Well Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the four or so GENEROUS meals I have gorged myself on have trudged their way through my ready and willing body. Have I since stepped up my running game? Yes. Will I keep it up? Probably not. It’s cold outside and I like tv too much.
While this year’s Thanksgiving was a collaborative effort between my family and I, I managed to squeak out a special cooking story. A Cinderella story, if you will (read: my step mother and step sisters beat me and make me clean the chimney, also my only friends are mice. Full-Disclosure: I have no step mother or step sisters, however my fondness for small home-dwelling rodents exists. Also, I plan to meet my future husband through a midnight curfew with uncomfortable and easily shattering footwear).
The Thanksgivings of yesteryear in the Vitkin-Light household have seen many different dishes come and go, but one has managed to stay off the menu for at least the past 25 years: Green Bean Casserole. That’s right, we’ve never had Green Bean Casserole at Thanksgiving. And since this is not a it’s-cold-outside-lets-make-a-casserole-since-it’s-wednesday-night type of dish (those are normally reserved for the tunas and noodles of the world), it has never made its way onto my plate, or into my heart. Until this year. In the past, my mother has done the majority of the cooking (read: all of it) but over the past few years I have started to dip my preverbal toe into the rippling thick and meaty gravy pond (I’m sorry, I don’t know where that statement went).
Sidenote: Similar to the poached egg advise I received from work, I timidly asked about mashed potatoes from the same guy. I took notes on the different “waxiness” of different types of potatoes, the pros and cons of different added fats, the added flavor combinations of herbs, cheeses, and caramelized anything. The main things I learned:
- You know why you like mashed potatoes at restaurants? Well it’s basically a ratio of 1:1 of potatoes and butter (or cream, or both)
- Adding cream cheese gives mashed potatoes a great creamy texture while also giving it a beautiful and light color
- Potatoes are like sponges. You think it won’t soak up everything you put into it…but then…ohhh buddy think again
So this year I embarked on 2 side dishes for the meal: Curry Stuffed Delicata Squash from Big Girls Small Kitchen (which I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned before, but Jesus Christ is this dish amazing) and Green Bean Casserole from Girl in the Kitchen from Stephanie Izzard (have you bought this book yet?). Also on the menu: brussels sprouts and avocado salad, turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberry-orange sauce, sweet potato fries, pumpkin pie, maple pecan ice cream, and wine. Lots of wine.
So how do we start a big meal? With prep!
I won’t get into the details of the squash since the full recipe is on Big Girls Small Kitchen‘s website (fun fact, they tweeted me back when I made and bragged about the first time I made that squish). But the casserole, I WILL get in to! I was giddy with excitement to make this since it was a sexy and exotic menu item to us. There are three components to this: mushroom soup, the beans themselves, and extra mushrooms.
- Mushroom Soup: Sauté about 8oz of mushrooms in about 5 tbs of butter until soft. Coat with 1/4 C of flour and stir until incorporated. Add 2 cups of milk and keep stirring. Stir. Stir some more. Soon you will have a soup-like consistency. It’s AWESOME to witness! A really cool addition to this recipe is a tablespoon of Sambal, or chili paste. I got to go to an Asian specialty store where a lovely gentlemen who didn’t skip a beat in his cell phone conversation rang me up! Sambal has great heat to it along with a great sweet chili flavor. It’s literally the perfect compliment to this dish! Add the sambal and any additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Mushrooms: Sautee and season with Salt and Pepper.
- Beans: trim, blanche for 2 min then put in an icebath
Mix everything together in a casserole dish, and bake for about 45 minutes. Then get ready to lose your fucking mind.
And now a rundown of some of the other items:
And now we FEAST