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What's Up Magazine

Thanksgiving Redux, Looking to Christmas, and a Stellar Seafood Recipe

Nov 28, 2011 09:35PM ● By Anonymous
I was at Safeway so early because I forgot fresh sage -- never mind that I had visited four grocery stores multiple times in the week leading up to the holiday -- and I was so convinced that the sage would make or break my stuffing. (Truth: I don't think it would have mattered in the end.) 

However, I learned that if you need to go grocery shopping on Thanksgiving Day, 6 a.m. is the best time to do it. 

So, as those of you who read this blog know, I had planned extensively for this holiday. Here's a rundown of what worked, what didn't, and what was unexpected.

The Thanksgiving Buffet table, minus the turkey. In case you don't remember, I served warm sweet potato salad, garlic mashed potatoes, cran-apple relish, green beans with mushroom sauce, herbed turkey with Chardonnay gravy, corn casserole, caulfilower and chestnut gratin, and stuffing. My inlaws brought biscuits (sweet potato and regular, succotash, and jellied cranberry sauce), along with desserts.

What worked:
  • The gravy. Ohhhh, the gravy. I used Good Housekeeping's Chardonnay Gravy recipe, and I will never make another type of gravy again.
  • The turkey. I was really nervous about this, but I flavored butter with sage, rosemary, and thyme and rubbed it under the skin of the bird. It was nearly a 21-pounder, and went into the oven at 10:30 a.m. It roasted, breast side down -- for nearly five hours, which was longer than I expected, and I occasionally basted it with chicken broth. During the last hour and a half of cooking, I covered the top of it with tin foil, as it had browned enough.
What didn't work:
  • The cran-apple relish. The thing is, no one really likes cranberry sauce. My mother-in-law insisted we have some canned sauce as well, so I should have just taken the hint and 86ed my spiced cran-apple relish. It was fine -- I"m going to use it as a sauce for chicken tonight, and I think it will be good -- but no one ate it and it was not a good garnish for my Thanksgiving sandwich the next morning because it was too heavily spiced.
  • The Cauliflower. Martha Stewart, I'm disappointed in you. I went back and forth on serving Martha's Cauliflower and Chestnut Gratin, but I chose to do it. Fresh chestnuts are a huge pain to prepare, and overall, the dish was nothing special. In fact, you couldn't even tell there chestnuts in it.
What was unexpected:
  • The dessert. I was planning on making a pumpkin pie. When I found out that my friend was bringing two pies and my father-in-law was bringing three other types of desserts, I realized I didn't need it. Their dessert were great, but I still have a hankering for pumpkin pie.
What I'll change next year:
  • A new sweet potato recipe. The potato salad is good, but not excellent.
  • Perhaps add macaroni & cheese or roasted Brussel sprouts instead of cauliflower.
  • Keep an eye on those darn green beans. It's easy to forget how fast they cook! 

Looking forward to Christmas and the holiday season

My husband and I love Christmas so much that we had our decorations up the day after Thanksgiving. For food, it's a great time of year. Check back to next week, December 5th to 9th, for the first-ever Cookie Week. I spent all day in the kitchen yesterday trying out cookie recipes to share with you all. I'll also have blog posts to accompany the recipes, such as baking tips, decorating advice, and how to host a holiday cookie exchange. 

Shrimp & Scallop Bayou Pasta

I had one night of non-holiday cooking in the past week when a friend came for dinner last Wednesday. I made her Bayou Pasta, a recipe from Emeril Lagasse, but I substituted shrimp and scallops for the chicken. It was incredibly rich -- as recipes made with cream tend to be -- but quite delicious. 

Bayou Pasta

1 pound linguine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into one-inch pieces (As stated, I use 8 ounces scallops and 8 ounces large shrimp)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon habanero pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
1/2 cup chopped green onion tops
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Cook the linguine according to package directions, drain, and set aside.

While it’s cooking, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter and olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Once it has melted, season the chicken (or seafood) with paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add it to the pan and cook until the chicken is browns on both sides, about two minutes (or until the shrimp is pink and the scallops are slightly opaque). Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions and habanero pepper to the pan and saute for about four to five minutes, or until the onions are softened and lightly caramelized. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, which should only take about 30 seconds. Add the cream, 1 teaspoon salt, and chicken (if using) to the pan and bring to a boil. If you’re using seafood, leave it out for now — you don’t want to overcook it.

Cook until the cream is reduced by half, and then add the tomatoes, linguine, and reserved cooking water to the pan and cook, tossing to incorporate for about three to five minutes. Remove pan from heat, and add the green onions, Parmesan, and parsley and toss to blend. If using seafood, place it on top of the pasta. Serve immediately.