Sunday, November 28, 2010

Last of the Thanksgiving Recipes

This is our sixth year of cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and I think I am finally figuring out a few things. Sort of. Last year's potluck event with friends was the easiest ever, and I sure missed them this year when they were with family. But, the situation offered up a challenge. Is there a make-ahead Thanksgiving when one household is doing all the cooking?

Mostly, yes. While Wednesday was a lot of work, Thursday was free. Well, if "free" means housecleaning to you. Either way, the extra time on the holiday allowed me to remember such important hostess tidbits as "Is there enough toilet paper in the guest bathroom?"

Have to confess, I've messed that one up before.

Everything was prepped with minimal cooking. Even the mashed potatoes, which, a good friend and food editor explained to me, "restaurants make them ahead all the time!" Here's how:

Roasted Garlic, Parsnip and Potato Puree
2 entire heads of garlic, unpeeled and whole
1 tsp. olive oil
1.5 lbs. parsnips, peeled and cubed
3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, diced, no need to peel
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup parmesan, grated fine
3 tbs. butter
1 bunch thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the root end off the garlic heads, drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Wrap in foil and roast for 40 minutes or until soft and golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Place the parsnips and potatoes in a steamer for 40 minutes, until fork tender. While that is going place the butter, milk and half and half into a sauce pan. Add the thyme and heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain over a large measuring cup, discarding the thyme.

Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the husk into the work bowl of a food processor. Add the parsnips and potatoes. Pulse as you drizzle the milk mixture until you get a nice smooth, thick result, but not a liquid puree. Scrape this into an oven-safe baking dish that looks nice also for serving. Cool, cover and store for the next day's feast.

One hour ahead of the meal, heat the oven to 350 degrees, reheat, covered for 40 minutes. Uncover and finish browning for 10 minutes. Of course, this requires a second oven, or a potluck event where someone else is doing the turkey. Alternatively, you can reheat these in a crock pot if you only have one oven. A bit of parmesan sprinkled on top before browning makes a great presentation, too.

This is also fantastic for Christmas when you may serve something like prime rib, roast or duck. Next post ... Turkey soup.

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