While the turkey is the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving Day tables, Here & Now resident chef, Kathy Gunst, says it’s the side dishes that rule! Especially when you make them the way she does. We asked listeners to submit their Thanksgiving cooking quandaries, and Kathy came in with some answers. Among her solutions: how to make rich, mouth-watering side dishes that are easy on the waistline.
Butternut Squash and Yukon Gold Potato Gratin (PDF)
Gratins tend to be very rich and heavy, but here, I alternate slices of squash and potatoes. Rather than use cream, I chose low fat milk, lots of fresh herbs, and grated Parmesan cheese. The result is a creamy, comforting dish that uses half the fat of a normal gratin.
Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, or butter cut into small cubes
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup finely chopped scallions, white and green sections
1 ½ cups low fat or no fat milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Grease the bottom of a gratin dish or ovenproof skillet or shallow casserole (my gratin dish is 14” long by 10” wide by 2” deep) with a teaspoon of the oil or butter. Using half the potatoes and squash, alternate slices of squash and the potatoes forming a solid bottom layer of the vegetables. Sprinkle with half the flour, half the scallions, and a generous dusting of salt and pepper. Drizzle with half the remaining oil or butter. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Pour the milk on top, making sure to moisten the flour on top of the vegetables. The dish can be covered and refrigerated for several hours until ready to bake.
Place the dish on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Loosely cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake another 20 minutes. Remove the foil, raise the temperature back up to 400 degrees, and evenly sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes and squash are tender and the milk has been absorbed and the cheese is melted. Serve hot.
Thin Green Beans with Meyer Lemon and Roasted Chestnuts (PDF)
Look for thin French-style green beans (called haricot verts) and vacuum sealed bags of roasted chestnuts. The dish can be assembled and reheated just before serving.
Serves 8 as a side dish
2 pounds thin green beans or haricot verts, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces peeled and roasted chestnuts, sliced
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon or lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated zest from Meyer lemon or regular lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the beans and steam 5 minutes, or until almost tender. Drain and place under cold running water; drain again.
In a medium skillet heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the chestnut slices, salt and pepper and cook over a low heat for 2 minutes. Add the pre-cooked beans, the lemon juice and lemon zest and toss to thoroughly coat and heat. Serve immediately or place in a small casserole or shallow ovenproof dish, cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roast the beans, covered, for about 15 minutes or until hot.
• Substitute 3/4 cup chopped or sliced nuts for the chestnuts.
• Add 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest to the beans.
• Add 1/3 cup cooked chopped bacon or pancetta to the beans.
Mashed Parsnips and Pears (PDF)
Why do we always serve plain old mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes year after year? We decided to experiment with various vegetables and fruits that pair well together and we found a few that would make delicious accompaniments to any holiday roast. Sweet parsnip and pears turns out to be an excellent, unexpected combination.
2 pounds parsnips, smaller, thinner ones are best, peeled and cut into 1/2- inch size pieces
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped into ½-inch size pieces
1/3 cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, cubed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a medium size pot of water to boil. Add the parsnips, cover, and cook about 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender when tested with a small, sharp knife. Drain thoroughly.
Place the cooked parsnips into the container of a food processor. Add the pear to the hot parsnips and whirl until chunky. Add the cream, butter, salt, and pepper and puree until almost smooth. The mixture can be slightly chunky or you may prefer it smoother. Taste for seasoning. Serve hot or make ahead of time and place in a small casserole or ovenproof skillet, cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. To reheat, place in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until bubbling hot. Stir well before serving.
Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies (PDF)
This recipe comes from Phil Hughes of the Black Bean Café in Rollinsford, NH.
Makes 12 whoopie pies
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup crushed pineapple
2 ½ cups grated fresh carrots
1 cup grated unsweetened coconut
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces butter, softened
About 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the oil, eggs, pineapple, carrot, and coconut and mix together until well combined.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide and fill a large (4 ounces) muffin top tray with the mixture and bake on the middle shelf for 12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center. Remove and let cool.
Make the frosting: cream the cream cheese and butter together and then add confectioners sugar 1 cup at a time.
When cool place the cream cheese frosting on top of one muffin and sandwich it together with another muffin. Clean off the sides.
Grill-Roasted Whole Turkey (PDF)
From Stonewall Kitchen Grilling by Kathy Gunst, Jonathan King, and Jim Stott
This recipe couldn’t be simpler. You heat a fire in the grill (charcoal or gas) to cook a small (10 to 12 pound) whole turkey over indirect heat with a minimum of seasoning. You walk away. You come back around two hours later and there is a picture-perfect glazed turkey with juicy meat and a subtle smokiness. You will not believe how a plain old turkey, simply seasoned with salt and pepper, placed on a hot grill, can have this much flavor with so little fuss!
You can grill the turkey a day ahead of time or make it in the morning and feed a crowd later that day.
One 10-12 pound turkey, preferably organic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped, optional
About 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, rosemary, basil, or sage, or a combination, optional
Place a (disposable aluminum) drip pan directly under the center of the grill -– it will catch all the juices and fat and not create a mess of your grill.
Heat a fire in the grill and set it up for indirect grilling . If working with a charcoal grill, heat a good amount of charcoals until hot, about 400 degrees. Spread the charcoals on either side of the grill, leaving the middle part of the grill without any charcoals under it. If working with a gas grill preheat the grill to 400 degrees and turn off the burner directly in the center of the grill.
Clean the turkey and dry thoroughly. Season liberally with salt, pepper, and the garlic and herbs, seasoning the inside of the cavity as well as the outside of the bird. Place the bird in the middle of the grill. Cover and cook about 2 hours or until the juices in the cavity are yellow, and no longer pink; when you jiggle the drumstick it should feel loose. The turkey will cook faster than it will in an oven so keep an eye on it, particularly during the last 30 minutes of the grilling time. Look for a deep crispy brown skin. Remove from the grill and let sit for 10 minutes before carving.
Jeremy Hobson joins Robin Young as co-host of Here & Now in its new 2-hour format, from WBUR and NPR.
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