Thanksgiving Day is all about tradition — Turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce and sweet potato pie, to name a few.
But many families have some non-traditional plates on the dinner table.
East Atlanta Patch reached out to famed Atlanta chef and Ormewood Park resident Kevin Gillespie for a couple his favorite alternative dishes to Thanksgiving Day dinner.
These two recipes come from Gillespie's cookbook, Fire in My Belly (Andrews McMeel Publishing), which is on sale at Barnes & Noble bookstores and other bookselllers.
Skillet-Roasted Cabbage (Feeds 4 as a side dish):
"While I now have a fondness for stewed cabbage, I certainly did not have that as a child. Whenever my mom made it, the whole house smelled like cabbage for three days. What I like best about cabbage is that, unlike most leafy things, cabbage has structure to it. It retains its shape. Most cooked leaves get slimy and wimpy. Cabbage doesn’t. The original idea here was to make glazed cabbage in a wood-burning oven. We thought we’d put some oil in a pan with the cabbage, let it cook down in the wood oven, and then sauté it. But the fire was so hot that we could have used it to smelt pig iron. The cabbage roasted, browned, and got deeply caramelized. Okay, then, let’s keep going in that direction: We added a little stock to slow down the cooking and seasoned it with spices you would normally see on pastrami, like coriander, black pepper, and caraway. It made sense that those spices would work on cabbage. The heavy caramelization actually increased the spiciness of the spices and intensified the sugar in the cabbage. The whole dish took on this incredible flavor and a texture you wouldn’t expect with cooked cabbage. The texture is more like cole slaw or chow mein—soft yet crisp. Plus, the cabbage cooks so fast that those nasty sulfur compounds never get a chance to go airborne. The cabbage stays nice and sweet."
- What you'll need:
- Black peppercorns - ¼ teaspoon
- Caraway seeds - ¼ teaspoon
- Coriander seeds - ¼ teaspoon
- Grapeseed oil - 2 teaspoons
- Green cabbage - 4 cups shredded, from ½ head
- Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Chicken stock - ¼ cup
- Lemon juice - a tiny squeeze
- How to make it:
- Preheat the oven to 500°F.
- Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the peppercorns, caraway seeds, and coriander seeds to a fine powder.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add the grapeseed oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil starts smoking, add the cabbage and spread evenly in the pan; it will be very full. Place the pan in the oven until the cabbage turns a brighter, greener color on top, about 2 minutes. Wearing an oven mitt (the handle will be HOT!), pull the pan from the oven, then use tongs to toss the spice blend into the cabbage, taking care to mix the browned, caramelized bottom layer into the middle and top layers. Carefully slide the pan back into the oven for another 5 minutes. Again with the mitt, pull the pan from the oven and add the butter, chicken stock, and a pinch of salt. Toss all of the ingredients until the butter is completely melted. Finish the dish with a brief squeeze of lemon juice and toss once more before serving.
Brussels Sprouts au Gratin (Feeds 12):
"My mom always hated Brussels sprouts. They were taboo in our family. Every once in a blue moon, my grandmother made them. But she usually boiled them, and they got that nasty sulfur smell that just made you want to retch. I hated them, too, until I learned how to cook them. Now I absolutely love Brussels sprouts. I shave them really thin and stir-fry them. I separate the leaves and serve them raw in salads. And I roast them every which way. That’s
my go-to method for turning people on to Brussels sprouts. Of course, I was determined to convert my mom. So I came up with this gratin for our family Thanksgiving in 2009. I couldn’t roast the sprouts because it was a covered dish situation. I had to make something that could be baked in a crowded oven. One taste of this gratin and the whole family loved it. Now, it’s a requested dish at almost every family function. My mom and dad even ask me to make it for potlucks they’re going to, and they pass it off as their own. I hope that upon publishing this book, my parents will start making it. The secret is slicing the sprouts super-thin and barely cooking them."
- What you'll need:
- Butter - 11 tablespoons, plus some for greasing the pan
- Vidalia onion - 1 baseball-size, cut into ¼-inch dice, about 2½ cups
- Garlic - 1/3 of a cup chopped, about 8 big cloves
- Heavy cream - 4 cups
- Brussels sprouts - 2 pounds
- All-purpose flour - 3 tablespoons
- Colman’s mustard powder - 1 tablespoon
- Freshly grated nutmeg - ¼ teaspoon
- Panko bread crumbs - 1 cup
- Parmesan cheese - 1½ ounces, about 1 cup freshly grated
- Lemon - 1 fat one
- How to make it:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Rub the inside of a 2-quart casserole with butter.
- Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt and cook until very soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the cream and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cut the heat down to low and cook until the cream is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts crosswise on a mandoline, slicing just until you get to the hard core; reserve the rest of the sprouts for another use. Or, if you have a 2mm slicing disk for your food processor, you can carve out the hard core of the Brussels sprouts and then process the sprouts through the feed tube. You should end up with about 14 cups of thin, coleslaw-like rounds.
- Melt another 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, just until the mixture begins to smell toasty, about 2 minutes.
- Mix the mustard with 1 tablespoon of water to make a thin paste. Whisk 2 tablespoons of the flour-butter mixture into the onions along with the mustard paste, nutmeg, and 2 teaspoons salt; crank the heat up to medium and continue whisking until the mixture comes to a simmer and begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Cut the heat to low and cook until the sauce loses any floury taste or grainy texture, about 10 minutes.
- Fit a food processor with the metal blade, and add the panko, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon lemon zest, and the remaining 6 tablespoons butter. Process to a crumbly paste. Spread the crumb mixture on a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap, top with another sheet, and, using a rolling pin, roll the crust to fit the top of the casserole.
- Carefully pour the onion sauce into a blender and blend until smooth. Add the remaining zest from the lemon, all of the lemon’s juice, and 1 teaspoon salt. Blend again until smooth. Pour the sauce back into the pot and fold in the sliced Brussels sprouts. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook until the sprouts are wilted, about 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the prepared casserole. Remove the top
sheet from the panko crust and invert over the Brussels sprouts. Remove the other sheet and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 40 minutes. Serve hot.