There are some key elements for Thanksgiving in my family: turkey, stuffing, gravy, and PIE. And then there are the sides. What can you do that really fits in? And what will anyone eat when they’ve already loaded their plate with a 2-pound turkey leg, a pond of gravy, and, of course, cranberry sauce?
The menu planner in me is always determined to make side dishes that people just can’t resist. Here are some of my multi-season winners and links to recipes on other sites that sound wonderful.
Stuffing with Chestnuts and Smoked Bacon Recipe
This is basically the same turkey stuffing that my mother’s mother made. I have added the chestnuts because my husband loved them. The crunch of the nuts, the juicy apples, and the earthy herbs conspire to conjure up holiday memories for me of the great Thanksgiving dinners my Grandma Morgan turned out every year.
The smell of chestnuts roasting (even if it’s not over an open fire), always reminds me of the first time I tried them—in Paris. What a sensual, evocative treat they were, burning my hands through the newspaper cone while the rest of me froze in the December chill of the Rue du Bac.
EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy & creative
Makes 10 to 12 servings (plus leftovers)
- 1 cup roasted chestnut meat (about 15 large chestnuts)*
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups chopped yellow onion (about 3 large)
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 pound smoked bacon, like that from Organic Prairie
- 1 1/2 cups chopped green apple, such as Pippin or Granny Smith
- 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted
- 6 to 8 cups cornbread cubes (packaged is fine as long as it is unseasoned)
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or store-bought, low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons dried sage
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- 1/2 cup Madeira
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Cut an X in the flat side of the chestnuts, place them on a baking sheet, and roast them in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes (depending on their size), until knife tender. When cool, peel the chestnuts and coarsely chop the roasted chestnut meat.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter foams, add the chopped onion, celery, and garlic. Sauté for about 4 to 5 minutes until the onions are soft. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a large bowl.
- Roughly chop the bacon and add it to the same pan. Sauté the bacon for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the chopped apple to the pan and continue to sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the sausage is fully cooked. Transfer the bacon and apple to the same bowl as the vegetables. Reserve the liquid in the pan and set it aside.
- When all of the sautéed ingredients are cool, mix in the chestnuts, hazelnuts, cornbread, herbs, and spices.
- Drizzle the Madeira, pan drippings from the bacon, and stock over the mixture with a sparing hand, and toss again. The stuffing should be moist but not gooey or clumpy. It will pick up a great deal of moisture from the cavity of the turkey. If it is too wet now, your finished stuffing will be a sodden glop. Season to taste with salt.
- The stuffing can be covered and refrigerated up to 24 hours before using in the bird. If you want to bake the stuffing separately, place it in a covered casserole dish and bake at 350° F for about 45 minutes.
*Note: Chestnuts are available already roasted and peeled in jars at stores like Williams-Sonoma and Whole Foods.
Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts Recipe
Everybody either thinks they like Brussels sprouts, until they try them, or is sure they don’t like them at all. Either way, there are often lots of them on the counter when the leftovers are being sorted.
This recipe, where the hardy little cabbage-ettes are sliced into more tender, accessible slices seems to fulfill everyone’s fantasy of what a Brussels sprout should taste like. Hazelnuts are a classic pairing with these little shrubs and lemon zest gives it a nice bright tang at the end. And sliced they cook so much faster. You can pull this off the stove in less than 15 minutes and it reheats nicely.
EASE OF PREPARATION: A snap
Makes 8 servings
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds medium Brussels sprouts
- 8 cloves garlic
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- 1/4 cup dry white wine (like Sauvignon Blanc)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or Champagne vinegar
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
- Cut the woody ends from the stems of the brussel sprouts. Slice each sprout into 3-4 “slabs”
- Roughly chop the garlic.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of butter and olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high. Add the Brussels sprouts and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
- Saute until the sprouts are nearly tender, about 6 minutes. Add stock and wine. raise the heat, and boil off all of the liquid until the sprouts begin to glaze and are completely tender, about 4 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to crisp all sides.
4. Meanwhile, sauté the hazelnuts in 1 tablespoon of butter until toasted.
5. When the sprouts are tender-crisp and golden, remove them from the heat, and add the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the hazelnuts and lemon zest and serve.
The Sonsi Team
Did this post tingle your food senses? Then check out Nicole’s Aloni’s blog, A Concious Feast, where she provides more healthy sustainable recipes, green living tips and entertaining solutions!