With Turkey Day just around the corner, many Americans are starting to prepare for their Thanksgiving feasts.
You can never go wrong with the traditional Thanksgiving dinner: stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, pumpkin pie, mac and cheese, dinner rolls, and of course, turkey. While all of these dishes are undeniably delicious, I have some tips that will take these classics to a whole new level.
Browned Butter Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are my all-time favorite Thanksgiving side, and browning your butter instead of melting it can elevate this fluffy delight. Browned butter creates a rich, toasty, savory flavor that will make your mashed potatoes extra special.
Browning butter is quite easy: boil the butter in a saucepan on medium heat until there are brown pieces of butter settled on the bottom (5-10 minutes). Stir the butter consistently so that it doesn’t burn. When it’s ready, you will see the top of the butter foam and smell a fragrant, nutty aroma.
While you brown your 1 cup of butter for the mashed potatoes, add 6-8 cloves of garlic (or how many garlic cloves you want) to infuse the flavor into the butter. When the butter is finished browning, let the butter cool down and save the garlic for later.
Next, boil 3 pounds of redskin potatoes in cold, salted water; I prefer to leave the skin on, but you can peel the potatoes if you prefer. Add the garlic cloves into the boiling water. This will soften the garlic to make it easier to mash.
Once the potatoes are fork tender, pour off the water from the pot and get to mashing. Add in the browned butter, 8 ounces of sour cream, salt, pepper, and a 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock to make the consistency a bit looser. Smother your potatoes in gravy, chives, more butter, or keep them plain—they’ll be delicious either way.
Cranberry sauce may not be the biggest crowd pleaser at the dinner table, but I absolutely love it—NOT the stuff that comes in the can (bleh). Homemade cranberry sauce pairs perfectly with turkey, biscuits, mashed potatoes, and it adds a beautiful pop of color to your plate.
Here’s how I make it: in a sauce pan, you’ll need 12 ounces of fresh or frozen cranberries (do not used dried cranberries), 1/2 cup water, zest of an orange, 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (2 oranges), 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.
Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and gently boil for 10 minutes. Frequently stir the mixture, mashing down some of the cranberries. The berries will start to pop and burst open when they are done.
Cranberries are tart, so keep tasting and adjusting the sugar or orange juice if you want a sweeter taste. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and let sit in the fridge until it’s time to eat. Trust me, you’ll like this sauce.
Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese
As you can probably tell, I enjoy every element of a Thanksgiving dinner. I always fill my plate with every side that’s offered—I can’t resist. I love anything with cheese, especially mac n’ cheese, and I recently made butternut squash mac n’ cheese that is now a fall staple in my kitchen. Not designed to be a “healthier” version of regular mac n’ cheese by any means, this is just as cheesy and heavenly as the normal dish, but the butternut squash adds another element of depth and deliciousness. This recipe is from chefhailee.com, and her recipes are always incredible.
You will need 2 cups of 1 inch diced butternut squash boiled in a quart of chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is very tender. When the squash is cooked, remove it from the stock and add it to a blender with 2 tablespoons of the stock, but make sure to keep the rest of the stock.
Into the blender with the squash add 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. Blend until smooth and set aside.
In a large pan, melt 2 tablespoon of the butter and sweat 1/2 of a minced shallot with 3 minced garlic cloves. This recipe cooks the pasta like a risotto, so add the 2 cups of elbow macaroni into the pan on medium-low heat, and coat them in the butter mixture. Add about 1/3 of the stock into the pan while cooking over medium heat. Stir the pasta until most of the stock has been absorbed and continue this process until the pasta is al dente and there is a bit of liquid remaining in the pan.
Reduce the heat to low and add 1 cup of shredded Gouda and 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. When the cheeses are fully melted, add in the squash puree from the blender. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. The dish is technically done, but if you like your mac n’ cheese baked, put it into a baking dish, sprinkle with some more cheese and breadcrumbs, and broil until the top is golden.
In the Volume 85, 2nd Issue of the Echo, I listed a recipe from Claire Saffitz: Caramelized Honey Pumpkin Pie under the feature section. If you aren’t a huge fan of traditional pumpkin pie like me, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. And be sure to follow her crust recipe—it’s life changing.
With apple produce in its prime, I like to take advantage of making apple desserts. Again, you can never go wrong with a Claire Saffitz dessert recipe, so if pumpkin pie isn’t your thing, try her Apple Tart with Apple Compote recipe from her cook book Dessert Person.
Have a happy, delicious Thanksgiving; it’s important to be thankful for the food that we have access to and the meals we can prepare for our loved ones.