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Roasted Acorn Squash

Roasted Acorn Squash

 This has to be one of the easiest, most delicious and most colorful side dishes you can make for your Thanksgiving table – or for any fall or winter meal, really.

Acorn squash, aside from its rich taste and nutritious qualities, has the added benefit of thin, edible skin – no peeling necessary.
The hardest part is cutting the slices — you need a sturdy knife and steady hand.
But once that’s done, you simply roast the slices in the oven, then sprinkle some pomegranate seeds on top, with a drizzle of balsamic syrup, and a scattering of fresh herbs. I’ve used parsley and lemon balm, but if you’re a cilantro fan, that would be welcome too.

 

Roasted Acorn Squash 
Wash the squash thoroughly, then cut in half. Remove seeds, then cut into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Coat each side of the slices with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper and herbs. I use a homemade herb salt, but you can mince some fresh or dry herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sprinkle on top.
Place on a cookie sheet and put into a preheated 425 degree oven. They’ll need only 5 to 7 minutes, after which you’ll flip to the other side. They’re done when they pierce easily with a fork. Remove them to a platter, then drizzle a balsamic glaze on top. (If you can’t find balsamic glaze in the store, make your own by boiling down supermarket balsamic vinegar until thick and syrupy.)
Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and scatter fresh herb leaves on top (I use either parsley or lemon balm or a combination of the two.)
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Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

She’s a looker, isn’t she? But she’s not just another pretty face. She’s got good flavor going for her too. So pick up an extra bag or two of cranberries this season, before they disappear from grocers’ shelves.
This cake would be welcome any time of year, but especially at Thanksgiving, when cranberries are traditionally served in some form or other.
The topping is sweet and spicy at the same time, with the combination of allspice and cinnamon kicking up the flavor. Like most upside down cakes, it’s best eaten warm, when the cake texture is still soft. But you can make it ahead of time, and heat a slice in the microwave for ten seconds to recapture that fresh from the oven taste.
 I wish you all a peaceful Thanksgiving and a day filled with family, friends and good food.
Cranberry Upside Down Cake
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 3/4 cups cranberries
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. Rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with 2 tablespoons butter. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon and allspice. Sprinkle mixture evenly over bottom of pan; arrange cranberries in a single layer on top.
With an electric mixer, cream remaining 6 tablespoons butter
and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat
until well combined. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, until well combined.
Spoon batter over cranberries in pan, and smooth top. Place
pan on a baking sheet; bake cake until a toothpick inserted in the
center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake; invert onto a rimmed platter.
Easy Acorn Squash And Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Easy Acorn Squash and Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Still looking for Thanksgiving side dish ideas? Here’s one that won’t take more than five minutes to prepare and tastes great. No peeling involved – you can eat the skin on acorn squash.

The recipe is so embarrassingly simple, it’s hardly a recipe. Just wash the squash, cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut into slices about 1/2 inch think. Smear with a little melted butter on both sides, then sprinkle each side with salt and pepper, and a mixture of equal parts bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until you can easily pierce the flesh with a fork.Here are a few more ideas if you still are undecided about side dishes for your Thanksgiving table:

Fennel Gratinée or Roasted Fennel 

Insalata di Rinforza

Stuffed onions

Squash and Couscous casserole

And as a relief for the digestive system: Citrus salad 

If you’re looking for a primer on how to brine and cook a turkey, click here to see how I do it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 
Acorn Squash with Parmesan Coating
Wash the squash, cut in half lengthwise, then remove the seeds and cut into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Smear with a little melted butter on both sides, then sprinkle each side with salt and pepper, and a mixture of equal parts bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until you can easily pierce the flesh with a fork.
Roasted And Stuffed Chicken, But No Bones About It!

Roasted and Stuffed Chicken, but No Bones About It!

 Roast chicken is one of those meals that feels like a warm hug – a comfort food that reels me back to  when my kids were young and the whole family gathered ’round the table for a Sunday meal. So when my son and daughter announced they’d be home for the weekend, I immediately thought of roasting a chicken, just like old times. But my son, who’s pretty facile himself around the kitchen, suggested I debone the entire chicken, then stuff it and roast it. “Jacques Pepin’s got a video that shows you how,” he said.
“Well, why not,” I said, so I clicked on Youtube and found the instructions. Jacques says it should take  only one minute to debone the bird, and it’s mostly done with your fingers, not a knife. Well, take that with a grain of salt. He’s a seasoned professional who’s probably done it hundreds of times. It took me closer to 20 minutes and at least several viewings of the video before I could free all the bones from this 6 lb. chicken, without ripping any of the skin:
 Check out the Pepin video below. It’s called a galantine, or ballotine, and you can do it too if you’re just patient and follow Jacque’s instructions.
You start out by cutting into the wings and slicing the bird down the back. It gets a lot more complicated, but it’s definitely doable, even for a first-timer, like me. The legs then become hollow, providing more space for stuffing. The only bones remaining are the tips of the legs. And don’t throw out those bones. Use them to make a chicken stock.
See that small white plate in the back?
 Those are the wings that become little “lollipops” for roasting or frying.
This is what the interior looks like before stuffing. “Gross,” according to my daughter, and I’d have to agree. Not too appetizing. But just wait.
 I spread the stuffing into the legs and throughout the interior. The stuffing was made with sturdy Italian bread, sausage, chestnuts and white raisins, bound together with an egg and some chicken broth.
 You bring the two sides together and it almost looks like it just came out of the supermarket wrapper.
 You truss it all together with some twine.
 Season it and put it in a roasting pan (a freebie from a yard sale in upstate New York last month), strewing some onions here and there. Roast it at 350 degrees for two hours.
 The beauty is not just in the flavor, but the ease of slicing. It would make a great meal for family or a special occasion.
 The deboned, stuffed chicken (and two wing lollipops) easily serves six people, assuming you’ve got some side dishes. If you’re not crazy about turkey, this could be a great substitute for the traditional Thanksgiving bird. If you want instructions on how to roast a chicken the old fashioned and easy way, without boning it, click here to see how I do it.
By the way, the acorn squash in the background, coated with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, would make a nice addition to your Thanksgiving table. Stay tuned to Ciao Chow Linda for the recipe in the next post.

Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing for Deboned Chicken
Printable Recipe Here


4 or 5 thick slices of sturdy Italian bread, crusts removed, and cut into bits
1/4 cup minced onions
2 T. olive oil
1 link of Italian sausage, casing removed
1/2 cup cooked chestnuts
1/4 cup white raisins
1 T. butter
1 egg
4  or 5 T. chicken stock
minced parsley
salt, pepper to taste

Sauté the onions in the olive oil and add the sausage, breaking it into bits. Cook the sausage and onions, then add the raisins to the pan, along with a tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of chicken stock. Let it cool slightly. Beat an egg in a large bowl and add the bread and the cooked mixture from the pan. Add some parsley, salt and pepper and stir. It may be dry, so add more chicken stock. The stuffing should be moist, but not soaking wet. Spread the stuffing into the deboned legs and across the body of the chicken. Then take the two sides of the chicken and roll them toward the center. Truss the bird with kitchen twine and season with salt, pepper, rosemary and paprika. Smear a little olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan, place the chicken inside and roast for two hours at 350 degrees, basting two or three times with the juices and oil that comes out from the chicken. I also placed two onions in the pan, and drizzled olive oil, salt and pepper on them. Turn the onions over when you baste the chicken.
Remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

How To Brine And Roast A Turkey

How To Brine And Roast A Turkey

It’s almost that time folks. Are you ready to roast that big bird or are you running from the task quicker than you can say turkey trot?  To all of you with trepidation in your soul at the thought of tackling this job, fear not — I have one word to help you achieve success — and it rhymes with fine. No, it’s not wine — although a glass of chardonnay or pinot noir for the cook never hurts. The word folks is brine. Since the first time I brined a turkey years ago, I have never looked back. It’s a fail-proof way to ensure a moist, flavorful turkey, even if you forget to baste it and even if you roast it a little longer than required.
Mix salt, sugar, herbs and spices with water and bring to a boil.
Dump the brining mixture over the turkey and add ice cubes (unless you have a refrigerator large enough to contain the large bucket). Let it sit overnight.
Roast the turkey over a bed of celery, carrots and onions and with some whole heads of garlic strewn all around the pan. Baste occasionally.
I leave the carving to my dad, but it’s the same way you would carve a chicken. Remove the legs, thighs and wings, then remove each half of the breast in its entirety from the carcass.
Cut the breast in slices and place all the meat on a serving platter surrounded with the whole roasted heads of garlic.
gobble, gobble!



printable recipe here


Turkey Brine
(Makes enough for up to a 24 lb. turkey)

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 gallon water
2 T. black peppercorns
1 T. allspice berries
1 onion, sliced
1 large bunch sage
6 bay leaves
ice cubes

The day before (or night before) you want to cook the turkey:

Using a 5-gallon bucket, line it with a plastic bag. Put the salt, sugar, onion, herbs and spices in a pot on the range with only two cups of water taken from the one gallon of water called for in the recipe. Bring to a boil and stir everything to blend the flavors. Remove from the heat and add some ice cubes to cool it off, plus about half of the remaining water. Put the thawed turkey in the plastic bag in the bucket and add the water and herb mixture. If the bucket needs more water to cover the turkey, add it now.

Since I can’t fit the bucket into my refrigerator, I always place it outdoors on the deck, adding ice cubes to the water to make sure it stays cool. It’s never been a problem here in New Jersey in late November, and sometimes it’s gotten so cold that the top layer of water has frozen.  I don’t want to take any risks though, so I always add the ice cubes. Twist the top of the bag and secure it closed. To keep squirrels or birds from pecking into the bag during the night or before it goes into the oven, place a flat baking pan on the top and weigh it down with something heavy. Let it sit overnight and soak.

The next day, drain the turkey from the liquid before roasting.  Pat dry, then place your hand between the skin and the breast meat and spread some butter inside with some sage leaves. Alternately, make an herb butter, mixing some softened butter with minced sage, rosemary or other herbs.

Roasting Method


After rubbing butter between the skin and the breast meat, place the turkey in a pan that has a bed of celery sticks, carrots and onion chunks. Take several whole heads of garlic and slice a shallow slice off the top. Spread them in the corners of the pan. If you’re not stuffing the turkey, place some onion chunks, fresh herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme or a combo) and a couple of lemons that have been halved, in the cavity. Rub the outer skin with a stick of butter that’s been softened. Roast turkey according to timetable below, basting occasionally. If the breast starts to get overly browned, make a tent with aluminum foil and cover loosely. If wings get overly browned and the rest of the turkey still needs cooking, wrap the wings in aluminum foil. The total roasting time will depend on whether the turkey is stuffed or not.
Here are the roasting times recommended by the USDA. If you’re checking with a meat thermometer, the USDA says the turkey is safely cooked once the thickest part of the breast and thigh reach a minimal internal temperature of 165 degrees. Full roasting instructions from the USDA are here.

Timetables for Turkey Roasting
(325 °F oven temperature)

Use the timetables below to determine how long to cook your turkey. These times are approximate. Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your turkey and stuffing.

 

Unstuffed
4 to 8 pounds (breast) 1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds 2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds 3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours
Stuffed
4 to 6 pounds (breast) Not usually applicable
6 to 8 pounds (breast) 2½ to 3½ hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4¾ to 5¼ hours