It's that time of year already! I spent a few hours last week calling around to local farmers, winemakers, and other food producers for a story in today's paper about celebrating Thanksgiving with locally grown foods. The good news is that it's not difficult to do: Plenty of local vegetables are still in season, and you can supplement those with wine or beer from a nearby vineyard or brewery, as well as cheese from our neighborly cheesemongers.
All that research (not to mention talk about Thanksgiving) meant I'd worked up quite an appetite. I wanted to pass along a few recipes for dishes that could use local ingredients. The first comes courtesy of my Aunt Ute; after celebrating Thanksgiving with her for years at my grandma's house, I couldn't help but try to recreate her famous Gingered Sweet Potatoes on my own last year. The second is from Francie Caccavo, who I interviewed for my Thanksgiving story. She passes along a "Can't Wait for Thanksgiving" Turkey Meatloaf, which she promises is delicious.
Gingered Sweet Potatoes
I apologize that none of these amounts are exact — just go by your own taste! I promise, you can't mess this dish up.
1 lb. sweet potatoes (preferably local!)
Paprika to taste
1/2 cup (more or less to taste) brown sugar
A few generous dollops of butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel and halve your potatoes, then cut each into chunky slivers — think hearty french fries, with a bit of heft. Load up a glass baking dish. Cut off a couple of dollops of butter, and drop them into the pan. Peel and then grate your fresh ginger — a thumb-sized knob generally does the trick, but add a bit more or less depending on your taste. Sprinkle with brown sugar, paprika, salt, and pepper, and pop the whole thing in the oven at around 375 degrees F. Give the potatoes a good stir or two while they're cooking. They're done once the largest chunks are tender when pierced with a fork.
Can’t Wait For Thanksgiving, Turkey Meatloaf
From Olivia’s Crouton Co. in New Haven, Vermont
2 c coarsely crushed Olivia’s Traditional Stuffing
2 c chicken broth (reserve 1 cup for gravy)
1 ½ c chopped onion, ½ large, (reserve ½ cup for gravy)
1 c chopped celery, 2 stalks
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 lb lean pork breakfast sausage* (reserve ¼ lb for gravy)
1 t poultry seasoning
2 T flour for gravy
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl mix stuffing and 1 c chicken broth. While stuffing is soaking, prepare onion, celery and add to stuffing mix along with ground turkey and ¾ lb lean pork sausage, eggs, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Combine ingredients, but do not over-mix. Place meatloaf mixture into a large loaf pan or hand form into a loaf shape on a cookie sheet. Bake for a total of 60 minutes, or until center of meatloaf reaches a temperature of 155 degrees.
Prepare gravy in a 12” fry pan over medium heat. Sauté remaining ¼ lb of sausage and ½ cup of onion until tender. If your sausage is very lean you will need to add 1 T butter. Add 2 T flour and stir until combined. Add 1 cup of chicken broth and simmer stirring frequently until gravy has thickened. Adjust thickness by adding sifted flour or chicken broth if necessary. Salt and pepper to taste.
When meatloaf has baked for about 40 minutes, add gravy to the top and finish baking, approximately 20 minutes.
Francie says: This is a yummy, moist meatloaf that reminds me of the flavors of Thanksgiving, a combination of turkey and stuffing wrapped into one. Enjoy!
*If you cannot find lean pork sausage (the commercially prepared varieties have too much fat) you can make your own by mixing 1 lb lean ground pork, 2 t brown sugar and 2 t poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.
I'd love suggestions for other Thanksgiving recipes that make good use of local ingredients. Post away!