Thanksgiving Gluttony, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 12:48PM
Marc in Rob Feenie, brine, buttered pecans, cranberry sauce, dorie greenspan, frangipane, green bean casserole, pear, sweet potato, tart, turkey, whiskey

I love Thanksgiving. I love being a gluttonous, obsessive, cooking for three days, chopping, brining, roasting, baking (yes, even baking) fool. I love hosting huge gatherings. My partner David, not so much. He enjoys having dinner parties and hanging out with friends. I cook, and he makes sure the house, table, yard and everything else are perfect. It’s a good arrangement. But not so much with Thanksgiving.

When we do Thanksgiving, I want to have 25 people I love jammed into our house. I like pushing tables together, shoving drinks into people’s hands, and trying to get everything timed correctly to come out at the same moment (or close to it). Our Thanksgivings usually end up with loud conversations about politics, an undercurrent of food chat, and naturally a base (and I do mean BASE) layer of snark and one-liners flying around the room. David enjoys this, but 25 people is too many and the chaos of these dinners makes him twitch. Our compromise: We host every other year and we spend alternating years with friends who kindly invite us to join them. It’s a good agreement, and keeps us both sane.

This year we had a wonderful time at our friend Jenifer’s place on the actual holiday. Her chosen family in Seattle congregated at her house, with everyone bringing dishes that were special to them and said “Thanksgiving” in their minds. For us, I brought my favorite cranberry sauce recipe, some duck rillettes and a pumpkin risotto with a mushroom marmalade. We had a complete blast, but the bummer about doing thanksgiving somewhere else is the lack of leftovers readily available for your grazing convenience.  What to do? Have another mini-thanksgiving 2 nights later, of course. I promised it would be simple and wouldn’t break the bank.  We brined a turkey breast, slapped together the sides we cant live without, and I even made a BAKED dessert. It turned out beautifully. (In retrospect, I should have photographed an individual slice versus the whole tart, but I didn’t think about that due to …..well….. 2 Manhattans and a bottomless glass of wine during dinner).

I’ve put most of the recipes below for your entertainment. They served 8 people with enough left over for everyone to take some home. There are a few things we always do:  Turkey (duh) – This year we tried a whiskey brine from Rob Feenie in Vancouver. His recipes ALWAYS rock. More of the same cranberry sauce, because it’s our favorite, a roasted sweet potato and banana puree with buttered pecans, mashed potatoes with glazed fennel (no recipe here. Sautee salted, sliced fennel in olive oil until it caramelizes, deglaze with a little chicken stock, dump it into your mashed potatoes), Julia Child’s Tapenade a la Farce (a new recipe which goes into the “keep” file, stuffing with olives, anchovies, capers, garlic, sausage and orange zest. To die for.), Brussels sprouts with a briny, caper-laden vinaigrette and Dorie Greenspan’s Pear-Frangipane tart for dessert.

Special thanks to the people at Full Circle Farms, who were generous enough to offer me a few weeks of delivery from their organic delivery service, btw. Their squash and kubocha went into the risotto from thanksgiving, their pears were the centerpiece of the tart, and the rest of the produce box went into my mise en place. Nothing was wasted and it all turned out delicious.  Especially those pears. 

Oh, and because we’re not wasteful and had some of the drunkards we love over Saturday night, that pear poaching syrup became the base for some pear martinis. Betty Ford, Line 1…..

Marc’s November Holiday Recipes 2011

Whiskey Marinated Turkey Breast

Whiskey Turkey Brine

1 each 5-6 lb turkey breast

4 L water

1 L whiskey

200 ml coarse salt

375 ml sugar

1 tbsp black peppercorn – whole

2 tbsp coriander – whole

1 each carrot – diced

2 each celery – diced

1 each onion – diced

Bunch rosemary, thyme, bay leaf

  1. Bring water, whisky, salt and sugar to boil.
  2. Take off the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Steep until cool, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Place turkey in brine and brine for 24 hours.

Roasting Turkey

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Remove turkey from brine.
  3. Heat a large roasting pan on the stove top with 3 Tbsp olive oil. Sear the top side of the turkey breast.
  4. Remove pan from stove top and place in oven.
  5. Half way through cooking, about 30 minutes, take 2 cups of the reserved whiskey brine and baste top of turkey.
  6. As the turkey cooks, continually baste it with the reserved liquid in the bottom of the pan.
  7. When the turkey reaches 160 degrees, approximately 1 hour to 1½  hours, remove from oven. Cover turkey with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Slice and fan on a serving platter.

Farce A La Tapenade, Adapted from Julia Child


     * 1 lb italian sweet sausage, casings removed

     * 1 cup minced onions

     * 1 turkey liver, minced (optional)

     * 1 lb fresh mushrooms, trimmed,wiped,diced

     * 1 cup black olives, pitted and chopped

     * 3 anchovy fillets, mashed

     * 2 tablespoons capers, squeezed of brine

     * 2 tablespoons orange zest

     * 2 eggs, lightly beaten

     * 1 clove garlic, minced

     * 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

     * 1 bay leaves, pulverized

     * 5 cups croutons ( 5 to 6 cups)

     * salt and pepper


1. Break up sausage meat and sauté in a frying pan over low heat until

lightly browned; drain, reserving fat.

2. Place sausage meat in a large mixing bowl.

3. Return 2 tablespoons of sausage fat to the frying pan (if sausage meat

didn't render enough fat, substitute olive oil); sauté onions until

golden- about 8 minutes; add optional minced liver and sauté with onion

an additional 2 minutes.

4. Add onion mixture to sausage.

5. Sauté mushrooms in 2 additional tablespoons of sausage fat (or olive

oil) until pieces begin to separate from each other; add to sausage


6. Add olives, anchovies, capers, orange zest, eggs, garlic, and herbs to

sausage meat.

7. Fold in the croutons, add salt and pepper to taste.

8. Loosely stuff front and rear cavities of turkey immediately before

roasting, or bake for 50 minutes in a 350 degree F. oven in a covered casserole.

Makes about 2-1/2 quarts, or enough to stuff a 16- to 20-pound turkey.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers, Walnuts and Anchovies

Adapted From Michael Symon

3 pounds brussels sprouts, quartered

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup walnuts (Note from Marc: I forgot the walnuts and subbed in a cup of pine nuts, toasted in a pan to release the aromatics)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon grainy mustard

2 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 shallots, minced

One 2-ounce tin of anchovies, drained and minced

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large bowl, toss the brussels sprouts with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the brussels sprouts on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and roast for about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender and charred in spots; shift the pans halfway through roasting.

Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then coarsely chop the nuts.

In the large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the mustard and honey. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of oil until emulsified. Add the capers, garlic, shallots and anchovies; season with salt and pepper. Add the brussels sprouts and walnuts and toss well. Serve.

MAKE AHEAD The brussels sprouts and dressing can be made up to 4 hours ahead and kept at room temperature. Rewarm the brussels sprouts before serving.

Sweet Potato Puree with Bananas and Buttered Pecans    

6 pounds (about 6) sweet potatoes

2 ripe bananas, skins on

2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound pecans

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake until tender, about 1 hour. Roast the bananas, with the skins on, for the last 15 minutes of cooking time. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and bananas, and transfer to a food processor. Pulse until the potatoes are chunky.

Add the butter and maple syrup, puree until smooth. Add the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt; puree to combine. Transfer to a shallow baking pan and smooth out the surface with a spatula.

In a skillet, cook the pecans in butter over low heat and sprinkle with salt. Saute until well-coated, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Transfer the pecans to paper towels to drain. Arrange pecans on top of puree and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake at 300 degrees F until heated through, about 20 minutes.

Cranberry Sauce

1 12 oz bag raw cranberries, washed, dried and picked over

3/4 cup dried sour cherries

1/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup red currant jelly

2/3 cup water

1/4 cup dark rum

In large saucepan, combine all ingredients except rum.  Over low heat, bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes or until cranberries begin to pop.

Remove sauce from heat. Stir in rum. Refrigerate at least overnight to thicken sauce.  Return to room temperature to serve.

My Favorite Green Bean Casserole

For the topping:  

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Nonstick cooking spray

For beans and sauce:

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup half-and-half

  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
  2. Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.
  3. While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
  4. Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

Dorie Greenspan’s French Pear Tart 

Adapted from BAKING FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, and taken from Dorie’s website Tuesdays With Dorie.  

For the pears:

6 canned pear halves OR 3 medium pears, firm but ripe

1 lemon

4 cups water, optional

1 1/4 cups sugar, optional

For the almond cream:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup ground blanched almonds

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 large egg

2 teaspoons dark rum or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1 partially-baked 9-inch tart shell, made with Sweet Tart Dough (see below), at room temperature

Confectioners' sugar for dusting, or apple jelly for glazing

Getting ready:  If you are using canned pears, you have nothing to do now.  If you are using fresh pears but do not wish to poach them, you have nothing to do now. If you are using fresh pears and want to poach them, peel them and leave them whole.  Bring the 4 cups water, the 1 1/4 cups sugar and the juice of the lemon to a boil in a saucepan just large enough to hold the pears.  Add the pears to the boiling syrup, lower the heat so the syrup simmers and gently poach the pears until they are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.  Cool the pears to room temperature in the syrup.

To make the almond cream:  Put the butter and sugar in the workbowl of a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and satiny.  Add the ground almonds and continue to process until well blended.  Add the flour and cornstarch, process, and then add the egg.  Process for about 15 seconds more, or until the almond cream is homogeneous.  Add the rum or vanilla and process just to blend.  If you prefer, you can make the cream in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a bowl with a rubber spatula.  In either case, the ingredients are added in the same order.  Scrape the almond cream into a container and either use it immediately or refrigerate it until firm, about 2 hours.

Getting ready to bake:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Have a lined baking sheet at the ready.  If you are using fresh (unpoached) pears, peel them now.  If you are using poached or unpoached pears, cut them in half from blossom to stem and core them; rub the unpoached pears with lemon juice.  Whatever pears you have, make sure to pat them dry - really dry - so that their liquid won't keep the almond cream from baking.

Fill the baked crust with the almond cream, spreading it even with an offset metal icing spatula.  Thinly slice each pear half crosswise, lift each half on a spatula, press down on the pear to fan it slightly and place it, wide-end toward the edge of the crust, over the almond cream.  The halves will form spokes.

Put the crust on the lined baking sheet, slide the sheet into the oven and bake the tart 50 to 60 minutes, or until the almond cream puffs up around the pears and browns.  Transfer the tart to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature before unmolding.

Right before serving, dust the tart with confectioners' sugar.  If you prefer, prepare a glaze by bringing about 1/4 cup apple jelly and1/2 teaspoon water to the boil. Brush the glaze over the surface of the tart.

Storing:  If it's convenient for you, you can make the almond cream up to 2 days ahead and keep it closely covered in the refrigerator, or you can wrap it airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months; defrost before using.  You can also poach the pears up to 1 day ahead.  However, once you've baked the tart, you should be prepared to enjoy it that same day.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

To make the dough:  Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in the workbowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.  Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely - you'll have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces and that's just fine.  Stir the egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition.  When the egg is in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each - until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds.  Just before your reaches this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change - heads up.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface.Very lightly and sparingly - make that very, very lightly and sparingly - knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

If you want to press the dough into a tart pan, now is the time to do it.

If you want to chill the dough and roll it out later (doable, but fussier than pressing), gather the dough into a ball (you might have to use a little more pressure than you used to mix in dry bits, because you do want the ball to be just this side of cohesive), flatten it into a disk, wrap it well and chill it for at least 2 hours or for up to 1 day.

To make a press-in crust:  Butter the tart pan and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Don't be stingy - you want a crust with a little heft because you want to be able to both taste and feel it.  Also, don't be too heavy-handed - you want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don't want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly shortbreadish texture.  Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To make a rolled-out crust:  This dough is very soft - a combination of a substantial amount of butter and the use of confectioners' sugar - so I find it is easier to roll it between wax paper or plastic wrap or, easiest of all, in a roll-out-your-dough slipcover.  If you use the slipcover, flour it lightly.  Roll the dough out evenly, turning the dough over frequently and lifting the wax paper or plastic wrap often, so that it doesn't roll into the dough and form creases.  If you've got time, slide the rolled out dough into the fridge to rest and firm for about 20 minutes before fitting the dough into the buttered tart pan.  Trim the excess dough even with the edge of the pan.  Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To partially bake the crust:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil tightly against the crust.  Bake the crust 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil.  If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.  Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack; keep it in its pan.

And for Judy.....the Risotto:

Pumpkin Risotto with Mushroom "Marmalade"




  1. MAKE THE MARMALADE: In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Add the diced mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat until tender, 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until browned. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
  2. In the same skillet, heat another 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over low heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked mushrooms.
  3. In a small saucepan, simmer the sugar and water over moderate heat, washing down the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until amber, 6 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the vinegar and boil over high heat until reduced by half, 12 minutes. Stir the mixture into the skillet and cook over moderate heat until the mushrooms are glazed, 3 minutes. Season with salt.
  4. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and cook over moderate heat until tender and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir the mushrooms into the marmalade, and swirl in the butter. Cover and keep warm.
  5. MAKE THE RISOTTO: Cut pumpkin or squash into wedges, drizzle with olive oil and roast in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, remove pumpkin meat from the peels and chop finely. 
  6. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer; add the pumpkin and incorporate into the liquid. Cover and keep warm over low heat. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated. Pour in about 1 cup of the hot stock, or enough to cover the rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until the stock has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Repeat, adding 1 cup of stock at a time and stirring until all of the stock has been absorbed. The risotto is done when the rice is just cooked and suspended in the creamy sauce, about 25 minutes. Stir in the butter and parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Spoon the risotto into bowls and top with the mushroom marmalade. Shave a few slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano over the risotto, garnish with the herbs and serve.

MAKE AHEAD The mushroom marmalade can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.

WINE The wine Vongerichten uses for this dish is also delicious to drink with it. A powerful, dark Amarone from the Veneto is made by the appassimento method—the grapes are dried in special drying rooms prior to fermentation, which makes for an intensely flavored, high-alcohol red wine. Look for the 2001 Allegrini, full of cherry liqueur and black pepper notes. Recipe modified from Jean-Georges Vongerichten. This recipe is modified from one which originally appeared in October, 2007 in Food and Wine magazine.


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