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Some Thanksgiving Side Dishes

20 Nov

Okay, so Sunday we did the turkey and stuffing, yesterday we did the soup, today we’ll do some side dishes. I wanted to choose some classic sides but maybe try something a little different with them, and I ended up choosing both of these recipes from Cook’s Country. The first takes the traditional sweet potato casserole and makes it a little differently. I am not a fan of marshmallow and didn’t want to make something that was going to use them and this recipe seems just perfect and it is not hard to make.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Bacon-Brown Sugar Topping

3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

5 slices bacon

4 tablespoons butter, cut into 6 pieces

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest plus 2 tablespoons juice

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay two 24 by 12-inch sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil perpendicular to each other inside a rimmed baking sheet. Place the sweet potatoes in the center of the foil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Fold opposite sides of the foil toward each other and crimp edges to seal tightly. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 60 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and heat the broiler.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. When the bacon is cool enough to handle, crumble it into bite-size pieces. Pulse the bacon and the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar in a food processor until coarsely ground, about 10 pulses; set aside.

Carefully open 1 end of the foil pouch, taking care to avoid escaping steam, and pout the potatoes and accumulated liquid into the food processor. Add the butter, cream, orange zest and juice, salt cinnamon, pepper and cayenne and process until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Transfer the potato puree to a 2-quart souffle dish and sprinkle evenly with the reserved bacon-sugar mixture. Broil the sweet potatoes until the topping is lightly browned and bubbling, about 2 to 4 minutes.

You can make part of this ahead of time to save you time on Thanksgiving. The processed potatoes can be refrigerated without the topping for up to 2 days. To serve it, cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake on the middle rack of a 400 degree oven until hot throughout, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil, add the bacon-sugar topping and broil as directed.

I think it is going to turn out quite nicely and I’ll be sure to take some pictures of it so you can see it on Thursday.

My second recipe frees up some stove or oven space for you by making good use of your slow cooker. it is a version of the classic green bean casserole, but made using the slow cooker to make things a little easier for you along the way.

Slow-Cooker Green Bean Casserole

1 cup canned fried onions

3 tablespoons butter

10 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

Salt and pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups chicken broth

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 slices white bread, torn into pieces

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 cups canned fried onions

To make the sauce, pulse the canned onions in a food processor until finely ground; set aside. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and ground onions and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth and the cream and bring to a boil. reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and creamy, about 10 minutes.

Combine the sauce and the green beans in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until the beans are tender, 5 to 6 hours.

Meanwhile, pulse the bread and butter in a food processor until coarsely ground. Toast the bread crumbs and onions in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Top the green beans with bread-crumb mixture and serve.

You can also start making this ahead of time as well to save you some effort on Thanksgiving. The sauce and the topping can be made and refrigerated in separate airtight containers for 2 days. To finish it, microwave the sauce, covered, for 1 minute before proceeding with slow cooking. Crisp the bread-crumb mixture in a skillet before topping and serving.

I like the idea of using the slow cooker, but I also like the not using canned green beans or cream of mushroom soup to make it. Personally, I am not a big fan of canned vegetables and soups. If you like them better, stick with what you like, but I think giving the freshness is worth the little bit of extra time it takes to prep everything.

Okay, so we almost have a complete meal for Thursday. Tomorrow, I am going to talk a little bit about some appetizers and a dessert to round out the meal if you want to check back and see. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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