Having only recently returned to the States after a decade-long hiatus from Thanksgiving, I was mildly overwhelmed by the volume of activity involved in this traditional feast. After spending many years basically forgetting about Thursday’s main event, I hadn’t prepared for the flurry that would surround at least four days of stuffing ourselves, and a turkey. Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I also hosted a “Friendsgiving” on the Saturday following the blowout at my parent’s house on Thursday.
That being said, I had nary a moment to snap photos along the way between basting, roasting, caramelising and child herding, so I hope you’ll forgive the lack of step by step pictures this week. What I do have for you though, are three incredibly easy recipes that can be used for a Sunday roast or midweek feast. Trade chicken for the turkey and reduce the time by loads, and you’ll have a dinner to give thanks for – I promise.
Back in the day, a green bean casserole meant tinned beans, condensed cream of mushroom soup and fried crispy onions on top. These days, I prefer to start from scratch to ensure it’s gluten-free and free of wacky preservatives and stabilisers. Not only is it healthier; it’s a million times tastier. My family couldn’t say enough, or eat enough, of this classic side dish with homemade flavour. The sweet potato mash is just my preference to standard white mash, and it adds a lovely sweet balance to the savoury beans and turkey.
Some tips for turkey
For Friendsgiving, I slow roasted a medium-sized turkey coated in honey mustard until it was falling off the bone. At just 110C/225F for 8-10 hours, keep the bird covered with foil and with approximately 2 cups of chicken stock on the bottom of the roasting tin. I add one large onion to the cavity and sprinkle garlic salt to stick to the mustard coating. I started with the breast down and flipped it half way through (4 hours in), increased the heat to 180C/350F and uncovered for the last 15 minutes to crisp the skin. You can do the same with a large chicken, reducing the time to 3-4 hours, for succulent, juicy meat. Always be sure to check the meat is cooked through before serving; all ovens vary!
Green bean casserole and sweet mash
• 2 medium white onions
• 1 tsp veg oil of choice
• 1 TB salted butter
• 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp fresh or dried garlic minced
• 2 cups chopped fresh mushroom of choice; I use white
• 2 cups double/heavy cream
• 6-8 cups topped and tailed fresh green beans
• 4 pieces of bacon chopped roughly (optional)
• 3 large sweet potatoes
• 2 TB salted butter
• ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, allspice, clove and nutmeg)
• ½ TB Greek yogurt or soured cream
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Splash of milk or cream to loosen for preferred texture (optional)
Begin with slicing the onion into long strips and adding them with the oil to a wide pot over a medium heat. The onions will sweat and begin to brown after a few minutes of little stirring. Once they begin to brown slightly, try to stir more often so they don’t fry instead of sweetening.
After ten to fifteen minutes, you should begin to see them all browning, shrivelling and producing a lovely sweet aroma. You won’t need to add any sugar – these release their own natural sweetness that’s impressive.
Once the onions have produced a nice glaze, add the mushrooms and coat them with it. Add in the balsamic vinegar and a tab of butter. Keep stirring until the mushrooms and onions are well blended.
Add the cream and dried garlic, stirring continuously to avoid scorching the cream. Using a non-stick pan is ideal for this, because sometimes the kids need you urgently and you don’t have time to ruin dinner.
Once the cream has incorporated into the onions and mushrooms and reduced slightly, add the chopped bacon and pour the sauce over a baking tray full of halved green beans.
Bake covered at 180C/350F in the top 1/3 of the oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Allow to rest for 5 minutes or more before serving.
For the sweet mash, bake the whole sweet potatoes at 180C/350F for 1 hour, or until they’re running juices. I usually line a tray with foil to avoid clean up of the leaky sugars.
Allow the soft potatoes to cool slightly before scooping into a large bowl and discarding the skins.
Add the butter and smash the potatoes and butter until smooth.
Add the yogurt or soured cream and dry spice and mix thoroughly. Taste your mash to be sure it doesn’t need a splash of milk or cream to loosen the texture.
Serve these green beans and this mash as side dishes to any kind of roast and you won’t be disappointed. With the above method for turkey or chicken, it’s amazing. Once the bird is out of the oven, you can easily make gravy with the remaining stock, but the green beans have a lovely gravy of their own that’s delicious. My family and friends were filled to bursting with these moreish sides. Happy feasting!