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Four-Course Fabulous

Dinner Menu Ideas for Thanksgiving and Beyond

1411_WhatsCooking_1Beef Pot Roast with Wine-Seasoned Au Jus

Preheat oven to 325°. Heat large Dutch oven on medium. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to Dutch oven. Trim, salt, and pepper 4 pounds of chuck roast, and sear on all sides. Remove meat from Dutch oven and set aside. Add more oil, if necessary. Chop and sauté 1 large onion, 3 carrots, 3 stalks celery, and 6 cloves garlic, smashed, until soft and golden. To the sauté, add 4 cups chicken stock, 2 cups chopped canned tomatoes, 2 cups dry red wine, 3 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon fennel seed, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, ¼ cup chopped parsley, and ¼ cup chopped basil. Bring to a boil. Return meat to pan and reduce to a simmer. Cover, place in oven, and cook until fork-tender, about 4 hours. Remove meat from liquid and cool. Strain and return liquid to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium high heat until reduced by half. Slice meat and return to pot. Reheat meat gently. For the gremolata, boil 2 peeled garlic cloves in water for 1 minute, smash, and mince. In a small bowl, thoroughly combine ¼ cup parsley, 2 tablespoon basil, and 2 tablespoons chives, all chopped and minced. Drizzle with ¼ cup or less olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt. Stir when ready to serve with pot roast. Serves 4.

1411_WhatsCooking_2Roasted Piquillo Pepper and Tomato Soup

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add 2 diced shallots, 1 fennel bulb, stalks removed and bulb sliced, 1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced, and 2 carrots, peeled and chopped. Sauté until soft, about 15 minutes. Add 2 garlic cloves, minced, and sauté for another minute. Add 14-oz can of chopped tomatoes, two 7-oz jars of Piquillo peppers, and 3 cups vegetable stock.  Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Transfer sauté to a blender. Purée the mixture, taking care not to fill more than a third full when working with hot soup. Add salt and pepper to taste and more stock for desired consistency. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of fennel fronds and pepper. Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as an appetizer.

1411_WhatsCooking_3Autumn Greens Salad with Sweet Potato, Apple, and Bacon

Preheat oven to 425°. Peel and cut 1 medium sweet potato into ½-in cubes. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put on baking sheet and roast until tender. Fry ½ pound of thickly sliced Applewood smoked bacon and cut into ½-in pieces. Set aside. For the dressing, combine 3 tablespoons of spicy pecan vinegar, 1 heaping tablespoon finely minced shallots, 2 teaspoons pecan praline syrup, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium sized bowl. Whisk together. Slowly whisk in ½ cup olive oil until emulsified. In a large bowl, toss 6 cups of greens (spinach, arugula, or frisée) with some dressing then divide onto salad plates or place in a serving bowl. Toss 1 medium apple, cored, halved, and thinly sliced in remaining dressing and top greens. Sprinkle with bacon and dried apple chip crumbles. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

1411_WhatsCooking_4Bourbon, Cranberry, Pecan and Sweet Potato Bread Pudding

Preheat oven to 400°. Wrap 2 large sweet potatoes in foil and cook until tender, about an hour. Cut
1 baguette into ½-in cubes and spread into a large buttered casserole dish. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 stick of melted butter with 4 eggs, 2 cups of half-and-half, 1 cup turbinado sugar, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla, ¼ cup of bourbon, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon to create a batter. When potatoes are cooked, peel and cut into ½-in cubes. In a large bowl, combine the cubed sweet potatoes, 1½ cups cooked cranberries, 1 cup dried cranberries, and 1 cup roasted and salted pecans, lightly chopped. Toss mixture lightly with bread cubes. Whisk the batter one more time and pour over casserole with bread. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour until the custard is set. Serves 8.

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