Thanksgiving may be a national holiday but New England's stronghold on the menu has existed since 1621. If you remember your social studies lessons, that's when the Pilgrims and Wampanoags celebrated the first successful harvest with a week-long feast and party.
This year, another region worth celebrating exerts its influence on Thanksgiving — the Gulf Coast. Oysters make their way into stuffing and hot pepper sauce gives some punch to your turkey. Corn, creamed spinach, and artichokes also make an appearance. A melding of African, French and Spanish influences, these Creole-fusion recipes can add some kick to your menu without straying too far from a classic approach.
Here are five Creole-inspired Thanksgiving recipes worth celebrating:
6 fresh artichokes
1 1/2 pounds crab meat
1 cup water
4 lemons, halved
4 lemons, juiced
1 cup olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
5 fresh thyme sprigs
6 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 bay leaves
For crab stuffing:
1 1/2 cups butter
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped shallots
6 cups coarse white bread crumbs, dampened with oyster or fish stock
6 bay leaves;
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 tomato, small dice
- In a large pot, combine water with 4 lemon halves and lemon juice.
- Trim leaves of each artichoke. First, take off dark green outer leaves. Then, snip with scissors top 1/4 of leaves.
- Drop artichokes immediately into lemon-infused stock.
- Add oil, wine, onion, coriander seeds, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves.
- Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to low.
- Cover and simmer until artichokes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes.
- Let artichokes cool in the cooking liquid for an additional 30 minutes.
To make crab stuffing:
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter, then sauté onion and shallots until tender.
- Add bread crumbs and continue cooking 5 minutes.
- Add bay leaves, salt, pepper, cayenne, crab meat and parsley; mix thoroughly. Remove skillet from heat. Remove bay leaves.
- Place steamed artichokes on a cutting board and slice in half with a serrated knife. Scoop out artichoke with a spoon and discard.
- Fill each with approximately 1/2 cup crab stuffing, depending on size of artichoke.
- Arrange in a baking dish and bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. To serve, top each artichoke with 2 tablespoons hollandaise sauce and garnish with tomato and parsley.
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Whisk egg yolks and cold water together in a stainless steel bowl until foamy.
- Place bowl over a saucepan of water at a low simmer.
- Continue to whisk egg mixture until thickened, about 1 minute.
- Slowly add the melted butter, in a steady stream, into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick and emulsified.
- Remove bowl from heat; whisk in the lemon juice, salt, pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
- Adjust to taste seasoning. Serve immediately or let stand over warm water in saucepan for up to 30 minutes.
Creole Butter-Roasted Turkey
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 whole turkey (about 12 to 14 lb.), rinsed and patted dry
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup melted butter
- Heat oven to 325°F.
- Make Creole butter: Combine softened butter with garlic, fresh herbs, lemon pepper, hot pepper sauce, dried herbs, salt and cayenne pepper in a small bowl; mix with a fork until completely blended. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
- Starting on neck end of turkey, gently slide fingers between skin and breast, then thighs and drumstick to loosen skin from meat; spread the seasoned butter evenly under skin.
- Fold neck skin under body, tuck wing tips under breast and tie drumsticks together with kitchen string.
- Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a heavy roasting pan. Brush with melted butter. Cover loosely with foil and roast for about 3 to 3 3/4 hours or until thermometer registers 170°F and juices run clear, basting frequently.
- Transfer turkeyto a platter, cover loosely with foil and let stand for 20 minutes (temperature of turkey will rise to 180°F) before carving
New Orleans Oyster Dressing
1 quart shucked oysters, with brine
2 cups butter
4 medium finely chopped onions
2 cups finely chopped celery
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups cornbread, crumbled, dried
10 cups mixed sourdough and white bread, cubed, dried
1/2 cup diced bacon, cooked
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Melt butter in large heavy skillet over medium-low heat; add onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic and sauté until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Combine cornbread, bread cubes, onion mixture and bacon in a large bowl and toss.
- Place oysters and their liquid in a saucepan; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Transfer oysters with a slotted spoon to a cutting board, reserving the liquid, and coarse chop.
- Add oysters to mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Adding reserved oyster liquor to moisten as needed.
- Transfer to a large oiled cast iron skillet or baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes.
Corn Maque Choux
2 cups fresh corn kernels
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons bacon drippings (optional)
1 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1/2 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
- Heat butter and bacon drippings in a large non-stick skillet; add onions and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes or until translucent.
- Add bell pepper and sauté an additional 3 minutes. Add corn and sauté an additional 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add chicken broth and simmer for 2 minutes or until liquid starts to evaporate.
- Add cream, sugar and cayenne pepper sauce; simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring frequently.
- Add thyme, green onions and parsley and stir.
- Season to taste with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Keep warm.
3 (10-ounce packages) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onions
3 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups sour cream
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Drain spinach in a colander and squeeze dry.
- Melt butter in a large skillet, sauté onions over medium-high heat until translucent.
- Remove from heat, add spinach and remaining ingredients and stir.
- Pour into a 9-inch casserole dish and heat 20 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.