Another entree can nicely round out your Thanksgiving meal
A roast turkey may be the true centerpiece of most American tables next Thursday, but it hasn't always been so. In "Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie" (Clarkson Potter, 2005), Kathleen Curtin and Sandra L. Oliver write that the gathering was first and foremost a harvest festival, a celebration of the bounty of foods readily available at that time of year, and "one of the hallmarks of a feast in seventeenth-century England and New England was the presence of several kinds of meat."
Today, many families continue that tradition, giving a second entree pride of place alongside the turkey. Diane Morgan, a Squirrel Hill native living in Portland, Ore., includes recipes for a Jack Daniel's Whiskey and Brown Sugar Crusted Ham and Molly's Pumpkin-and-Sage Lasagna in her new book, "The New Thanksgiving Table" (Chronicle, 2009, $24.95).
She's been teaching classes around the country since her "Thanksgiving Table" came out in 2002, and says that the second entree is a standard feature, especially in the South, and for regular Sunday dinners as well as special meals. "For many," she writes, "Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without a holiday ham sharing center stage with the Thanksgiving roast turkey."
Adding a second entree definitely takes some planning. Jay Ferrell of Lawrenceville often serves salmon at Thanksgiving dinner, but making it the first year took a little improvisation. "The salmon thing started one year when friends from Seattle brought me a whole salmon when they visited for Thanksgiving," he explains. "I only had one oven, so I cooked the salmon (wrapped in lots of tin foil) in the dishwasher." In later years, he abandoned the dishwasher cooking method, but the salmon stayed.
At McGinnis Sisters, "a lot of whole filets go out of here for Thanksgiving," said spokesperson Jennifer Daurora. At Whole Foods in East Liberty, spokesperson Kim Wynnyckyj reported that salmon, ham and standing rib roasts are typical choices for people picking up something to go with the turkey.
Ham is also a popular item for D'Artagnan, a high-end specialty meat and meat product company. Spokeswoman Lily Hodge suggests goose, pheasant and game meats as excellent choices for a second entree. Venison, she points out, was served at the 1621 Plymouth Thanksgiving. D'Artagnan products are stocked at Giant Eagle Market District stores, with a wider variety available at the new store in Robinson.
Some people want to be able to serve something besides turkey for guests who don't eat meat. The lasagna Ms. Morgan includes in "The New Thanksgiving Table" is one she used to make for, and named for, her once-vegetarian daughter. "When I wrote my first Thanksgiving book in 2001, I included an entire chapter of vegetarian entrees because so many of us cooking Thanksgiving dinner have vegetarians at the table, and we want them to eat as heartily as those of us devouring turkey with all the trimmings."
Adding more work to an already stressful day of cooking might sound crazy, but a second entree can actually make preparations easier, especially if you're cooking for a large group. Rather than having to prepare two turkeys or add side dishes, come up with an additional main dish that requires less attention than the bird. Many options can be made earlier in the day or even the day before.
A second entree also is handy if you want to make a smaller turkey go a little further. At my house we're planning to also make brisket, a tradition borrowed from a friend's Thanksgiving in Baltimore. There was a beautiful roast turkey, and I'm sure everyone enjoyed it, but what I remember best is that everyone asked for seconds of the brisket.
"Tri-tip, sometimes called 'triangle roast' because of its shape, is a relatively inexpensive cut, but it is deliciously tender and takes well to all kinds of rubs and marinades," writes Georgeanne Brennan in her book, "Gather: Memorable Menus for Entertaining throughout the Seasons." I agree with her that the pepper rub is simple and tasty. She describes it as "just right for a poker party -- not too fussy, but hearty," but I think that tri-tip is just unusual enough to give it enough cachet for a holiday such as Thanksgiving.
The book has full menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Chinese New Year and more.
-- Bob Batz Jr.
- 1 tri-tip or small sirloin roast, about 1 3/4 to 2 pounds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
Trim the meat of excess fat, leaving a thin layer. Mix the salt, pepper, and garlic together and rub it all over the roast. Let the meat stand at room temperature for 2 hours, or cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Pat the roast dry if necessary. If it has been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before cooking. Place the roast fat side up on a rack in a small roasting pan. Roast it until a crust forms and the internal temperature, when tested with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the roast, reads 120 degrees for rare or 125 to 130 degrees for medium rare, 30 to 40 minutes.
Transfer the roast to a carving board, cover it loosely with foil, and let it rest for 15 minutes. Carve the meat across the grain in 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices on a platter and pour any collected pan juices over them. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
-- "Gather: Memorable Menus for Entertaining throughout the Seasons" by Georgeanne Brennan (Sasquatch, 2009, $22.95).
This fritatta has a gorgeous browned, puffed appearance. It would be most suitable at a Thanksgiving dinner with a couple of vegetarian guests, since it can only serve a small number of people as an entree. I substituted kale for spinach and squash for potatoes.
-- China Millman
- 1 bunch kale, tough stems removed and discarded
- About 1/3 small butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter
- 8 green onions, white parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 8 extra-large eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) light cream
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Salt the water, then add the kale. Blanche kale for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. The kale is done when it is tender but still chewy. Drain and spread out to cool for a few minutes, then coarsely chop.
Cut the butternut squash into 1/4" slices. If using the bulbous part of the squash, cut the wedges into thirds, so they will be easier to flip.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in center position. Melt the butter in a large, ovenproof skillet. Add butternut squash slices and saute until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add green onions and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add kale and mix well. Cook until kale is heated through. Remove from heat.
Put egg yolks in a medium bowl. Add cream, thyme and salt; mix well. Mix in goat cheese. In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. Gently fold egg yolk mixture into whites until there are no steaks of white left. Pour egg mixture onto the vegetables in the skillet and, using just a few gentle strokes, fold the vegetables into the eggs. Smooth the top. Bake until puffed and brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve hot or at room temperature.
Serves 3 to 4
-- Adapted from "The New England Table" by Lora Brody (Chronicle, 2005, $35)
This recipe for stuffed pork roast might sound like a lot of work, especially when you've got a turkey to roast. But it was surprisingly easy. It also gets high marks for its dramatic presentation -- slicing the meat reveals the brandy-soaked prunes inside. Browning the roast before braising it assures the meat will stay tender.
-- Gretchen McKay
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 pounds onions (2 to 3 large), halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 garlic head, cloves separated and peeled
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups (14 ounces) pitted prunes
- 1 cup Armagnac or other brandy
- 3- to 3 1/2-pound boneless center-cut pork loin roast, tied
- 10 fresh parsley stems
- 2 large fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 large fresh sage sprig
- 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 whole cloves
- 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock or reduced-sodium broth
- 2 to 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 5-quart heavy pot large enough to accommodate roast over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add onions, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set pot aside.
Meanwhile, combine prunes and brandy in a 1- to 2-quart saucepan, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make a hole in roast, insert a long thin sharp knife into middle of 1 end toward center of loin, then repeat at opposite end to make an incision that runs lengthwise through roast. Enlarge incision with your fingers, working from both ends, to create a 3/4-inch-wide opening. Pack about 20 prunes into pork, pushing them from both ends toward center (reserve remaining brandy and prunes). Pat pork dry and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wrap parsley, thyme, sage, bay leaves, peppercorns and cloves in a square of cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with kitchen string.
Brush pork with mustard and coat evenly with brown sugar. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in reserved pot over high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown meat on all sides, reducing heat if necessary to prevent burning, for about 6 minutes. Transfer pork with tongs to a plate. Add white wine and reserved brandy (not prunes) to pot and bring to a boil, then remove from heat.
Add stock, onion mixture and cheesecloth bundle to pot, then add pork, along with any juices accumulated on plate, turning pork fat side up. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, transfer to oven and braise for 30 minutes.
Add remaining prunes to pot and braise until thermometer inserted diagonally 2 inches into meat (avoiding stuffing) registers 150 degrees, about 15 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and cut off and discard string. Cover with foil (interior temperature of pork will rise as it stands). While pork stands, skin fat from surface of sauce if necessary and discard cheesecloth bundle. Stir in vinegar (to taste), 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Slice pork and serve with sauce.
-- "Gourmet Today" (Houghton Mifflin, $40)
First Published November 19, 2009 12:00 am