Thanksgiving, for many of us, stretches out from a single day into a mini-season. You probably already have a couple of Thanksgiving dinners behind you — maybe at work, maybe a Friendsgiving or two. You might be making the rounds this weekend, hitting both sets of in-laws, with a stop at a divorced parent’s or two.
After a while, you realize you really can have too much perfectly lacquered turkey skin and that maybe it’s a bit excessive when the side dishes outnumber the people seated around the table — again.
You could, of course, cut down on the family obligations — but that decision would be on your head, not mine. So, what if you could change up the menu instead? I don’t mean plunking a ham next to the green-bean casserole; I mean changing up the whole meal, the whole pacing and tenor of it.
How about just one dish for your next mini-Thanksgiving? How about a salad? Doesn’t that sound really refreshing right now, as we launch into the excesses of the season? Imagine putting one hugantic, show-stopping bowl in the middle of the table, pouring the wine (How about a nice Grüner Veltliner?) and enjoying the conversation. You might even have room for dessert.
This isn’t a simple salad. You’ll bake, saute, deep-fry, blanch and blend. We’re not trying to take all the fun out of holiday cooking. And it does include just about all the must-haves on a Thanksgiving table: turkey, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and even gravy’s perky cousin, a brown-butter vinaigrette.
A fresh and local twist on a Lebanese favorite and a burgeoning local tea business changes its game in today’s edition of The Tap.
The Tap is a biweekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm. “We raise 100 percent grass-fed lambs & goats traditionally, humanely, and sustainably.”
The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor James Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grlk (now for sale)
When condiment shopping, serious food lovers like flavors that are clear, clean, and strong — when your condiment knows its own identity, it’s that much easier for it to play nicely with other ingredients.
A new Minneapolis-made spread called Grlk (pronounced “garlic”) has a perspective that’s clear as day: eat it on a cracker and you’ll be struck be a Olympian lightning bolt of rich, pungent garlic flavor. It’s made with garlic, non-GMO canola oil, organic lemon juice, organic sea salt, and purified water and goes for $8 a jar via the Grlk website. Jars stay good for 6-8 weeks in the fridge, and each contains 6-7 cloves of garlic.
Grlk is a modern interpretation of a traditional Mediterranean spread called toum. “I grew up calling it ‘garlic sauce’,” says Grlk founder Peter Chehadeh, whose father is Lebanese and brought his own mother’s and grandmother’s recipes to America with him. “It usually accompanies grilled meats as a saute addition, as well a condiment and a marinade. … My mother adapted it to other things, such as sauteing vegetables or seafood, or using it as a condiment instead of using mayo or salad dressing.”
We tried Grlk on a cracker (insanely strong), as a foundational spread for a pizza bagel (tastiest pizza bagel … in history?), and tossed with spaghetti, ham, butter, peas, and sun-dried tomatoes (a fantastic 15-minute lunch project).
Grlk’s texture is creamy and uniform, thanks to its blender-based production method. “My grandmother in Lebanon blended it by hand — it was a little more runny, like a vinaigrette,” says Chehadeh.
At the moment, Chehadeh is handling his own local distribution direct to customers, making Grlk to order the day the order arrives and delivering it that evening or the next day. “I want to give the customer the most fresh product possible so they can use it as long as possible,” he says.
New Verdant Tea retail and brewery space (early 2015)
2009 E 24th St
The always-evolving Verdant Tea teahouse / restaurant / food-business incubator / gastronomic hydra thing is changing its game once more. Owners David and Lily Duckler are moving to the Snelling Distribution Center at 2009 E 24th St, next to the United Noodle warehouse. The new space is expected to open in early 2015 and will include brewing and bottling space (for Prohibition Kombucha, Verdant Tea chai, and Tree Fort Soda), a taproom, and retail sales space for tea.
Meanwhile, as per their press release, Verdant will leave its distinctive imprint on its current Seward neighborhood location:
[The Ducklers] have sold the Seward restaurant and bar concept to executive chef Katriel Menendez, and his business partners, effective Dec. 1. The restaurant name Verdant will be licensed by Verdant Tea to Menendez and his team, and David Duckler will continue to curate the bar’s cocktail menu, which features many of Verdant’s teas, Prohibition Kombucha and Tree Fort Soda as well as craft liquors. The restaurant will continue to operate at its location on Franklin Avenue.
- Spoon and Stable, 211 N 1st St, Minneapolis | 2014
- Victor’s on Water, 205 Water St, Excelsior | 2014
- Red Wagon Pizza, 5416 Penn Ave. South, Minneapolis
- Insight Brewing Taproom, 2821 E Hennepin, Minneapolis
- Junkyard Brewing, 1416 1st Ave N, Moorhead
- The Meet Market, 1971 Whitaker St, White Bear Lake
- Bonefish Grill, Shops at West End, St. Louis Park
- Bistro LaRoux, 9372 Lexington Ave N, Circle Pines, MN
- Vikre Distillery Cocktail Room, 525 Lake Ave S, Suite 102, Duluth (Opens Nov. 28)
- Paleos Cuisine and Cocktails, 566 Lilac Dr, Lino Lakes, MN
- Paddy Shack at Half Time Rec, 1013 Front Ave, St. Paul
- Wine Republic, 287 Water St, #110, Excelsior, MN
- Señor Sol, 990 Payne Ave, St. Paul
- LynLake Brewery, 2934 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
- Dogwood Coffee Company, 4021 E Lake St, Minneapolis and inside Shinola, 228 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis
- Red Table Meat Company, 1401 Marshall St NE, Minneapolis (wholesale only)
- Northgate Brewing, 783 Harding St NE, Minneapolis
Several million stories have been written about how to season, brine, and / or roast a turkey, so we won’t attempt to grapple with those issues here. Instead, we will make two simple and sensible recommendations that — if heeded — will likely result in a brilliant and happy Thanksgiving for all involved.
The first is to cook your turkey in a tabletop electric oven. We like the Hamilton Beach 22-quart roaster (pictured above) or the Nesco 18-quart roaster (it also comes in camo, if you happen to be under enemy fire while preparing your meal). Retailing at $40-$70 (Fleet Farm always carries a variety of sizes), these marvelous devices can handle up to 22-pound birds.
Using an electric oven accomplishes a few things. First and foremost, it frees up your regular old oven for the endless parade of sides and other dishes rotating through the kitchen on Thanksgiving. Second, it cooks turkeys quickly. We’ve been able to finish 22-pound birds in under three hours, faster than we’ve managed in our conventional oven, and so fast that we start temping the bird at around 90 minutes because the last 20 or 30 degrees in temperature change come fast and furiously. Finally, if you put the electric oven somewhere accessible to your guests, the basting and checking of the turkey becomes Thanksgiving theater, a chance for everyone present to ooh and aah and enjoy the way the cooking bird fills the room with plumes of savory delight.
Our second recommendation is this: brine your turkey. But don’t soak your turkey in salt water — rub the salt onto the skin. It works beautifully to tenderize the meat and spares you the effort of filling and then disposing of gallon after gallon of turkey water. We’ve tried both ways, and now swear by the dry-brine method. The New York Times breaks it down quite nicely in their essential guide to Thanksgiving.
Each Friday afternoon, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email email@example.com.
Chicken Liver Tart at Heyday
Contributed by John Garland
Cubano at Hola Arepa
Who needs beans, plantains and all that other filler? Slow roasted pork, ham, mustard, refrigerator pickles and a spicy aioli make for a powerful, two-fisted meat talisman to protect against the wintry onslaught. [Last Week on the Hot Five: #2]
Contributed by Peter Sieve
Surf and Turf Burger at George and the Dragon
“Awesome surf & turf burger @ganddpub w/fried oysters & caramelized onions. Get it!” [Debuting on the Hot Five]
Pork Belly at Borough
Contributed by Paige Latham
Ram-Toria-Aaloo at The Himalayan
Contributed by Joshua Page
Our family spends Thanksgiving with a friend who has celiac disease, so we have a mostly gluten-free dinner — I do make rolls and a pie crust with wheat flour, but also gluten-free versions for Jerry. A dish we all look forward to is the gluten-free dressing, which starts with a tasty cornbread. You could use your favorite cornbread recipe for the dressing if you don’t need to avoid gluten.
While these recipes are forgiving, and you can use the most readily available ingredients, several ingredients merit mention. Likewise, for the dressings, proportions are flexible: don’t discard a handful of excess diced celery; use it. The critical part is tasting for seasoning as you cook. And stuffing the dressing into the turkey turns it into … a stuffing, of course!
This Hack is underwritten by Gorkha Palace: Using fresh & organic ingredients, Gorkha Palace brings you an eclectic range of cuisines of Nepal, India and Tibet thus offering our patrons a unique culinary experience.
Fresh, wholegrain cornmeal is sweet and flavorful and makes a difference in these — and other — recipes. I used organic cornmeal from Whole Grain Milling in Welcome, Minn., available in bulk at Lakewinds, the Wedge, and other co-ops. I also love the organic cornmeal produced by Greg Reynolds at Riverbend Farm in Delano, Minn., but it’s unavailable this year. “We had a very cool wet spring and early summer,” Reynolds wrote in an email. “The corn got planted late, and we had a frost before it matured. Consequently, no corn crop.”