Two Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

At our house there would be a revolt if I didn’t roast our Thanksgiving turkey slathered in herb butter and serve it with shallot pan gravy prepared from the drippings. And, our clan definitely expects me to make Southern cornbread and leek dressing to accompany the bird. Where I get some leeway, though, is with the sides for my family leaves those choices up to the chef (moi!). This year I’m turning to two favorites–Brussels Sprouts, Apples, and Bacon as well as Roasted Butternut Squash and Pears with Blue Cheese.

Striking with their vibrant autumnal hues and robust flavors, either or both of these dishes would make a delectable accompaniment to your bird. Each recipe serves six, but can be doubled if needed.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!


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Brussels Sprouts, Apples, and Bacon and Roasted Butternut Squash and Pears with Blue Cheese

Brussels Sprouts, Apples, and Bacon

A trio of interesting ingredients, including assertive Brussels sprouts, salty bacon, and sweet apples, combine to make this a tempting side dish. These sprouts, which are blanched, then combined with sautéed apples and bacon, are particularly good with roasted poultry.

1 1/2 pounds (about 5 1/4 cups) medium Brussels sprouts
Kosher salt
6 ounces thick bacon slices (6 to 7 slices) cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

1. Cut off and discard the bases from the Brussels sprouts, then halve the sprouts. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the sprouts and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook them until the sprouts are tender but not mushy when pierced with a small, sharp knife, 8 to10 minutes or longer. (Cooking time can vary depending on the size of the Brussels sprouts.)

2. Drain Brussels sprouts in a colander, then place them under cold running water until completely cool. Pat dry and set aside. (Brussels sprouts can be prepared 6 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)

3. Sauté bacon in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Pour off and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings. Return the pan to medium heat and add the butter. When hot, add the apples and cook, turning often, until softened and just lightly browned, about 5 minutes or longer. Add the Brussels sprouts and bacon to the skillet. Stir and cook until all ingredients are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

4. Mound vegetables in a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.

Serves 6
Adapted from Sunday Roasts by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books 2011)

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pears with Blue Cheese

For this cold weather side, you roast a pan of diced butternut squash and another of diced pears, both of which are flavored with curry-scented olive oil. Then you toss them with honey and sherry, and sprinkle the duo with toasted walnuts and crumbed blue cheese. And, here’s the best part, this dish, easily transported, can be completely assembled several hours ahead, and needs only minutes of reheating in the oven.

3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for the baking sheets
3 slightly under-ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears
2 tsp curry powder, plus a generous 1/4 tsp extra for sprinkling
2 1/2 to 3 lb butternut squash cut into 1-in cubes to yield 6 cups (see note)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup creamy blue cheese such as Bleu d’Auvergne or Gorgonzola dolce, coarsely
crumbled or broken into small pieces
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (see note)

1. Arrange racks at center and lower positions, and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Oil two large rimmed baking sheets and have ready a shallow 2-quart casserole.

2. Quarter pears lengthwise and core, but do not peel. Cut each quarter crosswise into 1-in cubes (If desired, cut one of the quarters lengthwise into 1/2-in wedges to roast and use as a garnish on top of the casserole.)

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the curry powder and olive oil. Add the squash to a large mixing bowl, toss with half of the curry oil, and spread in a single layer on one of the baking sheets. Add the pears to the same bowl, toss with the remaining curry oil, and spread in a single layer on the other baking sheet. Salt and pepper the squash and the pears, and sprinkle each with some of the remaining curry powder.

4. Place the pan with squash on the lower rack and the one with pears on the other. Bake, stirring each pan every 10 minutes to prevent sticking, until the squash is just starting to brown and the pears are golden and both are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 30 to 35 minutes. (Watch carefully as the pears can take a shorter time depending on their ripeness.)

5. Transfer the squash and pears to the casserole. Whisk together the honey and sherry, and pour over the squash and pears, stirring gently to coat well. Season with more salt if needed. Sprinkle with walnuts and blue cheese. (The dish can be prepared 5 hours ahead; leave loosely covered with plastic wrap at cool room temperature; reheat uncovered in a preheated 350 degree F oven until warm and cheese has started to melt, 10 to 15 minutes.)  Serves 6.

Note: Look for peeled butternut squash in the produce section of the supermarket, a great time saver. About 30 ounces peeled squash should yield 6 cups.

Note: To toast walnuts, spread them on a rimed baking sheet and place in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly browned and fragrant, 5 to 6 minutes. Watch carefully so that they do not burn. Remove and cool.

One thought on “Two Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

  1. Just made the Roasted Carrot, Parsnip & Garlic soup today from “Soup Nights”. Oh My Goodness it is fantastic! It might be my first course before the Turkey. We are doing two turkeys this year – one in the oven and the other smoked so I’ll be able to make Betty’s Smoked Turkey, Prosciutto, Fontina and Garlic Mayo on a Toasted Baguette for after Thanksgiving.

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