Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and while the main event, a roasted (or deep-fried, or sous-vide cooked) turkey, is not a surprise, there's no reason why some of your side dishes shouldn't be. You need not do away with your traditional stuffing, mashed potatoes or green bean casserole; just supplement with a few new tricks, like the soup and salad recipes below.
We all know that the Thanksgiving table holds a profusion of flavors that can pose a challenge for wine pairing, which is why, for whites, we've chosen a list of recently rated California Chardonnays, most priced at $25 or less, whose fruit-forward flavors and solid structure play well with nearly every element of the meal. Next week, we'll talk turkey, and Pinot Noir.
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Caramelized Onions
Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes) are small, white- or pink-fleshed tubers, members of the sunflower family, that first appear in the fall. Their flavor is delicately nutty and vegetal, and they are delicious roasted, sliced and fried like chips, or pureed, as in this substantial first-course soup. Caramelized onions, with their intense sweetness, add another layer of complexity to the soup's base. This soup looks and tastes best on the day it is made. If serving as leftovers, perk up the color and texture with a scant splash each of heavy cream and lemon juice, or blend any leftover caramelized onions into the reheated soup.
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 3 large yellow or white onions, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons, plus 1 small yellow or white onion, finely chopped
• Salt to taste
• 2 pounds Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed, peeled (though it is not necessary to remove every last bit of skin) and cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks
• 1/2 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
• 1 rib celery, finely chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons white wine or Champagne vinegar
• 4 cups veal stock (may substitute chicken stock or beef broth)
• 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
1. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and all of the butter over medium-low heat until butter foams and subsides. Add the onion half-moons, stirring well to coat with oil and butter. Season lightly with salt and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are browned and deeply fragrant, about 20 to 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, combine the Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes and cover with cold water. Cook over high heat just until water begins to simmer, then remove from heat, drain, and set the vegetables aside.
3. To the hot pot, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and warm over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion, celery and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat with oil and evenly distribute the seasoning, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are fragrant and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Increase the heat to high and stir in the vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any browned vegetable bits. Once the vinegar has reduced by half and you can no longer smell the "sharp" aroma, stir in the veal stock and return the Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes to the pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then puree the mixture until smooth, using a hand-held blender.
4. Once the onions in the skillet are caramelized, remove from heat and transfer to a clean cutting board and chop them coarsely.
5. To serve, divide the soup among 4 to 6 warmed soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with a portion of the caramelized onions, and parsley, if desired, and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
Kale and Radicchio Salad with Ricotta Salata
Kale has a reputation as a tough customer that requires long cooking, but if cut in thin ribbons, it softens up nicely within just 20 minutes of being dressed with a simple vinaigrette. Ricotta salata, as the name suggests, is a salty cheese, so go easy on the salt in the dressing. Unlike most salads, this one will live to see another day, if there are any leftovers. You may also wish to fold the leftovers into a Thanksgiving Friday omelet or toss with some hot pasta.
• 1 bunch kale (preferably the Lacinato variety, which has relatively flat leaves, but any variety will work), tough lower stems removed, cut into very thin strips (but not shredded)
• 1 head radicchio, core removed, cut into very thin strips
• 2 tablespoons best-quality white wine or Champagne vinegar
• 1/3 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 to 3 ounces ricotta salata cheese, coarsely grated
1. Combine the kale and radicchio in a large salad bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar, oil and salt and whisk to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the greens, using as much as necessary to coat the salad but not drown it. Toss with tongs to coat leaves evenly. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.
2. To serve, divide the salad among 4 to 6 chilled salad plates, and top each portion with 1/2 ounce of ricotta salata. Serve immediately.Serves 4 to 6.
RECOMMENDED CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS
Note: The following list is a selection of very good wines from recently rated releases. More California Chardonnays can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.