Oh, how I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite meal of the year to prepare. Since I went to culinary school in the late '80s, it has been my job to produce the Thanksgiving Extravaganza. A job that I always treasure. I have a few twists that I have implemented since I took the job over from my mother.
I make a chorizo, butternut squash and Anaheim chile cornbread stuffing. I make so much of it so that we can have it with a few roasted chickens throughout the winter. I also have started making a sautéed Brussels sprout dish with bacon and caramelized onions. I know, I know, you can't stand Brussels sprouts. I have turned many Brussels sprout haters into lovers with this dish. There is always the traditional mashed potatoes, but the gravy is different each year. Last year's was a chanterelle and port wine gravy with fresh herbs. This year is still up in the air, but I am leaning toward something with bacon. I can't get enough of bacon. Friends already have stated that I have a problem and that there is probably a Help Line for me to call, but I just can't resist bacon. I also still make the cranberry salad that my mother made for years. You know the one, with black cherry jello, cranberries, a whole orange, pineapple, celery and walnuts. It's the only way I eat cranberries. My roommate is a true Southerner, so she is in charge of making the pecan pies. I used to think mine were fabulous, but now I know differently.
My Thanksgiving table is always open to those who need a place to call home for the day. I have only one rule. Those coming should bring their favorite Thanksgiving dish that really defines Thanksgiving for them. Some bring the dressing that their family has enjoyed for years, some bring the relish tray (we never had one of those), some bring their favorite pies. It just has to mean something to them ... that's all I ask.
So as we draw close to this day, I find my mind wandering with the anticipation of the feast. I love every part of it. The pre-preparation, the aromas coming from the kitchen, the Christmas music I tend to listen to while cooking, the friends, the family ... all of it. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Chorizo corn bread stuffing
- 1 pound Mexican chorizo (you can substitute with Soyrizo)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup onion, diced
- ¼ cup celery, diced
- ¼ cup carrots, diced
- 4 Anaheim chiles, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup butternut squash, cubed
- ¼ cup bourbon
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
- 1 teaspoon cilantro, minced
- 8 cups corn bread, crumbled
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Brown chorizo in frying pan over high heat. Drain grease and set aside.
- Melt butter with oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté onions, celery, carrots, chiles, garlic and squash till onions are translucent. Away from the heat, add bourbon and let cool until it stops bubbling. Place over medium heat and reduce for 3-5 minutes, being careful not to let it flame up. (If it does, no problem; just take it off the heat and wait until the flames die down.)
- Remove from heat and add herbs, chorizo and corn bread. Mix until well combined and moisten with stock.
- Bake in a greased casserole dish at 350 degree oven till hot, 20-30 minutes.