Tailgate at the table

When football and food team up on our Thanksgiving menu, everybody wins

November 18, 2011|By John Houser III, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Is football — more specifically, Thursday's Ravens-49ers game, the first time a Baltimore NFL team has played on Thanksgiving in 46 years — threatening to overshadow your holiday meal plans?

Instead of fighting the game, why not embrace it? To help, we've recast the traditional Thanksgiving foods with a tailgate twist. You can still have your turkey, your stuffing, your potatoes, your greens, your pie, but in a game-friendly way. Think of it as a tailgate party at your table.

With our menu, including a turkey meatloaf sandwich, stuffing muffins and potato sauerkraut croquettes, you'll score points with food and football fans alike. No matter what, your household is likely to be more peaceful than the Harbaughs', with brothers John (Baltimore coach) and Jim (San Francisco coach) facing off on the field.

Buffalo mushrooms

Buffalo wings are a tailgating staple, but poultry's already covered, so we've used mushrooms. They're battered with the same formula used on fried chicken because it keeps the mushrooms from getting soggy after the sauce is added. With no bones to deal with and a meaty flavor from the baby bella mushrooms, you might not go back to chicken wings.

8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, cut in half

8 ounces butter

5 ounces hot sauce

64 ounces canola oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons dry thyme

1 tablespoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups all purpose flour

2 eggs

2 tablespoons water

In a food processor, add 1 cup of flour, the salt, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, paprika and pepper. Turn on processor and add in the water. Process the mixture for 10 seconds. The spiced flour mixture should be mealy.

Set up your frying station by filling three separate containers for dredging: one with 1 cup of plain flour, the second with the egg and the third with the spiced flour. In a deep pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When your thermometer hits 375 turn the heat down and prepare your items for deep frying. Take a mushroom half and dredge in the plain flour first. Knock off as much as you can and then dredge it into the egg. Let the excess of the egg drip off and then dredge in the spiced flour. Drop the mushroom lightly into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, turning with a wooden spoon or chopstick. Remove from oil and place on a sheet pan with a rack insert or folded up paper towels.

To make the sauce, place the butter in a sauce pan over medium low heat. When the butter is fully melted turn off the heat and add all of the hot sauce. Whisk till combined.

To serve: Place mushrooms in a metal bowl and pour a cup of the sauce on top. Toss until the mushrooms are coated with the sauce. Place mushrooms on a plate and serve with a side of celery and blue cheese dressing.

Turkey meatloaf sandwiches

Your initial tailgating turkey instinct might be to deep fry. But why deal with the mess (and fire threat)? This sandwich is mobile, easy to eat and not too messy. The addition of pureed sausage helps keep the meatloaf moist and acts as a binder, while the cranberries and walnuts give it a good texture. The cranberry compote (see next recipe) makes this sandwich taste like Thanksgiving.

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 medium onion

1/2 apple

3 cloves garlic

1/2 pound mild Italian sausage

1 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 cup chopped dried sweetened cranberries

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

2 eggs

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put rack in the middle position. Place breadcrumbs, milk and sausage in a food processor. Pulse till pureed.

Saute onion, garlic and apple over medium heat for 5 minutes until slightly translucent. Drop heat to medium low and cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Combine sausage mixture, ground turkey, onion mixture, eggs, parsley, cranberries, walnuts, one tablespoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix till just combined.

Wipe the inside of a 81/2-by-41/2-inch metal loaf pan with olive oil. Create a foil sling by lining the inside of the pan width-wise with a piece of aluminum foil that will overhang 3 inches on both sides. Do the same thing with a pice of aluminum foil that will cover the inside of the loaf pan lengthwise. Wipe the aluminum foil lining with oil. Fill the loaf pan with the meatloaf mixture and spread evenly.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven until a thermometer reaches 160 degrees (about 50 minutes). Cool for 10 minutes, then extract the meatloaf with the foil sling. Be slow and careful doing this.

Slice into 1/2-inch thick slices and place on sandwich bread with cranberry compote on one side and a mayo/ Dijon mixture on the other (optional). Two slices of the meatloaf should fit on one sandwich snugly side by side.

Cranberry compote

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