Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Celebration

This picture isn't the best. You can't really tell what anything is and the portion-size on that white stuff looks way too big. Actually, this plate is comprised of 3 turkey cranberry raviolis, sauteed kale, roasted squash puree, and store-bought whole berry cranberry sauce (for some reason I always like it better than any homemade version I've ever tried).

I made this ravioli two years ago for a pre-Thanksgiving feast we had then. To be honest with you, it was so good that after my first bite I exclaimed, "This is just as good as when I learned to masturbate." That's very crude, I know, but masturbation is healthy, do it before you marry too early or sleep with a loser, I'd say.

I had a similar experience the first time I had butter on a baked potato although I would describe that as a religious experience.

The ravioli gravy turned out a lot better this time, I thought. It thickened up a lot better. The trick is being a really vigilant stirrer. Don't leave it unattended for the entire duration of making the gravy. Stir constantly...which is easy for us because Mark loves to stir so much so that I make fun of him for it. He's a compulsive stirrer.

Turkey & Cranberry Ravioli
from Giada at Food Network

Serves 6

* 1 lb pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat (I used an 85/15 ratio)
* 1/2 c. tablespoons cranberry sauce
* 1/2 c. tablespoons grated Romano
* 6 tablespoons bread crumbs
* 6 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
* 1 egg
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 80 store-bought wonton wrappers


* 1.5 sticks butter
* 4 shallots, chopped
* 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
* 1 c. chicken broth
* 1/2 c. tablespoons heavy cream
* 1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


To make the ravioli: in a medium bowl, stir together the turkey, cranberry sauce, cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, egg, salt, and pepper. Place 10 wonton wrappers on a work surface. Brush lightly with water using a pastry brush. Place 1 tablespoon of the turkey mixture on each of the wonton wrappers. Top with another wonton wrapper. Push out any air bubbles and press the edges tightly to seal. (I don't recall this being a big deal last time, but Mark had a lot of trouble with these this time. He did a lot of shouting. The comments on the recipe suggest alternatives such as making the meat mixture into a loaf and cover it with the gravy or turn the meat mixture into meatballs and serve with pasta and sauce. I like the lightness of the wonton wrappers. We're going to remake this for Mark's parents later this week and we plan to make the meat mixture into meatballs and serve it with the gravy on top of fresh pasta).

To make the gravy: in a medium, heavy skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir until cooked, about 1 minute. Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring quickly to avoid lumps. Add the cream, parley, salt, and pepper and cook, without boiling, for 2 minutes, stirring often.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli and cook until tender but still firm to the bite and the turkey is cooked, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Drain the ravioli into the gravy and stir to coat. Serve immediately in individual dishes, drizzled with the remaining gravy.

The kale was a simple saute. I heated some olive oil, added in some leftover chopped onion (about 1/4 c.), 3 chopped garlic cloves, 2 tsp. red pepper flakes and some S & P. Then I added the kale until the skillet was full, put the lid on and let it wilt down, then added more until the kale was all in the skillet. I used one bunch. The best tip I know when preparing any type of sauteed greens is to just chop them really small. That makes the finished product have a glorious texture. I take the spines out of my kale/greens and put them in a freezer bag for future veggie stock endeavors. Otherwise, you just chop them very finely and they can go into the pot with the greens. I used some chicken stock and a tiny bit of cream to add liquid if the skillet got too dry.

Many hours before the meal was to be served, I prepped the squashes. I cut the ends off of a medium-sized butternut squash then cut it in half. I cut an acorn squash in half, placed both squashes in a big, rimmed casserole dish and sprinkled them with S & P, drizzled them with olive oil, and roasted them for an hour at 400 degrees. Afterward, I checked for doneness by poking them with a fork. The acorn squash was done, so I took it out, but the butternut still had a ways to go. I roasted it until it was done, about 45 minutes more.

After the squashes were cooled, I spooned out their flesh (I love the sound of that statement) and set it aside. In a small saucepan I sauteed 4 strips of chopped bacon until they were done. Because I was using center-cut bacon, the rendered fat was not significant. I added the squash flesh, mashed it with a potato masher, added chicken broth until it was the desired consistency, then added 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper. That's it, kids. Check for S & P and you're good.

We had several folks over that night. Claudia brought a delightful feta-cream cheese dip that I wish I'd eaten more of, Shane & Sarah brought some of my favorite chocolates which came in handy, because we were too lazy/full to finish our cookies for dessert. Randy picked up the slack in the gravy-making when Mark left his post. Other than Claudia wishing a palsy upon me, the night went pretty well. Little Margot got to meet our friends and was adored by all.

My friends Jeff & Susan were expected to be there, but were not because I called the wrong Susan in my phone, leaving all the pertinent info on her voicemail. The right Jeff & Susan thought I left them hanging, I'm sure. The Susan I called sent me a bewildered email on Monday morning.

This is Margot with a lamb friend:

She has a cold and some eye issues right now, but she's on the mend.

I'm kinda ashamed to say it, but we've been bitten early and put up our tree.

Gnocchi is too fat to climb in it like a squirrel this year, thank goodness.

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