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Thanksgiving Sides: Part Two

November 24, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Thanksgiving Sides: Part Two

Just a couple more days until the biggest meal of the year and I imagine more than a few folks are sweating it out:  what am I going to put on the table next to the turkey?  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School observes, there are a lot of great options still available at this late hour.

Having a loaf of fresh baked bread on the table is a treat, but some people balk at the work it takes.  Which is why we are so happy to have soda bread and other quick breads in our repertoire.  This is a very fast way to make bread, and the results are superb.  Here are two recipes.

            Pumpkin, Cranberry Irish Soda Bread


4 cups + ¾ cup all-purpose flour, divided
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup pumpkin purée
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into squares
1 ¾ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with a silicone mat or a piece of parchment paper, or coat with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the four cups flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

Add the butter and with a pastry blender or your fingers, squeeze and mix the butter in with the flour mixture until the butter is about the size of peas.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, pumpkin purée and orange zest. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.

Stir with a wooden spoon just until the dough starts to come together. Add the dried cranberries and stir just until incorporated. The dough will be wet and sticky.

Spread some of the remaining flour onto a flat surface and turn the dough out onto it. Sprinkle a bit more flour over the bread and begin kneading, adding more flour as you go, until the bread is no longer sticky and you're able to knead it easily.

Form dough into a round loaf and place on the baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut an "X" into the top.

Bake for 45 - 55 minutes, or until golden brown and the bread sounds a little hollow when you knock on it.

You can also try using a cake tester just to be sure - when it comes out clean, it's done.

Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then slice, butter, and serve. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap; keeps at room temperature for up to 3 days.

                Bacon Cheddar Corn Bread


2 ½ cups coarse yellow cornmeal
5 slices of thick cut Applewood smoked bacon, cooked, chopped and fat reserved
1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons of bacon fat, melted (you can substitute butter)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups whole milk with 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar added

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet inside.

In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Combine 4 tablespoons of the lard, the egg and the buttermilk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until smooth. Fold in the chopped bacon and cheddar cheese.

Move the skillet from the oven to the stove top, over high heat. Add the remaining lard to the pan and swirl to coat.

Pour in the batter; it should sizzle vigorously. Shake the skillet to distribute it evenly.

Put the skillet back in the oven, reduce the temperature to 350°F and cook 15 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool. Serve warm.

Green beans are still in good supply at the market, and they are always welcome at the dining table.  Here's a tempting recipe.

                Green Bean Casserole

2 lbs fresh green beans ends cleaned and cut into 1 inch pieces
½ lb crimini mushrooms, cut in half
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, halved and very thinly sliced, preferably on a mandolin
3 shallots, cut into ¼ inch dice
1 cup whole milk
1 cup chicken stock
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons AP flour
¼ cup goat cheese
1 cup Wondra flour or other fine grind instant flour
Salt & fresh ground black pepper
4 cups Canola or other neutral oil for frying

Prepare of pot of boiling, salted water and blanche the green beans for two minutes. Remove and quickly quench in ice. Drain on paper towels.

Toss the halved mushrooms in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in an even layer on a baking dish and roast in a 375°F oven until they just start to brown on the edges, about 20 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool.

In a sauce pan set over medium heat melt the butter and begin to cook the shallots. Once they have become translucent, whisk in the flour and cook for about three minutes.

Slowly whisk in the milk and, with continuous stirring, allow the mixture to come to a boil. It should be very thick and creamy.

Add just enough chicken stock to reduce the thickness of the mixture to where it just coats the back of a spoon; whisk in the goat cheese and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place the canola oil in a 3qt. soup pot and place on medium high heat. Using a candy thermometer and adjusting the heat on the stove, heat the oil to about 350°F.

Working in a few batches, toss the thinly sliced onions in the Wondra flour, shake of the excess and carefully place them in the hot oil.

Using a slotted spoon, stir the onions occasionally. Remove from the oil when they are golden brown, place on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and season immediately with salt. Repeat until you’ve fried all of the onion.

Mix the green beans, mushrooms and sauce together in a large bowl and place in a casserole dish. Bake the casserole in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes or until the sauce starts to bubble around the edges.

Remove from the oven, top with the fried onions and serve immediately.

Many of the fall fruits and vegetables are remarkably compatible with each other.  Here's a recipe that capitalizes on the harmony between apples and sweet potatoes.

            Roasted Bourbon Apples and Sweet Potato

5 large sweet potatoes (about 5 lb.)
5 Honeycrisp apples or similar baking apple
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups fresh apple cider
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup honey
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup bourbon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Wash sweet potatoes, and place on a baking sheet; prick with a fork. Bake at 400°F for 1 hour or until almost tender. Remove from oven. Let stand 45 minutes or until cooled.

Meanwhile, peel and core apples. Slice apples in half parallel to the core. Place flat side down and cut ½ inch thick slices. Toss in the lemon juice.

Peel cooled potatoes and cut in half long ways. Place flat side down and cut ½ inch thick slices Arrange potatoes and apples alternately in a greased 13" x 9" baking dish.

Pour remaining lemon juice over potatoes and apples.

Place the apple cider in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cider has reduced dramatically, to about ¼ cup.

Add all of the remaining ingredients except the pecans and mix well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally; boil 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Pour glaze over potatoes and apples. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven; baste with glaze in bottom of dish, and sprinkle nuts across top.

Bake 14 to 15 more minutes or until apples look roasted. Baste with glaze just before serving.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.