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A modern Thanksgiving: family-friendly updates on classic side dishes for Turkey Day



 

Move over, green bean casserole.  Step aside, soggy stuffing.  These three recipes take classic components of the turkey feast and update them with bold and exciting new flavors.  Kids and parents alike will love these refreshing new takes on traditional sides, and these recipes may even become your new family classics.  Now that’s something to give thanks for.


Spiced cranberry-apple chutney

Cranberry sauce has long been a staple on the Thanksgiving table, but it can sometimes be hard to navigate between the sugar-laden kind from a can and the puckering tartness of a homemade version.  This family friendly chutney provides a perfect alternative, with a subtle sweetness from the apples, and underlying warmth from the spices creating a perfect match to the richness of the turkey feast.

2 medium apples

2 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

2 cups fresh or thawed cranberries

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup molasses or dark brown sugar

 

Peel, core and quarter apples, then cut to ½” dice.  Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, then add apple, shallot and ginger and sauté for two minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and stir well.  Bring to a simmer, then cook until fruit is completely soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.

(Note: This low-maintenance chutney can be made up to a week ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.  Just bring to room temperature whenever you’re ready to serve.)


Pancetta, apple and fennel 'stuffins'

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a stuffing to get stuffed on, but sometimes dinner guests both young and old find themselves fighting over the crispy bits at the corners.  Baking individual portions in a muffin tin makes both a novel and whimsical presentation, as well as maximizing those delicious crispy edges. The pancetta provides bursts of crunchy savory notes, but feel free to substitute with another vegetable or your favorite dried fruit for a vegetarian alternative.

Makes 12 stuffins

1 loaf of white crusty bread, cut into ½” dice (yields around 6 cups)

8 oz pancetta, diced

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

1 bulb fennel, finely chopped

2 large apples, peeled, cored & cut to ½” dice

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped

3 eggs

¼ cup chicken or vegetable stock

salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Heat oven to 350°F.  Spread the cubes of bread on 2 baking sheets, place in the oven for 10 minutes until just starting to toast, then remove from oven and set aside.  Whilst bread is toasting, grease a 12-hole muffin tin thoroughly, then set aside.

Place a wide skillet over medium heat, then add the pancetta and sauté until crisp, around 7 minutes.  Remove pancetta to a plate, leaving the grease in the pan, then add the onion, fennel, apples and garlic.  Sauté for 10 minutes until softened, then stir in the sage.  Add the pancetta back to the pan then season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer mixture to a bowl, add the beaten eggs and the bread cubes, then stir well to combine.  Divide the stuffing between the muffin cups in the prepared tin, pressing the mixture down tightly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned on top and cooked through.  Loosen from tin with a knife and serve warm.


Creamed Brussels sprouts with chestnuts

Green bean casserole may be a nostalgic tradition for turkey day, but it’s fun to mix it up sometimes with a fresh and new alternative.  This nutritious side hits the same notes as the traditional casserole, but with a lighter creamy sauce and with the earthiness of kid-friendly chestnuts replacing the mushrooms.  Brussels sprouts have never looked so good.

Serves 8

2 lbs Brussels sprouts, peeled

3 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup chicken or vegetable stock

¼ cup half-and-half

1 5oz pack vacuum-packed chestnuts

Pinch of nutmeg

 

Halve the sprouts lengthwise, then cut into thin slices. Heat oil and butter in large skillet over medium heat, then add sprouts, shallots, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté gently for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.   

Add the stock, the half-and-half and the chestnuts.  Bring to a simmer and cook until flavors have melded, sauce has reduced, and sprouts are tender, around 5 minutes more.  Adjust seasoning if needed, then top with nutmeg.

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