23 November 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving began in 1621. So very American! We set foot on the shore and begin imposing order. Of the 102 settlers who arrived at the Plymouth colony only 55 were still alive to celebrate our first Thanksgiving. Most of the thanks goes to the Wampanoag Indians, without whom there would have most probably been no survivors of the Plymouth Colony. The Wampanoag shared their food with the settlers, but more importantly, they shared their knowledge of the local flora and fauna.

A short history of Thanksgiving is found at the beginning of Thanksgiving Dinner by Anthony Diaz Blue and Kathryn K. Blue. Anthony Blue is a leading wine expert and her and his wife hail from California. There is a definite Californian color to this straight forward cookbook. You will find a range of traditional recipes alongside couscous stuffing, stuffed Cornish game hens with Zinfandel gravy and corn and tomato salad with a mustard-cumin vinaigrette.

My favorite recipe, however is for Brussels sprouts. I made Brussels sprouts for my friend, Beverly, when she came to West Virginia from Alabama. It was evidently, the low point of the visit. Beverly informed me that she hated Brussels sprouts but she graciously ate one for my sake.

How can you hate Brussels sprouts?? Seriously?

Back to Thanksgiving...

This is a great recipe for two reasons aside from being Brussels sprouts.

1. You can make this dish a day ahead of time.

2. It is served room temperature so there is no need to waste oven space.

Make it on Wednesday, take it with you and by the time dinner is served, it will be ready.

Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Mustard Sauce.

4 cups Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil.

1. Trim the Brussels sprouts by cutting an X in the stalk end and removing the bitter outer leaves. Drop the sprouts into a large pot containing 7 to 8 quarts of rapidly boiling water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and bring the water back to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer slowly for 5 minuets. Remove from heat and drain thoroughly, letting the sprouts stand for a few minuets.

2. While the sprouts are cooking, mix the vinegars, syrup, mustards, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Whisk thoroughly. Slowly add oil, a drop or two at a time, then in a thin, steady stream. The mixture will get thicker and lighter in color.

3. Add the Brussels sprouts to the bowl containing the sauce. Toss well to coat each sprout. Serve at room temperature.

Beverly aside, give this recipe a try.

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