For most people turkey is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table and for good reason, there’s nothing that screams Thanksgiving louder than “turkey.” So throughout the month of November, debates ensue. Dry brining vs. wet vs. no brining at all. Roasted vs. fried vs. grilled. Seasoning under the skin vs. basting all over. Stuffing in the bird vs. out–and in that case, isn’t it really “dressing” and not stuffing after all?
Argue away, meanwhile I’ll be focusing on the sides. The vegetables and starches are the highlight on my favorite holiday of the year (I mean, there’s no other holiday that focuses so intently, with gratitude, on FOOD!). Each year, I try out a new side dish or two. For some, this turns out to be a cameo appearance, others get repeated every Thanksgiving from that point on and a select few get rolled into my fall cooking repertoire. The dishes that turn out to be “everyday worthy” are inevitably ones that don’t go to the extreme with butter or cream, require minimum preparation and avoid obscure ingredients. They are holiday worthy but regular-day assessable.
Over the course of November, I will share side dishes that made their debut during prime time on my Thanksgiving table but have gone into syndication, so to speak. I encourage you to give each dish a try and decide for yourself whether it should make an appearance during the Big Game at your house or be incorporated into the fall rotation. Both designations have their merits, so don’t worry no vegetable’s feelings will be hurt in the process.
This first dish, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Red Onion may just mark the beginning of my love affair with these little cabbages–mon petits choux. I think it was 2008 or possibly 2007, when I stumbled upon the recipe during the weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s every year at this time when I blissfully pore through all of the November cooking magazines on the newsstand. As a matter of fact, this is the only time of year when I buy all the issues at the grocery check-out, knowing that I can never get enough. I’m pretty sure that the recipe was from Martha Stewart Living, although I wasn’t able to track down the original and am working from a sheet of splattered computer paper that has been a staple in my “Thanksgiving Food” file (yes, I have a Thanksgiving Food file; it’s purple, tattered and doesn’t even have a label on the tab–it needs no introduction). Give the dish a try, share your feedback and please also post some of your favorite Thanksgiving Sides. I just may feature one in the weeks to come. The race is on!
- 2 Tbls unsalted butter
- 2 Tbls olive oil
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 5 lady apples, halved crosswise & seeded or 3 tart apples cored and cut into six wedges each
- 1 red onion, cut into 1/4" wedges
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 1/2 lemon, squeezed
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 1 c apple cider
- Heat oven to 425F in an 11"x15" metal roasting pan and melt butter with oil , about 5 minutes. Add sprouts, apples, onion, salt, pepper, lemon juice and stir to coat. Turn apples cut side down and sprinkle with thyme sprigs. Roast until vegetables are tender and golden brown, approximately 30-45 minutes (I like my sprouts crispy so sometimes I'll even let it go an hour). Transfer to serving dish. Place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add cider and cook, scraping up browned bits til cider has reduced slightly, 3-5 minutes. Pour over sprouts and serve.
- If you want to prepare this dish ahead of time, cook the sprout mixture and set aside in the roasting pan. Shortly before serving, reheat, transfer to serving dish, reduce the cider, pour and serve.