Are you sick of the same old, boring Thanksgiving recipes? Then this year, why not shake things up and serve a menu that is bold, flavorful, and eye-catching? Start with fried polenta bites with spicy chorizo. The focal point is a vibrantly colored turkey coated in adobo and red-chile gravy. On the side: cornbread stuffing, chile scalloped sweet potatoes, cranberry citrus compote, and olive oil mashed potatoes with manchego cheese.
While the traditional elements are there, each of these recipes has a slight twist making them oh-so-modern. Use all to host a memorable meal or incorporate one or two into your menu. The recipes, after the jump.
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
1/4 pound chorizo, sliced 1/4 inch thick on an angle
One 1-pound log store-bought cooked polenta
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup jarred piquillo peppers—drained, patted dry and chopped
1/2 cup Spanish olives with pimientos, chopped
Cilantro leaves (a generous handful)
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat a drizzle of EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, turning, until brown and crisp on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Do not wipe out the skillet.
- Trim the round ends off the polenta. Cut the log in half and cut each half into 4 equal rounds. Season both sides of each round with salt and pepper, add to the skillet and cook in the chorizo fat, turning, until golden brown and crisp on both sides, 12 to 15 minutes total. Transfer the polenta to another paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
- Meanwhile, stir together the piquillo peppers and olives in a small bowl. To serve, place the crisp polenta rounds on a platter, top with about 1 teaspoon pepper-olive mixture and garnish each with a piece of chorizo and cilantro leaves.
- Appetizers, Finger Foods
4 dried guajillo chiles (2 ounces), wiped clean
3 dried ancho chiles (1 1/2 ounces), wiped clean
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 (1/2-inch) piece cinnamon stick, smashed
2 whole allspice
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For turkey and gravy:
1 (12-to 14-pound) turkey, neck and giblets (excluding liver) reserved for turkey stock
2 cups water, divided
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
About 4 cups classic turkey stock , divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Melted unsalted butter if necessary
- Make adobo: Slit chiles lengthwise, then stem and seed. Heat a large heavy skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat until hot, then toast chiles in batches, opening them flat, turning and pressing with tongs, until more pliable and slightly changed in color, about 30 seconds per batch.
- Transfer to a bowl and cover chiles with boiling-hot water, then soak until softened, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toast spices in a small heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Drain chiles, discarding liquid, and purée in a blender with spices, garlic, herbs, vinegar, water, oil, and 2 teaspoon salt until very smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside 1/2 cup adobo for gravy.
- Marinate turkey: Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt evenly in turkey cavities and all over skin, then rub remaining adobo (a scant 3/4 cup) all over turkey, including cavities. Fold neck skin under body, then tuck wing tips under breast and tie drumsticks together with string. Transfer to rack in roasting pan and marinate, covered with plastic wrap and chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 24.
- Roast turkey: Let turkey stand, covered, at room temperature 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in lower third. Add 1 cup water to pan and roast turkey 1 hour.
- Brush turkey with oil and add remaining cup water, then tent loosely with foil and rotate pan. Roast (if bottom of pan becomes dry, add 1/2 cup more water) until an instant-read thermometer inserted into fleshy part of each thigh (test both; close to but not touching bone) registers 170°F, 1 3/4 to 2 3/4 hours more (total roasting time: 2 3/4 to 3 3/4 hours).
- Carefully tilt turkey so juices from inside large cavity run into pan. Transfer turkey to a platter and let stand, uncovered, 30 minutes (temperature of thigh meat will rise to 175 to 180°F).
- Make gravy while turkey stands: Straddle roasting pan across 2 burners, then add 1 cup turkey stock and boil over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 2 minutes. Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into 2-quart measure and skim off fat (or use a fat separator), reserving fat. Add enough turkey stock to liquid to bring total to 5 cups.
- Whisk together flour, 6 tablespoon reserved fat (if there is less, add melted butter), and reserved 1/2 cup adobo in a heavy medium saucepan, then cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 3 minutes (mixture will be thick). Add pan juices and stock in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt.
- Serve turkey with gravy.
Make ahead: Adobo can be made 1 week ahead and chilled in an airtight container.
- Poultry, Main Dishes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 8-inch square loaf of cornbread, homemade or store bought
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
4 large eggs
2 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a large saute pan. Add onions, garlic, and celery; cook over medium heat until just tender, about 8 minutes.
- Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl, and add the onion mixture, parsley, thyme, oregano, eggs, chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined.
- Transfer mixture to a buttered 2-quart casserole or large ovenproof skillet, and bake until golden on top and cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, and serve hot.
- Side Dishes, Stuffing/dressing
2 cups heavy cream
1 heaping tablespoon chipotle pepper puree
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 1/8-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Whisk together cream and chipotle puree until smooth.
- In a 9 by 9-inch casserole dish, arrange the potatoes in even layers. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the cream mixture and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining potatoes, cream, and salt and pepper to form 10 layers.
- Cover and bake for 30 minutes, remove cover and continue baking for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cream has been absorbed and the potatoes are cooked through and the top is browned.
- Side Dishes, Potato
24 oz. fresh cranberries
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 shallots, finely chopped (about 4 Tbs.)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (3 large)
- Up to one week ahead: Heat the oven to 350°F. Pick through the cranberries to remove stems or bad berries.
- Combine the cranberries, lemon zest, orange zest, shallots, and sugar in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Turn into a 3-qt. glass baking dish and drizzle the orange juice over the cranberry mixture.
- Bake, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and a few berries have popped open, about 30 min. Remove from the oven, cool thoroughly (the pectin in the excess liquid will firm up when cool), cover, and refrigerate.
- On the day of serving: Remove the compote from the refrigerator early in the day to bring it to room temperature. Fold in the sliced scallions, and turn into a serving bowl.
Makes 5 cups.
- Other, Side Dishes
2 heads of garlic, top third of each cut off
1/4 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
6 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
3 cups heavy cream, heated
1/2 pound young Manchego cheese, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Stand the garlic on a large sheet of heavy-duty foil. Drizzle with oil and wrap in the foil. Bake for about 1 hour, until the garlic is very soft. Squeeze the soft cloves from the skins into a small bowl and mash with a fork.
- Meanwhile, bring the potatoes to a boil in a large pot of water. Salt the water and boil over moderately high heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Shake the pot over moderately high heat for 1 minute to dry the potatoes.
- Mash the potatoes with a potato masher, then mash in half of the hot cream. Add the remaining cream and mash again. Stir in the Manchego to melt, then slowly stir in the mashed garlic and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and serve.
- Side Dishes, Potato