As the holidays approach, we all begin to think about the planning and logistics of traveling, present buying, end of year parties, and of course, cooking up feasts for the masses. And no holiday is complete without stuffing your bird and then stuffing yourself with that stuffing and bird.
The culinary classics are classics for a reason. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie – they all make you feel at and remind you of home. But delicious as they may be, it’s also fun to switch it up a bit. This year, I’m doing a Thanksgiving feast with the fam, but I’m also hosting a cocktail party the night before with the friend-fam and serving a different kind of Thanksgiving meal.
For my friend-fam Thanksgiving, I’m going the traditional route in flavor but switching it up in presentation. The menu will be all bite-sized, mingle-friendly, go-back-for-six-more kind of offerings. Think individual, cute, and do-ahead-of-time so I can concentrate on the cranberry vodka spritzers and pumpkin pie martinis on the day of.
Smoked Turkey Leg Sliders with Cranberry Citrus Relish
This one is easy. Ask your local butcher to order you a couple smoked turkey legs. And hopefully your butcher will also carry slider buns as mine does. An hour before you plan to put out the food, wrap the legs in foil and stick in a pre-heated oven at 300 degree. When warm, pull the meat off the bone in chunks. Spoon onto your slider buns and set near the dish of cranberry citrus relish for people to help themselves.
Cranberry Citrus Relish
Perhaps you’ll be nostalgic for your grandma’s canned jelly but this fresh and textured relish is the perfect thing to cut through the richness of the smoked turkey leg meat. This recipe from The Kitchn requires no cooking, just time for marinating plus you can make it ahead.
Brussels Sprout and Pork Belly Skewers
Steam your brussels sprouts whole and then cut in half. Cook your pork belly and cut into bite-sized chunks. Assemble by skewering two halves of a brussels sprouts with a hunk of pork belly in the middle. Sear in your broiler to heat and add some charred goodness.
Sausage and Apple Stuffing Mini Muffins
Dice day old bread, set aside. Cook sweet Italian sausage breaking up links in the pan, set aside. Peel, chop and sauté apples and fresh chopped sage in the same pan as the sausage. Toss the apples and sausage with the bread, plus two beaten eggs, salt and pepper, and pour into greased muffin pans. Bake at 350 degree until an inserted knife comes out clean.
Mashed Potatoes and Chorizo Knish
Peel and boil your favorite potato. Cook chorizo and break up in the pan. Mash together the soft potato, cooked chorizo and its rendered oil into a bowl. Add milk only if necessary to get a smooth texture but not too much – you want a thick mixture to form into balls. Using an ice cream scooper (or not), form balls and roll in panko bread crumbs. Brown in pan with olive oil and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once all your balls are browned on most sides, pop into an oven at 350 for 10/15 minutes to heat through. Serve with paprika mixed with mayo. If you’d like, you can freeze after the browning and then heat on the oven straight out of the freezer (don’t defrost) for 20 or so minutes.
Pumpkin Risotto Balls
Make your pumpkin risotto and cool. Make sure it thickens by not adding too much broth. Also let it cool a bit and it will goo up. Form into golf balls and roll in panko bread crumbs. Brown in olive oil and finish in the oven. (Same process as above.)
Prosciutto-Wrapped Green beans with a Cumin Squash Dip
Blanch your green beans by dropping them into boiling water for 30 seconds and then running them under cold water to cool them down. Wrap them in imported Italian prosciutto and stand in a glass. Roast your favorite squash, sprinkled with cumin and olive oil. When soft, mash without the peel and slowly add chicken stock to thin it out. Salt to taste and serve with the green beans or other dipping tools such as veggies or bread.
Mini Apple Pies ala Mode
Peel and chop a couple pounds of apples, toss with a generous amount of cinnamon and a sweetener (raisins or honey for a natural option, brown sugar also works). Put in a slow cooker for 4 hours on high or in a heavy pot on the stove for a couple hours. Walk away. When you return, mash your apples to the desired consistency. In wide mouth mason jars, layer the bottom with pie crust dough. (I will be buying mine, don’t feel bad if you are too.) Let the sides come up a bit at the bottom. Scoop in your apple sauce to the midway point of the jar. Place another piece of pie dough on top that has little cut outs for the steam to escape. Bake until the crust is done. Serve warm with scoops of carmel ice cream. Drool. Nap.
What are you eating this Thanksgiving?