Archive for the ‘Savory Main Dishes’ Category
Soup is a very satisfying meal to have on a chilly night and it is always good to have a simple soup recipe on hand when you want something that is both satisfying and easy to make. Pumpkin soup is something that I will often fall back on. Canned pumpkin is an easy starting point (although fresh, boiled and pureed pumpkin is also excellent if you have a little time to make it) when you want something ready fast. Pumpkin by itself is fairly plain, however, so I like to bump up the flavor with some spice and some bacon in this Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Pancetta.
The soup starts out with the pancetta, which is cooked in a large saucepan until it is crisp and caramelized. Some of the fat will have been rendered off of the pancetta and I scoop out the pancetta, but leave the hot fat. I add my pumpkin and spices right to the fat and give them a little stir to capture some of that pork flavor, then add some stock to thin the soup. I always let the soup simmer for at least 30 minutes to help the flavors meld before I serve it. Typically, I serve this with a little yogurt or cream and don’t add any dairy to the soup, but a half cup or so of cream can really give it some extra creaminess if you like cream soups.
Most grocery store butcher and deli areas stock pancetta, and you can get it already diced up or in slices and dice it up yourself. If you don’t have pancetta, you can easily use regular bacon and great great results. I like it both ways, but bacon will add an extra smokiness that works very well with these spices. I call for plenty of pancetta in the recipe because I like to have a lot to top off my soup, but you can use less or more, based on what you have on hand or how many people you are serving.
Thanksgiving is a holiday where they are typically a lot of leftovers. One of my favorite things to make is a big sandwich with leftover turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, and that will usually be my lunch on the day after the big dinner. But sandwiches can get a little boring after a while (and sometimes there are a *lot* of leftovers!), so sometimes I want a recipe that doesn’t come sandwiched between two slices of bread that still lets me use up some leftovers. This Turkey Cobb Salad is a good option.
My Turkey Cobb Salad starts with a bowl of romaine lettuce dressed with a little bit of vinaigrette. It is topped with turkey (of course), tomatoes, cucumbers, a hard boiled egg, bacon, blue cheese, cheddar cheese and avocado. All of the elements of the salad are arranged around the outside of the bowl, which gives it a really nice look before it is served. Once you’re ready to eat, the salad should be tossed so that you get some of almost every element in every bite. It has tons of flavor and the salty bacon, creamy avodavo, savory cheese and moist turkey all go together incredibly well.
The amounts given below are approximate, as I like to “eyeball” salads based on how much of each ingredient I have on hand and you should, too. I’ll usually fry up 2-3 slices of bacon for the salad, but will make more if I have more mouths to feed. I’ve had some cobb salads where the lettuce is so finely chopped that it is almost shredded. I like mine cut a little bigger than that, but feel free to chop the lettuce however you’d like. The salad will be a nice contrast to heavy Thanksgiving dinner no matter how it is presented. And best of all, you can size this recipe up to serve a big crowd or down to serve just one.
Everyone wants to keep their turkey nice and moist at Thanksgiving. The problem with a whole turkey is that the dark meat takes longer to cook than the white meat, and the white meat can dry out easily after a long time in the oven. There are all kinds of methods out there that promise to deliver a flavorful turkey with moist, tender breast meat. The High Heat Turkey Method is usually my go-to way to cook a turkey, since it produces a really beautiful bird with great skin (especially if you coat the skin with butter before putting it in the oven) that is still nice and moist. But this year, I tried Thomas Keller’s Mayonnaise-Roasted Turkey Breast recipe a few times with great results, so I decided to use technique with a full sized bird and make a Mayonnaise Roast Turkey.
The mayonnaise turkey breast is made by coating a large turkey breast in a thick layer of mayonnaise, which sort of bastes the breast in oil as it roasts in the oven and keeps all that white meat nice and juicy. For a larger bird, the technique is very similar: a layer of mayonnaise is applied to the turkey before it goes into the oven and gives you an easy way to infuse that turkey with some extra moisture. Cook’s Country also featured this method in their magazine recently, and I ended up combining the methods for one that worked out just right.
First, cover the turkey with a dry spice rub so that the mayonnaise has something to adhere to when you smear it onto the bird. Then, season the mayonnaise and rub half of it onto the turkey. The turkey is first cooked at a relative low temperature to start it off, then another coating of mayonnaise is added and the temperature is raised to finish off the cooking and give the turkey a nice, dark finish.
The resulting bird excellent. The white meat was very, very juicy and the seasoned mayonnaise gave the skin a nice flavor, though it didn’t produce as crisp of a skin as the high heat turkey method does. The dark meat was also moist and flavorful, and I had no worries about the turkey drying out as the dark meat cooked. Since the last portion of the cooking is done at a high heat, this method also gives you a pretty clear timeline as to when your bird is close to being done, which helps with the timing of side dishes.
There are so many ways to put fresh tomatoes to good use in the summertime. You can put them in salads, roast them in the oven to pair with bread or pasta, and you can turn them into an irresistible gazpacho. This Summer Tomato Gratin with Garlic Parmesan Topping is just one more delicious way to enjoy tomatoes. I was inspired by a piece that Cook’s Country magazine did on this type of dish, as I had never had a tomato gratin before, and after a little bit of experimentation, I put together a version that will now be a summer staple at my house.
This gratin starts with about three pounds of fresh tomatoes. Choose meaty, heirloom varieties for the best results and flavor. Heirloom tomatoes make a gratin that is head and shoulders above anything you can make with your standard store-bought tomato. I use homegrown tomatoes in mine and work with whatever tomatoes are available in my garden, but I prefer to use a mix of colors for a brighter look to the dish. The tomatoes are drained to remove a little bit of their excess moisture – a great tip that came from the magazine – and then topped with a simple garlic-Parmesan crumb topping. The topping uses both fresh bread crumbs and crispy Panko breadcrumbs, which blend very well for a perfectly crispy – but not dry – topping. I also include some thinly sliced sweet onions (Hawaiian or Vidalia) along with the tomatoes to give the dish a little extra flavor. The tomatoes take on an intense flavor from their time in the oven and the crispy topping is a great contrast to the sweet, tender tomatoes. The dish captures all the flavor of bruschetta in a totally different package.
This is an excellent side dish for any summer meal, but if you are as big a tomato fan as I am, I have to tell you that it makes a great main course, as well. Be generous with the serving sizes and pair this with a salad, and you have a vegetarian entree that celebrates summer and that your guests will adore.
These Turkey Enchiladas with Pumpkin Chipotle Sauce are a great way to put leftover Thanksgiving turkey to good use, but they’re just as good any time of the year. The easy-to-make enchiladas have a turkey filling and are covered with a homemade sauce that uses pumpkin puree and chipotle peppers for a spicy-sweet finish.
When preparing the enchiladas, I start with the sauce. I use canned pumpkin puree, tomato paste, a little garlic and minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I like my enchiladas to be on the spicy side, so I tend to add a little extra pepper to my sauce when I’m making it. Feel free to add a little more (or a little less) as needed when you’re making your sauce. Once the sauce is prepared, fill up slightly warmed corn tortillas with your shredded turkey and cover with the sauce before baking. I typically add a very small handful of cheese to my filling, but I put most of it on top of the dish so that it makes a nice golden topping.
I bake this dish as a casserole, placing my filled corn tortillas in a large baking dish and covering them with sauce. It is an easy way to prepare them, but I find that it also allows me to get an extra few servings out of the dish, which is always a plus if you either have a big crowd to serve or simply like leftovers. I primarily use mozzarella cheese, and I also add some fresh cohita cheese (there are actually many brands of slightly salty fresh Mexican cheeses that you can use in place of the cohita, in case you can’t find it) because it lends a nice saltiness to the mozzarella layer.
If you don’t have leftover turkey on hand, know that this recipe works very well with roasted chicken. It is easy enough to prepare for a weeknight dinner if you’re starting with a roast chicken from the supermarket, too.