Thanksgiving is right around the corner–in fact, one week from today! There is tons to do, cook and see that I must tell you about, so here is the overview: recipes and tips, food can sculptures and…white truffles!
First things first: the bird! Thank you to all my readers that have e-mailed and stopped by the Amsterdam News offices (I have heard the stories) to get the turkey recipe from years past. Brining the bird in water, wine, salt, sugar and aromatics is a great way to get tender and flavorful meat. The wine and butter basting liquid ain’t half bad either!
If you are in a pinch, I found a great comprehensive turkey primer on www.epicurious.com. It has everything from shopping tips to carving your turkey. You can still e-mail or instant message me with your questions.
TO MAKE: What is Thanksgiving without stuffing? I caught wind of a recipe that I must try this year that uses dried figs. There is something lovely to me about figs in all forms–fresh or dried, paste or chutney. It is a tempered sweetness that enhances everything, even your basic stuffing.
TURKEY STUFFING WITH FIGS
3/4 cup large, diced dried figs, stems removed
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup apple cider
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups diced onions (2 onions)
1 cup (1/2-inch-diced) celery (3 stalks)
3/4 mixed pound of sweet and hot pork (can substitute turkey) sausage, casings removed
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (optional or chopped walnuts or pecans)
3 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 extra large egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the dried figs, cranberries and cider in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery, and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small bits with a fork, and saute, stirring frequently for 10 minutes until cooked and browned. Add the figs and cranberries with the liquid, chopped sage and nuts (if using), and cook for 2 more minutes. Make sure to scrape up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and stir well.
SCHOP! Tip: You can loosely stuff your bird with the cooled mixture, but I prefer to stuff the cavity with lemon, onions, garlic and herbs, and cook the stuffing outside of the bird.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a baking dish, add stuffing mixture and bake for 45 minutes.
TO DO: This past weekend, on that glorious Saturday, I rode my bike down to the World Financial Center Winter Garden to check out a temporary exhibit called “CANstruction.” Over 100,000 cans of food were assembled into fanciful, mind-boggling sculptures by architects and design companies of New York.
Make haste! The exhibit runs only until Monday, November 22, when the sculptures will be dissembled and donated to City Harvest. It is free, less a one can donation for a great cause.
Expect to see King Kong on the Empire State Building, the Highline, a Smart car, Russian nesting dolls, a wall of graffiti, spilled water, Mr. Potatohead, the game “Battleship” and a large scale picnic blanket with an equally large peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple and ants made out of bottles of Pom pomegranate juice. Very smart!
TO EAT: If you can’t bare the thought of cooking for Thanksgiving, and rather take yourself and your fellow diners out to something decadent, the white truffles of Alba, Italy, have descended on New York City. They can be found sprinkled about dishes from the Hudson to the East River.
One such place is Quattro (246 Spring Street, 212.842.4500, www.quattronewyork.com). In addition to a special Thanksgiving menu, an Italian twist on all of our favorites, the twin chefs, Nicola and Fabrizio Carro are offering a white truffle menu (offered through New Year’s Eve). It includes fontina cheese fondue, risotto with Toma cheese from their home region of Piedmonte, and veal scaloppini with truffle wine sauce.
If this isn’t enough and you need more, more, more, Quattro is selling whole white truffles. Each truffle is weighed and priced, placed on a butcher block under a dome and presented at the table with a truffle shaving set. It’s a unique approach that is done mostly in Italy.
And for my gourmands who need to take a truffle or two home to shave over soft eggs or put in their decadent mac ‘n’ cheese, perhaps the brothers will make you una borsa di cagnolino (a doggie bag). The smell is intoxicating!
Now I have to get to getting’ on my menu planning…
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
Follow me on Twitter @SCHOPgirl.
Questions at dinnertime? Chat with me at AskSCHOP, Monday through Friday, 6-8 p.m.
Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! SCHOP! is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? E-mail kysha@iSCHOP.com.