Fried turkey, green beans with creamy mushroom sauce and mashed sweet potatoes, with poached pears in a cranberry wine reduction. A Thanksgiving feast for one or two.
Many people are forgoing the large Thanksgiving holiday gathering this year, but that doesn’t mean they have to give up on the flavors of the holiday, albeit on a smaller scale. This main course and dessert are a play on traditional flavors without all the leftovers.
I like fried turkey, and a cutlet is the perfect size for frying indoors. They are thin and absorb flavors well in a brine. I brined mine for an hour in salt, sugar and seasonal spices. After the brining, I drained and dried them, brushing off any large herbs that stuck to the meat (they will burn easily in the fryer).
Get ready to bread the cutlets. To stay with the Thanksgiving theme, the breading on the cutlet is half panko and half dry stuffing crumbs. For 4 cutlets, I used a half cup of each. This would be a good time to add any extra seasonings to the coating, but I advise against adding too many. While these cutlets are fried in low temperature oil, the herbs tend to burn quickly and turn black. Not cute.
My son and I tried breading the cutlets a few different ways and found that a double dip of egg made the breading stick better to the meat. Egg – Flour (or cornstarch) – Egg – Crumb Mixture.
These cutlets were fried in vegetable oil, but I would recommend the traditional peanut oil for the nostalgic taste. Rather than temp the oil, I turned my electric burner on between 4 and 5 and let the oil heat for about 20 minutes before getting started. It’s important for the oil to be on a low temperature so the crumb can gradually turn golden brown. Because the cutlets are thin, they will cook quickly. Once they are fried, they stay warm on a tray in a 200F oven, but don’t keep them in there for too long; they will dry out.
Another holiday favorite is the green been casserole. I’ve never been a fan of soggy green beans, so I usually sauté mine in a pan with butter and pour a sauce over them at serving. A simple cream of mushroom soup makes a nice sauce, especially when garnished with crushed French-fried onions.
Start by melting butter in a saucepan. Sauté onions until soft, then add mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms begin to brown. Add seasonings (salt, pepper, sage, thyme, to taste) and minced garlic. Cook until fragrant and add 1/4c. white wine. Reduce. Add 1 Tbsp. Flour and stir until everything turns into a light golden paste. Add 1 1/2c. Milk, cream or half and half, stirring until the paste melts and the liquid begins to thicken.
A staple for my Thanksgiving is always mashed sweet potatoes. They became the bed of my Thanksgiving plate. The crispy turkey cutlet went on top. I sauted green beans with butter, salt and pepper before plating. The mushroom gravy went over everything and it was served with a side of cranberry sauce.
Speaking of cranberry sauce, using the canned variety may result in leftovers. And, what does one do with leftover cranberry sauce? Well, it could be made into a sauce for poached pears. This easy recipe is very low maintenance and tastes like more.
Start by halving the pears. Place them in a pan and (mostly) cover them with wine. The type of wine depends on your taste, and I personally prefer a light white wine. The addition of spices would also enhance the flavor of the pears at this stage of cooking. Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove or pumpkin pie spice might be a nice addition to the wine bath.
Very gently simmer the pears, covered for 15-20min, or until soft, but not mushy. They should be “al dente” or only just firm to a bite. They can be pierced with a toothpick or narrow knife to test for doneness. Remove from the wine and set aside. Turn up the heat and let the wine boil and reduce.
When the wine has reduced by about half, add several tablespoons of cranberry sauce and stir until combined. Allow the cranberry wine combination to boil and reduce until a jelly consistency.
Put the sauce on the plate, then top with the poached pear. Pour the sauce over the pear. For the ultimate finish, garnish with crumbled bacon jerky. Oh- and a Brandy Old Fashioned Sour. Gobble. Gobble.