Category Archives: Grilling
It’s a summer classic!
Who doesn’t love a good Caesar salad when the romaine is garden fresh, the croutons are toasty crisp, the Parmesan is salty and plentiful, and the dressing is tangy, lemony, and nicely briny? Just add some grilled chicken on a steamy summer evening, pour yourself a frosty beer or wine cooler, and dig in to this perfect hot summer treat.
Or, as we do here, pile up a batch of luscious grilled shrimp with some shredded romaine, some pickled onions, and your homemade Caesar dressing on warm tortillas and treat the family to the best fish tacos EVER!
That’s how we do it.
The Caesar palette is something with which we’re all familiar; fresh, crisp romaine, shaved Parmesan, garlicky croutons—you do make your own, right?—and that classic salty dressing. It just cries out for a cold beer in a frosty mug, doesn’t it?
But ah, you say, the dressing! Mayo, egg yolk, oil? Healthy?
Here’s a different take; it’s creamy and delicious, and I guarantee your guests will never know the difference.
We’ve eliminated the mayo and egg, reduced the amount of oil, and come up with a perfect Caesar dressing for the 21st century, when getting healthy is something that will serve all of us well.
But can’t that dressing be fussy? I say, NOPE! Just grab a food processor, dump, and Voilà! Tangy heaven. Here’s the scoop…
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Juice from 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, sliced thin (do not smash it)
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard (we use stone-ground Dijon)
2 anchovy filets (don’t skip the anchovies—anchovy paste from a tube works well here—about a 2-inch ribbon)
1 tablespoon GOOD extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons 0% fat Greek yogurt
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper (more than you think you need)
Simply dump all the ingredients into a food processor–it’s just the right amount for a mini-chopper–and whiz until it’s smooth. That’s it!
It works out really well to make the dressing in the morning and allow the flavors to marry, but it’s not necessary.
And if you want it, here’s the fast scoop on the tacos: Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; melt butter and oil in a large skillet, saute one pound of shrimp, two minutes on each side, in butter and olive oil; add some lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes, and freshly chopped parsley, and toss to combine. Turn off the heat. Then pile the shrimp, salad, and some pickled red onions on warm tortillas (flour tortillas are better for this recipe), and serve immediately.
Mmmmm Mmmmm Good!
Today in Jeff’s Quarantine Kitchen, we’re cooking up an experiment…shallot marmalade. I’ve been working on different takes on marmalade for about three years now, starting when Ellen showed me a Pinterest post about Meyer Lemon marmalade; now I’m growing my own Meyer lemons. I’ve made marmalade from these lemons, Key limes, Valencia and navel oranges, blood oranges, clementines, red grapefruits, both red and Vidalia onions—have I missed anything?
I found this recipe in search of a better recipe for orange marmalade. My search took me to the web site of the Paris- and New York-based chef David Leibovitz. He has a whole section of his blog (www.davidliebovitz.com) dedicated to jams and jellies, and a lot of the recipes are just rockin’. If you’re in the hunt for good alternative takes on homemade condiments I recommend this site highly.
So…shallot marmalade: what is it good for? Try it as a condiment on burgers, grilled chicken or salmon, spread a dollop over a wedge of Brie or Camembert (wrap the whole cheese in foil and bake in a 325-degree oven for 15 minutes, unwrap and add the marmalade), or simply spooned onto a toasted baguette slice. The fact is, shallots have a wonderful flavor, and with quality ingredients, the result ought to be spectacular. We’ll see.
So what’s the roadmap for this new and interesting new product? Here it is, altered slightly (as I am wont to do) from David Liebovitz’s original recipe. The fragrance is amazing. The flavor is, too.
Almost David Liebovitz’s Shallot Marmalade
1 lb. shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoon unflavored vegetable oil
big pinch of coarse salt
a few turns of freshly-cracked black pepper
1/2 cup Belgian White beer
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons apple cider or balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup raisins, dried currants, or cranberries
1. In a medium-sized saucepan, warm the oil and saute the shallots over moderate heat with a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring frequently, until the shallots are soft and wilted, which should take about 10 minutes.
2. Add the beer, sugar, honey, vinegar, and dried cranberries (or raisins or currants), and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the shallots begin to caramelize. While cooking, continue stirring them just enough to keep them from burning. If the mixture seems to be very dry, add a small splash of water toward the end of cooking, to encourage a little juiciness.
3. The jam is done when the shallots are nicely-caramelized to a deep, dark brown. Do not overcook; there should still be a bit of juices in the pot when it’s ready. Transfer to a jar.
Storaage: You can keep the marmalade in the refrigerator for about two months.
It’s hot out there; who wants to cook? Not me. So what I worked on this week are summer salads.
Ho hum, right? Potato salad, cole slaw, macaroni salad? Same old same old.
Not this guy.
I came up with two wonderful new recipes inspired by other, pre-existing recipes and worked them over into wonderful new dishes with my (and Ellen’s) personal twists to make a balmy summer evening absolutely sing with new flavors.
Standard ingredients, new applications. Here’s what we’ve got.
Among the things upon which Ellen and I agree is that we don’t much like creamy potato salads; you know the ones–potatoes, celery, mayonnaise, salt and pepper–not much about which to get excited.
Enter Eating Well magazine. Eating well is something I excel at, although “well” is a bit of a stretch. The magazine means healthy; to me, “eating well” generally means enjoying what we’ve made to the extreme. In this case, I’ll stick to (relatively) healthy–no mayo in this potato salad, just a beautious blend of herbs and spices that make a summer day feel like a celebration. This month’s issue of Eating Well features a choice of potato salads that are different from the norm almost as much as they are different from each other.
Our choice from this page was a luscious Greek potato salad with (or, in our case, without) beautiful Kalamata olives (Ellen doesn’t like olives, so we left them out, but I love them, so I say “put ’em in!” Here’s the plan:
The second recipe is a variation on a Mexican bean salad, with a tangy cumin/lime dressing that is similar to one that has long been one of our favorites. It’s like a bean salad I wrote about a couple of years ago, but with a twist in the dressing. The dressing started with the Food Network’s Ellie Krieger, but I’ve worked it over to my liking, and I sure do like it. Better, although the original is delicious.
I think you’ll like both recipes. We served them with grilled chicken and freshly torn romaine lettuce and the same dressing as in the beans. Fabulous!
Greek Potato Salad
2½ pounds red or Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup reduced-fat Feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup Kalamata olives, quartered (optional! — NOT!)
1 medium cucumber, seeded and quartered and diced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Scrub and dice the potatoes to a ½-inch dice and place on a steamer basket above one inch of water in a large pot; steam until tender, 12-15 minutes. Place the potato dice on a baking sheet, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and let cool for 15 minutes. Then gently place them in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, and salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, Feta, olives (or not ;), cucumber, and oregano to the potatoes, then drizzle the dressing into the bowl. Toss gently, so as not to break up the potatoes, and add salt and pepper to taste. Place the bowl in the fridge for at least two hours, then serve.
Mexican Black Bean and Tomato Salad
2 cans black beans, rinsed well
4 fresh San Marzano (or Roma) plum tomatoes, ½-inch dice
1 orange (or yellow) bell pepper, seeded and pith removed, ½-inch dice
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
½ red onion, diced
1 10-oz package of frozen corn, thawed, rinsed, and drained
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (more if you like your salads tangy!)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon finely ground white pepper
Place the first seven ingredients (beans through cilantro) in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl, add the zest, juice, cumin, chipotle pepper, salt, and white pepper, and stir to mix well. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the dressing bowl whisking constantly to create a mixed dressing that thickens as you add the oil. Pour over the salad ingredients and toss to coat the salad well. Serve immediately to get all the flavor from the tomatoes and cilantro, or chill for later serving.
Both these recipes are tasty and reasonably healthy, and go well with anything grilled. Try ‘em both!
Summer season. Grilling. Don’t want to heat up the kitchen any more than is necessary. So, when company is coming to town and dinner for ten is in order, and half of the guests don’t eat meat (but will eat fish), what’s the imperative?
Why grilled salmon, of course!
Have you ever grilled a big piece of salmon on a cedar plank? No? You haven’t lived. Juicy, smoky, crispy, full of flavor, and just rocking with Omega 3s (I just point that out because at my age I have to be careful just what I put in my body (LOL).
The reality is, I don’t much like fish, any fish. Can’t say why; I never did like seafood beyond shellfish, but over the years I have learned to like salmon enough to find recipes that I can make and like. Like my friend Jim Coleman’s Mustard-crusted salmon with shallots and white wine. And wild salmon gently poached in white wine, pickling spices and black pepper with dill-yogurt sauce.
And now, after experimenting with recipes and techniques, I’ve finally come up with a version of Seattle’s famous cedar-planked grilled salmon that I can say is worthy of my posting here (thanks, of course, to Cooks’ Illustrated, which, if you’ve read this space, know is my bible of cooking technique).
Cedar-plank grilled salmon on the barbecue. I think it has changed my mind about fish. This is the best piece of fish I’ve ever eaten, and I’m happy to report that I actually made it myself. It’s slightly Asian in its feel, and it goes incredibly well with quick-sauteed spinach and garlic and a Thai version of my legendary (according to me) cold sesame noodle salad.
So here is my latest adaptation of a published recipe, from Cooks Illustrated to my kitchen to yours.
Cedar-Plank Grilled Salmon
1 2½-foot x 6-inch unfinished cedar plank (courtesy of Lowe’s Home Improvement)
2 cups white wine
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1½ tablespoons rice vinegar (buy from an Asian market, not the grocery store)
1 tablespoon dark toasted sesame seed oil (also from the Asian market)
½ teaspoon hot chili oil
1/3 cup light soy sauce
¼ cup chopped chives
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (from the root)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2½ – 3-pound salmon fillet (one piece, head end is best–I got mine at Costco)
- Soak the cedar plank for at least an hour in room-temperature water and 2 cups white wine. Fully submerge the plank in the water; weight down if necessary.
- Mix together the vinegar, oils, soy sauce, chives, ginger, and garlic in a 1-gallon zipper-close bag. Roll the salmon fillet small enough to fit into the bag. Zip the bag, turn it over a few times to mix and coat the salmon, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, up to but no more than an hour.
- Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Place the plank on the grates. The plank is ready when it starts to smoke.
- Place the salmon fillet in the plank and discard the bag and marinade. Close the cover and grill for 20-25 minutes, until the fish is done (when you can flake it with a fork).
- Remove the salmon from the grill, cover loosely with foil for 5 minutes, then cut into serving-size portions and serve immediately.
You can make an extra half-batch of the marinade, set aside, and serve in small dipping bowls with the salmon. It is loaded with flavor.
If you want the Thai version of the Sesame Noodles, search on this site for that recipe, then add 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce to the sauce recipe, and julienne broccoli stems, 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (Thai basil is best), and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro to the noodles before adding the sauce. It’s a nice change of pace, and will win raves.
I wrote once in my column about Ellen’s little tin box. It’s magical. Chock full of recipes from so many years of collecting. She got the box at Hershey Chocolate World when she was in high school (not really that long ago), and in the ensuing years collected recipes from magazines and newspapers and various other sources, including many of her mother’s recipes, which she wrote down on 3×5 cards. It features recipes like “porcupine meatballs,” and “shake-and-bake chicken,” and “Mrs. Fuller’s soup,” and “Chowning Tavern’s Brunswick stew,” and corn pudding, and…and…and…on and on and on. As I said, it’s magic! Many of the recipes have become part of our current dinner rotation, and I fell in love with her over the meat loaf recipe (romantic, huh?). The meat loaf is so good that I have abandoned my mother’s recipe and my own recipe, and even the Epicure Market’s recipe, because the one in the tin box is perfect.
That said, I’m going to give you a simple one, a favorite around here, one that gets requested over and over again, and now that I’ve discovered the Char-Broil infrared grill, it’s a 10-minute breeze and a serious winner. I tend to want my beef done simply–salt and pepper and a little garlic and butter–but this one, a large steak grilled and sliced to serve, just wants a wonderful marinade. This one is it. Simple and elegant, tasty and memorable. If you crave a beef supper with a little zing, try this one. Serve it with a simple cold salad and some oven roasted sweet-potato fries. Fantastic!
Grilled Teriyaki Flank Steak (or London Broil)
2- to 3-pound flank steak or London Broil
1/2 cup Teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
1 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground ginger
Combine all the ingredients in a pan large and deep enough to allow the steak to lie flat and to hold the marinade and the steak.
Deeply pierce both sides of the steak with a fork, at 1-inch intervals. Place the steak in the marinade, allow to rest for 1/2 hour, then turn. Turn the steak every hour, marinating for at least four hours, but no more than eight.
Prepare a charcoal grill, allowing the charcoal to turn white, and resting under half the cooking grate; or preheat one burner of a gas grill for 10 minutes.
Allow the steak to come to room temperature before grilling. Place the steak directly over the hot coals or the burner for five minutes, turn and repeat on the other side. Then move the steak off the direct heat and continue cooking another five to seven minutes for medium-rare steak–or minutes longer if you prefer your steak more done–until the steak reaches 140 degrees internal temperature measured with an instant-read thermometer. Remove the steak from the grill, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and allow to rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Slice the steak across the grain and serve with small bowls of Teriyaki sauce for dipping.
Perfect Oven-roasted Sweet Potato Fries
1-2 large sweet potatoes
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Cut the ends off the potatoes, then slice them into 1/2-inch slices. Turn the potatoes to stack the slices, then slice them into 1/2-inch slices again, to make half-inch by half-inch potato sticks. Place them in a mixing bowl, add the salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil and toss to coat well.
Lay the fries in a single layer on foil-lined baking sheets (use more than one baking sheet if necessary. Don’t stack the potato fries.
Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, turn over, and bake for 10 – 15 minutes more. They are done when they begin to brown and crisp. Serve with the steak, and a dipping sauce of your choice or ketchup or ranch dressing.
I didn’t know what to make for supper, and I had only a half hour before it had to be ready. Life on the run, you know. I work, E works, L is at the theater all day, M is either swimming, hockeying, iPhoning, entertaining, being entertained—it’s all just overwhelming, and making dinner becomes a chore.
But you know that.
You deal with the same issues, or similar ones, just the names and the names of the activities are different.
And we just can’t bring ourselves to open a box or a can or face another plate of ho-hum chicken breasts. Sure we like to cook ahead, and we have on several occasions, most recently a couple of Sundays ago, when we whipped up bowls full of chicken Marsala, baked ziti, salmon cakes, a couple of meat loafs, and E’s most popular white-bean and turkey-sausage stew.
It’s 4:45, all the make-ahead packages are frozen solid, there’s one chicken breast in the fridge (left over from another recipe), and the pressure is on.
What’s in the cupboard?
What I found was a box of Trader Joe’s Israeli couscous, a carton of plain yogurt and lots of produce in the fridge, and the clock is ticking. I’m feeling a little bit like Ted Allen is hiding around the corner.
I’m likely to fail. Chopped.
I looked for and found a recipe for a cold couscous salad that looked promising, but it surely needed a jolt of pizzazz, and then I found a small container of grilled chicken souvlaki I made a while back—that will defrost in a hurry. I can pull this off?
The feature for me will be the couscous salad, because I can spice it up and make it sing. So here’s what I made:
Israeli Couscous Salad with Cucumber, Lemon and Cilantro
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 ½ cups Israeli Couscous
1 ½ cups boiling water
1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped coarsely
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 medium lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white Balsamic or cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
12 grape tomatoes, halved
1. Preheat a saucepan over medium heat with 1 teaspoon olive oil; when the oil is hot add the couscous and toast, stirring constantly, until it is lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Carefully add the boiling water, reduce the heat to low, cover and steam for 12 minutes, or until the water is completely absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
2. Cut the seeded cucumber into quarters and then into ½-inch slices; place in a large bowl. Add the cilantro and parsley. With a fine-hole grater, zest the lemon peel into the cucumber. Set aside.
3. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a small bowl, add the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine the dressing and add it to the cucumber. Toss to coat well.
4. Add the cooled couscous, the feta, and the tomatoes, and toss gently to combine the ingredients. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately or chill until ready to eat.
You can substitute mint, all parsley, or all cilantro to the salad as you wish.
Serve with chicken or lamb souvlaki. Here’s the recipe for that: Feel free to substitute lamb for the chicken, and try the tzatziki, too. It’s the bomb!
Souvlaki (Lamb or Chicken)
½ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
2 lemons, juiced
2 pounds lamb shoulder meat, trimmed of most (but not all) the fat, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (similarly prepared)
Place all the ingredients in a zipper-close food-storage bag, mix well, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, and preferably overnight. Place the meat on soaked wood or steel skewers, and grill over direct heat, turning several times, until done, 15-20 minutes.
Serve over rice or couscous, and with this fabulous yogurt dipping sauce:
32 ounces plain yogurt or 16 ounces plain Greek yogurt
1 large peeled, seeded and shredded English cucumber (or two regular ones)
5-8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced (you decide how many)
3 tablespoons white vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Place the plain yogurt in cheese cloth over a large bowl and strain in the refrigerator overnight (not necessary if you use Greek yogurt, but use half the amount of yogurt). Mix the cucumber and garlic with the salt and drain over a bowl for a half hour (this will remove moisture from the cucumber). Blend all the ingredients well in a large bowl.
Serve with the grilled souvlaki and a Greek salad.
I recently finished reading a wonderful book, one I recommend for anyone and everyone who cooks, thinks they can cook, wants to cook, wants to learn how to cook, or just enjoys eating. As far as I can tell, that includes most everyone–certainly most everyone who reads my columns or my blogs. The book is titled Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and The Reinvention of American Taste, and it catalogs that summer, when the named principals and others of the gourmet industry glitterati of the time all found themselves in the Provence region of France at the same time. The book is abstracted from the daily journal of Ms. Fisher, one of the most most respected food writers in the world at the moment. It describes literally the moment when gourmet American cuisine stood up and broke free of the traditions and disciplines of classical French cooking and took its place as a separate and exciting style of cooking and life.
I’m not particularly a huge fan of traditional French cooking; I find it fussy and regimented, and I prefer to experiment with ingredients that I like–to mix and match flavors to see what the outcome might be. I’m not always successful, but I pride myself on technique and on my ability to repeat a recipe exactly time and time again if I find one I like. I’m also adept at duplicating a recipe I’ve tasted elsewhere and identify the flavors within. That’s not a skill I was able to hone; it is a particular and peculiar talent I was born with, so all the credit for this ability rests with my mother, who patiently explained every thing she was doing in the kitchen as she proceeded through a recipe. I then learned the rest of my cooking from my mentor, Martin Bettonio, executive chef at my family’s Epicure Gourmet Market in Miami Beach, after a stellar career as the executive chef at The Fontainbleau hotel, also in Miami Beach.
That said, following a reading of Provence, 1970, and at the request of my beloved life partner, Ellen, I decided to make a supper dish on a Sunday evening that reflected the influences of French cooking on American cuisine and took advantage of my strengths as a cook.
And thus was born my most recent personal dish creation, the butterflied grilled chicken with lemon and rosemary. It is a model of simplicity, using only a few carefully selected ingredients. It takes advantage of the wonderful bounty of local products–the chicken is fresh from a local farm courtesy of Stoltzfus Poultry at Central Market, fresh rosemary from our very own garden, and an amazing rosemary-infused extra-virgin olive oil obtained from my new friends at Seasons Lancaster on the first block of West King Street, a wonderful new source of olive oils, balsamic vinegars, chutneys, and other condiments most interesting.
But this recipe starts with the chicken. Fresh and not so large as the hormone-laden grocery-store poultry, just over four pounds and beautifully pale–no evidence of marigold petals in Stoltzfus chickens. First I butterfly the chicken, which is my preferred way to cook a chicken on a grill; it makes for more even cooking and a greatly reduced cooking time. To butterfly a chicken, take a sturdy chef’s knife in one hand and the chicken in the other. Stand the bird up straight, resting on its wings and neck cavity. Place the tip of the knife firmly on the chicken just aside the tail piece (an Irish friend of mine used to call this “the Pope’s nose). Holding the chicken firmly upright, quickly run the knife down alongside the backbone, all the way to the cutting board. Turn the chicken and repeat on the other side of the backbone. Tear the whole backbone away from the chicken and set it aside. Lay the chicken on the cutting board, breast side down, and run the tip of the knife the length of the breastbone and the breast cartilage to sever the skin layer. Pick the chicken up and quickly and firmly fold it like a book bringing the outsides of the breast together, inside out, breaking the rib bones away from the breast bone. Then firmly pull the breastbone away from the chicken–both the bone and cartilage pieces. Salt and pepper the inside, flip the chicken to breast side up and lay it on the cutting board. Cut away the wing tips and set them aside with the backbone. Your chicken is now ready.
Butterflied Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary
1 whole chicken, 4 to 4.5 pounds, butterflied
1 whole lemon, sliced very thin
1 whole shallot, minced fine
2 whole sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Koshersalt and pepper to taste
Place the minced shallot in the olive oil in a small bowl and allow to sit while doing the rest of the preparation.
Butterfly the chicken as described above. Preheat the outdoor grill of your choice to 350 degrees F., so that the chicken can be placed on the grates away from direct flame.
Run hands and/or fingers between the chicken meat and the skin, including the thigh and leg, if possible, to separate the skin from the meat. Rub minced shallot and olive oil over the whole chicken under the skin. Then place three slices of lemon and a whole sprig of rosemary under the skin on each side of the breast. Rub the remaining olive oil over the chicken skin and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Place the chicken, breast side down, on the grill away from the flame, and close the top. Grill 14-16 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken, flip and grill 15 minutes more. The chicken is done when the juices from the thigh run clear when pierced with a knife. Remove the chicken from the grill, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Garnish with a lemon slice and a sprig of rosemary.
For anyone watching their weight, Thanksgiving has become a day filled with potential pitfalls and dietary disappointments. The original Pilgrim celebration of gratitude for having enough food to survive the coming winter has evolved into an all-day, all-you-can-eat extravaganza. Many families spend the day parked on their couches, watching parades followed by football, snacking whether they are hungry or not, before sitting down to an enormous meal.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to prepare and serve a light, healthy Thanksgiving dinner without depriving your guests of their traditional favorites or letting them go hungry. By making a few simple changes to your menu, it is easy to make a meal you and your guests will enjoy and remember, without the morning-after regret that too often accompanies this special day
Suggestion One: Cut the fat.
The centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner is almost certainly the turkey, which is an easy place to cut fat without cutting flavor. Unless you are entertaining a dozen or more people, a turkey breast may be a better choice than a whole turkey. White meat is far leaner than dark meat, and turkey cooked on a grill (breast or whole bird) will release much of its internal fat during the cooking process. Brining a turkey can compensate for any moisture lost through decreasing the fat. This recipe is for a 12-15 pound turkey. If you have a larger turkey, double the brine recipe.
1 gallons water
1 ½ cups apple cider
¾ cup kosher salt
1 cups brown sugar
2-3 bay leaves
2 branches fresh rosemary, stripped from the branch
5-10 whole pepper corns
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
Peel of 1 navel orange, coarsely chopped
The day before cooking, bring one-half gallon of water and all other ingredients to a brisk boil; immediately turn off the heat, cover and allow the brine to cool to room temperature. Half way through the cooling process, add the remaining half-gallon of cold water.
When the brine is completely cooled, place the turkey, breast side down, in a brining bag, a food-grade bucket or large soup pot. Pour the brine over the turkey and refrigerate covered for 8-16 hours, turning the turkey over two-thirds of the way through. Leaving the turkey in the brine for more than 16 hours may leave the turkey mushy when finished.
Before cooking, remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry.
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground white pepper
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Bell’s poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Olive oil in a spray can
Start with a dry rub. Wash the turkey and pat dry. Rub the turkey inside and out with this rub or any favorite combination of spices. Spray the turkey with the olive oil, then place it, unstuffed, on the grill with the coals or burners not directly underneath. Include a pan to catch the drippings. Cook the turkey until the legs can be jiggled loosely from the thighs, (180°F on a thermometer inserted into the thigh) or in the case of a breast, until a meat thermometer inserted deep into the meat (but not touching the bone) reads 180° F. Remove the turkey from the grill, cover with foil, and allow to rest 15 minutes before carving.
Suggestion Two: Slow down and enjoy the company.
Many families load the Thanksgiving table with multiple options for entrees and side dishes. Dinner begins with the circulation of bowls and platters around the table, allowing each guest to take their portion before passing it on. By the time everyone is served, the food is cold and everyone is tired of waiting to eat.
By serving Thanksgiving dinner in courses, it is easy to fill up on low-calorie, vegetable-based dishes before confronting the tempting entrees and side dishes. An added benefit will be the wonderful conversations your family and guests will have in between each course.
Start with a soup course (a corn soup is perfect for Thanksgiving), serving it in cups or small bowls. Then serve an autumn salad, made with butternut squash, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and fresh greens, with a tangy-creamy dressing.
Try these recipes, which use traditional ingredients that were used in the 1600s.
Curried Corn Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup minced shallots
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups fresh corn or one 16-ounce bag frozen corn, thawed
1 cup vegetable stock
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups soy milk, 2% milk or evaporated skim milk, divided
½ cup shredded reduced fat cheese, divided (optional)
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the shallots and stir 2 minutes. Add the curry powder and salt, and stir to combine. Stir in the corn, stock, and pepper; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook ½ hour.
Transfer 2 cups of soup to a blender, add 1 cup milk, and process until smooth. Return the blended corn soup to the soup pot, add the remaining milk, and stir gently until the soup is hot.
Serve immediately, garnished with the optional cheese and some chopped chives or parsley.
Adapted from soyfoodcouncil.com
Roasted Squash Salad with Tahini Dressing
1 medium butternut squash
Olive oil spray in a can
½ teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
¼ cup dried cranberries
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups spring mix
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 ½ tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
½ cup boiling vegetable stock
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel the squash, halve, remove the seeds, and cut into 1-inch cubes. Lightly spray a roasting pan with olive oil, spread the squash on the pan, sprinkle with paprika, salt, and pepper, and spray with oil. Roast 35 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the squash is tender. Put the pumpkin seeds on baking sheet and bake for the last five minutes of the cooking time.
While the squash is roasting, make the dressing: whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. Slowly stir in 1-2 tablespoons stock, until the dressing reaches the consistency of buttermilk.
Plate the salad greens, top with the squash, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, feta cheese, and parsley, and sprinkle the dressing on top. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Adapted from redonline.co.uk
Suggestion Three: Limit options and focus on vegetables.
In order to make your dinner lighter and healthier, consider limiting the number of options you present your guests, featuring one or two interesting new recipes in which vegetables play the starring role rather than laying out the full cast of customary starchy favorites. No one needs stuffing, mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, after all. New flavors may encourage new behaviors, as serving old favorites can entice your guests to heap too-large portions on their plates simply because they are accustomed to doing so.
Here is a vegetable dish that is out of the ordinary, yet made with many of the familiar ingredients of traditional Thanksgiving dinners. It is easy to make, beautiful to serve, nutritious, and much more interesting than the customary green-bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup and canned onion rings. And so much better tasting!
Polenta Dome with Roasted Autumn Vegetables
4 cups vegetable stock
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
Olive oil spray in a can
2 cups diced onions
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 cups cornmeal
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and shredded
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped (1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a covered pot, bring the stock and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Spray a medium-sized mixing bowl.
While the stock heats, heat olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium heat. Cook the onions, garlic, and remaining salt for about 25 minutes, until the onions are caramelized. Stir the squash, sage, fennel, and pepper into the sautéed onions and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and cover.
When the stock boils, gradually pour in the cornmeal, stirring vigorously. Reduce the heat until the thickening cornmeal simmers gently. Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is thick (but still pourable), adding hot water as necessary, and tastes done. Fine cornmeal cooks in a few minutes; courser meal takes longer. The consistency is key.
When the polenta is done, stir in the sautéed vegetables and cheese. Pour into the oiled bowl and set aside to cool for at least 30 minutes, until set.
About a half hour before serving, turn the cooled polenta dome onto a baking pan or ovenproof platter sprayed with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes, until hot. Serve on a bed of steamed spinach or Swiss chard and surround with toasted autumn vegetables.
Roasted Autumn Vegetables
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or sage, chopped
2 medium onions, peeled, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup baby carrots
2 sweet potatoes or ½ seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut to 2-inch squares
2 cup tiny patty pan squash or 2 medium zucchini, 1-inch slices, halved
8 ounces fresh whole cremini, baby portabella or white mushrooms, halved
6 firm, fresh plum tomatoes, halved
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a bowl mix together the marinade. Toss the hard vegetables (onions, carrots and potatoes) in the marinade, and spread on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, turning once. Toss the remaining vegetables in the marinade. Lower the heat to 400°F, place on a second baking sheet and roast another 20 minutes, turning once, and turning the hard vegetables again. Serve on a large platter around the polenta dome. Watch carefully that the vegetables don’t burn.
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates
Suggestion Four: Change Your Thinking about Stuffing and Gravy
Probably the most troublesome parts of the Thanksgiving meal for people endeavoring to eat light and healthy are the stuffing and the gravy. The notion that stuffing and gravy are integral to the meal is deeply ingrained in our consciousness. A simple way to cut some of the fat from stuffing is to bake it outside of the turkey. Likewise, traditional gravy can be made without calorie-laden pan drippings. Even better, try a new approach to stuffing and gravy altogether, replacing bread cubes with high-fiber whole grains such as quinoa or barley and combining interesting new flavors into an almost fat-free gravy.
Wild Mushroom Barley Stuffing
2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
1 ½ cups uncooked pearled barley
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
5 slices turkey bacon
2 small carrots, diced
1 pound fresh wild mushrooms, assorted varieties
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups vegetable broth, heated to a simmer
1 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Bring eight cups of water and 1 ½ teaspoons salt to a boil in a large saucepan; add barley. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes; drain.
Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; add onion, bacon, and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until onion is lightly browned and almost tender, about five minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic; cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about five minutes more.
Stir in herbs, pepper, remaining salt and olive oil. Reduce heat to low, stir in broth and barley, toss to coat. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving bowl, and sprinkle with parsley.
Caramelized Onion Gravy
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 cups thinly sliced sweet or Spanish onions
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dried thyme or ¾ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
¼ cup dry sherry wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Warm the oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until the onions are coated with oil. Add the paprika, salt, herbs, and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until the onions are limp and very brown. You should have about a generous cup of caramelized and very sweet onions.
Add the soy sauce, 1 ¾ cups broth, and the wine to the onions; bring to a simmer. Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining broth and mix into the gravy in a slow but steady stream. Stir constantly until the gravy is thickened.
From Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates
Suggestion Five: Serve smaller plates and individual portions
A cherished part of Thanksgiving for many is filling one’s plate with heaps of good food. Slow everyone down a bit by serving your meal on smaller salad plates rather than dinner plates. Your guests will retain the pleasure of combining delicious foods together without committing themselves to more than they can – or should—eat in one sitting. If, by some chance, they are still hungry after cleaning their plate, they are welcome to come back for more.
The same strategy works well with dessert. Instead of baking a pumpkin pie, bake the pumpkin custard (substituting egg whites and evaporated skim milk to lower the fat) in ramekins. Serve each guest their own portion with a ginger snap in a ramekin, saving them the fat and calories of the crust and the temptation to eat more dessert than they should.
The secret to losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight is to make a series of small changes and then be consistent in retaining those changes; but in the end, food and the experience of sharing a meal with loved ones should still be pleasurable. This Thanksgiving, try one or two of these tips to save yourself unnecessary fat and calories without losing any of the enjoyment of spending this special day with the people you love. Who knows? Maybe you will be creating new, healthier traditions for years to come.