Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is on its way! To make your holiday more enjoyable and delectable, I have put together four easy recipes that will hopefully make your Turkey Day and the next day’s leftovers more inspiring and enticing.
The first is a sweet, savory twist on the classic Thanksgiving stuffing. This one made from scratch is quick, effortless and delicious! Asian pear and dried cranberries pair nicely with aromatic onion, celery, coriander and savory.
Next, to liven up your Thanksgiving feast is a bright and perky cranberry citrus sauce; this free spirit at the dinner table, makes everything taste better. Make a double batch of sauce to use as a crucial component to stuffing-bread pudding for brunch. The sweet/ savory combination of this stuffing is perfect alongside the cranberry sauce morphed into a speckled vanilla, cranberry glaze. Ahhh… Enjoy!
Cranberry Asian Pear Stuffing
Makes about 10 cups
Time: about 60 minutes, start to table
1 loaf of day old French bread, about 16 oz.
3 Tablespoons of grapeseed oil
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground garlic
1 teaspoon ground onion
1 teaspoon ground savory
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 ½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
½ cup butter – 1 stick
2 cups onions, diced – about 1 large onion
2 cups celery, diced – about 5 stalks
2 Asian pears, diced
2 Tablespoons fresh marjoram, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 large orange, zest and juice, about ½ cup juice
1 ½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans
1 – 2 cups chicken stock, heated – quantity depends on the consistency the stuffing will be: dry →moist
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place rack in upper third of oven.
At the bottom of a large bowl, combine the oil and dried herbs for the croutons.
Cut the soft French bread in 1 inch cubes.
Mix the bread cubes with the seasonings in the bowl until well coated.
Place on a cookie sheet in a single layer – it might take two sheets. Toast in the oven until dried out for 15- 20 minutes; you might need to rotate your pan(s) to get even toasting.
Remove from the oven and set aside- keep the oven on, but drop the rack back down to the middle of the oven.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the onions and celery, cook until soft – about 8-10 minutes. Add the pears, fresh herbs, orange zest and juice to the party.
Cook until the pears are softened- about 6 minutes.
In the same large bowl, combine the toasted croutons, sauteed stuffing mixture and remaining cranberries and pecans.
At this point, you may stop and refrigerate the stuffing mixture up to a day ahead; then proceed with the recipe.
Add 1 cup heated chicken stock to the stuffing mixture and gently stir together;
Taste your stuffing and adjust the seasonings or add more chicken stock before we crisp it back up in the oven.
To help you gauge the saturation level of your stuffing,
know that the texture will change only slightly in the oven toward the drier end of the stuffing spectrum – the top crust will be crisp, but the under layers of the stuffing will be about the same texture they are in the bowl.
So, go down that rabbit hole as far you wish by adding ½ cup of chicken stock at a time to get it to your textural preference.
Transfer to a baking dish – butter the edges if you fear the stuffing might stick –
Bake at 400 °F, loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes; remove the foil and continue to bake for 5 more minutes or so -
until the top is nicely browned. Remove the stuffing from the oven, keep warm until ready to serve.
Cranberry Citrus Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
(double this recipe to ensure yummy leftovers!)
Time: 15 minutes
1 – 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed and judiciously picked over, under ripe cranberries are bitter
½ cup orange juice
½ cup water
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, Meyer lemon is preferred – it’s sweeter than a typical Eureka lemon
A pinch of salt
Finely ground fresh pepper – pink peppercorns would be amazing here because they are slightly sweeter than other peppercorns, but black or white will work, too.
½ cup dried cranberries
Heat the sugar and water to a boil in a medium sauce pan.
Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, add the orange juice, lemon juice, salt, pepper and both fresh and dried cranberries for a textural -flavor play.
Gradually stir the cranberry mixture until the heat causes the fresh berries to burst and pop, about 7- 10 minutes.
Once most of the berries have popped, remove it from the heat quickly and taste to adjust the flavors (a little more sugar if too tart or more lemon juice if needs to be brighter) -
Transfer to a lovely bowl; the cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.
* if the cranberries cook too long the sauce will develop a bitter note and it’s hard, if not impossible to remove the flavor.
This sauce can be cooked up to a week in advance, refrigerated and then brought up to temperature over low heat before serving.
Serve it with pork, too!
Cranberry Asian Pear Stuffing – Bread Pudding
Makes about 8 cups
Time: 5 minutes active time, 2 ½ to 8 hours soaking, absorbing and baking time
8 whole eggs
3 ½ cups half and half
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon grounder coriander
8 cups Cranberry, Asian Pear Stuffing*
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk together the eggs, half and half, sugar, salt, pepper, cardamom, and coriander in a large bowl.
Add the stuffing to the bowl and mix with the custard, coat well.
Transfer the custard-soaked-stuffing to 2 – 9×13 inch baking dishes or thereabouts-
(If you want to use a different size baking dish, adjust the cooking time and look for signs of doneness.)*
Pour the extra custard on top of the stuffing.
Before baking, allow the stuffing to soak for a minimum of 1 hour up to 8 hours overnight-
(Cover the bread pudding with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for an overnight soak; bake in the morning).
Bake the stuffing-bread pudding uncovered until the custard is set and top is golden, about 1 hour. Let it rest for 15- 20 minutes before diving in.
If the bread pudding begins to brown before the custard has set, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
*The custard is set when:
1. edges pull away from the sides
2. center comes out fairly clean when pierced with a knife (it will continue to cook as it rests, so don’t be afraid of a little jiggle in the middle)
3. the internal temperature is 160 °F;
( get out your thermometers ladies, because at 180°F you have scrambled-egg-bread pudding!)
Serve with the Speckled Vanilla Cranberry Glaze.
Speckled Vanilla Cranberry Glaze
Makes about 1 cup
Time: 30 minutes, active time: 10 minutes
2 cups cranberry citrus sauce
½ cup orange juice
½ cup water + more if need to thin out
1 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped
In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine the Citrus Cranberry Sauce with orange juice and water and bring to a gentle simmer.
Pour through a fine mesh strainer to separate out the solids from the liquid.
Bring it back to the stove top, add the vanilla seeds and pod – bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the vanilla steep for 20-30 minutes.
Remove the vanilla pod, adjust the taste and viscosity of the glaze at this point:
to create a thicker glaze, bring the glaze to a simmer and reduce to desired thickness. To create a thinner glaze stir in a little more water.
Serve alongside Cranberry Asian Pear Stuffing- Bread Pudding…it’s just not the same without it.
* to adjust the custard ratio to the amount of stuffing you have leftover, roughly follow this formula:
1 egg + ⅓ to ½ cup liquid (dairy) per 1 cup of stuffing. Adjust the seasonings accordingly.
*try not to overcrowd the baking dish with stuffing. An overly packed baking dish → no room for creamy custard →dry bread pudding =no bueno.
To make your cooking day less stressful:
1. plan in advance your cooking schedule
2. gather all your ingredients and organize them together on your shelves with the recipe and shopping list nearby
3. practice beforehand any new recipes you are planning on preparing for Thanksgiving,
– work out any kinks with timing, temperature, quantity or to adjust to your family’s likes and dislikes;
the only surprise you want to see on this day is who wins the Turkey wishbone!
For the Printable version of the Cranberry Citrus Sauce, CLICK HERE
For the Printable version of the Cranberry Asian Pear Stuffing, CLICK HERE
For the Printable version of the Speckled Vanilla Cranberry Glaze recipe, CLICK HERE