Thanksgiving Inspiration ~ Diane Sikorski, Humble Pie Baking Company

~ erin molnar, assistant markets manager

Now is the time to start planning your Thanksgiving menu. I don’t know how many times I have planned to make a large scale meal and realized too late that I didn’t have the proper ingredients or didn’t plan enough time to have things brine or rest or some other critical element to a preparation. To help you out, we have asked some of our favorite people to share their Thanksgiving menus to help inspire you and start your planning.

Diane Sikorski and her company, Humble Pie Baking Company, used to be vendors at our Howe Meadow Farmers’ Market. And we miss her! Her pies are some of the best that you can ever hope to eat. She is also an all around AMAZING cook, always emphasizing ingredients of high quality and local origin. She remains a close friend of the markets, and market staff. When I thought about whose Thanksgiving tables I would want to eat it, she was one of the first to pop into my head. A huge THANK YOU to Diane for sharing with us!

I’m usually an adventurous eater who appreciates diversity and creativity in cooking but when it comes to Thanksgiving I most enjoy the simple versions of the holiday dishes, simple but done well.

My ideal Thanksgiving meal would include a roasted heirloom turkey, roasted kabocha or hubbard squash, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing a green salad and cranberry sauce.

My mother’s stuffing is my favorite and it’s as simple as could be. We don’t work with recipes but in general terms the stuffing is cubed pieces of bread that have been left to dry for a day or two tossed with several VERY generous handfuls of parsley, sage and thyme (or whatever herbs you like or have on hand), sweated onions (be generous) and enough chicken, turkey or vegetable stock to soften the bread. Some of the mix is placed in the bird and the rest is cooked in a covered pan.

We always “bard the bird” before it goes into the oven by simply draping strips of bacon over all of its surfaces. Don’t worry about the drippings and gravy tasting of bacon. While the fat from the bacon adds some depth to the drippings it does not leaves them tasting of bacon.

I am quite fond of turkey. I buy several heirloom birds at Thanksgiving and break them down and freeze them in pieces/parts to use throughout the year. Whenever I make turkey with those pieces/parts I use the bones and scraps to make stock and I make sure I have turkey stock on hand to make the Thanksgiving gravy. My gravy is a simple one. After removing the bird from its roasting pan I add flour that is a little less than equal to the amount of fat in the pan and cook in on a low heat to make a loose paste of the butter and fat. You want to let this “roux” cook for several minutes to get rid of the flour taste. Once the roux is a few shades darker than golden I add the stock and let that simmer until it thickens, all the while scraping the bottom of the roaster to get off all the cooked on bits or “fond”. That’s where all the flavor is. Salt and black pepper to taste.

When it comes to mashed potatoes, I prefer equal parts potato and turnip with kale folded in. I boil the potatoes and turnips together with a few cloves of smashed garlic thrown into the pot. While those are cooking I saute lots of leeks in lots of butter and just when the leeks start to soften I throw in handfuls of chopped kale. The greens and leeks get folded into the potato/turnip mixture after they’ve been mashed along with a cup or so of cream.

The squash gets cut into 2-3 inch pieces, tossed with olive oil and salt and roasts for the last hour or so that the bird is in the oven.

I love green bean casserole and my friend Tom Noe’s recipe is perfect. http://exploringfoodmyway.blogspot.com/2009/11/extra-helpings-friendsgiving-part-ii.html

The cranberry sauce is as easy as could be. Start with four cups or so of cranberries, place them in a sauce pan with one cup each of water and sugar, a pinch of salt and simmer/low boil them for 15-20 minutes. If you like you may add lemon, orange zest or chopped nuts but I like to keep it plain myself.

The Thanksgiving green salad is simply whatever beautiful greens can be found at the market tossed with really good olive oil, a favorite vinegar, salt and pepper and roasted squash seeds.

And of course, we have my pies for dessert!

Did you notice how much of that meal you can get at the market? Heritage turkeys, bread, herbs, onions, potatoes, bacon, greens, squash, garlic, leeks, turnips and kale!! 

If you need a pie for the big day, I encourage you to contact Diane ASAP (via Facebook, phone @ 440.933.3317, or email @ humblepiebc@yahoo.com)- she reaches her order capacity quickly and if you are buying a pie this year, you do not want to miss out on the best available.

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One thought on “Thanksgiving Inspiration ~ Diane Sikorski, Humble Pie Baking Company

  1. Thank you for the sweet words, my friend.

    I would like to add that it is possible to make the whole menu local.

    When green beans are in season, I blanche and freeze enough to get me through the winter (taking into account extras for things like Thanksgiving green bean casserole).

    Leeks are super easy to freeze. You can have them all hand all winter long. Just chop them as you would to use them, place in a freezer bag and into the freezer. When you need leeks, reach into the bag and take what you need.

    Shallots keep in the freezer all winter long.

    I do the same with mushrooms. Knowing that not all of the markets I frequent have a mushroom vendor, when I see mushrooms I buy enough to have some to use and some to freeze. Simply chop and give them a quick sautee in butter or olive oil (not local, I know) and pop them in the freezer. Reserve any stems you don’t use, put in a small pot, cover with water and simmer for 10 minutes for a quick stock to keep in your freezer. Mushroom stock is a magic kitchen ingredient. It amps up any dish. Try in as part of the liquid for your next pot roast.

    We are fortunate to have multiple options for local milk, cream, butter and cheese.

    The amount of effort it takes to put food aside for winter is minimal relative to the satisfaction that comes from spending one’s food dollars with our local farmers vs. buying produce from the grocery store in the winter. It’s also incredibly satisfying to have a Thanksgiving table laid with nothing but local foods. Well, I do make exception for the cranberries. While I’ve seen local cranberries once or twice, they are not common and not something I want to pass up for Thanksgiving.

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