Cook's Corner: Side dish improves a meal

Published 7:28 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2006

By Staff
I hate to think how hectic things are going to be in the coming week preparing for a festive Thanksgiving meal. I have already prepared my pumpkin and pecan pies and even have an apple pie in the freezer as well.
However, the turkey still has to be thawed and roasted and of course you can't have turkey without dressing and dumplings.
I'll forego the recipes for dressing and dumplings in this column. I hope that you have a good recipe that has become your family favorite that you can use for that purpose. I realize, and have told it many times, that the key to good dumplings is starting with a good stock. And just so you know, I use frozen dumplings (I have never made good homemade ones) and I always add a can of cream of chicken soup to my stock just before adding the dumplings.
The only tip I'll give you for dressing is to start with good cornbread. If you use stuffing that comes in a box, well God bless you. I know you only do it because of time constraints. We do live in the South and I think it is a pretty &#8220Yankee” thing to do to serve stuffing from a box on Thanksgiving. As far as a good tip for dumplings goes, make sure that your stock is at a rolling boil before adding in the dumplings. You'll turn things down to a simmer once you get the dough in the pot. But if you start off with non-boiling stock, you'll have a bunch of gooey clumps instead of dumplings.
Now on to better things. I've never been much on giblet gravy. I'm the type that uses the gravy from my dumplings to moisten up the dressing if it needs it. However, there are folks that feel you can't serve dressing without giblet gravy. I hope this recipe will help you if you've got one of those kinds of people at your table.
Giblet Gravy
3 tbsp. turkey drippings
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 and one-half cups turkey stock
One-fourth cup cooked turkey giblets, chopped
One-half tbsp. chopped fresh sage
One-half tsp. ground black pepper
salt to taste
Heat pan drippings in a large skillet over medium heat; gradually add flour and stir until golden brown. Slowly whisk in turkey stock until blended and smooth. Stir in giblets, and season with sage, pepper, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.
If you're looking for a different kind of side dish to brighten up the table, think about adding carrots.
Carrots are usually one of the few vegetables that kids will eat without being forced and this one is sure to be a hit with the adults at the table as well.
Glazed Dijon Carrots
2 (16 ounce) packages baby carrots
1 cup water
One-fourth cup plus 2 tbsp. butter
One-fourth cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. ground ginger
One-half tsp. salt
In a saucepan, bring carrots and water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Drain. Place carrots in a serving dish and keep warm. In the same pan, melt butter. Add brown sugar, mustard, ginger and salt; cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour over carrots and toss to coat.
I found a broccoli casserole recipe that has a little twist on the standard rice, cheese and broccoli concoction I've been known the serve. This one calls for mayonnaise, which gives it a little zing that's missing in the rice-type recipes.
Broccoli Casserole
16 ounce package frozen chopped broccoli
One-half cup mayonnaise
One-half cup processed cheese sauce
2 eggs, beaten
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
One-half cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350. In a 4 quart casserole dish combine broccoli, mayonnaise, processed cheese, eggs and mushroom soup. Mix well, sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Bake for 1 hour.
I hope that I've helped you along with planning your Thanksgiving meal. I've enjoyed searching for some recipes that have the basic things that our families have grown to enjoy but with a slight twist to give us a little something new.
Don't forget to take your turkey out of the freezer a couple of days ahead of time. There's nothing worse than getting up on Thanksgiving morning only to remember that with everything else you had to do to get the meal ready, you've forgotten to thaw the turkey.
Check back here next week as I plan to give you a few recipes that will be quick and easy using potatoes.
You may find something you can use even if you thought you had all your bases covered.
Until next week, Happy Cooking!

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