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Thanksgiving Sides and Pies

Regional favorites to bring a new twist to our favorite meal of the year

There’s a lot of talk about turkey this time of the year, but aren’t we most excited about the stuffing, the green beans and our grandmother’s sweet potato casserole? This Thanksgiving, I’m getting out of my regional comfort zone and exploring new recipes for side and pie dishes from around the country. Read on to discover recipes rich in both culinary history and sense of place, reflecting America’s greatest quality: diversity.

South

Green Beans with Potatoes and Ham

A staple of southern cuisine. The long-simmered ham hocks lend their smoky, savory goodness to vegetables and broth.

2 ham hocks

1 onion, peeled and quartered

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 celery stalk, cut into 2-inch pieces

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 jalapeño or serrano chile

1 lb. small red potatoes, halved

2 lb. green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise.

salt and pepper

3 1/2 quarts water

Combine ham hocks, onion, garlic, celery, thyme, bay leaf, chile, 3/4 tsp salt and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 90 minutes. Transfer hocks to a plate. Discard chile. Add potatoes to pot and simmer until tender, 10-12 minutes. When ham hocks are cool enough to handle, pull meat off the bones, discarding bones. Shred into bite size pieces and return to the pot. Add green beans. Simmer about 8 minutes, until the beans are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon. Reserve the broth for another use.

Sorghum-Sweetened Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate and nuts are the defining ingredients of Derby pie, a Kentucky classic. This version contains sorghum (a traditional Southern sweetener) and is laced with bourbon.

1 piecrust disk

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

pinch of salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 tbsp bourbon

1/2 cup sorghum

1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate

1 stick butter

Roll out the dough to 12 inches around. Fit crust into a 9 inch pie plate. Refrigerate crust until firm. Preheat oven to 375F. Line crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake until edges are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove weights and paper and bake for 10-12 minutes more, until golden brown. Let cool completely. Adjust oven to 350F. Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir in eggs to combine, then stir in the bourbon, sorghum, pecans and chocolate. Melt butter and pour over the mixture, stirring until fully combined. Pour filling into crust and bake until crust is set and center is slightly gooey, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely, about 90 minutes.

North

Scalloped Oysters

In 19th century Massachusetts, this creamy casserole of crumb-topped oysters was made with common crackers. Today, we sub them with crunchy breadcrumbs and brighten the dish with parsley and celery.

This can be prepared in a casserole dish. Or heaped into clean oyster shells for a fun alternative.

6 tbsp butter

3 cups fresh breadcrumbs

salt and pepper

1/4 cup parsley

1 celery stalk, thinly sliced in a diagonal

3 scallions, chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

2 tbsp dry sherry

3/4 cup heavy cream

2 pints (32 oz) shucked fresh oysters in their liquor, drained with 2 tbsp liquor reserved

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 450F with the rack in the top third of the oven. Brush a 9-by-13- inch baking dish with butter and set aside. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and 1/4 tsp salt. Stir frequently until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and remove from heat. Sprinkle half the breadcrumbs evenly in baking dish and transfer remaining breadcrumbs to a plate. 

Wipe pan clean and return to stove. Melt remaining 4 tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Sauté celery and scallions until scallions begin to soften but celery is still bright green, about 2 minutes. Stir in thyme. Add sherry and simmer 30 seconds. Add cream and bring to a boil. Stir in reserved oyster liquor, nutmeg and 1/4 tsp pepper. Remove from heat and stir in oysters. 

Spread oyster mixture evenly over breadcrumbs in baking dish. Top with remaining breadcrumbs and bake until bubbling. Ensure oysters are cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Apple-Sour Cream Crumb Pie

A mountain of apples and sour cream filling generously finished with walnut crumb topping. 

Pie Dough: 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour~ 3/4 tsp salt~ 3/4 tsp sugar~ 1 stick butter, plus 3 tbsp cut into small pieces~ 1/4 to 1/3 cup ice water.

Crumb Topping: 1/2 cup light brown sugar~ 1/2 cup granulated sugar~ 1/2 cup all-purpose flour~ 1 tsp cinnamon~ 1/4 tsp salt~ 2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces~ 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped.

Filling: 1 cup granulated sugar~ 1/2 cup all-purpose flour~ 1 tsp cinnamon~ pinch of salt~ 16 oz sour cream~ 2 eggs, lightly beaten~ 2 tsp vanilla extract~ 2 1/2 lb. golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges.

Pie Dough: Place dough in a food processor with salt, sugar and butter. Pulse until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Continue pulsing and start adding the water until the dough just comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. Once firmed, roll out dough into a 15-inch circle (1/4 inch thick) and fit into a 10-inch pie plate. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Crumb: Whisk together sugars, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add butter and combine with pastry cutter. Stir in walnuts and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Filling: Whisk together granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Stir in sour cream, eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Add apples, tossing to coat. Place apple mixture in crust. 

Place an empty baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven to collect any drips. Bake pie in the upper 3rd of oven for 10 minutes at 450F. Then lower the temperature to 350F and bake until the apples are golden, juices are bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove the topping from the fridge and crumble over the hot filling. Bake until topping is browned and set, apples are tender and bottom crust is thoroughly baked, about 50 minutes. Let cool completely.

West

Hatch Chile Corn Casserole

This Monterrey-Jack topped casserole is made with green chiles from New Mexico’s Hatch Valley, along the Rio Grande.

4 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed, divided

1 tsp salt

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1 can (14oz) Hatch green chiles, diced

3 tbsp all-purpose flour 

2 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese (6 oz), divided

5 large eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 stick unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350F. Puree 3 cups of corn in a food processor. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the remaining corn, salt, scallions, chiles, flour and 1/3 cup cheese. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and sour cream until combined. Stir into corn mixture. Place butter in an 8-inch square baking dish. Place in oven until the butter has melted, about 10 minutes. Pour batter into the hot baking dish and sprinkle top with remaining grated cheese. Place a baking sheet on lower rack of the oven to catch any drippings. Bake the pudding until puffed, bubbling and cheese is golden brown, about 45-50 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes before serving.

Marionberry Pie

Marionberry, a type of blackberry beloved in the Pacific Northwest, shows up here in the form of jam, nestled between a double cream-cheese crust!

1 cup marionberry jam

3 strips fresh lemon zest

1 tsp lemon juice

3 tsp water

1 tbsp cornstarch

cream cheese pie dough (recipe follows)

all-purpose flour

1 large egg

Filling: Bring jam and lemon zest to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir until jam is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Whisk 2 tsp water into cornstarch in a small bowl and stir into hot jam mixture. Let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Discard zest.

Cream Cheese Pie Dough:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

6 oz cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces

3-4 tbsp ice water

Place flour, salt, butter and cream cheese in a food processor and pulse to blend. With the machine running, start adding the water until the dough comes together.  Divide into 2 pieces and shape each into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F. Roll out 1 disk of dough into a 12-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Roll out remaining disk of dough into a 12-inch round. Using a 3/4-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles from the dough, leaving about 1 inch between each cut out and a 3 inch border of solid dough around perimeter. Transfer dough to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate along with dough in pie plate until firm, about 1 hour. Pour filling into crust. Place top crust over filling, and trim excess, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold under bottom crust. Press to seal. Beat together egg and remaining teaspoon water, and brush top of pie with egg wash. Bake pie 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350F and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely, about 2 hours.

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