Thanksgiving Blues

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Thanksgiving Blues

provided by Jim Gordon
Dress up the holiday meal with recipes from Kathryn K. Blue and Anthony Dias Blue

I asked the couple who wrote the book about Thanksgiving – Kathryn K. Blue and Anthony Dias Blue – to help users set the table with wine-friendly dishes for the holiday meal. He is a well-known wine, food and restaurant writer based in Los Angeles and she is a celebrated cook and entertainer.

The Blues recommended a corn bread turkey dressing and their version of an all-American apple pie that would be easy to pair with wine. (Don’t you already have a recipe for actually roasting the bird?) The recipes below come from their 1990 book, Thanksgiving Dinner: Recipes, Techniques, and Tips for America’s Favorite Celebration.

The roast turkey itself is a very good foil for wine. Being a rather neutral tasting bird dressed up with herbs, gravy and savory corn bread stuffing, it practically begs for a glass of wine, and (like roast chicken) is one of the wine-friendliest dishes extant.

Fruit desserts, such as the Blues’ classic apple pie, are notoriously better with late-harvest dessert wines than super-rich dishes like pecan or pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Remember that the wine usually needs to be sweeter than the dessert to make the best match.

Corn Bread Stuffing
“There are people in our family who dote on stuffing,” Kathryn said. “We suspect they might even like stuffing better than the turkey itself. One year Anthony helped himself and was halfway through dinner, paying special attention to the large pile of stuffing on his plate, when he realized that he had forgotten to serve himself some turkey.”

“I never missed it,” he said, licking his lips. This was the stuffing in question.

Makes 8 cups

1/4 cup chicken or turkey fat or butter
3 medium onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup chicken or turkey stock
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
4 cups crumbled corn bread, dried out either in a turned-off oven overnight or in the air
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt the fat or butter in a medium skillet. Sauté the onions, celery and garlic until the vegetables are translucent but not brown. Add the eggs, stock and parsley. Stir to combine.

2. Place the corn bread in a large bowl and add the onion and celery mixture. Add the walnuts and water chestnuts, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss to combine, being careful not to compress the stuffing any more than necessary. Keep it fluffy. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Advance preparation: Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.

Apple Pie
The secret of a great apple pie is the apples. They must be fresh, crisp, hard and tart. Look for Granny Smiths, Pippins or Jonathans, and avoid the soft, bland ones such as Delicious.

Serves 8-12

Flaky Pie Crust (see separate recipe below)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 to 7 large, tart apples, peeled, cored and quartered
Juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into 2 rounds, 1/8 inch thick. Use 1 to line the bottom of a 9-inch pan. Roll up the second round between 2 pieces of wax paper and refrigerate along with the pie shell.

2. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.

3. Cut each apple quarter into 4 slices. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the orange juice. Combine the brown sugar mixture with the apples. Toss to coat. Let the apples stand, at room temperature, for 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Using a slotted spoon, fill the pie shell with the apples. They should rise at least 1 inch above the rim. Discard the liquid that collects in the bottom of the apple bowl. Dot the apples with butter. Moisten the rim of the bottom crust with water and cover with the second round of dough, crimping the top to the bottom with your fingers or a serving fork. Cut 4 symmetrical slits in the top crust.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Advance Preparation: This pie does not improve with age, but it can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store at room temperature. Reheat in a 250-degree oven.

Flaky Pie Crust
This is an excellent all-purpose pate brisee. We have used it for pie crusts, cookies and all sorts of other good things. This recipe makes a top and a bottom crust for an 8- or 9-inch pie. For open pies, use half the recipe. The excess can always be frozen or made into crisps.

Makes one 8- or 9-inch double crust

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
Pinch of salt
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ice water

1. Blend the dry ingredients in a bowl or in a food processor.

2. Ad the butter and work it into the flour with a pastry cutter or two knives, or the metal blade of the processor. In any case, do not use your hands. Combine until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.

3. Add water, a little at a time, and blend with a fork or pulse the processor until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix. (If you are using the food processor, add water until the dough forms little pearl shapes. Then turn the dough out on a double thickness of plastic wrap. Gather the ends of the wrap and twist like a towel until the dough is formed into a ball. This way you never touch the dough with your hands.) Divide, form into two flattened balls, and refrigerate until chilled.

4. To use the dough, roll it out 1/8 inch thick, ease it gently into the pie plate, or cut into the shapes needed. Chill before baking.

Advance Preparation: Can be prepared two days ahead. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate. This dough will also keep for several weeks in the freezer.
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