Side Dish Smorgasbord (part 1)

Thanksgiving…

The very word makes my belly rumble with expectations. Visions of turkey, oven roasted to golden perfection, the aroma of bread, fresh-baked and warm from the oven. I can already taste the sweet and savory flavor of Mom’s sweet potato casserole. I sit here and think with a gluttonous grin on the exquisite nap that follows the over indulgence of dinner. (Lovingly called “the post feast food coma”) Every family has their own traditions and observances. Just as every family has a dish or two (or three) that always appears at Thanksgiving. Sometimes those dishes are simple like a Green Bean Casserole, sometimes they are quite complex like my roasted red potato salad.

So in hopes of making everyone’s Thanksgiving a little more…full…here are some of my favorite side dishes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

The classic…Green Bean casserole (with mushrooms and madeira)

  • 2 cups cubed Italian bread
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 tablespoon melted butter
  • 8-10oz thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 2 large shallots cut in half, length wise and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Madeira Wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 8 cups of green beans timed and cut in half
  • 1 container ( 8 oz. ) mascarpone
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons All purpose flour
  1. place the bread crumbs and olive oil into your food processor (or blender), cover and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs
  2. Heat half the butter in a 12″ skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic and heat for 5-6 minutes until the mushrooms and shallots are tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Increase to high heat. Stir in the wine and heat to a boil. Cook until the wine is reduced by half. Add the broth and green beans and heat to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes or until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the mascarpone and cook until melted.
  4. Stir in the flour and the remaining melted butter in a small bowl and mix until smooth. Stir the flour mixture in the skillet. Spoon the bean mixture into a shallow 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle liberally with the bread crumb mixture.
  5. Broil on a low heat, about 4′ from the heat for approximately 5 minutes or until the bread mixture is golden brown,

Slow Cooker Orange Glazed Carrots

  • 3 pounds carrots. Peeled and cut into 1/4″ thick slices…about 8 cups
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
  1. Stir the carrots, 1 cup broth and the brown sugar in a 6 quart slow cooker
  2. cover and cook on high for 3 1/2 hours or until the carrots are tender. Stir the remaining broth and cornstarch in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth. Stir the cornstarch mixture, butter, sage and marmalade into the slow cooker.
  3. cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Serve right away or keep warm for up to 3 hours. The sauce will thicken on the warm setting…add more broth, if needed, until you reach the desired consistency

Bourbon pecan Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes (roughly 3 pounds)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup of bourbon
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  1. preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Using a sharp knife make crosswise cuts into the potatoes (1/8 – 1/4 inch apart) almost all the way through, but leave the bottoms intact so the slices stay connected at the bottom. Arrange the potatoes in an appropriately sized baking dish. Fan the potato slices open slightly.
  2. Stir the stock, bourbon, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and black pepper and salt into a small bowl. Brush the potatoes with butter making sure it gets BETWEEN the slices. Spoon (or brush) the bourbon mixture over the potatoes, making sure that it too gets between the slices.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the liquid in the bottom is reduced to roughly 1/2 cup. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans. Spoon or brush the bourbon mixture from the bottom of the pan onto the potatoes.
  4. Bake for 5 more minutes. Spoon or brush any remaining mixture from the bottom of the dish over the potatoes just before serving.

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