Sunday, November 17, 2013

unthanksgiving turkey and and sides

It's unthanksgiving, y'all.  I'm so excited to share with you my version of the best holiday meal, just in time for the real thing.

I hosted "unthanksgiving" in February.  Sure it was out of season, but how you can you wrong?  I've dreamed for years about presenting this feast at my tiny dining room table.  Finally I realized that the month has nothing to do with it.  It's all about the food.  The smell of warm spices and melting butter.  Maybe some pumpkin pie.  And some excellent company.  So we invited dear friends over and went whole hog turkey.

Let me start this story with sides.  The most popular at our table, and the most uniquely tied to Thanksgiving (the November version as we know it), is the dressing (a.k.a. stuffing, if you're into that).

I started with stale sourdough bread, sliced and torn into cubes, and combined it with browned chicken sausage.  Of course, pork sausage, turkey sausage, or fauxsage would do just as well.  By the time you add some chopped vegetables and sweet-tart pear, you're nearly done with the best dressing you've ever had.  It's easy, impressive, and delicious.

Next I tackled jalapeno corn pudding, a recipe I learned from a friend.  I was surprised by how much we loved the spicy jalapenos and sweet corn kernels in this dish alongside traditional, savory Thanksgiving fare. It would be a perfect potluck dish for a BBQ or other (more seasonally appropriate) gathering.  I could hardly think of a way to improve upon it. Like a souffle, it takes a little extra work to whip the egg whites and fold them into the creamy batter.  But it's worth the effort.

In keeping with my spicy twist on traditional dishes, I recreated a sweet potato dish from Bobby Flay with three simple ingredients:  sweet potatoes, cream, and chipotle chiles.  Don't forget a sharp knife.

And Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without a few classics, so I called on Julia Child's cookbook for the real deal:  creamed spinach.

The recipes for all of these inspired sides follow.  Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!