We’ve managed to use the kids as an excuse for the last seven years but now our time has come. Thanksgiving will be at our house this year and we’re definitely getting Thanksgiving fever. I’m receiving an email every hour with a mashed potato recipe or reading a blog post boasting of the perfect brining method. The chatter is endless. The momentum that surrounds this day, the holiest of cooking holidays, is mind boggling.
Finally, I sat back, took a deep breath and broke it down.
Turkey, gravy, some form of potato (sweet, mashed or both), vegetable, another vegetable, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, which I count as optional since hardly anyone even eats it. Appetizers are fairly easy, we’re just talking some cheese, dips, and chips. Most guests can be counted on to bring a dessert, so I’m not even stressing about that.
Since I can do the sides ahead I’m fairly confident I can pull those off. If I screw a dish up I can remake it, not a problem. It’s really all about the #$^%$^% turkey. Sink or swim, there are no dress rehearsals. But before I even cook one I have to figure out all the other stuff. To brine or not to brine? Wet brine or dry? Organic, heritage, locally grown, antibiotic-fee? How many pounds??? Well, I did what any self-respecting home cook would do – let the experts do it for me! Some might say it’s a bit of a cheat but if the turkey can come pre-brined in a roasting pan already done for you – why not???
So the focus at our house will be coming up with some delicious sides that hopefully will become tradition. And I’m even getting the boys in on the action, they are responsible for a desert. More on that later in the week…
Sweet Potato Crumble (recipe serves 8-10)
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 stick butter, cold
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup walnuts, rough chopped into small pieces
Place sweet potatoes in large saucepan and cover with water. Boil until they are fork tender. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Add mascarpone cheese, maple syrup, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mash or blend with a food processor until smooth.
Spread the sweet potato mash in a large shallow baking dish and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the butter, flour, brown sugar, and chopped nuts until the topping is a crumbly texture. The best method is to use your fingers to work the butter into the sugar and nuts. Arrange the topping evenly over the sweet potatoes.
At this point you can refrigerate the dish until the big day or bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until edges are bubbly and topping is crispy, about 35-40 minutes.
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 7): “The top is quite good”
Liam (age 5): “I kind of like it”
Dylan (age 5): “Not sure – top’s okay”
Hmmmm, hope the family likes it a bit better!