Thanksgiving treats

Amrita Prasad
Wednesday, 21 November 2018

New twists to classic dishes give you the option to try out innovative flavours. This Thanksgiving, chefs tell you how to reinvent turkey, ham and potato dishes

Thanksgiving is about merrymaking, celebrating togetherness and, of course, eating a delicious meal with family and friends. While we love to savour traditional Roasted Turkey, Holiday Glazed Ham and Mashed Potatoes, how about trying out new innovations with turkey, potato and ham this time? 

“Potatoes and pumpkins are the main ingredients in Thanksgiving. Since Indians are fond of potatoes and are a part of almost all our daily vegetables, preparing Crispy Au Gratin/ Potato Au Gratin is a good idea this Thanksgiving,” says Chef Ronak Mehta, Becky’s Binging Bay, Salunke Vihar. 

This baked dish is layered at the bottom with semi-fried potato cubes or slices and then topped with exotic veggies prepared in white sauce, making it a wonderful wholesome dish. 

Mehta further says, “Potato has a perfect pairing with a large number of ingredients so it can be used in combination with veg / non-veg ingredients as required. Gratin is a culinary technique in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese and so on. It is then baked to form a golden crust on top. The potatoes should not be fully cooked/ fried before layering as baking it in a shallow bowl will also cook it further.”  

If you are planning to spice up the Classic Roast Turkey, which is known for its traditional herb and butter marinade, try making Tandoori Turkey. “The traditional tandoori marinade is made with a mixture of chilies, whole spices, ginger and garlic — roasted to perfection. Savour the complex flavours that the blend of spices (tandoori marinade) brings to every bite of this juicy turkey this Thanksgiving!” exclaims Mark Philipose, executive sous chef, Sheraton Grand Pune, Bund Garden. 

Vegetarians can try Indian Spiced Roasted Potatoes instead of the traditional Mashed Potato. “The crispy, crunchy Indian spiced roasted potatoes have the addictive Indian masalas and complement the mains perfectly well,” he adds. 

Those who love Cranberry Sauce can opt for Jellied Cranberry Sauce. “The sweet-tangy sauce complements the mains and the jellied form adds the fun element. A must try this Thanksgiving,” he says.  

Sagarika Ghosh, junior sous chef, Sorted Delicatessen, Kalyani Nagar, shares a few tips on how to make a Thanksgiving meal tasty and effortless:  

Start prepping 2-3 days in advance. Dice the onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Keep them in Ziploc bags or in airtight containers. Go to your butcher weeks in advance and order a fresh turkey instead of buying a frozen one. The difference in taste is remarkable.

Put a small handful of coffee beans in the cavity of the turkey. It gives a great depth to the roast flavour or use bourbon in the brines, it will give the turkey a nice smoky, woody note.

To give the turkey an Asian twist, add a few sticks of lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger and bird’s eye chilies into the cavity of the turkey. Rub the skin of the turkey with soy sauce and honey and leave it unwrapped in the refrigerator overnight. You’ll get a crispier skin when you cook it.

Add cumin or bishop’s weed or curry powder to the cranberry sauce to give the entire meal a new twist. Try serving the cranberry sauce in hollowed-out apples to add some colour to your dinner table.

Choosing a side dish for the thanksgiving meal is also very crucial. A few side dishes that you can pair easily with either turkey or ham are roasted potatoes, baked potatoes, roasted root vegetables, potato gratin, potato salad, etc.

If you prefer the side dish to be light and refreshing, make a salad of shaved root vegetables with a citrus dressing or make a green bean salad. 

 Be creative with the leftover turkey or ham. Pulse it in a food processor and mix it with diced baked sweet potatoes and leftover stuffing and pan-fry it until crisp to make a hash and serve it with a fried egg for breakfast. Use it as a stuffing for a wrap/ sandwich or a topping for a pizza. Make a cold salad by adding mayonnaise or make a casserole for the next day’s meal.

Finally, what’s a holiday dinner without alcohol. Serve your favourite spirit shaken with cranberry juice, lime juice and a splash of orange liqueur to cover the cranberry part of the tradition.

To give turkey a different taste, you can stuff it with different ingredients. “Turkey breasts can be stuffed with minced mushrooms, dry fruits like apricots and walnuts, herbs like rosemary and tarragon. Or prepare a roulade by wrapping thin strips of bacon but do not forget to add a small amount of butter to provide moisture from inside. Poaching the breast or cooking in water bath (sous vide at 60C for 60 min) will give you the best results.  After which, you need to sear the turkey on a hot non-stick pan for browning,” says Chef Ambar Rode, founder, Brasserie Cinq, Bund Garden Road. 

 “Sous vide is a cooking technique to slow cook the food vacuum packed in liquid medium. If you use this technique, the turkey will not be dry, tough or overcooked. It will be tender and juicy with the meat melting in your mouth,” says Chef Vineet, Sorriso, Marriott Suites Pune, Koregaon Park Annexe, Mundhwa. 

For this, you need to brine the turkey in salt, sugar and bay leaf and add some fresh herbs and vacuum pack. After which it needs to be slow cooked, immersing the turkey in water for 12 hours at 75 degree Celsius. When done take it out and put it on a hot pan and sear it. If you like bacon, you can wrap the whole sous vide turkey with bacon and flash it in the oven,” he explains.
Sharing a few tips on how to make bacon crispy, Vineet says, “Pierce the turkey with a needle/ knife/ fork before marinating it, so that, the marination can penetrate easily and effectively. Be careful when handling the raw turkey as it has salmonella bacteria, so it’s better to thaw the turkey in refrigerator rather than thawing it at room temperature. For the side, prepare stuffed potatoes with ham and mornay (a béchamel sauce with shredded or grated Gruyère cheese).” 

While you can go for the classic ham dish, you can always add new flavours to make it more mouth watering and flavoursome. “Simmering ham with vegetables like carrots, onions, leeks and spices like star anise, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, black peppercorns can elevate the flavour of ham. Ham stock is wonderfully flavoured to make soups (base for roasted squash), sauces and gravies,” says Rode

In case you want to glaze ham, you can opt for honey, reduced orange juice or vincotto.

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