Thanksgiving – how to make stuffing, creamed onions, butternut squash puree, and pumpkin pie

A Thanksgiving dinner promotion at the Little Kitchen kept me busy all day, working with Raul in a quiet kitchen, the dining room empty (it’s Tuesday and we’re closed) made for an exceptional day. He works efficiently and keeps his station clean. The stuffing recipe called for 6 loaves of bread, 2 seven grain, 2 Tuscan loaves & 2 rye. The bread was cut into cubes and then dusted with chopped parsley, oregano and allspice. Then Raul tossed it with olive oil and toasted the herbed bread cubes. In the morning we will add sautéed celery and shallots and then stuff 4 turkeys, a few sheet pans of the remaining croutons will be soaked with turkey stock and milk then toasted then stirred and toasted some more.We also made a big batch of creamed onions, Raul cleaned and I blanched. The pearl onions come in mesh bags that hold about a quart of onions, this recipe called for 8 bags.

The onions went from a boiling pot of water into a bowl full of ice water as soon as they began to soften (about 3 minutes) then we made a batch of cream sauce with ½ pound of butter, 1 cup of flour, ¼ cup white wine, ¼ cup calvados, ½ cup ½ & ½ and 1 cup of milk salt & pepper (if it’s seems a bit tight add some of the water from the blanching pot). The butter and flour should be stirred until smooth over low heat first then add the rest of the ingredients one at a time stirring often. The onions should be drained and then added to a large casserole then stir in the cream sauce, and a cup of Swiss cheese. Place in the oven @ 400 for 15 minutes. If you like a cheese crust finish the dish with more Swiss cheese on the top and flash it under the broiler for another 2 or 3 minutes until it browns.

The promotion has offered a pick up on Wednesday afternoon between noon and 4pm. The customer will receive turkey, mashed potatoes, butternut squash puree, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, creamed onions, stuffing, gravy, and of course pumpkin pie. Our focus today was on freeing the ovens up for the turkeys in the morning. The butternut squash was split, seeded and roasted with a coating of oil and a splash of water. An hour later, after it cooled, we removed the skins and then pureed with a hand held stick blender, added butter, salt and a pinch of nutmeg. Then we made the pumpkin pies.

This recipe calls for Long Island cheese pumpkins but a can of Libby pie mix will work too. I find the best way to make these pies is 2 at a time because Pilllsbury all ready pie crusts are as good as any I can make, they come 2 to a pack.

First cut the pumpkin into ¼ and remove the seeds then toss with oil and roast on a large sheet pan at 375 for an hour or until they become soft. After they cook, remove the skins and then puree in a processor, transfer the puree to a colander and allow it to shed its excess water for an hour. In a large bowl combine 1 can of evaporated milk with 3 large fresh eggs, 1 cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Whip the mixture with a stiff whisk and then whisk in 2.5 cups of pumpkin puree. In 2 , 8 inch glass pyrex pie pans arrange the softened pie crust by pressing the base in first, then rolling the balance around the top edge, roll and pinch. Pre-cook the crust in a 400 oven for 3 to 5 minutes until they begin to brown, remove from the oven and then fill each crust to just below the edge with the pumpkin pie filling. Place both pies on a baking sheet and bake @ 400 for 45 minutes then check with a toothpick. If the pie is not ready (the toothpick should come out of the center dry) turn the pies 180 degrees so the crusts bake evenly, check again after 10 minutes.

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