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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

MGBG's Thanksgiving Favorites

Citizens, Thanksgiving is by far my favorite national holiday.  A holiday that revolves around stuffing your face?!  Yes please!  I pretty much do that every day, but I go gonzo on the national celebration of gluttony.  I need enough triptophan in my system by noon so that I fall asleep and don't have to talk to my relatives. 

But the upcoming holiday is a mine field for those of us of the paleo persuasion.  The traditional American spread has heaping servings of the gluten bomb also known as stuffing and mashed potatoes.  Gravy is thickened with corn starch.  Vegetables are usually slathered in some kind of condensed soup.  About the only thing that we seem to be able to eat is the bird.

It doesn't have to be that way folks.  Here's some recipe ideas that you'll likely find on the MGBG table this season.

Note to folks looking to follow these recipes: I don't usually cook with recipes.  I go by feel.  So every measurement in this post is approximate.  Don't treat these numbers as hard and fast.  Feel free to add and subtract things as needed to make these dishes to your liking.  Enjoy!

The MGBG Main Event

In addition to being a swag ninja, I'm also a turkey ninja.  I can cook a bird so juicy that you could pour the juice in a cup and drink it.  But...that's disgusting.  So just eat it okay?

Turkey (Duh!)
1 Lemon
1 Orange
1 Medium Onion
1 Garlic Clove
Olive Oil
Poultry Seasoning

Clean the bird and drizzle olive oil all over the little bastard (including the cavity).  Add poultry seasoning all over the skin as well as under the skin and in the cavity.  Stuff tablespoons of butter underneath the skin (they will melt and add to the overall awesomeness of the dish).  Cut the lemon, orange, onion, and garlic into wedges and stuff them into the cavity of the bird.  They will distribute their aromatic awesomeness from the inside out.  It's like a vortex of deliciousness.

Bake the bird in a roasting pan at 325 degrees F according to some kind of cooking chart (I like this one).  None of this start at a high temp, go to a low temp stuff.  And don't fuck with it once it's in the oven.  Put it in there and leave it.  Your turkey is dry because you keep messing with it.  Open oven...insert bird...close oven...go drink and watch football.  End of story.

And for shit sake, use a meat thermometer!  165 degrees people, and not a degree below!  Food poisoning is the opposite of awesome.

Pheasant in Whiskey Cream Sauce

It's hunting season in Minnesota.  That means lots of venison and pheasant.  We always have some pheasant for Thanksgiving....as long as someone didn't suck at shooting that year. 

Pheasant is chicken's richer, gamier cousin.  If you like chicken, you'll love pheasant.  This recipe just brings out the bird's natural awesomeness.  You'll need:

Pheasant (Duh!  Or chicken if you're a wuss)
Almond meal (for breading)
Mushrooms (of your choice...optional)
1-2 shots Whisky (yeah buddy!)
2 shallots or 1 small onion
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
Heavy cream (it's not really paleo, but hey...it's the holidays!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the pheasant into small strips.  Add salt and pepper to almond meal to season.  Dredge the pheasant in almond meal (that's cook speak for "get the almond meal on the pheasant") and then brown it in a saute pan with a few tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat.  Remove the pheasant from the saute pan.  Add a bit more butter and saute shallots/onions until soft.  You can add the mushrooms at this point if you are using them.  Season everything with salt and pepper.  Add the whisky to deglaze the pan (keep the pan off the heat when you do this if you like your eyebrows!) and let cook for a couple minutes to evaporate the alcohol.  Then add whole grain mustard and a touch of heavy cream to make a pan sauce.  If you don't want to use cream, use something just as rich like coconut milk, mushroom stock, or more butter.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the awesomeness...

Caveman Stuffing

After making this for the first time, I don't even miss the stale bread. 

1 lb spicy Italian sausage
4 stalks celery
1 medium onion
2 granny smith apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 lb mushrooms (chopped)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 eggs (whisked)
Poultry Seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown up the sausage in a saute pan with some butter on medium-high heat then remove.  Add more butter if necessary and saute the onion, celery, garlic, mushrooms, and apple until soft.  Then add back the sausage and season with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.  Add the stock and egg.  You can add almond meal if it looks a little too soupy, but the veggies should absorb most of the liquid (especially the mushrooms).  You can add more mushrooms at this point as well.  Then put it all into a baking dish and bake it at 350 degrees F for 30-45 minutes. 


Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, and Fennel Soup

Of course sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving classic.  You know...the ones with the stupid marshmellows on top.  You can certainly just make up a batch of sweet potatoes and mash them if you are feeling boring.  That's perfectly paleo, and pretty delicious.  Or you could try this bomb diggity soup.

1 lb pumpkin (real stuff, not from a can...if you don't have it use all sweet potatoes)
1 lb sweet potatoes (peeled of course)
2 bulbs fennel
1 box chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
1/4 tablespoon chili powder
1 can coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the fennel with butter in a stockpot or soup pot until soft.  Chop up the pumkin and sweet potato into cubes and add it in the pot.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken stock and spices and bring the mixture up to a simmer.  Simmer for one hour or until the potatoes and pumpkin are soft.  Take out the bay leaf!  Blend the mixture with an immersion blender or regular blender until smooth.  Add a couple of tablespoons of butter and the coconut milk to finish.

This soup is really The Awesome.

Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Lots of people hate brussel sprouts.  In my opinion, that's because they've never had good ones.  Here's some good ones.

2-3 lbs brussel sprouts (chopped in half)
5 strips good bacon
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
Almond meal or arrowroot for thickening
2 cups Heavy cream (again...shoot me...it's the holidays)
1 package Parmesean Cheese (hey...why stop now?!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Get some water in a stock pot or soup pot and bring it up to a boil.  Blanche (cooking term for "put brussel sprouts in boiling water) the brussel sprouts in the boiling water until they turn a dark green.  Shouldn't be more than a couple minutes.  Remove and set aside.  In the meantime, cut the bacon into small pieces and saute it in a saute pan with butter over medium high heat until crispy.  Remove the bacon (but not the fat!) and saute the onions and garlic in the remaining fat.  Season with salt and pepper and add extra butter if necessary.  Add the brussel sprouts to the pan along with the heavy cream and half the cheese and bring to a simmer.  Add in arrowroot or almond meal until your sauce is the thickeness of an alfredo-style sauce.  Add the bacon back in and pour the whole thing into a casserole dish.  Top with the remaining cheese and bake it at 350 degrees F for around 30 minutes, or until the cheese melts and turns a bit brown.

Enjoy!  Happy Turkey Day Citizens!



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