Flavor twists added to traditional dishes of Thanksgiving Day
What is a traditional Thanksgiving dinner now, nearly 400 years after what historians call The First Thanksgiving? We think turkey and sides, except the wild turkeys then were nothing like the Butterballs now, or even what our grandfathers may have brought home from their factory jobs for our grandmothers to cook.
That’s what my maternal grandfather, the great Frank Hugh, did. But my grandmother, Yok Ping let my Uncle Eric roast the bird. He was American as all get-out and was even once crazily courted to be a young Chinese Elvis before he joined the U.S. Army. But his Thanksgiving turkeys were rubbed with black bean and garlic sauce, then chopped up like Chinatown ducks. Delicious though differently traditional.
This year, after quite frankly what’s been one of the most divisive years in our lifetimes, we wanted traditional Thanksgiving recipes, with a nod to indigenous and immigrant flavors.
For the turkey, I turned to our history. Poring over a decade of recipe archives, I was drawn to one of columnist Jean-Marie Brownson’s recipes but swapped in maple syrup for the brown sugar, then added a finish of smoked salt, for a kiss of sweetness and fire.
Tribune test kitchen chef Mark Graham shares his recipe for crispy Indian-spiced brussels sprouts. He thoughtfully blanches what can be tough little buggers, before roasting them until tender and intensely flavorful with familiar fall spices. Graham carries that warmth to this year’s cranberry sauce, adding a whisper of evergreen herb.
Plus I offer my own non-recipe recipe for roasted root vegetables seasoned with a lazy vinaigrette, for fellow plant-based feasters.
We give thanks for not only the harvest, as our ancestors did, but the hope to imagine a happy Thanksgiving 400 years in the future where our best traditions endure.
Prep: 2 minutes; cook: 15 minutes; makes: about 3 cups
Developed in the Tribune test kitchen by Mark Graham.
1 package (12 ounces) whole cranberries 1 cup orange juice 1/2 cup sugar 1 spring fresh rosemary 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 cinnamon stick 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, Cook until most cranberries have burst, about 15 minutes. Remove rosemary sprig and cinnamon stick.
2. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature, or chill overnight.
Nutrition information per 1/4 cup serving: 55 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 14 g carbohydrates, 11 g sugar, 0 g protein, 81 mg sodium, 1 g fiber
ROAST TURKEY KISSED WITH MAPLE, SMOKE Prep: 45 minutes; brine: 4 hours or overnight; cook: 3 hours; makes: 12 to 14 servings 1 turkey, 13 to 15 pounds 2/3 cup maple syrup 1/2 cup coarse (kosher) salt 1/2 cup bourbon (optional) 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped 1 bunch parsley Peanut oil Salt and black pepper Pan sauce: Smoked salt Cider vinegar Remove any neck and giblets packages from turkey cavity.
For brine, add 2 cups hot water, maple syrup and salt to a food-safe container large enough to hold turkey. Stir until syrup and salt dissolve. Add 2 cups cold water and red pepper. Carefully place turkey in brine. Add enough cool water to cover turkey. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove turkey from brine. Discard brine. Refrigerate turkey up to 2 days.
For broth, put giblets and neck into a deep saucepan. Add about 3 cups cold water. Simmer, about 2 hours. Strain into a bowl. Remove solids for snacking. Refrigerate broth for up to 3 days.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place turkey in large roasting pan, breast side up. Add some onion to turkey neck cavity, close loose skin over and tuck wings under back. Add remaining onion and parsley to body cavity; close loose skin.
Rub oil all over, then season well with pepper and salt. Carefully pour 2 cups of broth into pan. Roast, 30 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue roasting turkey, turning pan as needed for even browning. After about 2 hours, insert thermometer into thickest part of thigh but not touching bone. When turkey temperature reads 160 degrees, increase oven temperature to 450 degrees; roast until skin browns, about 10 minutes.
Carefully remove turkey to a cutting board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand about 15 minutes; temperature will rise about 10 more degrees, getting it above recommended safe temperature of 165 degrees.
Meanwhile, set roasting pan with pan juices directly on burners. Heat to a boil while scraping up browned bits at bottom of pan. Remove onion and parsley from turkey. Carefully blend into pan sauce with immersion blender, or chop well then add. Add remaining broth only as needed. Reduce until thickened as desired. Off heat, add bourbon; season with salt, pepper and vinegar to taste.
Serve turkey with pan sauce, finished with freshly ground black pepper and smoked salt to taste.
Nutrition information per serving (for 14 servings): 507 calories, 17 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 276 mg cholesterol, 9 g carbohydrates, 74 g protein, 579 mg sodium, 1 g fiber ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES WITH LAZY VINAIGRETTE Prep: 25 minutes; cook: 45 minutes; makes: 12 servings
2 pounds carrots, multicolored if available peeled, sliced lengthwise
2 pounds parsnips, kohlrabi, or both, peeled, sliced lengthwise
2 pounds small potatoes, skin on Peanut oil Kosher salt Black pepper Cider vinegar Whole grain Dijon mustard Flat leaf parsley, stems chopped, leaves torn for serving
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Add vegetables but not carrot greens to rimmed baking sheet. Coat with oil, season well with salt and pepper, and toss to mix well. Roast, about 30 minutes. Add carrot greens; toss. Add oil as needed. Roast until vegetables are tender and greens are crisped, about 15 minutes more.
Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Season with salt, pepper, vinegar and mustard to taste. Toss with parsley, then serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 174 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 33 g carbohydrates, 8 g sugar, 3 g protein, 571 mg sodium, 6 g fiber
Thanksgiving turkey, styled by Mark Graham, adds sweetness and a touch of fire with the ingredients of smoked sale and maple syrup.