Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving In Detail

This year, we did Thanksgiving with friends.  We have a long history of this holiday with family, but it just wasn't in the cards this year.  We spent this holiday at my friend Venessa's house.  She is a great cook and has a great family to hang out with.  And we can walk to their house.  Although I have always loved Thanksgiving at my sister's house in Michigan, it is a major feat to get out of Chicago.  I miss my family, but man, this year was easy!

Venessa made the turkey, stuffing, cranberries, gravy, mashed potatoes, and deep dish apple pie.  All delish.  My job was vegetable sides, bread and wine.  This was a great assignment.

Martha Stewart's Hearty Garlic Greens

Monica's Roasted Root Vegetables Recipe (with my changes.  Note that you can really use whatever vegetables you choose.)

1-2 large sweet potatoes
2 turnips
2-3 parsnips
3 carrots
3 shallots
8 oz. Brussels Sprouts (I know, not a root veggie, but a Thanksgiving must-have!)
1/4 cup Tupelo honey (I used raw wildflower honey)
2 TBS balsamic vinegar (my addition, in honor of the Brussels Sprouts)
3 TBS olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Chop veggies.  Whisk other ingredients together.  Toss everything together in a pan.  Roast at 450 stirring occasionally until everything is tender and a little browned.

Grandma Scully's Bean & Bacon Casserole, Updated

My mom has always made a wax bean and bacon casserole, ever since I was a kid.  I wanted to make a family dish since we weren't going to be with our genetic families.  I've always though fondly of this one.  So I called my mom for the recipe.  I received the traditional non-recipe recipe:  Cook the bacon, make a white sauce, add 3 cans wax beans, bake it all in the oven.  Use the Searchlight cookbook for the white sauce.

So I did use the Searchlight for the sauce.

But I also decided it was time to write the recipe down.  Behold!

1 lb. bacon, chopped and cooked + bacon grease reserved
2 lbs. green or yellow beans, ends removed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1/4-1/3 onion, chopped small
6 TBS flour, or more as needed
2 cups milk, heateded, or more as needed
1/2 TBS salt, or to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste

1.  In a large frying pan, cook 1 lb. chopped bacon.
2.  While bacon is cooking, steam green beans until just tender.  Remove beans to an ice bath to stop them cooking until they are needed.
3.  When bacon is cooked (I like it crispy), drain bacon grease and reserve in a separate jar or bowl.  I strained mine as it got a bit burned in a few spots.
4.  Add onions to the bacon in the frying pan and sautee over medium-low heat until the onions are soft and the bacon is a bit crispy.
5.  Place beans, bacon, and onions in your baking dish.  I used my 8 x 12 Le Creuset baking dish (thrifted for $3!!)  My mom always used a deep, square Corningware baking dish.  You know, the one with the light blue flowers on the side?
6.  Make the white sauce.  Add 6 TBS reserved bacon grease and 6 TBS. flour to frying pan and whisk together.  Add 2 cups scalded milk and whisk together.  You may need to add more flour or milk to obtain desired consistency.  I used 2 cups milk to about 8 TBS flour.  Next time I'll use more milk for a thinner sauce.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Watch out with the salt, though, because you're adding a pound of bacon to the entire dish!!  I used about 1/4 teaspoon and it was plenty.
7.  Add white sauce to casserole dish and mix thoroughly.
8.  Bake covered at 350 for 20 minutes or until the beans are tender.  I took the cover off at the end, but wished I hadn't.  The cover keeps it nice and moist, which is what you want.

It turned out great.  Next time, I may even add some nutmeg or thyme for a different kind of flair.

Sarah made the no-knead artisan bread from here.  We also brought homemade marinaded mushrooms and pickles.  

Let me just say, winner, winner, turkey dinner.  

We topped the evening off with Scrabble and Apples to Apples.  A very, very good night.  I'm looking forward to Christmas, when we'll host my parents.

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