Sunday, June 16, 2024

Try a New Take on the Traditional Thanksgiving Menu

Autumn is here, the leaves are falling, and already summer is just a memory. The scarecrows have arrived and paraded through town and now it’s time to look to the next big event of the season, Thanksgiving.

Turkey is the traditional bird of the season, but perhaps it’s time to shake things up a bit and deviate from the usual menu. How about a roast? How about some beets? Apple pie is a staple of the season, but maybe we can try a different way to enjoy the fruits of the harvest.

Here are my picks for a little variety mixed in with tradition.

Deli-Style Roast Beef

I made this before for my experiment with the French Dip Sandwiches and have wanted to try it again but just to enjoy the cut as is.

  • 1 (1 ¾ pound) eye round roast

  • Kosher salt, for dry-brining

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, for coating the roast

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Dry-brine the roast overnight.

  2. The next day, remove the roast from the refrigerator and pat dry with paper towels. Leave it on the wire rack set in the sheet pan.

  3. Preheat the oven to 250F.

  4. Lightly coat the roast with the olive oil.

  5. Transfer the sheet pan to the oven. Roast for 60 to 70 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the centre registers 120F for medium. Remove from the oven.

  6. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the vegetable oil over high heat until shimmering.

  7. Add the roast. Cook for 1 minute on each side, using tongs as needed to hold it in place, or until browned all over. Remove from the heat. Season with pepper.

  8. Rest the roast for 15 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain.

Traditional Buttered Beets

Maybe beets are a little too out there for some, or maybe they are a favoured memory of your childhood. With times changing and the world in flux, maybe it’s time to bring back some of the old ways and methods of eating with a hearty vegetable like beets.

  • 4 to 6 beets, preferably a mix of red and golden

  • Olive oil

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • Pinch each of salt and ground black pepper

  • Balsamic vinegar

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.

  2. Coat the beets lightly with oil and wrap them in aluminum foil; place them on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven until cooked through; this should take between 45 and 60 minutes.

  3. Let the beets cool for 10 minutes, then peel and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

  4. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the parsley, salt, and pepper. Add the sliced beets and stir to coat with the butter. Saute for 5 to 10 minutes, sprinkle with a little balsamic vinegar, and serve.

Medieval Applecakes

These are a fun, doughnut-like alternative to the usual apple pie. Everyone can get involved with the process for an afternoon of family bonding with sweet, warm treats to look forward to.

  • 1 ¼ c. milk

  • 2 ¼ tsp dry yeast (1 packet)

  • 2 egg yolks, beaten

  • 3 to 4 c. unsifted flour

  • Pinch of salt

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

  • 4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and diced

  • 4 tbsp honey

  • 1 tbsp Poudre Forte*

  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

  • ½ c. chopped nuts—walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, and chestnuts are all lovely

  • Oil for frying

  • Confectioner’s sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

  1. Warm the milk just slightly to the touch and then add the yeast to it. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes until the yeast has foamed up. Add in the egg yolks, 3 cups of flour, the salt, and the butter. Mix thoroughly by hand until you have a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl, adding extra flour if needed.

  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop or board, and knead for several minutes, pushing with the heel of your hand, then gathering the dough back into a lump, adding more flour if necessary. Allow the dough to rise under a clean dishcloth for around an hour.

  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combing the apples, honey, spices, and nuts. Cook together over medium-low heat until the honey has been absorbed. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

  4. On the floured countertop, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness, dividing the dough in half if space is limited. Using a 2-inch round cutter, stamp out disks of dough, reserving the scraps to roll out again.

  5. When you have made as many disks as possible, use a pastry brush or your fingers to wet each of them with water. On half of the disks, place about 1 teaspoon of the filling, then place another round on top. Press the edges together firmly to seal, and allow them to rise for around 20 minutes.

  6. Heat 1 inch of oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Gently lower each cake into the hot oil with a slotted spoon. Fry until the dough is golden on both sides, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with a little confectioners’ sugar, if you like.

Medieval Mulled Wine

A spicy warm drink to rejuvenate your body and get your toes warm after the family hike through the beautiful Grey-Bruce countryside.

  • 1 bottle inexpensive red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Pinot Noir are all good choices)

  • 1 ½ tbsp Poudre Douce**

  • Handful each of dried cranberries, raisins, and almonds

  1. Bring the wine to a simmer. Stir in spice, nuts, and dried fruits, and continue to simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After sitting, the spice mixture will create a thick residue that will settle on the bottom.

  2. Using a ladle, serve into individual mugs or other heat-safe vessels. Try not to disturb the layer of spices at the bottom of the pot.

*Poudre Forte: 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground mace, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp long pepper or grains of paradise (optional). Combine equal parts of all spices and store in a small airtight bottle.

**Poudre Douce: 4 ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp grains of paradise, pinch of nutmeg, pinch of galangal, 1 cup of sugar. Combine all the ingredients and store in a small airtight jar.

Grains of Paradise: To approximate Grains of Paradise, try equal parts of ground black pepper, ground cardamom, and ground ginger.

 

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