Dress It Up ... or Dress It Down

Sunset, November 1990 | Go to article overview

Dress It Up ... or Dress It Down


This festive, bountiful meal accommodates every taste, whether your Thanksgiving gathering is for the family with mixed ages and somewhat cautious palates-or for more adventurous outlooks.

Put the meal together following the left-hand column of the menu above and it has a wholesome, friendly, and rather economical character. Follow the options on the right-hand side, and you dress up the basics of each dish with more extravagant ingredients.

As a third possibility, mix and match dishes from both sides of the menu. Each dish has make-ahead steps to help you bring this meal together smoothly. The salads share some elements, but one can be served family-style from a large bowl, while the other is designed for presentation on individual plates. The turkey is roasted unstuffed; to have lots of gravy for the family, you simmer the giblets.

For a more intensely flavored, concentrated gravy to serve in smaller quantities-like a sauce the giblets get roasted before simmering. The cranberry relish, dressing, the three vegetable dishes (carrots and onions, green beans, and potato casserole), and the pumpkin dessert each offer variations with distinctive seasoning alternatives.

The salad

Watercress and Shrimp Salad with Butter Lettuce

3 tablespoons mustard seed

6 tablespoons olive oil or salad oil

3 cups 1/2-inch cubes French bread

1/2 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

12 cups butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and crisped

6 cups watercress sprigs, rinsed and crisped

1 pound shelled cooked tiny shrimp

Put mustard seed in a small bowl and add about 1/2 cup boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes to 8 hours; drain.

In a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat, combine 1/4 cup of the oil with the bread cubes; stir until cubes are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels. If croutons are made ahead, store airtight up until next day.

In a large bowl, mix vinegar, 2 tablespoons oil, mustard seed, and mustard. Tear lettuce into bowl in bite-size pieces. Add watercress and shrimp. Mix well; top with croutons. Makes 12 servings.

Per serving: 144 cal; 10 g protein; 8.4 g fat; 7.1 g carbo.; 193 mg sodium; 74 mg chol.

Belgian Endive Salad with Foie Gras

12 pieces thin-sliced firm-texture white bread, crusts trimmed (if desired)

3 tablespoons mustard seed

3 large heads (about 3/4 lb. total) Belgian endive, leaves separated, rinsed, and crisped

6 ounces (about 6 cups) watercress sprigs, rinsed and crisped

1/2 pound fresh (or 1 can, 7 1/4 oz.) duck foie gras

3/4 cup raspberry vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

Cut bread slices in half diagonally. Arrange in a single layer on 2 baking sheets, 12- by 15-inch size. Bake in a 350[deg] oven until toasted, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool. If made more than 1 hour ahead, package airtight and hold at room temperature up until next day.

Put mustard seed in a small bowl and add about 1/2 cup boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes to 8 hours; drain.

On each of 12 salad plates, fan an equal amount of the endive leaves. Put an equal amount of watercress at the base of each fan and 2 pieces of toast beside greens on each plate.

Cut foie gras into 12 equal slices. Place a 10- to 12-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add foie gras without crowding. Cook just enough to warm and tinge with brown, about 40 seconds. Turn slices over and repeat, 30 to 40 seconds. Transfer slices to a plate as browned and keep warm; add remaining foie gras to pan until all is heated.

Stir vinegar, mustard seed, and-if using canned foie gras-oil into pan with foie gras drippings. At once spoon dressing equally over salads. Set a slice of foie gras on a piece of toast on each plate. …

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