Creamy Browned Buttered Mash Potatoes: hold the gravey

Mash potatoes is another classic dish served during Thanksgiving. There is no need to have it bland and drowned in gravy. A good mash potatoes side should be able to stand on its own. Here is a delicious option: Creamy Brown Buttered Mash Potatoes.

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3/4 cup butter
4 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Optional: Garnish with fresh parsley, finely chopped scallion, finely chopped rosemary, or thyme sprigs

Put butter in a saucepan over medium heat until turns golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and pour butter into a bowl.

Bring large pot of water to a boil and add 2 tsp. salt medium-high heat. Add potatoes and boil for roughly 20 minutes until tender. Drain. Reduce heat to low and put potatoes back into the pot until all the liquid has evaporated and potatoes dry. Stir occasionally to make sure potatoes don’t burn. Mash potatoes with a potato masher to desired consistency. Stir in browned butter (reserve some for garnish), buttermilk, milk, pepper, and 1 tsp. salt, stirring just until blended.

Transfer the mashed potatoes to a serving platter or scope to individual plates. Drizzle with reserved 1 to 2 Tbsp. browned butter. Garnish is optional but adds to the presentation.

Not your mama’s Green Bean Casserole

This isn’t your mother’s Green Bean Casserole. Of course throwing it all into a casserole dish and serving it family style is convenient, but how does one elevate this classic recipe for a fancy dinner? You deconstruct it and go back to basics. The green beans stay vibrant while your taste buds says, “It just right.” 

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Crispy onion topping:
2 medium onions, thinly sliced 1/8 of an inch
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt

Beans and sauce:
1 teaspoon salt,
1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, kept whole
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half/cream

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F in the bake setting. Lower heat to 425 if using a convection oven.
Crispy Onions: Combine the onions, flour, breadcrumbs and salt in a large mixing bowl and coat the onions evenly. Place the onions on a sheet pan coated with non-stick cooking spray or butter. Spread them apart so they cook evenly. Cook at 475 degrees for roughly 30 mins until golden and crispy. Toss the onions around and flip them over to cook evenly. 

Green Beans: While the onions are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil to blanch the green beans. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and then the beans. Cook for 5 minutes and drain in a colander. Put the beans immediately into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Sauce: Melt the butter in a 12-inch saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the diced mushrooms, and then season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes and stir occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid. Add garlic and nutmeg until garlic is slightly golden, and then sprinkle flour evenly. Cook for 1 or two minute and stir the contents. Flour will clump up and absorb all the liquid in the pan. Add chicken broth and simmer, put the heat on med-low before adding the cream/half and half. Stir and cook until the mixture thickens. 

Plating: Add a spoonful of the mushroom sauce on the plate. Pile the green beans directly on top of the sauce and garnish with crispy onion.

Dressing that turkey with stuffing.

I wanted to make a traditional stuffing versus using the premade stuffing from the box. You’d be surprise what they’ve added.  A simple alternative is making homemade stuffing with my Traditional Stuffing recipe. It is packed with flavor without all the salt, fat, and preservatives.

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12 cups bread, cubes (Mom makes her own sometimes)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup minced onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped celery, stalks and leaves
1 cup chopped mushroom
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon ground sage
no-salt-added chicken broth

Cut up bread into 1 inch cubes and bake it on a sheet pan at 350 degrees until it golden. Toss after 5 minutes so it cooks evenly. 

Put butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt before adding onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and mushrooms. Sauté and stir occasionally until the carrots and celery softens. Add salt, pepper, and sage and proceed to cook for another 3 minutes. Remove off heat and set aside.  Add the bread cubes in a large bowl and the sautéed vegetables. Toss the mixture well to make sure the vegetables and bread are evenly distributed. Then add chicken broth and mix again. Allow to cool before adding the stuffing to a cooked turkey.

Drunken and Spiked Orange Cranberry Sauce: redundancy is good

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I appreciate it when a host serves homemade cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce from the can is adequate but why go for “adequate” when it could be exceptional. Try this delicious Drunken and Spiked Orange Cranberry Sauce:

2 cups sugar
4 cups fresh cranberries
½ cup of water
1/4 cup orange liqueur
1 tbsp of finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

In a heavy saucepan, add the cranberries, water, sugar, ginger, and orange zest. Bring mixture to a boil. Cook over medium heat and stir often until cranberry skins burst. Remove from heat and let cool before transferring to a food processor. Blend until cranberries have the texture you prefer. Stir in orange liqueur and chill the cranberry sauce before serving. Garnish with finely grated orange zest and candied ginger.

Optional: Add port instead of water for an extra kick. Your guests will appreciate the surprise.

Beef Roast: Give turkey a break this year

There is no rule that says you have to serve turkey. I’ve substituted roast beef for turkey to mix it up once in awhile. Like roasting turkey, the key is even cooking and a little attentiveness.  You cannot rush the process.

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The quality of the beef is also important. Prime and choice quality can withstand the 325 F cooking but Less quality cuts of meat require a “slow and low” method because it has less of the marbling, fat that is inside of the meat, and can toughen up. Cooking low and slow method can be used to cook Prime or Choice cuts. 

There are the basic rules to follow:
1) Select a roast that is evenly proportioned all throughout. Use cooking twine if necessary. Allow it come to room temperature.

2) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

3) Rub olive oil, salt, and pepper. Additionally seasonings are optional.

4) Sear the roast on all sides on a hot skillet. This will help keep the roast moist.

5) Put roast on a rack inside a roasting pan. Place the roast in into oven uncovered. At which point reduce the temperature to 180-190. Cook 1hr 15mins/pound until desired doneness. The thicker the roast, the longer it will take to cook and adjust time accordingly. cylindrical roasts cook faster and spherical.

6) Remove when done. A good cooking guide for doneness is: 125 F for rare, 130-135 for medium-rare and 140 F for medium. You should not eat beef if you want it well done. LOL. Well, you can but buying more expensive cuts of prime and choice would be a waste. Also, cooking with bone in will take longer than without.

7) Allow roast to rest for 20-30 mins before cutting. Thicker roasts require more time to rest.

Lemon and Brown Sugar Glazed Ham: Ham it up for the holidays

I like to make baked ham as a second option for an entrée because not all of us like turkey.  It is aromatic, sweet, and a bit tangy. 
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15 to 20-pound smoked ham
1 16-ounce box light brown sugar
1 cup clover honey
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 teaspoon clove powder
2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 tbs grated lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove ham from wrapper and rinse in cold water. Pat dry and remove excess liquid. Place ham in a shallow roasting pan and cover with the lid (use aluminum if life does not fit or missing). Bake for 2 hours. 

In a saucepan, mix brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, clover, cinnamon and lemon zest. Cook on medium heat until sugar crystals dissolve. Pour the melted mixture over the ham and continue to bake without the lid. Baste the ham with the drippings every 15 mins. Cook for another hour and check for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer at the thickest point, 160 degrees.  Remove from the oven and allow ham to stand for 15-20 mins. After 5 minutes out of the oven, repeatedly baste the ham with the drippings to form a candied hard sugar coating.

Garnish by putting a bed of lettuce on the bottom of the ham and place orange and lemon in halves around the ham on a serving platter.  

Don’t dry whine, brine!

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You don’t have too much time left to decide if you want to brine your turkey. It takes about a day to soak the turkey in the salt and water solution. Try this bringing recipe for that moist and savory turkey.

2 gallons cold water

1.5 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole peppercorn
1 whole onion chopped.
3 tablespoons dried sage
3 tablespoons dried celery seed
2 tablespoon dried thyme
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 whole 15lb turkey

If turkey frozen, thaw before hand.

In a pot, put 1 gallon of water and combine soy sauce, salt, sugar, bay leaves, peppercorn, sage, celery seed, and thyme. Turn heat on medium and bring solution to a simmer until sugar and salt crystals dissolves. Turn off heat and add the remaining gallon of water and chopped onion and garlic. Allow the brine solution to cool.

Take turkey out of packaging and remove the giblets and neck. Rinse the turkey under cold water before placing it in a deep container that will allow the turkey to be completely submerged. Pour the brine liquid into the container. Place the container in the refrigerator. Soak for 12 hours (Larger turkeys will require longer time in the brine).

1.5 hr before cooking, remove the turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towel inside and out. Let the turkey rest on a greased wire rack in the roasting pan, allowing the internal temperature of the turkey to come closer to room temperature. Follow the Turkey Trifecta recipe if so desired and rub sage, thyme, and butter mixture over the turkey. Exclude the use of salt.

*Picture is for visual aid.