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On Thanksgiving, it's all about the sides

Published: Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 3:57 p.m. CDT

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. Every family has “must have” recipes, meaning the holiday just won’t be good without these yummy dishes. In addition, many of us look for new and interesting dishes to try on our families.

Two traditional Thanksgiving foods are Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. First, let’s look at the sprouts.

Creamed Brussels

Sprouts with Gruyere

Serves 6

For the casserole:

1 lb Brussels sprouts

4 strips bacon, diced

1 cup leeks, sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbl flour

¾ cup chicken broth

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 tbl lemon juice

½ cup gruyere cheese, grated

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

For the topping:

1 tbl extra virgin olive oil

1 cup dry bread crumbs

¼ cup walnuts, chopped

½ cup gruyere cheese, grated

2 tsp lemon zest

Pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350, grease a 2-quart casserole dish and set aside.

Clean sprouts by cutting off just a little of the stem and removing the outer leaves. Blanch in lightly salted boiling water for 4 minutes. Remove to strainer and rinse with cold water to cool and stop the cooking process. Cut into quarters through the stem, set aside.

Sauté bacon in fry pan until crisp, remove to paper towel with slotted spoon. While bacon is cooking heat broth and cream in another pan. Add leeks to bacon fat and sauté until soft and translucent, adding garlic for the last couple of minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper and cook for another minute or two. Whisk in the cream/broth mixture and bring to a simmer, adding the lemon juice.

Add sprouts, bacon and the ½ cup of cheese, toss and transfer to prepared dish.

For the topping heat oil in a fry pan and add the bread crumbs and walnuts. Stir continuously until crumbs begin to brown lightly, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. When cool, stir in the cheese, zest, and salt and pepper. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture on top of casserole and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

This dish can be made a day or two ahead. Just save the topping for just before you bake.

Maple/Cranberry

Sweet Potatoes

Serves 6

1½ lb sweet potatoes

½ cup real maple syrup

2 tbl butter, melted

Pinch salt

2 cups orange juice

¼ cup sugar   

1 tsp lemon zest

1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 350.

Peel potatoes and cut into wedges lengthwise. Combine maple syrup with melted butter and a pinch of salt, toss potato wedges. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with non stick spray. Arrange wedges so they are not touching each other. Bake, turning once, for about 40 minutes. When done toss in remaining maple syrup/butter mixture.

For cranberries combine orange juice, zest, sugar and a pinch of salt and bring to a simmer in a sauce pan. Add cranberries and bring back to simmer. Cook gently for 10 to 15 minutes, should have thickened.

When plating the potatoes, garnish with cranberries and serve the remaining in a dish on the side.

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