Thanksgiving sides worth a try

Sweet Potato Cranberry ChutneyI’m very excited about Thanksgiving this year.  I am actually getting the chance to host Thanksgiving Dinner.  Would you believe, I have never in my life cooked a Turkey?  Up until this year, we’ve always gone to relatives’ homes for Thanksgiving, so the responsibility for the bird never fell on me.   And, I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous.  The plan is to brine the bird.  I’ve brined chickens before and the results were always terrific.  I was glued to the Food Network’s Thanksgiving episode on Saturday when they were discussing brines.  They shared a great sounding concoction that I plan to use but if you are thinking about brining check out their website.  There are quite a few different recipes.

So, since I don’t have any Turkey advice, I’m going to share with you some great side dish ideas.  I (as you may have noticed) like to try new things.  No, same old year after year for me.  So, this year, I went on the hunt for some new recipes.  There is one  tried and true Green Bean Casserole recipe that I have made many times.  If you are looking for a new veggie side, give it a look.  It is a Martha Stewart recipe and does take quite a bit of time to put together.  So, if you are bringing a dish to relatives, trust me it’s a crowd pleaser.  If you are hosting, this recipe can be done the day before.

As for the new recipes, the folks from Better Homes & Gardens helped me out by sending me a very timely email with tons of recipes and tips for Thanksgiving.  I chose two of those recipes to try in advance.  Both turned out great.  The first recipe is a Sweet Potato Chutney over Pork Chops (see above).  I loved the chutney and thought it would make the perfect topping for Turkey.  So, here is the recipe for the Chutney.  The original recipe including the pork you can find here.  I made one slight change to this recipe by precooking the sweet potato in the microwave.  I was afraid it wouldn’t cook thoroughly in 10 minutes.  It turned out great with a pre-cooked potato.  This only makes enough for 4 servings, so be sure to double or triple depending on the crowd.

Ingredients

* 2 Tbs. finely chopped shallots

* dash crushed red pepper

* 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

* 1/4 cup vinegar

* 2 tablespoons dried cranberries

* 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

* 1 medium sweet potato, (pre-cook on high in Microwave for 3 minutes) peeled and coarsely chopped

Directions

Combine 2 Tbs. chopped shallot, red pepper, brown sugar, vinegar, dried cranberries, and ginger in a medium saucepan. Stir in sweet potato; bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Walnut Sage Potatoes au GratinThis recipe is another one from Better Homes & Gardens and is a nice change from the typical mashed potatoes.

Walnut-Sage Potatoes au Gratin
Prep: 30 minutes Bake: 75 minutes Stand: 10 minutes Oven: 350°F
2 pounds fingerling potatoes
3 tablespoons walnut oil or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1⁄2 cups milk
3 tablespoons snipped fresh sage
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (4 ounces)
1⁄3 cup broken walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 2-quart casserole; set aside.
Halve potatoes lengthwise. Place potato halves in colander. Rinse
with cold water; drain.
2. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion and
garlic until tender. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add milk. Cook
and stir until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in sage.
3. Layer half of the potatoes in prepared 2-quart casserole. Top with
half the sauce. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat layering with
potatoes and sauce. (Cover and chill remaining cheese until needed.)
4. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake about
25 minutes more or just until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with
remaining cheese; top with walnuts. Bake for 5 minutes more. Let
stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Roasted Butternut squash and Bacon PastaAnd, finally, my dear Twitter friend, Michelle, from Funky Chunks Soaps, recommend this Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta dish.  I made this on Saturday, and I’m embarrassed to admit, that the whole pan was gone in one night, and there was just the two of us.  I’m also embarrassed to admit that I forgot to take a picture of the finished product.  For a good picture and the recipe, visit Cooking Light’s website. This is a delicious dish on its own or as a side.  I think it would be great with leftover turkey cubed and added.  A nice change from the typical Turkey Tetrazzini.

So, that’s it for my recommendations.  I’ll be experimenting on Turkey day not only with the brine recipe but with Emiril Lagasse’s Twice Baked Potato Casserole. What’s on your menu?  I would love to hear about your favorites side dishes.  If you’ve got a great recipe, please tell us about it by leaving a comment below.

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Author:Deborah Smith, Executive Editor

Deborah Smith is the Founder and Publisher of JerseyBites.com, a collaborative website focused on food news in New Jersey.

One Response to “Thanksgiving sides worth a try”

  1. nora
    November 24, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    Brining does make a huge difference, the turkey will come out much juicier… mmmm. That sweet potato cranberry chutney sounds good, I’m going to have to try it!

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