A Low Country Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner
As it is throughout America, Turkey Day, like Christmas, is beloved in the South. The dishes served are generally interchangeable. Although I’ve never found any two Southerners, be they from Savannah or the Low Country or out of state, who completely agree on what is a MUST for Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner, the following are some wonderful and beloved specialties you might want to try if they’re not already in your repertoire.
Whether you’re serving turkey, duck, pheasant or Cornish game hens or a Prime Rib Roast, whether your sides are Brussels sprouts or greens, green bean casserole, or a host of others, these will fit right into your Low Country Feast. Have fun!
Aunt Nina’s seafood dip
6 oz. Whipped cream cheese
6 oz. Can tiny shrimp, drained
6 oz. fresh crabmeat, drained and thoroughly picked over to eliminate any shell or cartilage
¼ stick butter, softened
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. hot paprika
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp. Ground coriander
½ cup finely minced celery and green pepper
1 tbsp. Fresh grated Parmesan
Dash or two of Tabasco sauce
Thoroughly mix together all of the ingredients. If dip seems too dry, add a tbsp or two of mayonnaise. If it seems too moist, add a little more Parmesan.
Served with celery sticks, carrot sticks, radish and cucumber slices.
Bacon-wrapped bread sticks
1 Box of Italian bread sticks (Grissini) plain, seeded or garlic flavored
1 pkg. Of bacon (not thick; thinner the better)
Grated Parmesan or grated Cheddar
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap each breadstick with bacon (need not completely cover the stick) Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, till bacon is just crisp.
While hot, toss with cheese till melted.
Serve with cocktails.
Thanksgiving Whiskey Sour
1-1/2 oz. Good Kentucky Bourbon
2 oz. Whiskey Sour Mix (or to taste)
Dash of Cranberry Liqueur
Top with sweetened cranberries on a toothpick instead of cherry
Bourbon Baked Sweet Potatoes
5-6 red-fleshed sweet potatoes
Splash of extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1-rounded tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 lg. pinches ground cinnamon
1 lg.pinch of ground cloves
Zest of one orange
4 tblsp. butter, melted and cooled a bit
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/3 cup maple syrup
Splash of milk (2 tblsp. or so)
Splash of bourbon (2tblsp. or so)
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
Roast or microwave the potatoes till barely tender enough to easily peel and cut. Let cool, then peel and either slice or cut into chunks. You can either mash them or leave chunky (my preference).
Pre-heat oven to 375. Mix together the potatoes, olive oil, salt & pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, orange zest, brown sugar and paprika. Then add maple syrup, milk, bourbon and pecans and mix thoroughly again.
Place the mixture in a lightly oiled (vegetable or canola) baking dish and bake for about 25 minutes or until cooked through. This dish can be refrigerated and re-heated on the big day.
Note: Marshmallows can be added if you must. Just run them under the broiler till they start to melt.
Savannah Pecan Pie
Many of my friends in Savannah insist that no Thanksgiving dinner can possibly end with anything other than pecan pie. Herewith, one friend’s recipe.
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon good brandy
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 unbaked pie shell, 9-inch, pricked in several places
Mix eggs, sugar, salt, corn syrup, brandy and melted butter. Spread pecans in the bottom of pie shell. Pour in egg mixture. Bake at 350° for 50 to 60 minutes, until filling is set and firm. Pecans will rise to the top and form a crusty layer.
(for 12 to 18 lb. Bird)
1 lb. Jimmy Dean Sage sausage
12 oz. Stove Top Turkey stuffing mix
1-1/2 cups water
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
3 apples – red, yellow, green
1 cup chopped and sautéed onion, green pepper and celery
handful of fresh sage leaves (just strip them off the stems)
Mash and crumble the sausage, sautéing slowly, till it’s nice and crumbly and cooked through. Set aside to cool
Coarsely dice all the apples.
Mix apples, onion mixture, sage leaves, stuffing mix, liquids, and butter together, blending as you go. Blend thoroughly, and if needed, add more liquid and butter.
When sausage is completely cooled, add to the stuffing mixture.
Blend all together very thoroughly without mashing.
May be refrigerated for a few hours. Stuff turkey, packing lightly. Place remainder of stuffing in lightly greased baking pan and bake during last half hour turkey is cooking.
Note: This is super-simple and always brings raves from all who eat it!
Apples, cranberries, and pumpkins abound in Savannah, and no self-respecting Savannah cook neglects the pleasures of muffins, especially during the holidays.
Quick Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins
1 pkg. (18.25 oz.) Yellow cake mix
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1 cup crisp red apple, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.
In large bowl,, mix together cake mix, pumpkin puree, spices, cranberries and apple until smooth. Spoon equal amounts of batter into muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 25 min., or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.