Of course, every Thanksgiving meal needs some old family favorites, but here’s a great opportunity to try something new.
This year, The East County Observer solicited the culinary skills of some of our community’s beloved chefs and has pieced together a complete Thanksgiving meal for you to try, if you so desire.We’ve got everything covered, from turkey and gravy to vegetable sides and even dessert. We hope you enjoy these recipes as much as our chefs enjoyed pitching in!
Turkey (and gravy)
General Manager David LaRusso and head chef Rita Lewis, The Linger Lodge Restaurant
16- to 20-pound turkey
Bottle dry white wine
2 sticks butter
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the neck and other parts of the turkey from the cavities. Thoroughly rinse turkey with cold water and pat dry with paper towel.
2. Place turkey on a V-shaped roasting rack. Stuff the cavity with the stuffing mixture.
3. Completely cover turkey with cheesecloth (double or triple layer the cloth.) Melt 2 sticks of butter in a sauté pan and brush butter onto the cheesecloth that is covering the turkey, making sure to use the entire amount of butter.
4. Add three-fourths of all of the dry white wine to the bottom of the roasting pan. Cook at 350 degrees for about 5 hours (or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and/or the juices from the leg area run clear.) Let the turkey cook for 30 minutes before starting the basting process. Then baste the turkey every 20 minutes, using the pan drippings until the turkey is cooked.
5. Once the turkey is cooked, remove from oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before gently removing cheesecloth and carving.
To make gravy:
1. On top of the stove, bring the pan drippings to a simmer. Add about one-fourth to one-half cup (depending on the amount of drippings) and brown—stirring constantly with a whisk. The flour should be a dark caramel color when it is cooked.
2. Slowly add chicken stock (1/4 cup at a time) and bring back to a simmer, stirring constantly with a whisk until desired thickness. **Gravy will not thicken until the liquid comes to a simmer.
3. Strain gravy through a sieve and serve.
Chestnut, Bacon, Dried Apple and Corn Bread Stuffing
Tommy Klauber, owner, The Polo Grill and Bar; makes 10 to 12 servings
½ pound thick-cut bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips
4 cups chopped onions
3 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped dried apples
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp. dried rubbed sage
2 (7.4-ounce) jars roasted whole chestnuts, coarsely broken
8 cups dried corn bread stuffing mix (or homemade)
1 3/4 cups (or more) chicken stock
2 Tbs. (1/4 stick) butter, melted
1. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until brown and crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to large bowl.
2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from skillet. Add onions and celery to drippings in skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.
3. Add vegetables to bacon; mix in apples, thyme and sage; then add chestnuts. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill. Reheat to lukewarm before continuing.)
4. Add corn bread stuffing mix to chestnut mixture. Mix in 1 3/4 cups broth. Drizzle with butter.
To bake stuffing in turkey:
1. Loosely fill main cavity and neck cavity of turkey with stuffing. Add enough broth to remaining stuffing to moisten slightly (1/4 cup to 3/4 cup, depending on amount of remaining stuffing). Generously butter baking dish. Spoon remaining stuffing into prepared dish.
2. Cover dish with buttered foil, buttered side down. Bake stuffing in dish — alongside turkey or while turkey is resting — until heated through, about 25 minutes. Uncover stuffing in dish. Bake until top of stuffing is slightly crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.
To bake stuffing in dish:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Add enough extra broth to stuffing to moisten (3/4 cup to 1 1/4 cups).
2. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down. Bake until heated through, about 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is slightly crisp and golden, about 20 minutes longer.
Cream of Leeks Soup
Michael Ostermann, chef, Ed’s Tavern
(* items are to make chicken stock from scratch)
2 quarts chicken stock
1 stalk celery *
1 carrot *
2 bay leaves *
White pepper *
1 pound chicken bones or necks *
8 medium leeks
2 small yellow onions, diced
2 sticks butter
2 cups flour
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ bunch parsley
1. To make chicken stock: Add 1 pound chicken bones or necks to 3 quarts cold water. Add celery, carrots, bay leaves and season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Simmer for one hour. Do not boil. Strain and set aside.
2. To make soup: Take leeks, white part only, and slice very thin. Rinse. Melt butter in a medium-sized pot.
3. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add flour and stir. Add chicken broth, milk and heavy cream, stirring constantly. Season the mixture with white pepper, nutmeg and salt to taste.
4. Simmer for 20 minutes. Makes about 3 quarts.
Brussels Sprouts with Glazed Pecans, Wild Mushrooms and Smoked Ham
Jim Poitrast, owner, The Lucky Pelican Bistro; serves 6-8
2 ½ Tbs. melted butter
2 pints Brussels sprouts
4 oz. mixed wild mushrooms, sliced
3 oz. smoked ham, cut into thin 1-inch strips
1 Tbs. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 Tbs. minced garlic
1/2 cup pecan halves
1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Trim the base end of the Brussels sprouts, remove and discard any of the outer leaves that do not look pretty. Cook Brussels sprouts in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until just tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain sprouts and place in a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking.
3. Pat dry with a towel then slice each Brussels sprout into three or four lengthwise pieces.
4. Toss pecan pieces with sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Spread pecan pieces in one layer in a shallow baking pan and bake until toasted and glazed. Remove from pan and toss with ½ tablespoon melted butter and a pinch of salt and set aside.
5. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet over moderate to high heat and then add garlic and cook, stirring, about 15 seconds. Increase heat to high, and then add sprouts and sauté, stirring in ham and mushrooms, cook until sprouts are browned in patches, about 5 to 7 minutes.
6. Add pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, then stir in pecans. Serve.
Martha “Big Mama” Schultz, chef, Bogey’s Restaurant & Sports Pub
4 pounds of cooked, peeled and mashed sweet potatoes
¼ cup of bourbon
½ cup of melted butter
1/3 cup of orange juice
1/3 cup of brown sugar
¾ tsp. of salt
½ tsp. of pumpkin pie spice
¾ cup of pecan halves
1. Mix all ingredients together, except pecans, and mix well.
2. Pour into a greased 2.5-quart casserole dish and arrange pecans around edge of dish.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Holiday Spinach Salad
Rich Erickson, proprietor, The Peppermill Eatery
3 springs rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups maple syrup
1 Tbs. garlic, minced
3 cups olive oil
Baby spinach for salad
Pineapple, cut into large chunks
Applewood bacon strips
Goat cheese, crumbled
Red onion, sliced
1. Add first six ingredients using blender stick until mixed well. With blender stick running, add oil in slow stream until emulsified.
2. Serve over baby spinach with red onion slices, pineapple, mushrooms, applewood bacon strips, craisins and goat cheese. Top with the rosemary-maple vinaigrette.
Sylvia Parker, proprietor, Sylvia’s Heavenly Cheesecakes
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 Tbs. melted butter
3 Tbs. of sugar
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 (15-ounce) can 100% pumpkin (not mix)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar. Press firmly onto the bottom of an 8-inch spring-form pan. Bake for 5-8 minutes. After baking crust, turn oven to 250 degrees.
2. Beat cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and spices.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat until creamy. Pour mixture evenly into prepared crust.
4. Bake for 1.5 hours until top is brown, but cheesecake is still slightly jiggly.
5. Transfer cheesecake to a wire rack and let cool. While cooling, take a knife and run it around the edges of the pan sides to loosen cheesecake.
6. Cool completely, cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
Apple, Pear and Cranberry Gratin
Paul Evans, executive chef, Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club; serves 10
1 large orange
4 cups water
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. unsalted butter
1 large lemon
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
6 pears, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
2 cups fresh cranberries
6 medium biscotti
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1. Remove the zest from the orange in long, thin strips and place in a large non-stick saucepan. Remove and discard the outer white pith from the orange. Section the orange, removing the membranes between sections. Set the sections aside.
2. Add water, granulated sugar and butter to saucepan with orange zest. Remove the zest from the lemon and add to the saucepan. Reserve the lemon. Bring to a boil,then reduce to a simmer for 3 minutes.
3. Add the apples; simmer for 4 minutes. Add the pears and simmer both for 4 more minutes. With slotted spoon, remove the apples, pears and orange and lemon zests and transfer to a large bowl.
4. Measure 1/3 cup of the simmering syrup and add to a sauté pan. Add the cranberries and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Lightly oil 11-by-17-inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Evenly spread the apple-pear mixture in the dish. Spoon cranberry mixture over top.
6. Preheat the broiler.
7. Place biscotti and brown sugar in a food processor fitted with metal blade. Process until finely ground. Evenly sprinkle over fruit. Broil for 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm, garnished with reserved orange sections.
Chef’s tip: “Serve with a dollop of low-fat vanilla yogurt.”