TRAVERSE CITY — The pilgrims and Indians did it and they didn't even have stores.
Local seasonal food was the heart of the first Thanksgiving, but nowadays it's often an afterthought.
It doesn't have to be, of course. Delicious locally grown and prepared foods are abundant, even though there may be frost on the ground. We asked a few area chefs to share their Thanksgiving-inspired recipes for a dinner that would make the pilgrims proud.
Look no further than Leelanau Cheese with its spreadable raclette, available at the source, the creamery at Black Star Farms, 10844 E. Revold Road, south of Suttons Bay, and at most local stores. The milk is from cows at Garvin farm near Cedar. The fromage blanc (in herb, peppercorn and garlic) makes a cracker happy, but can also be gussied up atop a toasted baguette round or in a dip; www.leelanaucheese.com.
There are as many ways to cook a turkey as there are people on the planet, it seems. An apple cider reduction, with apples in the stuffing, is a great way to bring the area's orchards to your Thanksgiving table. The recipe is from Record-Eagle wire services.
The goal here was a deliciously moist roasted Thanksgiving turkey with tons of autumnal flavor.
So we started with that most classic of fall beverages — apple cider. But to get the greatest flavor from it, we decided to boil it down until we had reduced 8 cups to just 4, thereby concentrating the sweet-tart flavors. That reduction is used as both a glaze for the turkey as well as to flavor the stuffing and gravy.
And therein lies an important Thanksgiving turkey lesson. It's always good to have at least one common element between the turkey and the stuffing and gravy. While the seasonings between the three items don't need to be identical (in fact, it would be boring if they were), a commonality helps tie the meal together.
While this recipe is written to cook the stuffing in a casserole dish alongside the turkey, you can cook it in the cavity of the bird if you prefer. If so, you'll need to adjust the cooking time and closely monitor the internal temperature. Stuffed birds take longer to cook. For safety, the center of the stuffing should reach an internal temperature of 165°.
Alternatively, if you like the appearance and presentation of a stuffed bird, you can cook the stuffing separately, then stuff it on the serving platter just before bringing it to the table.
Maple-Cider-Glazed Turkey with Gravy and Apple-Onion Stuffing
For the glaze:
2 c. maple syrup
8 c. (½ gallon) apple cider
2 T. Dijon mustard
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
For the turkey:
4 medium yellow onions, quartered
12- to 14-pound turkey
For the stuffing:
4 T. (½ stick) butter
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
3 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 T. minced fresh sage
1 T. minced fresh thyme
1 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
3 c. chicken or turkey broth
2 eggs, beaten
16-ounce bag stuffing cubes
For the gravy:
2 c. chicken or turkey broth
5 T. cornstarch
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
To prepare the glaze, in a large saucepan over medium-high, combine the maple syrup and cider. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the liquid is reduced by half. Whisk in the mustard, then season with salt and pepper.
Reserve 3 cups of the glaze to use with the gravy and stuffing (cover and refrigerate until needed). This can be done the day before, if desired.
Heat the oven to 350°.
In a large roasting pan, scatter the onion quarters. Place the turkey, breast up, on top of the onions. Pour the unreserved (about 2 cups) maple cider glaze all over the turkey. Be sure to pour some in the turkey's cavity and some under the skin.
Roast for 2&½ to 3 hours, or until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 160° and the thickest part of the thigh reaches 170 F. During roasting, every 30 to 45 minutes baste the turkey with the juices in the pan. If the turkey begins to brown too much, cover the pan with foil.
Allow the turkey to rest in the pan for 10 minutes before moving it to a serving platter and covering it with foil. Set aside the roasting pan, leaving the drippings and onions in it.
When the turkey has an hour left to roast, make the stuffing. Coat a large casserole dish or 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the butter. Add the onions, shallots and leeks. Saute for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender and translucent. Add the celery and carrot and saute for another 8 to 10 minutes, allowing the vegetables to slightly caramelize.
Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the apples, sage, thyme, walnuts (if using), broth, eggs and 2 cups of the reserved maple cider glaze. Add the stuffing cubes and toss well. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and hot.
When the turkey is resting on the platter, make the gravy. Place the roasting pan with the onions and any remaining juices on the stove top. Add the remaining 1 cup of maple cider glaze. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
In a bowl, stir together the broth and cornstarch, then add it to the pan. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until thickened. Strain the gravy through a mesh strainer, discarding the solids. Season with salt and pepper. Serve alongside the turkey and stuffing. Makes a 12- to 14-pound turkey with gravy and stuffing to serve 12
Nutrition information per combined serving of turkey, stuffing and gravy (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 1,011 calories; 182 calories from fat (18 percent of total calories); 20 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 377 mg cholesterol; 92 g carbohydrate; 111 g protein; 5 g fiber; 1,165 mg sodium.
Darren Hawley, chef at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa, said this recipe for scalloped potatoes is a family favorite and works great for serving buffet style or potluck.
"It can be made ahead, which is crucial for the overworked Thanksgiving chef," he said.
He uses potatoes from Bardenhagen Farms in Leelanau County, light cream from the Cream Cup Dairy in Kaleva, garlic from Ware Ham Family Farms, thyme from his own herb garden and cheese from Grassfield's Edam Cheese in Coopersville.
Dauphinois Potato Gratin
3 lbs. potatoes, peeled
1 quart light cream
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 t. salt
½ t. pepper
⅛ t. nutmeg
1 T. fresh thyme (or substitute 1 t. dried)
1 c. Edam cheese, grated or sliced
Preheat the oven to 400°. Using a mandoline, food processor or simply a sharp French knife, slice the potatoes into 1/16th-inch thick slices. Add the potatoes to the half and half with the garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil then immediately transfer to a buttered 3-quart gratin dish. Sprinkle with grated Gruyere and bake until potatoes are tender and top is nicely browned, 40-50 minutes. Allow the gratin to rest at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes before serving.
Note: If preparing the gratin ahead of time, follow the recipe then allow the gratin to cool completely, cover and refrigerate. Allow the gratin to come up to room temperature, then reheat in the oven covered with two layers of plastic wrap and a layer of tinfoil at 325° until hot.
-- Darren Hawley, Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa, www.crystalmountain.com
Joseph George, the executive chef at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, uses all sorts of local produce in this next dish. Pumpkin puree is simply roasted pumpkin scooped out of the shell and pureed in a food processor or blender; make sure to squeeze out any extra water after pureeing. If using canned, looked for pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling).
Spiced Sirloin, Pumpkin Potato Gratin and Mushroom Braised Swiss Chard
6 sirloin steaks
1 c. quatre espice (equal parts ground: ginger, cinnamon, white pepper, nutmeg, clove)
2 T. bacon fat
Pat dry all steaks. Season steaks with salt, rub generously with quatre espice. In a large sauté pan, sear both sides of steaks in bacon fat until dark brown. Roast in oven on roasting rack for 10-12 minutes (medium steak), more or less for different temperatures.
Pumpkin Potato Gratin:
1 quart heavy cream
1 16-oz. can pumpkin puree
8 peeled potatoes
1 T. nutmeg mixed with 1 T. cinnamon
Salt and pepper
1 lb. grated parmesan Reggiano
Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. In a small container, mix pumpkin puree, cream and cinnamon mixture. On a mandolin, slice potatoes very thin, layer potato, cream mixture, salt and pepper then parmesan. Continue again until pan is full to the top. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (or until soft all the way through), bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes until golden brown. Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before cutting.
Mushroom Braised Swiss Chard:
8 stalks swiss chard, julienned
4 pints button mushrooms, sliced
3 shallots, peeled and diced
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 head garlic, cut in half
Salt and pepper
12 oz. white wine
½ lb. butter
Juice of 2 lemons
In a medium rondo pan, place mushrooms, shallots, thyme, garlic, wine, butter and lemon cook on medium heat covered for about 15 minutes. The mushrooms should release a good amount of liquid, at this time, add the swiss chard and simmer for 5-7 minutes covered. Strain and serve.
Cut potato gratin into squares, place over braised swiss chard/mushroom mixture. Slice sirloin next to potatoes, cover again with swiss chard and more mushrooms. Garnish with fried onions, shaved Reggiano or fresh vegetables. Makes 6 servings.
-- Joseph George, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, www.grandtraverseresort.com
Oryana Natural Foods Market is the go-to place for local and organic produce.
"Most of these vegetables are currently available at Oryana from our local farmers," said Luise Bolleber, of Oryana's Education and Outreach Department. The brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips come from Providence Farm and rutabagas come from Reid Johnston.
Roasted Winter Vegetables with Sage
½ lb. rutabagas, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed
½ lb. yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
Preheat oven to 425º. In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with the olive oil, sage, and season generously with salt and pepper. Place all the cut vegetables in a single layer on two baking sheets. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender and nicely browned, turning once with a metal spatula. Serve hot.
-- Oryana Natural Foods Market, http://oryana.coop
Bob Korten, co-owner of Frankfort's Crescent Bakery, uses apples from the Market Basket in Beulah, dried cherries from Graceland Fruit and many other local foods in his baking — as well as local greens, goat cheese, honey and mroe for heartier fare. The former IT manager bought the bakery on Main Street in April 2007 as "kind of a retirement job," but found it kept him so busy he ended up selling his former summer residence on Crystal Lake to move into town. Daughter Heather Kiplinger and wife Fran help run the place, which earns raves for its pastries, soups and sandwiches.
12 honey crisp apples
½ lb. dried cherries
12 5-by-5-inch puff pastry squares
¾ c. Crescent Bakery doughnut crumbs (dry cereal or sweet bread crumbs may be substituted)
Egg wash (1 egg thoroughly mixed with 1 T. water)
Cinnamon sugar (recipe below)
Sticky Bun Smear (recipe below)
Thaw puff pastry squares (or substitute your favorite pie dough). Wash, dry and core apples. Place 1 T. crumbs in the middle of a square. Place cored apple on top of crumbs.
Fill center of apple with dried cherries. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Put 1 T. Sticky Bun Smear on top of cherries in center of apple. Brush puff pastry with egg wash. Gently pull corners of puff pastry square up to cover apple.
Secure puff pastry with toothpicks so that it won't slide off while baking. Brush exposed puff pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar crystals.
Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve warm, preferably with freshly whipped cream. Makes 12 dumplings.
7 T. white sugar
7 T. brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon
Combine all ingredients. Store tightly covered until ready to use. Makes enough for 12 dumplings.
Sticky Bun Smear
½ c. brown sugar
7 T. unsalted butter
¼ t. salt
¼ t. cinnamon
¼ t. cardamom
¼ c. honey
1 t. vanilla extract
Cream butter and brown sugar together.
Add remaning ingredients and blend well.
Store in refrigerator but bring to room temperature before using. Makes enough for 12 dumplings.
-- Bob Korten, Crescent Bakery, www.crescent-bakery.com