it’s delicious! If you want to get fancy, you can make an orange sauce for it by melting some marmalade on low heat with a splash (or two) of orange vodka or Cointreau and another big splash of maple syrup.Accidental Locavore Orange Sauce for Duck
  2. Brussels Sprouts and Pearl Onions: my mother has always insisted on having creamed onions at Thanksgiving. This dish combines them in a great way and the added touch of horseradish makes it a big winner in my book! Unlike my friend Zhu Zhu, I have no problem buying frozen pearl onions. Life is too short to spend it peeling.Accidental Locavore Stalk of Brussels Sprouts
  3. Cranberry and Dried Apricot Confit: I’m a sucker for dried apricots—the slab ones from Trader Joe’s being my favorites, so if I can stop snacking on them long enough to cook with them, this is almost as good as eating them out of the package. If this is too tough, the recipe on the back of the cranberry bag works fine (add some orange or tangerine zest to make it special).Accidental Locavore Cranberry Confit
  4. Butternut Squash Soup: Not being a huge fan of winter squashes, I make an exception for this soup. It goes from pretty good to great with the addition of Gruyere-covered toasts. If you’re lazy or pressed for time, a slice of toasted baguette and some grated cheese will be just fine. If you’re super lazy pressed for time, forget the toasts and just sprinkle a little blue cheese on as a garnish. The saltiness of either cheese cuts the sweetness of the squash.
  5. The best mashed potatoes ever! This was billed as a recipe for potato salad, but take my word for it, they’re just amazing mashed potatoes. Cheese, butter and potatoes, what’s not to like? It does require use of the oven, but since it’s probably the same temp as your turkey, just sneak some ramekins in somewhere.Accidental Locavore Raclette Potatoes
  6. What, no desserts? Although my husband has asked for yet another batch of Nancy’s cookies, I think it’s time to turn traditional and was thinking either a pumpkin pie (which the paper of record says is better made with winter squash) for Frank, or an apple galette that caught my eye in Bon Appétit, but then I saw this recipe for a caramel and chocolate tart from Dorrie Greenspan’s new book and it was as good as it looked (maybe better)!Accidental Locavore Caramel Tart

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Accidental Locavore Thanksgiving Clowns

As  the Accidental Locavore, I’m a good person to talk about not overdoing it at this time of year, however as Anne Maxfield, overdoing it at Thanksgiving has become my new tradition. Because my husband works on Thanksgiving and I find two holidays back-to-back with my family a bit much, a few years ago, I decided to be a clown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade*. When you get up at 5:00 AM and greet thousands of kids wearing a red nose, cooking tons of food after walking four miles is not an option.

So, how to downsize the big day without anyone noticing?

  1. Buy an instant read thermometer. You’ll never worry about cooking a big piece of meat, again. It’s a must-have. They’re inexpensive, under $10 and worth every penny. You don’t want to ruin the main course do you?
  2. Delegate. Everyone brings something. If you don’t trust their cooking skills, rolls, wine, soda, ice cream or salad are options that are hard to mess up. And there are very few people (although I’m probably related to all of them) who will turn up their noses at canned cranberry sauce. This is a great strategy if you’ve got vegetarians, or fussy eaters, ask them to bring their favorite dish. Just make a list of what you’ve assigned so you know where you have to fill in. I’ve actually given dinner parties where I haven’t cooked anything, but please don’t tell anyone!
  3.  Forget the appetizers and serve soup as a first course. No one needs to fill up on finger food before the main event. I bet they won’t even notice it’s not there (and if they do, they’d better be too polite to mention it). The reason everyone tells you to drink a lot of water when you’re on a diet, is because it fills you up. Soup does the same thing. Here’s a recipe for winter squash soup that’s not too sweet. It’s easy, you can do it ahead of time and it’s inexpensive. While there’s a little cream in it, it’s only ¼ cup added in at the end to give it richness. If you want to make it vegan, use vegetable stock and olive oil and forget the croutons. Accidental Locavore Turkey Carcass
  4.  Combinations. My mother insists on creamed onions or it’s not Thanksgiving. However, she’s the only one who likes them. I have a great recipe for Brussels sprouts and pearl onions with a horseradish sauce that everyone loves and the veggies can be cooked ahead, then tossed in the sauce until warmed through. Think about other vegetables you can combine so you’re not cooking 400 side dishes.
  5. Stick to one, max two, desserts. No one has room for multiple pies. Add ice cream if you want but keep it simple. And without a lot of leftover desserts, you won’t be tempted to nibble every time you walk by them.
  6. Give everyone some leftovers to take home. If it’s not around, you won’t eat it. Use the turkey carcass to make soup. When you’re tired of sandwiches, how about a shepherd’s pie using the leftover turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes?

What are your best holiday tips?

*If you want to spot me, this year I’m a Birthday Clown, we’ll be towards the end of the parade, with Ronald McDonald.

This article is from a seminar The Accidental Locavore gave to MetLife employees and a version of it appeared in my column for EcoPlum.

 

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Accidental Locavore Big StarThanksgiving has become an interesting holiday. For the past few years, the Accidental Locavore has traded her apron for clown make-up and marches in the Macy*s Thanksgiving Parade. When I’m not clowning around, these are a couple of my favorite side dish recipes. The first is a delicious cranberry sauce, the second a great way to combine pearl onions and Brussels sprouts (and you can still find local ones) so everyone will love them.

Accidental Locavore Cranberry ConfitCranberry, Onion and Apricot Confit:

  • 2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups cranberries
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (I use the slab apricots from Trader Joes)

Melt the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat, add the onions and sugar, stir, and cook until the onions are pale golden. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the vinegar, water, cranberries, a pinch of salt, and cook the mixture, stirring for 10-15 minutes until the cranberries have burst and are soft. Stir in the apricots and cook for one more minute. Serve warm or at room temperature. You can make this ahead as it will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks covered.

Accidental Locavore Quartered Brussels SproutsBrussels Sprouts and Pearl Onions in Horseradish Cream (adapted from Bon Appètit)

  • 1 bag frozen pearl onions thawed (true confessions, I always buy pearl onions frozen, it’s such a pain to peel them, but if you want to go the fresh route, blanch them and peel them)
  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half the long way
  • 3 tablespoons horseradish (use more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice (you could use nutmeg)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Cook the Brussels sprouts until just tender either in a microwave for 5 minutes, or boil them in salted water for about 6 minutes. Drain well and set aside. Combine the horseradish, flour and allspice in a small bowl, mix well and whisk in the cream. Set aside. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the thyme and stir 30 seconds. Add the onions and Brussels sprouts and saute until heated through, about 4 minutes. Add the horseradish mixture, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cream is reduced to a glaze, coating the vegetables, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more horseradish if you like. Serve and enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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