Quatre Epices Poussin
My love of turkey is only a recent development. And even at that, I only consent to eat it when it’s freshly roasted, usually on Thanksgiving. Anything else—turkey sandwiches, turkey soups, turkey whatevers—just aren’t going to happen. So I have a high sensitivity to those who want to try something other than turkey for Thanksgiving.
To me, these Quatre Épices Poussins are the perfect holiday bird. Something about Thanksgiving requires a bird, and I feel compelled to uphold that. But sometimes you want something smaller to alleviate leftover overflow in your apartment fridge, or something quick-cooking to disguise the fact that you were actually at work until two hours before your mother-in-law arrived, or something different from what you had last year. Tradition, after all, isn’t for everyone. These young chickens are holiday poultry that cook quickly, are perfect for one (you can portion it for an army or a sweet dinner for two), are entirely unique, and have tremendous stage presence.
The stage presence comes from a traditional French spice blend called quatre épices, or four spices. Consisting of cracked black pepper, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, the blend is reminiscent of rich medieval dinners, centered around a great long table on which a roasted pig reclines, clenching an apple in its mouth. Highly spiced, and lightly spicy, it is a seasonal je ne sais quoi that makes these little crispy-skinned, succulent game birds special enough, and festive enough, for the holidays
Quatre-Epices Poussins under a Brick
- 2 poussins, backbone removed and butterflied
- 2 1/2 teaspoons quatre épices (ingredients follow)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the Quatre Épices
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Make the quatre épices by combining all four spices.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Pat the poussins dry with paper towel, and season them well with salt.
Mix 2 1/2 teaspoons quatre épices with 3 tablespoons room temperature butter. Using your hands, spread the butter in a thick layer over the front side of the birds.
In a braising pan, heat the vegetable oil on medium heat.
When the oil is hot, place the poussins skin side down in the pan, and weight them down with one brick well wrapped in foil. Sear for 3 to 4 minutes, then transfer to the oven.
Bake the poussins in this position, breast side down under the brick, for 30 minutes. Then remove the bricks, and roast them breast side up for 20 minutes. Then rotate them again so that they are breast side down, and replace the bricks for the final 10 minutes. The poussins will cook for 1 hour in total.
Allow the poussins to rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
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Easy Maple-Pumpkin Breakfast Soufflés
Thanksgiving may be about the food, but it’s also about the company. This year, I have friends and family voyaging in from London, New York, and Miami, and they don’t expect to be fed just once. I like coming up with Thanksgiving-themed recipes for the rest of the meals. Next Friday night, I’m having a party for all my old school friends back in town with turkey sandwiches, turkey sliders, and turkey meatloaf with sweet potato chips and pumpkin ice cream pie. For breakfast, I’ll be serving this quick and easy Pumpkin-Maple Soufflé.
Normal soufflés will start with a béchamel or a pastry cream. Although they’re not strenuous, they do take effort and know-how. For this easy pared down version all you have do is whip up the egg whites, fold in the yolks, pumpkin, and maple, then bake. They rise and puff just like a “real” soufflé, but it’s much more of a cinch. The flavors of pumpkin and nutmeg are reminiscent of Thursday’s pumpkin pie, and the warm maple syrup is just so autumnal and familial at once. I pour a ton of extra warm, runny syrup over mine. So good!
Macaroni and Brie
Perhaps like many first generation Americans, Thanksgiving is a time to remember where we came from. What I love most about our Thanksgiving is the mix of people and places that sit around the table. We have the English-speaking contingent, and the French corner. And I’m not sure which is more thankful to be American on Thanksgiving. What I love about America is that everyone had a reason to come here. For some of my relatives it was freedom, for others it was safety, and for others it was love. No matter what the reason, they came to America to fulfill it, and they all found what they were looking for. So while they may have come here for a million different reasons, they are all thankful for one thing: to be here, in America, on Thanksgiving. And as for me, the first in my mom’s family to be born in the States, I am thankful that after so many years abroad, I am finally back home to partake in the most Franglais feast ever known to mankind: my family’s Thanksgiving.
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Posted by Kerry |
Categories: 60 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Franglais, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
The mighty little cranberry continues to fascinate me the more I investigate into its background. Did you know that only 5% of cranberries are sold fresh? And from my perspective, I only see that 5% from November to December. So, we need recipes that use the other 95% of harvested cranberries that are turned into juices and sauces, and, as we use them in this recipe, dried cranberries.
Everyone knows Thanksgiving is really all about the sides. I usually wind up making more sides than there are guests at my table.
Lemon Lamb Shanks
I love this time of year. Not only is November home of Thanksgiving and my birthday—the two greatest dessert experiences per annum—but it’s finally, definitely, and indisputably cold. While others pull out cashmere scarves and fleece-lined gloves, I pull out the enamel stew pots. It’s braising season.
These sweet-tart lamb shanks fall of the bone with the prick of an eager fork. Tender, but bright, they don’t lull the taste buds to sleep like many another seasonal stew. The meat is braised with windowpanes of garlic, dry white wine, rosemary, and lemon confit. Roasted pearl onions add a delicate, earthy sweetness that complements the deep citrus acidity of the lemon. The result is still comforting, with the braised, autumnal texture, but the flavor is pert and unexpected.
Parsnip Purée with Olive Oil and Sage
This is the perfect Thanksgiving side dish. It accommodates vegans, lactose-intolerants, food combination dieters, and people who like delicious things. I find that every Thanksgiving, the volume of dishes I try to create always leads to a cramped, hectic kitchen. So, this year, with this recipe and my recipe for Cranberry Chutney on The Secret Ingredient, I am making only simple, honest, delicious food that will not overwhelm me. This recipe has three ingredients, plus salt and pepper, and is nothing more than heating and blending. The result is something sweet from parsnips, and intensely savory from sage and olive oil. It’s a creative, healthful alternative to the standard mashed potato, and it’s a crowd pleaser. I’m making it this year, and I hope you will too!
Parsnip Purée with Olive Oil and Sage
- 2 pounds parsnips, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch chunks
- Kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 6 leaves fresh sage
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 fried sage leaves as garnish (optional, see note)
- Bring large pot of water to boil over high heat. Salt water well, and add parsnips. Cook until very tender, 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil small saucepan with 6 sage leaves. Heat on the lowest flame for 5 minutes, remove from heat, and allow to steep for another 5 minutes.
- Drain the parsnips and place in food processor. Remove sage from oil and add sage oil to food processor along with remaining 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Purée until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with fried sage leaves (see note).
To fry sage leaves, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in small saucepan to 325°F. Drop sage leaves in three at a time and cook, agitating occasionally until crisp, 45 seconds to 1 minute 15 seconds. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.
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Green Egg Soufflés and Ham
Sam I am not. But I love green eggs and ham. I love them here; I love them there. I love them anywhere.
Just because green eggs were created for kids, doesn’t mean they haven’t grown up along with the rest of us. Green eggs are perfect as a 3-ingredient no fuss soufflé that anyone (yes, anyone) can make. Herbs and goat cheese give the soufflé a gourmet omelet flavor, with none of the drama of complicated béchamel-based soufflés. For ham, I make simple crisp baguette toasts draped with salty jambon de Bayonne or prosciutto di Parma. Together, the combination is effortless, but impressive.
I am an inveterate breakfast skipper, but during the holidays, breakfast is the cornerstone of hospitality. Impossibly early breakfasts on Christmas day, or tide-me-over brunches before a 6 o’clock turkey. It’s a fact of life: guests expect breakfast. And if you’re lucky enough to have a brimming house in the coming weeks, I suggest you get cracking, cracking some eggs.