Thanksgivikkah … the last time Thanksgiving and Hanukkah occurred on the same day was 1888, so I was a little rushed this time. But the next time, I’ve got plenty of time to work out a menu … it’s due in 79,000 years. My son came over for the day. I was going to serve a turkey loaf and a nice acorn squash, but I changed my mind:
Non-traditional dinner of Chicken Parmigiana, Mashed Redskin Potatoes and Braised Brussels Sprouts
At the last minute I decided not to make a turkey loaf and not to cook a squash (my kid doesn’t like squash). Instead, I made chicken parmigiana, brussels sprouts, and potatoes (smished).
If you don’t know how to make a chicken parmigiana, you can look it up; it comes in all kinds of variations. My favourite is this unbreaded one, it’s really simple: In a sprayed (!) glass baking dish (mine is a shallow 9″ × 13″), place as many thawed, boneless, skinless chicken breasts as needed (1/person) “face up”, i.e., with the inside down, and carefully place a layer of grated parmesan cheese on top. It will tend to fall off down into the pan, which you don’t really want. If you’ve thawed the breasts, you can pound them flat with a meat pounder, between sheets of plastic wrap; the cheese won’t fall off so much, then. Over the parmesan, lay a slice of provolone or mozzarella; it will melt and the parmesan will dissolve in it. Anyone who has tried to melt parmesan will realise that this is the way to get it to melt; otherwise it’s like trying to fuse aluminium oxide. (I’ve melted crucibles that way.) Put a foil cover on the dish and put it into a 375°F oven for about 35-45 minutes. Take the foil off for the last 5 minutes or so to slightly brown the cheese. If you use a metal pan, the time will be shorter. According to your preference, you can serve them as is, or you can spoon a layer of a nice red sauce (marinara, spaghetti, whatever) over it at the last minute. I would not recommend an Alfredo … doesn’t taste right, in my opinion.
I found some baby redskin potatoes, about an inch in diameter, in a little plastic package that you stick in your microwave, so I nuked ’em for 10 minutes/package (I got two packages … leftover potatoes are ambrosia) and smushed ’em up with the skins on. Or in. Or something like that. Then a bit of basil, oregano, maybe some thyme if you’ve got some, oil, and a whole stick of butter. Some pepper and salt to taste (be careful, there’s already salt in the butter). Swish it all together, and you’ve got potatoes to die for.
Brussels sprouts … cut the butt end off, peel off the outer leaves, cut in half or quarters, depending on size, and slit the remaining stem open a bit. Dice up a small onion, chop a clove of garlic, put them into a fair-sized skillet along with a sprinkle of salt, add the sprouts and a few ounces of water. Cover tightly and steam until the sprouts will accept a fork without much resistance … that’s not long. Drain the sprouts and aromatics and replace them into the skillet. Add enough olive or canola oil to cover the bottom of the skillet, and crank the heat to a sort of light sauté, and cover. Look in now and then to swish ’em around, and check on them; they should begin to caramelise a bit. When they look about right, turn off the heat and cover until you can serve them.
You’re done … and it’s really good.