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Have a large crowd gathering for the holidays? Or did you sign up to bring a main dish to a pot luck feast? Consider a lasagna. It’s hearty, filling, and feeds a multitude. People will love you if you bring a lasagna. (Or they should love you if they have any idea how much work goes into making one.) Be warned though, if you bring a lasagna that is especially good, they may ask for it again, for every pot luck, or for every holiday feast. They’ll get that puppy dog look in their eyes when they look at you and say, “oh, how about that lasagna, it’s so good, could you bring that?” And you’ll be slightly annoyed because, perhaps you were hoping to squeeze by with a simple potato salad, even though you signed up for a main. But then you’ll think about how good the lasagna is and how much you want some too, and then it’s just an excellent excuse to make it again.
Now this particular lasagna is a vegetarian lasagna, which can be especially helpful around holiday meals when you are trying to figure out what to serve cousin Judy and uncle Joe who won’t eat turkey, goose, roast beef, or whatever the main meat dish is of the meal. And doubly helpful the days after the big feast when you still have friends and relatives around who need to be fed, and you don’t want to serve leftover turkey for every meal. This vegetarian lasagna fits that bill too, in that it is so filled with meaty shiitake and cremini mushrooms, spinach, and ricotta and Mozzarella cheeses, your meat-eating guests will be fighting for seconds with the vegetarians. Hopefully they’ll remember to leave some for you!
Please welcome Hank Shaw as he shares his mom’s favorite way of preparing garnet sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. ~Elise
Candied yams have always been something of a mystery to me. Growing up, we only ever ate them on Thanksgiving, which was strange because they are such a perfect kid food: sweet, rich and tangy from the orange juice. And even on Thanksgiving, its sweetness was befuddling. Candied yams are like a little preview of dessert, a treat for the sweet tooth before the serious business of pies and ice creams begin in earnest.
As an adult, I now realize that candied yams properly occupy the middle position between the mashed potatoes and the cranberry sauce. Potatoes are starchy and rich with butter and cream, while the cranberry sauce is sweet and intensely tart. The yams borrow from each and by so doing bind the traditional Thanksgiving plate together.
Know that with a dish so classic as candied yams, there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks. This is how we made them at our house when I was growing up.
The way my brother Eddie tells it, he and a college friend decided to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving one year. The day before Thanksgiving, Eddie went out and bought a 25 pound turkey, frozen, and put it in the fridge to defrost. (Can you see where this is going?) When it came time to cook the turkey, he took it out of its plastic wrapping, only to discover that the bird was still completely frozen. Rock hard. Undaunted (due either to the unchecked optimism that accompanies that time in life, or to beer addled judgement, and probably a little of both), Eddie went about cooking the turkey anyway. Heck, what’s a little frozen meat that a hot oven can’t overcome?
Into the oven it went. When it came time to eat, my brother pulled out of the oven a beautifully roasted, browned all over turkey. Success! thought my brother, hungry by now for the bird that had been roasting for several hours and filling the house with that wonderful aroma of Thanksgiving. A few friends had gathered as well, waiting for the feast to come. Then it came time to carve. Ed took out his longest, sharpest chef’s knife and aiming for the breast, cut in. Or tried to. As he tells it, he got about one inch in before the knife bumped up against rock hard, stone cold, frozen turkey.
Or maybe it was a half inch.
In any case, from what I understand they gave up and went out for Chinese.
The obvious moral of this story is to allow your bird plenty of time to defrost. A 15 pound turkey will take about 3 days in the fridge to defrost, a 25 pound turkey, about 5 days.
The less obvious moral to this story, and the point of the following recipe, is why cook a 25 pound turkey when you are only feeding 4 to 5 people? Unless you want turkey leftovers for weeks, you might be better off cooking just a part of a turkey. In this recipe, we are cooking just the turkey breast, bone-in and skin-on, and making a rich, creamy gravy with drippings from a couple turkey wings.
Rutabaga. I just love saying that word. What’s a rutabaga? Well, it’s sort of a large turnip glancing in the direction of a sweet potato. It’s yellow in color on the inside, and tastes sort of like a turnip, but somewhat less bitter. It’s also called a “Swede” or a Swedish turnip. I don’t think you can escape Minnesota without having had your fair share of rutabagas, and my dad is no exception. He loves them. Tosses them into anything that calls for root vegetables. When I mentioned we were mashing up some rutabagas, he came by lickety-split, and then didn’t leave until he ate half of them. Yes, we love rutabagas here, and this mashed version is an excellent way to serve them.
How about you? Are you a rutabaga fan? If so, what’s your favorite way of serving them? Please let us know in the comments.
Update Nov 12, 2012: We’ve updated the server and everything appears to be working fine. Please let us know if you see something that isn’t working as it should. Also, please check out are fancy new print pages! You have more choices for which photos to print and also if you want to print specific comments along with the recipe. ~Elise
Hello everyone! We are making some changes to the underlying technology that powers Simply Recipes today. We expect that these changes will help us continue to improve the site, making it easier and more elegant to use.
Do you know how sometimes when you clean your room, you have to make a mess in it first—everything is on the floor so you can see it before figuring out what to do with it? That’s sort of what is going on here. We’ve been making a mess behind the scenes for several months, in order to put everything in its right place in the new system. The time has come to “flip the switch” and hope that everything works as expected.
While we go through what I hope is a brief transition, comments may be closed, and the site may not work as it should. If you see something that appears to be broken, a link that doesn’t work, or a page that renders funkily, if you can, please leave a comment. Or, visit the Simply Recipes Facebook page and leave a comment there.
Thank you for your patience! ~Elise
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