I am a Thanksgiving stickler. I take Thanksgiving very seriously. This means for one glorious day of the year my family does not experiment with the menu, we don’t devour take-out, and we definitely do not skimp on full-fat ingredients.
Since change is a given in any family, I am comforted by our Thanksgiving consistency and sometimes brattily demand it. I insist that we have green beans with pearl onions and balsamic vinaigrette. I require the best homemade pumpkin pie made by my aunt and cousin, “award-winning” according to my grandpa. (Once he even made a trophy in appreciation.) I will squint with judgment while my dad carves the turkey with an electric knife and eats the fatty end while telling everyone else to go away while he “works.”
Despite my strange affinity for all things old-school and traditional at our holiday table, two of my absolute favorite Thanksgiving recipes are relatively new to the arsenal, which speaks to how tasty they are. Even more bizarre is that the recipes were tested and refined by my mother.
My mom, Janice, is not generally known for her cooking skills—sorry, mom—she’d rather be knitting or reading murder mysteries. However, her turkey marinade is an easy, savory, and now steadfast staple of our Thanksgiving turkey. Plus it’s fun; you get to stick a turkey in a trash bag overnight and get your hands dirty. The other recipe I’m sharing below, for chocolate cranberry tart, will have everyone fooled into thinking you’re some sort of unsung pastry wizard. Both take a little time but are ultimately easy, elegant, and flavorful and will hopefully turn you into Thanksgiving sticklers too.
Happy Thanksgiving, SkirBlog readers!
JANICE’S TURKEY MARINADE
½ cup olive oil
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup soy sauce
Juice of four lemons
½ cup fresh parsley
½ cup fresh oregano
¼ cup fresh chives
¼ cup fresh sage
5 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
• Chop all the ingredients in a food processor.
• One day before, place the turkey in a plastic trash bag and pour one cup of marinade into the turkey. Marinate overnight.
• When ready to cook, baste with marinade as needed.
• This marinade also works wonders on chicken, beef, fish, and seitan.
CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY TART
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1/2 cup cranberry juice, divided
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 12-oz. bag fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
1-1/4 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (made from about 6-1/2 ounces cookies, finely ground in processor)
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 8-oz. container mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Thin strips of crystallized ginger (optional garnish)
For cranberry topping:
• Pour 1/4 cup cranberry juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until softened, 15 minutes.
• Combine 1/4 cup cranberry juice, cranberries, and next 5 ingredients in medium saucepan; bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
• Reduce heat to medium; simmer until cranberries are tender but still plump, 5 minutes.
• Strain into bowl; set cranberries aside.
• Add gelatin mixture to hot juice in bowl; stir until gelatin dissolves.
• Stir cranberries back into juice. Chill until cranberry mixture is cold and slightly thickened, at least 8 hours or overnight. Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.
• Stir chopped crystallized ginger into cranberry mixture.
• Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.
• Combine chocolate wafer cookie crumbs, sugar, and salt in medium bowl; add 5 tablespoons melted butter and stir until crumbs feel moist when pressed together with fingertips, adding remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter if mixture is dry.
• Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom.
• Bake chocolate crust until beginning to set and slightly crisp, pressing with spoon if crust puffs during baking, about 14 minutes.
• Transfer tart pan to rack and cool crust completely before filling. Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.
For mascarpone filling:
• Beat all ingredients except ginger in medium bowl just until thick enough to spread (do not overbeat or mixture may curdle).
• Spread filling in cooled crust. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
• Spoon cranberry mixture evenly over mascarpone filling.
• Chill at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.
• Garnish with crystallized ginger strips, if desired.
• Cut tart into wedges and serve cold.