Tomorrow is my favorite holiday of the year. And it’s not just because tomorrow is one of the few days where my ill-advised ability to overeat is celebrated. Although it is cliché, Thanksgiving in my household has always been about bringing everyone (and I mean everyone… my family’s meal is usually 25-plus) together, even that drunken aunt or two that falls asleep at the table.
Last year, I coerced some diners to try beer pairings as part of the meal. And this year, I decided to coerce all of you to try it out as well.
If you haven’t noticed, Thanksgiving dinner is begging to be paired with beer. The fall flavors and textures, the tangy sides, sweet desserts, and everything in between are all perfect for the flavors of fall beers.
So today, in the spirit of sharing, here are two of my go-to dishes and two awesome beers that will pair perfectly with them. These are adaptations of recipes I love and I am sure you have seen some version of them before.
So, Happy Thanksgiving. And don’t forget to pickup the Pepto-Bismol on the way to your in-laws/relatives/friends/own house where you will share dinner with your six cats.
Everyone has some version of Sprouts with Bacon. I think this one works well, getting a nice umami flavor from the miso paste.
- Dice a whole medium yellow onion. Clean your sprouts and split them in half (make sure to take off the hard knobs on the end of them). Throw the sprouts, the onion, some olive oil, and some miso paste diluted with a few drops of warm water into a bowl and toss to coat.
- Meanwhile, cook a few pieces of thick slab bacon in a cast-iron pan until slightly crispy, but still soft. Keep most of the drippings in the pan and reserve the bacon for later.
- Throw the onion and sprouts in the hot pan with a splash of olive oil (if needed) over medium heat. Make sure the sprouts are face down at first, so that they get a nice crisp to them (this is crucial). After the sprouts look bright green (maybe 6-10 minutes), toss them around and throw back in the bacon (chop it up first).
- Take the mixture off the heat, toss in a little shriracha sauce and some sesame seeds, and serve.
Pairs with: Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale. A Japanese ale with malt sweet notes and sake like flavor, this beer will help to bring out the umami flavor from the miso and goes great with smoky vegetables.
Spicy Sausage and Crispy Sweet Cornbread were made for each other. This stuffing (or dressing for you southerners) pairs Andouille and cornbread with vegetables and fresh herbs.
- First things first: Make a cornbread. I like doing mine in a 10-inch cast-iron pan, but feel free to use your own recipe or buy a box of Jiffy. Let the cornbread sit overnight and dry up a little bit.
- Grab 4-5 links of fresh Andouille sausage (you can use any type, but the spice from Andouille is great). Remove the casing and quickly cook the Andouille in a hot pan, smashing it into pieces as you go. Meanwhile, roughly chop the following: onions, celery, and red bell pepper. The amount you use depends on how you like your dressing, but a few cups of each should do.
- After about 5 minutes, take the sausage out of the pan, leaving the drippings, and add the veggie mixture to the pan. Cook this for about 10 minutes or until very soft. Mix the veggies with the sausage in a bowl, and add 2 teaspoons each of thyme, sage, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Set this aside (can be done a day ahead).
- Take your cornbread and cut or rip it into 1-inch pieces. Toss that in a large bowl with the sausage and veggie mixture. In a separate bowl, quickly whisk 1.5 cups of chicken broth with an egg or two. Fold that into the cornbread mixture (do this gently, so you don’t break up all the cornbread pieces). Add some more broth until the mixture does not look dry (around 3/4 – 1.5 cups more).
- Put the mixture into a buttered dish (I use a 13x9x2 pyrex), cover with tinfoil, and bake at 350 degrees for about 35-45 minutes. Take the tinfoil off and continue baking until the top is crisp and dark. Make sure the mixture does not dry out too much and if it looks like it is, add more broth.
Pairs with: For the stuffing (and your turkey), you want something that is sweeter and can handle the intense, rich flavors. Belgian abbey ales would pair nice. I suggest trying the Stateside saison from the awesome, gypsy-brewed Stillwater Artisanal Ales.
Fall, the season for root vegetables and squash. It’s not pretty stuff to look at sometimes. All… root-y and dirt coated. Or in the case of squash, all bulbous and, I don’t even know. Even for all their aesthetic flaws, root vegetables and squash are some of my favorite underdog farmers market buys.
When everyone starts lamenting the end of tomato season I just set my sights on the likes of spaghetti squash and parsnips. So let’s take a look at some of what you’ll be finding out there this weekend and what’s worth a shot.
There are only two weekends left of the 14th & U St. farmers market! Make your visits count!
In the squash set you have spaghetti squash, acorn squash, the ever popular butternut squash, which is not to be confused with buttercup squash, autumn squash and of course pumpkins. It should be noted that not all pumpkins are created equal so check with your farmer before you buy one for that soup or pie you want to make.
Some pumpkins are decorative in nature only, their flesh far too firm, flavorless or even bitter for the likes of cooking. But in the case of all these other squashes, don’t let them stump you.
Easy Baked Squash
The easiest prep for a squash is:
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pre-heat your oven to 350F.
- Cut the squash in half.
- Lather down each side with olive oil, ample amounts of salt and pepper. Or for a sweeter treatment a dash of salt, white sugar and maybe even some brown sugar if you have it on hand.
- Place each squash half cut side down on the parchment paper.
- Bake the squash for anywhere from 30-50 minutes depending on how big and dense it is. Check on it every five minutes or so starting at 30 minutes and poke it with a fork to see how tender it is.
- Take it out of the oven once it’s done, flip it over so it’s cut side up, let cool for a few minutes. Dig right in with a fork if you’re feeling lazy or slice and serve on a plate if you’re feeling fancy!
I should note that this weekend is the last weekend to order a happy, gobbling farm turkey from Eco-Friendly foods at the Dupont Farmers market and you’ll want to get on that order from Truck Patch at 14th & U St.
Root vegetables at the markets include sunchokes, beets, parsnips, turnips, celery roots (also called celeriac), carrots, sweet potatos, radishes and more. The name of the game for these bad boys is roasting, braising, pureeing and mashing. If you’re tired of traditional mashed potatoes or want to mix up the mash on your table, try this mashed root vegetables recipe. I get it, these aren’t attractive items, but man are they tasty!
What will you guys be getting at the markets this weekend? Anyone starting to worry about Thanksgiving? Don’t worry, we have a week of great food coverage coming up so stay tuned!