The sweetness of cooked chestnuts and the flavor of vegetables and bouillon marry well with the taste of Brussels sprouts in this recipe from my mother’s America’s Cook Book, published by the New York Herald Tribune Home Institute. This recipe is handy for large Thanksgiving meals. It can be prepared ahead of time and then popped into the oven after the turkey has been taken out right before dinner.
Sprouts a la Brigoule
1 quart Brussels sprouts
1/2 c. chopped carrots
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped, cooked chestnuts
1/4 c. chopped celery
1 1/2 c. bouillon or vegetable broth
3 T. butter
salt and pepper
2 thin slices lemon, cut in quarters
Remove any wilted leaves from the Brussels sprouts and wash well. Cook, uncovered, in boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 – 15 minutes. Drain. Arrange in greased casserole. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add vegetaboles and chestnuts to boullon or vegetable broth and cook 10 minutes. Add butter and lemon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour vegetable mixture over sprouts and bake for 30 minutes.
You can find canned chestnuts in gourmet shops or gourmet sections of larger supermarkets. But everyone should shell and blanch chestnuts at least once in your life. Here’s how. Preheat oven to 450. Prick or slit well. I’ve found that making small x’s or crosses at the bottom (pointier side) of the chestnut works well. Once you have pricked or slit your chestnuts, add a small amount of oil and mix well. The ratio of oil to nuts should be one teaspoon oil to one cup nuts. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove shells and skins with a sharp knife. To boil the shelled chestnuts, simmer in boiling water to cover until just tender. If you are boiling just a few they should be tender in 8 minutes; a larger pot of chestnuts might take 20 minutes or so. You can mash the boiled chestnuts, season them, and use to stuff a chicken, duck or other fowl. You can enjoy them as is, or add them to recipes like the Brussels sprouts recipe above.
My college roommate Lynne introduced me to one of her family’s favorites. The children in her family really enjoyed having their very own individual serving of yams in the fragrant orange cup, especially when they were generously topped with marshmallows.
Yams in Orange Cups
(makes 12 orange cups)
6 medium yams
3 T. butter
1/2 t. salt
generous pinch of nutmeg
up to 1/3 c. heated milk
6 large oranges
optional: orange slices and cranberries
Boil 6 medium-sized yams. Drain. While the yams are cooking, wash the oranges and cut them in half. Scoop out the pulp; reserve. If necessary, cut a tiny bit off the bottom of each orange half so they stand up straight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When the yams are cool enough to touch, peel and force through ricer or mash. Add _ cup of orange pulp and blend. Add 3 T. butter, _ t. salt, dash of pepper and generous pinch of nutmeg; mix to blend seasonings. Gradually add heated milk until desired level of moistness is reached. Beat until light and fluffy. Fill each orange half with the mashed yams. If desired, top with marshmallows. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. If desired, you can omit the marshmellows and top each orange cup with an orange slice and a cranberry prior to serving.
My friend Ruben’s family always served creamed pearl onions at every family holiday dinner. The following recipe for cream sauce can be used for the vegetable of your choice. I am particularly fond of creamed spinach, and cheese sauce over cauliflower. I suppose you could substitue 2% or skim milk, but it definitely would not be as sinfully good as the sauce made with regular milk or half and half. What is your family’s favorite creamed vegetable? And no, the green beans with canned cream of mushroom soup do not count … unless you make a mushroom cream sauce from scratch.
3 c. cooked vegetable of your choice
1 1/2 c. white sauce, cream sauce or cheese sauce
(makes 1 _ – 2 cups)
4 T. butter
4 T. flour
2 c. milk (substitute half and half for cream sauce)
1/2 t. salt, or to taste
1/4 t. ground pepper (not freshly ground, you want smaller pieces of pepper here), or to taste
Melt butter. If you have a double boiler, use the top ban of the set for this. Otherwise, use a skillet or other pan. Stir in flour. Add milk gradually, stirring as you add it. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until mixture boils and thickens, around 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper. To keep the sauce hot and prevent it from forming a crust, place over hot water (in bottom half of double boiler if using, or improvise something which works for you) and cover tightly.
For cheese sauce, after you have added the milk or half and half and cooked the mixture until it thickens, add 2 to 1 c. grated American cheese and a dash of paprika. Cook over low heat until the cheese is melted. Keep warm in covered pan or pot placed over hot water.
The Culver City Farmers Markets are held on Tuesdays from 2 to 7 pm on Main Street between Venice and Culver Blvds, and Saturdays from 7:30 – 11:30 in the northeast corner of the Westfield Culver City farmers market, at the corner of Slauson and Hannum.
Katie Malich’s family Thanksgivings always included celery, carrot and green onions set out in cut glass relish dishes and almond-stuffed olives.