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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving and Pumpkin Brioche

What's for Thanksgiving, chef? What Twin Cities pros eat for the holiday


By Jess Fleming
jfleming@pioneerpress.com

Posted:   11/21/2013 12:01:00 AM CST | Updated:   about 2 hours ago




Thanksgiving is a time for tradition. Most of our tables look similar from year to year, even if we change the recipes a bit.
It got us thinking. What do chefs eat on the big day -- provided they don't have to work it?
We asked some of our favorite local chefs and a baker what they eat on Thanksgiving Day and even got them to share a recipe or two.
Maybe one of the dishes can make it to your table this year.

LENNY RUSSO
The chef at St. Paul's hyper-local fine-dining destination Heartland heads to his in-laws' place for Thanksgiving, which means he gets a break from cooking.
But when Lenny Russo has made a turkey, he stuffs half of it with sausage dressing and the other half with chestnut dressing. He also has made chestnut soup.
Growing up in a large Italian family, though, his childhood memories are maybe a little different from some of ours.
"When I was a kid, we always celebrated with the extended family and started with a large antipasto table followed by a pasta course before we had the turkey," Russo said. "I don't really care much for sugar, so I never really ate much pie, but I did enjoy finishing my meal with some fresh fennel.
"Also, whenever the extended family gathered for a holiday, it was a daylong affair. In the early morning hours past midnight, we always had what we called the 'Venetian Hour,' which consisted of assembling your own sandwiches on hard rolls. We always had various Italian deli meats and cheeses with all the garnishes and condiments, including lots of pickled vegetables and olives. It was a lot of food."

RUSSELL KLEIN
For the first few years after Russell and Desta Klein opened Meritage in downtown St. Paul, they hosted an "orphans Thanksgiving" at the restaurant, cooking for people without family in the area.
"After a couple of years, I was, like, 'I can't do that anymore,' " Russell Klein said. "It was great, but it was a lot of work."
Now, he and Desta are usually on the road during holiday time.
"Our family is spread out all over the country," Klein said.
As for what's on the table?
"It's very traditional," he said. "There's nothing cheffy about our Thanksgiving dinner, and I wouldn't want there to be. I gotta have green bean casserole, that's my thing. I don't want any cheffy green bean casserole, either. I want the one with the cream of mushroom soup and the canned fried onions.
"A couple of years ago, for a publication, I was assigned to rethink the green bean casserole. I did it with brussels sprouts with a bechamel and fried onion, and it was delicious. But it wasn't as good as the original."
Klein shared the recipe for his mother's pumpkin soup, which is on the restaurant's fall menu now.

J.D. FRATZKE
Since Strip Club chef J.D. Fratzke and his wife moved into their home in South Minneapolis in 2001, they've been hosting a Thanksgiving feast.
"That first year, I was so excited," Fratzke said. "I invited everyone under the sun and made way too much food."
Now, he said, it's a more subdued, intimate affair with just a few close family members or friends. The menu includes the usual traditional turkey, brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes and his signature dish: spaetzle and sauerkraut.
"We just make sure the wine flows freely and there is plenty of whiskey after the meal," Fratzke said.
Fratzke contributed an alternative entree recipe for those who want to try something other than turkey this year.
"The recipe is inspired by the Alto-Adige region of northern Italy, bordering Austria's Tryolian Alps," Fratzke said. "The area has strong ties to Germany and a German-speaking population. Thus, it speaks to my heart and soul."

DANNY KLECKO
The CEO of Saint Agnes Bakery said Black Friday is as important as the big meal to his family.
"I do my best to present them one final meal before they get crushed by the mob," Klecko said.
Sometimes, they eat turkey. Other times, Klecko makes a turkey potpie. One thing, however nontraditional, that's always on the menu is his famous borscht.
"Even though I don't wait in lines for Black Friday discount items, I've been known to swing by the stores my family and friends are in line for with a Thermos filled with borscht," Klecko said. "There's nothing like beet soup to install confidence and keep you awake."
Klecko shared his recipe for pumpkin brioche.

Thanksgiving recipes from local pros

Pioneer Press
 


(Pioneer Press: Kirk Lyttle)
 
We asked some of our favorite local chefs and a baker what they eat on Thanksgiving Day and even got them to share a recipe or two.

LENNY RUSSO OF HEARTLAND
CRANBERRY RELISH
1 tablespoon salted butter
1/2 cup sweet onions, 1/4-inch dice
1 cup preserved cranberries
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon Tellicherry black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons sweet white wine, such as riesling, muscat or Sauternes
In nonreactive sauce pot, melt butter over medium low heat. Add onions. Sweat for 5 minutes or until onions are soft. Add preserves, salt, pepper, honey, thyme and wine. Simmer for 10 minutes or until relish begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Chill. Serve.


ROASTED CHESTNUT SOUP
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 pound leeks, white parts only, diced
5 pounds chestnuts, peeled
4 cups heavy cream
2 cups courtbouillon (recipe follows)
1 cup sherry
1 bouquet garni (1 whole nutmeg, 1 bay leaf, 2 parsley sprigs, 2 thyme sprigs and 10 black peppercorns tied in cheesecloth sack)
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper, freshly ground
In large, nonreactive pot, melt butter over low heat. Add leeks and chestnuts. Cook until soft. Add heavy cream. Bring to a slow simmer. Cook until chestnuts begin to fall apart. Using immersion blender, puree soup base until smooth. Add courtbouillon, sherry and bouquet garni. Cook at slow simmer for 20 minutes. Remove soup from heat. Remove boquet garni. Season with salt and pepper.

COURTBOUILLON
Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com.
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 celery rib, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
In saucepan, combine water, wine, lemon juice, onion, celery, garlic, peppercorns, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat. Simmer for 8 minutes. Strain through fine-mesh sieve. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. (Note: Always bring to a boil before using.)

RUSSELL KLEIN OF MERITAGE
PUMPKIN SOUP
4 sugar pumpkins
1/2 pound butter, melted, divided use
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, divided use
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, divided use
1/4 teaspoon mace, divided use
1 cup brown sugar, packed, divided use
5 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, sliced thin
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sherry wine
2 quarts vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Garnishes (optional):
Nuts
Whipped cream
Creme fraiche
To roast pumpkin: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut pumpkin in half. Remove seeds. Brush with half of butter, half of spices and half of sugar. Place on cookie sheet. Roast until tender. Cool slightly. Remove flesh from skin.
To make soup: In large stock pot, heat remaining butter over medium heat. Add shallots, onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook until tender but not brown. Add sherry. Heat until reduced by half. Add roasted pumpkin. Add chicken stock, cream, salt, pepper, remaining cinnamon, remaining nutmeg, remaining mace and remaining sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes.
To puree and serve: Place soup in blender or food processor. (Note: Blender will yield smoother consistency.) Carefully puree soup. Garnish with nuts, whipped cream or creme fraiche. Serve immediately.

J.D. FRATZKE OF STRIP CLUB
BRAISED RABBIT A LA ALTO-ADIGE
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
4 pounds rabbit legs, separated at joint
2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound butter
1 large yellow onion, diced finely
5 stalks celery, diced finely
3 large carrots, diced finely
1/2 cup garlic cloves, smashed
4 fresh bay leaves
6 cinnamon sticks
2 Granny Smith apples, diced finely
1 quart sparkling white wine
1 cup whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 cups chicken or wild game stock
Salt
Pepper
Sugar
Accompaniment:
Cooked risotto, polenta or spaetzle
Garnishes:
Fresh watercress
Very good extra-virgin olive oil or truffle oil
To roast rabbit: Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In small mixing bowl, combine paprika, allspice, salt, pepper and thyme. Mix well. Rub rabbit legs with spice mix. Lay in single layer on sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until spice mix begins to brown slightly.
To cook vegetables: Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil in large braising pan or Dutch oven. Add butter. Place over medium-high heat on range burner. Heat until butter melts and begins to foam. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and apples. Saute, stirring occasionally, until onions become translucent and vegetables begin to sweat out their natural juices.
To make braising liquid: Add sparkling wine. Increase heat to high. Simmer for 10 minutes or until alcohol has cooked out of wine. Stir in mustard and brown sugar.
To braise rabbit: Remove rabbit legs from oven. Add to pot. Cover with chicken stock. Seal tightly with aluminum foil and form-fitting lid. Place in oven. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Braise for 2 hours or until meat falls easily from bone.
To reduce braising liquid: Remove pan from oven. Using slotted spoon, gently place rabbit legs on baking sheet. Place braising liquid on range burner over medium heat with bottom of pot just off center of burner. Bring to a simmer. Skim off grease and impurities. Cook until braising liquid is reduced by one-third. Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.
To serve: Serve leg and thigh of rabbit over risotto, polenta or spaetzle. Smother with 4 ounces braising liquid. Cover with few sprigs of fresh watercress and splash of very good extra-virgin olive oil or white truffle oil.

DANNY KLECKO OF SAINT AGNES BAKERY
PUMPKIN BRIOCHE
1/4 cup milk (room temperature)
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup sugar
6 cups bread flour, divided use
1 handful craisins
2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cinnamon
6 eggs
8 ounces of soft butter
To make sponge: In mixing bowl, combine milk and yeast. Whisk to combine. Let rest for several minutes. Stir in pumpkin puree, sugar and 1 cup flour. Cover. Let develop for 30 to 45 minutes.
To make brioche: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sponge into mixing bowl. Add remaining 5 cups flour, craisins, salt and cinnamon. Mix to combine. Add eggs. Mix until absorbed. Add butter. Mix until dough comes together. (Note: It should have a soft elastic consistency, much like rich bun dough.)
To bake brioche: Scale finished dough into pieces that will match size of bread pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.