3 Easy Leftover Turkey Ideas

As soon as the whirlwind of cooking and feasting is over, what do you do with the leftovers?  I actually love to have leftovers, especially at Thanksgiving.  I always have an abundance of food prepared, being able to send some home with my guests and having enough for a few leftover meals to carry us over for a few days.  Especially since immediately following Thanksgiving, I’m gearing up for the Christmas holidays.  No black Friday shopping for me as I’m busy putting away my fall decorations and bringing on Christmas!

So, while I’m focusing on the decorating part of the holidays, I’m thrilled to have a frig full of leftovers to create my three favorite and very easy leftover dishes; Nachos, Open Faced ‘Bruschettas’ (Sandwich) and Frittatas.  These three quick recipes really work well with any leftovers.  There are no real recipes to follow.  It will all depend on the amount of servings, follow a basic method and have on hand a few pantry items such as your favorite quality tortilla chips, bread, and organic eggs.

In addition, don’t throw out that turkey carcass!  Immediately after the Thanksgiving meal, remove all the meat from the carcass to store safely.  That evening or the next day, drop the carcass, carrots, celery and onion in a large stockpot.  Add enough water to cover and simmer away for about 2-3 hours, strain and you have homemade turkey stock!

Turkey Nachos:  Great football game food!  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Evenly layer the chips on a wide shallow baking pan.  Lightly top with leftovers of your choice: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, cranberry sauce, etc.  Top with another layer of chips and leftovers.  Sprinkle some cheese on top.  Heat in oven for about 15-18 minutes or until cheese is melted.  I like to drizzle warmed gravy on top, srirachi sauce, sour cream and chopped fresh sage or cilantro.

Open Faced ‘Bruschettas’ (Hot Browns!):  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grill or toast thick slices of bread, about ½  to 1 inch thick.  I like Costco’s Rosemary Olive Oil bread.  Whenever I’m there I purchase a loaf or two, immediately slice and freeze (to avoid all temptation).   Place the grilled bread on a baking sheet and top with leftover chopped turkey, stuffing, veggies, finishing with potatoes and a drizzle of gravy.  Heat until warmed through, about 15-18 minutes.  Serve warm with additional gravy.  Best eaten with fork and knife!!

Fritattas:  Following along with my Fun with Frittatas post, heat a large skillet with olive oil, toss in about 2 1/2 cups of leftovers and heat.  Beat together 4-5 eggs (or mix of whole eggs/egg whites) with 1/4 cup of milk.  Pour the egg mixture over the turkey and veggies and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes to set the bottom.  Sprinkle on 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and place under the broiler to complete cooking, approximately 5 minutes or until the top has set and the cheese is lightly browned.  Serve hot or room temperature.

Drunken Figs, appetizer and dessert

A couple of months ago I prepared a big batch of drunken figs.  The figs have been happily soaking away in Brandy and are now ready to come out and play!  And if you recall, a walnut was inserted into each fig.  Make no mistake, these are strong!  And truthfully speaking, I cannot just pop one of these tipsy figs in my mouth as is!  But when paired with cheese or dried fruits, the balance is perfect.  These figs will probably last me through the holiday season as I will incorporate them into various appetizers and desserts…a little at a time!!

As an appetizer, I like to add them to a cheese and nut tray.  I enjoy the taste of dried apricots with figs.  The texture is soft, the flavor is intense.  Spread with a strong blue cheese on a cracker or crostini and they taste wickedly good. 

For a dessert, I’ve incorporated them into one of my favorite quick dessert treats.  Fresh ricotta is pretty much always in my frig, along with organic cream.  To make an elegant and easy dessert, beat 1 pound of ricotta until very smooth.  Ricotta can taste grainy if not whipped really well.  To add sweetness to the ricotta, blend in about ¼ cup of fig preserves (or more to your preferred sweetness).  I also added a few tablespoon of the brandy from the jar.  Stir in chopped dried apricots, nuts or any other dried fruit.  Cover and refrigerate until cold or overnight. 

Separately, beat 1 cup of whipping cream with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar.  Store separately, combining with the ricotta mixture about 2 hours ahead of serving time.   For a sweet syrup topping, I reduced about ¼ cup of the brandy to half, allowing to cool and refrigerate.  When ready to serve, I placed the combined ricotta and whipped cream mixture in a large serving bowl.  Topped with a few cut figs and a drizzle of the syrup.  Scoop into individual dessert cups and serve.

If you do not have drunken figs, dried figs can be used on a cheese plate as well as using chopped dried figs in the dessert.  The dried figs will soften nicely in the ricotta.

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Lemon Thyme Butter

You have to serve mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.  There are all sorts of ways to prepare potatoes but on this turkey day, gravy poured over mashed potatoes is a must.  I know, I’ve tried in years past to serve au gratin, roasted, stuffed….and I see it in my family’s eyes, as they glance across the table searching for the mashed potatoes.  And even if the gravy is only poured over the turkey and stuffing, those creamy mountains of potatoes are still missed.

I’m more a purist in my mashed potatoes.  There are endless recipes out there with an assortment of add-ins to choose from… flavored butters, a drizzle of pesto, a small amount of fresh herbs, a soft, gentle cheese, caramelized shallots or bits of roasted garlic.  But please, not all at once!

The choice of potato for mashing is a matter of preference too.  I like Yukon gold for its buttery flavor.  It is less starchy and holds up to boiling better without absorbing a lot of water.  I find that Russets really fall apart when boiled making for oober creamy mashed potatoes and red skinned hold their shape for a fairly chunky mash.  And speaking of skin…leaving it on or off is the next question.  I prefer to peel my potatoes when serving with tender turkey but leave it on for a rustic dish when being served with steak or grilled meats.  And, if you want to surprise your guests with some WOW color, check out Sports Glutton for some purple potatoes!

Adding milk or cream?  I like organic cream; it gives the mash a rich creamy feel and taste.  Whole organic milk , 2% or buttermilk can be used but in my opinion non fat is definitely a no-no!  I have used a small amount of turkey stock to cut back on the cream in the past but regardless of what is used, warming it slightly is better than shocking the potatoes with a cold liquid. And start out adding the cream in slowly as you can always add more to get it to the right consistency.

Lots of organic butter, sour cream in some recipes, Kosher salt and white pepper, not black, unless you like specks of black pepper through your mash.  Taste as you go to season to your liking.

Lastly, what to use to mash.  A ricer is “known” to be the preferred choice, but if you’ve ever used one, it’s a lot of work especially with a big pot of potatoes!  I like to use a simple potato masher giving me the control of mashing to my desired creaminess.  Just be aware that over mashing or using a mixer could cause the potatoes to become gummy and heavy.

Mashed potatoes can be made up to 2 hours ahead and left at room temperature or if you prefer to make them the day before, gently reheat them in a large pan adding milk to adjust the consistency.

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Lemon Thyme Butter

Makes 10 servings

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter, room temperature

4 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced

1 tablespoon minced lemon peel (yellow part only)

4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups organic cream, gently heated

1 roasted garlic bulb

Kosher salt and white pepper to taste

Mix butter, thyme, and lemon in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Butter can be made 3 days ahead or made a week ahead and frozen.  Wrap tightly and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)

Place potatoes in large pot. Add enough cold water to cover. Bring to boil. Cover partially and cook until potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Return potatoes and roasted garlic (squeezed from cloves) to same pot and mash.  Stir warmed cream slowly into the potatoes, continuing to gently mash.  Set aside 2 tablespoons thyme-lemon butter to top later.  Mix in remaining butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer mashed potatoes to large warmed bowl. Top with 2 tablespoons butter and serve.

These mashed potatoes are part of my Thanksgiving Countdown.  If you’d like to share your favorite appetizer potatoe dish for Thanksgiving, please use Linky Tools below.

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Cranberry Salsa

I’m always thankful for simple, easy dishes that please everyone!  Several years back I made this salsa on a whim to add another appetizer for Thanksgiving.  I thought I’d throw in one more little something that didn’t require a lot of time or effort to prepare.  And imagine that, the most simple of the appetizers became the hit!  Over and over again I was asked for the recipe and requested to bring it for holiday parties. Continue reading “Cranberry Salsa”

Pumpkin and Amaretti Gnocchi

Coming together for a holiday certainly revolves around the food we eat; especially in Italian families and for all those food lovers out there!  But there is also another important part that truly makes the holiday special.  And that is family; those that will be sharing this meal with me.  My daughter is coming home next week and I can’t even tell you how excited I am to see her!  She may be only an hour plus away and I may chat with her several times a day, but to have her back home with me makes me so very happy!

So while I’m planning ahead for Thanksgiving, I’ve also given some thought to preparing a few special meals for her and my son.  The night before Thanksgiving I really want something quick, easy and comforting.   Pasta is comfort food to me so I thought I’d prepare a batch of gnocchi to freeze ahead.  Of course, I can’t just make potato or ricotta gnocchi during pumpkin season!

Making gnocchi takes a bit of time and practice to get the texture of the dough just right but I always feel it’s worth the effort.  The roasted pumpkin puree should be drained well so that the dough will come together without adding in an excess of flour; a dryer puree makes for a lighter gnocchi.   The Amaretti cookie crumbs add a gentle sweet taste to the gnocchi and should be processed fine to not create a “crunchy” taste in the gnocchi.  I use a fork to roll my gnocchi but have heard of others using a box grater or a whisk to create the familiar grooves.

The pumpkin can be roasted a day ahead; normally when I’m roasting other things and will make the dough making day go a bit quicker!  It’s hard to be exact in the quantities of the ingredients as it truly depends on the moisture of the pumpkin whether to add more or less flour.  You will want the dough not sticky, but soft and light.  To create the light pillowy soft gnocchi make sure again that your dough is neither too wet nor too overworked. 

Just a small bowl of comfort, a mixed greens salad, a glass of wine and lots of laughter and love!! 

Pumpkin and Amaretti Gnocchi

For the gnocchi:

About 2 cups roasted pumpkin puree, squeezed/drained dry

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon Amaretti Liquor

1 ½ – 2 cups flour, I used white whole wheat flour

½ cup finely processed Amaretti cookie crumbs

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoons salt

For the sauce:

¼ cup organic unsalted butter

10-12 sage leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, mix the egg yolk and Amaretti liquor into the puree.  Combine the flour and Amaretti crumbs and add to the dough, mixing with a wooden spoon to combine.  Sprinkle a little flour on your board and knead the dough just until it’s smooth adding small amounts of flour as needed.   Do not overwork as the gnocchi can become tough.  Cut the dough into four sections and roll into long pencil shapes.  Cut every ½ – 1 inch and roll into small balls.  Mark the gnocchi by rolling it down the back of a fork or grater using your thumb to roll down then up forming the concave pillow shape.  Place the gnocchi on a large lightly floured baking sheet.  If freezing, place the baking sheet in the freezer and when frozen place in a freezer baggy for later use. 

When ready to cook, heat a large skillet and melt the butter.  Add the sage leaves and cook for several minutes.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi in batches if necessary for about 3-5 minutes or until gnocchi floats to the top.  Fresh gnocchi will obviously cook faster than frozen. Taste to check for doneness.  Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon to drain well and add to the large skillet.  Gently toss and to combine well with the sauce; sometimes I will lightly sauté the gnocchi for a touch of crispness.  Serve immediately in warmed bowls with Parmesan cheese and a few grinds of black pepper.  Makes about 8 small servings.

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta, Pecans and Parmesan

Ever since roasting or braising of brussels sprouts became popular, this veggie has gained a lot of attention.  Prior to it being boiled (to death) these little balls of mini cabbage were not pleasantly taken to.  They certainly have earned their place on the table now, especially when prepared with pancetta or bacon, seared to a golden crust and topped with toasted nuts and a soft melting cheese.

When selecting your brussels sprouts always look for tightly closed sprouts.  I prefer those on the smaller size as cut in half they cook quickly becoming tender on the inside as well.   I find that the larger ones do have a tendency to be bitter but if only larger sprouts are available, I will cut those in quarters.  I vary my preparation year to year depending on whether or not my oven has room to roast them or use the stove top for quick sauté and braising.  Sometimes I’ll use a stronger cheese to top them like gorgonzola or smoky Gouda but with my menu this year, I’ve opted to use shaves of parmesan that will lightly flavor and soften.

They are best served hot.  To prep ahead for this dish I’ll have my nuts toasted ahead of time and set aside.  The brussels sprouts can be trimmed and lightly drizzled with olive oil and kept in the refrigerator until needed.  On a side note, I’m always excited to learn new things.  If you happen to grow your own brussels sprouts, David at The Gastronomic Gardener braises the large leaves as greens.  Talk about using every part of the plant!

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta, Pecans and Parmesan 

¼ cup diced pancetta

2 lbs. fresh Brussels sprouts, stem cut off and trimmed of outer leaves

2 medium shallots, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup turkey stock or low sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Shaved Parmesan Cheese

In a large skillet, sauté the pancetta until crisp over medium heat.  Remove and set aside.  Add in the Brussels sprouts and allow to sauté until golden before turning.  Do not cook over high heat to avoid burning.  If pancetta did not release enough fat, add a bit of olive oil.   Add in the shallots and garlic and continue to cook a few minutes until the shallots are soft.  Pour in the turkey stock and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes or until a knife inserted in the sprout feels tender.  Finish by adding in the 2 tablespoons of butter and the pancetta.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove to a warmed bowl and top with the toasted pecans.  Serves 8-10.

These brussels sprouts are part of my Thanksgiving Countdown.  If you’d like to share your favorite veggie recipes for Thanksgiving, please use Linky Tools below.

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Pumpkin Biscuits

A basket of freshly baked biscuits are always a welcome, special treat.  I’m no Southern gal nor was I raised on biscuits but through the years I came to like making mine with self rising flour.  Since I’ve been on a pumpkin kick, I thought I’d add in pumpkin  puree replacing the buttermilk I would normally use.  I didn’t want these to be overly pumpkin “pie” tasting, so I only lightly added some cinnamon and nutmeg.  And since I do prefer using more whole wheat than white flour, I substituted in 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour instead of my normal 2 cups of self rising.

Preparing biscuits to be served hot takes a bit of planning ahead but it’s so worth the small effort.  If you’ve been following along with my preparations, I do like to plan ahead!  Regardless if this was to be served at Thanksgiving or just a small dinner party or brunch, I still like to prep the dry ingredients along with cutting in the butter ahead of time, up to one day ahead and store in a glass container in my frig.  Since all the ingredients when making biscuits should be cold, prepping it ahead ensures that.

The next day, in the morning or several hours ahead of time, I add the wet ingredient, in this case the pumpkin, which by the way, I had measured out the day before and stored it in the frig also.  I knead  and cut the biscuits and place them on the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.  I’m kinda a neat freak, cooking and cleaning as I go so when I prep in this manner, I can clean up as I go along and when my guests arrive it’s only the baking sheet I’m bringing out.

I was really excited with the taste of these biscuits.  Not sweet, but just enough to balance the pumpkin flavor.  I couldn’t find my biscuit cutter so I used a leaf cookie cutter.  Just don’t use a glass or dull object as it could compress the sides of the dough not allowing it to rise flaky.  Also, try to not over work the dough and pat the dough into a circle, as a rolling pin ends to compress it.

Pumpkin Biscuits

1 1/2 cup self rising flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled

1 cup canned pumpkin puree, chilled

2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing tops before baking or 1 beaten egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a mixer with the paddle attachment, or large bowl with a pastry cutter, or your finger tips in a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, spices and salt and mix to combine.  Add in the chilled butter pieces and quickly mix until the butter is thoroughly cut into the flour, resembling coarse meal.  Add in the pumpkin and stir to combine.  Turn the dough out onto a floured board and gently knead, adding a bit more flour if sticky and folding the dough back over itself a few times to create flaky layers.

Pat the dough into a circle and use a biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits.  Depending on the size of the cutter, this will make about 8-10 biscuits.  Place the biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate for one hour or up to 12 hours covered with plastic wrap.  When ready to bake, brush the biscuits with either an egg wash of one beaten egg or melted butter.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and set.  Serve hot.

These biscuits are part of my Thanksgiving Countdown.  If you’d like to share your biscuits for Thanksgiving, please use Linky Tools below.

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Artichoke, Sausage and Parmesan Stuffing

I’ve been sharing my favorite recipes for this year’s Thanksgiving. There are so many different stuffing recipes out there using cornbread or wild rice, dried fruits and nuts.  I probably have made just about every recipe there is over the years!  When I choose my stuffing recipe I like it to compliment the seasonings I will use on my turkey and the overall theme of my dinner. Normally, I like Thanksgiving to be very traditional.  And with guests ranging in all ages, I try to please all tastes as best as possible by not being too extreme in any dish.

This year my turkey will be lemon and herb-based; sage, thyme, and oregano with dried herbs de Provence. Therefore, I thought the flavors of Italian sausage, artichoke and parmesan would marry nicely with the turkey.  With all the warnings in past years about the dangers of stuffing a turkey, I no longer stuff mine. Therefore, I suppose this should be called a dressing not a stuffing.   Also, I like the crispiness of the dressing when baked separately.  But I do know that some people like a soft stuffing that has been cooked in the turkey.  Therefore, to stuff safely, the stuffing should be added right before roasting and removed immediately after.

To make this ahead of time, the bread can be made up to 3 days ahead  as it is meant to be stale after all!  The sausage can be made the day before and brought to room temperature before mixing together with the bread and remaining ingredients.

If you’d like to share your favorite stuffing recipe, please follow the Linky Tools directions below. Also, for some very good information on selecting turkeys as well as a bit of humor, check out My Little Corner of Rhode Island  Talking Turkey!  And for a great recipe on a stuffed turkey, check out Greg and Katherine’s Turkey with Herb Butter at Rufus’ Food and Spirit Guide.

Artichoke, Sausage and Parmesan Stuffing

Adapted from Bon Appetite

2 1 lb loaves of sourdough bread, about 15 cups, crust removed and cut into 1-inch cubes

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds Italian sweet sausages, casings removed (about 4 links)

2 cups chopped onions

3/4 cup chopped celery

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 8-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon herbs deProvence

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup (or more) turkey stock (or chicken broth)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide bread between 2 baking sheets. Bake until cubes are dry but not hard, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté until cooked through, breaking up with back of fork, about 5 minutes. Add onions, celery, and garlic. Sauté until celery is soft, about 10 minutes. Mix in artichokes and thyme, sauté 2 minutes longer. Transfer sausage mixture to large bowl. (Bread and sausage mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately. Store bread at room temperature and refrigerate sausage mixture.)

When ready to bake:  In a large bowl, combine the bread to sausage mixture; toss to blend well. Mix in cheese and stock adding in extra stock to moisten well.  For stuffing the turkey, add in about ¾ cup more stock; for baking stuffing separately, add up to 1 ¼ cups additional stock.  Season with salt and pepper.

To bake stuffing in turkey:
Loosely fill main cavity and neck cavity of turkey with stuffing. Spoon any remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish. Cover dish with buttered foil, buttered side down. Bake stuffing in dish — alongside turkey or while turkey is resting until heated through, about 25 minutes. Uncover stuffing in dish. Bake until top of stuffing is slightly crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

To bake stuffing in a dish:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spoon stuffing into a buttered 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down. Bake until heated through, about 30-40 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is slightly crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

This stuffing is part of my Thanksgiving Countdown.  If you’d like to share your favorite salad for Thanksgiving, please use Linky Tools below.

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Pumpkin Cranberry Bread and Cranberry Pecan Butter

On Thanksgiving morning I want to wake up knowing that my espresso is ready to be brewed and breakfast is only moments away.  I’ve been busy prepping and planning for this day and one of the important things I do is plan for a relaxing morning.  Before the hustle begins, I can sit down and enjoy a nice slice of warm Pumpkin Cranberry Bread.  By making the bread a few weeks out and freezing it; I can defrost it the day before and gently re warm it in the oven or toaster while I’m doing my morning yoga.

The cranberry butter freezes just as nicely too adding a little special treat to top the bread.  This bread could also be served with your Thanksgiving dinner and since it makes two loaves, you can have one to try now and one for later!

Scones are also easy to prepare ahead of time and freeze until ready to bake.  Two seasonal favorites of mine are my Pumpkin Scones and Cranberry Rosemary Scones.

And for some exciting news, my Medjool Date and Walnut Bread won the Swanson Health Products Recipe Contest!!

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

3 cups whole wheat white flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups turbinado sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 15 oz can pumpkin

2/3 cup Greek plain yogurt

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 cup picked-over fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped in food processor

Preheat oven to 350° F. and butter or spray two 9 x 5 loaf pans.

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients, from the flour through the nutmeg.  In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin, yogurt, oil and egg, stirring to blend well.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine.  Add in the chopped cranberries.  Do not overmix the dough.

Divide the dough between the two pans and bake for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean, and cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Turn bread out onto rack and cool completely. Bread may be made 3 days ahead, wrapped in foil and refrigerated.  Or freeze for up to a month.  Gently re warm or serve at room temperature.

Cranberry Pecan Butter

½ cup of unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature

½ cup fresh cranberries

¼ cup pecans

2 tablespoons agave or honey (sweeten to taste)

Process all in food processor until blended well.  Store in refrigerator up to one week or freeze for up to a month.

This bread is part of my Thanksgiving Countdown.  If you’d like to share your favorite bread for Thanksgiving, please use Linky Tools below.

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Corn Chowder with Roasted Pumpkin

Soups are a nice start to a Thanksgiving meal for a couple of reasons.  First, it immediately slows down the eagerness to jump right into this feast of many dishes and second, it allows the hostess a bit of breathing room should anything need to be warmed up further.  And while the soup dishes are being cleared, hopefully by a few helpful teens, final touches to the dinner can be made and those same teens can begin bringing on the meal!

I like to serve soup in a beautiful tureen, ladling out into small bowls.  I am truly aware of not overstuffing my guests on a day that everyone ends up feeling like taking a nap!  So I offer lots of interesting, small portions of food.  A fresh bread basket is nice to serve with the soup but not wanting to get filled up on bread, I toasted up some of my pumpkin bagels into crutons.

When I was growing up, soups were not a part of our Thanksgiving dinner.  It was pasta that started out the meal!  I believe every Italian family, and as my sister, cousins and Chicago John can attest, had some form of pasta before or with the turkey!  On top of that, as my birthday falls around the holiday, birthday cake was part of the desserts!  Just like Christmas babies, I always wanted my own celebration but having all the family gathered together, it was just easier to celebrate on that day.  (Of course, as soon as I began my own traditions, pasta was eliminated and birthday cake too!!)

Because corn was a prominent part of the first Thanksgiving feasts, I have always tried to have a corn dish included in the meal.  Making a simple corn chowder, I eliminated using potatoes for thickening and added in roasted pumpkin.  I prefer to have a chunkier soup so I used an immersion blender to lightly blend the soup.  For the broth, I used turkey stock, but chicken broth or even a vegetable broth could be used.  (To make vegetarian, omit the pancetta as well.)  Made a few weeks ahead, this soup would freeze well, just don’t add the cream until ready to reheat.

Corn Chowder with Roasted Pumpkin

For the roasted pumpkin and garlic:

1 fresh pumpkin, about 1 lb, seeded, fibers removed and cut into quarters

1 whole garlic bulb, cut in half

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the chowder:

3 ears of corn cut off the cob or 3 cups frozen

4 oz pancetta, chopped

1 small onion diced

1 small red pepper, diced

6 cups turkey stock or chicken broth

4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup organic cream

Crumbled gorgonzola or grated cheddar for garnish

To roast the pumpkin and garlic:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a large baking sheet toss the pumpkin with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread the pumpkin evenly on the sheet.  Place the garlic halves cut side down on the baking sheet.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or until pumpkin is tender.  Cool slightly, peel the pumpkin and set aside or refrigerate overnight.

To make the chowder:

In a large soup pot, saute the pancetta until crisp.  Remove and set aside.  Saute the onion and pepper until soft about 5 minutes.  Add in the pumpkin, roasted garlic (squeezed from the skins), corn, stock, pancetta and thyme.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Continue to simmer for about 25-30 minutes.  Using an emersion blender, process the chowder slighty to thicken but leaving partially chunky.  Alternately, use a blender to blend the chowder to your desired creaminess.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add in cream and cook until heated through, do not allow to boil.  Serve with cheese and toasted crutons.  Pumpkin and garlic can be made two days ahead, chowder can be made one day ahead.  Bring chowder to room temperature before heating.

This soup is part of my Thanksgiving Countdown.  If you’d like to share your favorite soup for Thanksgiving, please use Linky Tools below.

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My Favorite Color (Carrot & Ginger Soup) at The Orange Bee

Pumpkin Bisque with Shrimp at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide