Our Korean Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day

We spent many days in November making yummy, seasonal, Thanksgiving-themed meals. Since we sort of get a kick out of breaking tradition and as we both had to work all the days before and after Thanksgiving day, we decided to relish in the peacefulness and quiet of just spending the day together, cooking. We decided to cook something we had never attempted in our kitchen… Korean food! Both Grant and I had only had Korean food a couple of times before moving to Nashville, where we have several good Korean restaurants. Korea House quickly became one of our favorite joints but we still felt we had a limited knowledge of Korean food, often just ordering our couple of favorites over and over (because they are so delicious!). Here’s what we came up with. Keep in mind, this was our first Korean cooking endeavor…

We decided to try the Bo Ssam Pork which was a good choice for Thanksgiving given that it is way easier and cheaper to buy a local pork shoulder from our neighborhood butcher than a turkey. Grant got up super early to start cooking the meat. And then, we relaxed and went for a great walk at the park with Lucille, our hound dog.

Momofuku Bo Ssam
(This is our adapted version, based on the NY Times adapted from “Momofuku,” by David Chang and Peter Meehan.)
Serves 4-6
1 half bone-in pork shoulder (4-5 pounds)
1 cup cane sugar
1 cup kosher salt
5 tablespoons brown sugar

The day before cooking, place the pork in a large, shallow bowl. Mix the cane sugar and 1 cup of the salt together in another bowl, then rub the mixture all over the meat. Cover it with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. When you’re ready to cook, heat oven to 300. Remove pork from refrigerator and discard any juices. Place the pork in a roasting pan and set in the oven and cook for approximately 6 hours. After the first hour, baste hourly with pan juices. Cook until the pork collapses, and easily falls apart when forked. At this point, you may remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest for up to an hour. When you are ready to serve, turn oven to 500. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining tablespoon of salt with the brown sugar. Rub this mixture all over the cooked pork. Place in oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, or until a dark caramel crust has developed on the meat. Serve hot, place pieces of the pork in a lettuce leaf and then top with side dishes, hot sauce, and the scallion sauce. Each little lettuce bundle can be made differently. Variety is part of the fun with this dish.

Ginger-Scallion Sauce
2½ cups Scallions, thinly sliced, both green and white parts
1″ Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
¼ cup Grapeseed Oil
1½ tsp Tamari
1 tsp Sherry Vinegar
½ tsp Sea Salt, or to taste

Mix all ingredients together and serve in a bowl.

And this next sauce, we did not make, but plan to next time. Instead, we just used Sriracha as our hot sauce.

Ssam Sauce
2 Tbsp Fermented Bean-and- Chili Paste (Ssamjang, available in many Asian markets, and online)
1 Tbsp Chili Paste (Kochujang, available in many Asian markets, and online)
½ cup Sherry Vinegar
½ cup Grapeseed Oil

Pork

About a week and a half earlier, Grant made his first batch of Kimchi. He started making homemade sauerkraut about a year ago but he had never attempted Kimchi. We also bought a pretty straightforward version (as a backup) at the grocery store. It is made in San Francisco. I also picked up a locally made Kimchi at Mitchell Deli that was made from spinach rather than cabbage, just for variety. Here’s Grant’s recipe for his Kimchi.

Big Smokey’s Kimchi
1 head Cabbage, cored and chopped
3 Scallions, chopped (green and white parts)
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Srircha
1 tsp Fish Sauce
1 tsp Garlic, minced
1 tsp Ginger, minced

Mix cabbage, scallions, and salt in a large bowl. Massage with your hands for several minutes until the cabbage is reduced and releasing liquid. Mix the remaining ingredients into a small bowl and then add to the cabbage mixture. Smoosh into a jar and put a lid on it. Let sit on the counter 3-5 days, opening jar to release gasses and press down cabbage daily. Taste occasionally and once it is as sour as you like, place the jar in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a month or so…

Kimchi

And we still made sides, only they were more Korean themed such as Kimchi Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Shiitakes sauteed with Tamari and Sherry Vinegar, and Korean-style Bean Sprouts.

The Sides

Traditionally, the pork is to be served in (butter) lettuce wraps with a Scallion Sauce.

Sauces & Sides

Pork & Sides

We made different combinations, incorporating our sides with every wrap. It was Thanksgiving after all. Each one was so delicious and really fun to eat.

Leaf

Then falling back into tradition- but only briefly- we watched The Last Waltz before heading out to a Nashville Predators’ hockey game! Haha. We got free tickets and had a ball.

Hockey

We are so thankful for all we have and all the many friends and family that are dear to us.

Thankful for Food!

Thanksgiving 2010

I couldn’t let my memories of Thanksgiving go undocumented! One of my favorite things about the holidays is cooking and eating and Lord knows we did our share this past week. Grant and I have had so many family and friend visits these past few months, we decided to spend this Thanksgiving with each other and spent the entire day cooking and eating in our pjs. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do on Thanksgiving anyway?

Leftovers. Bird's eye view.

We enjoyed a classic NW breakfast consisting of bagels (from our awesome new neighborhood bagel shop, Bagel Face Bakery), cream cheese, and lox while thinking of Grant’s family in the great Pacific Northwest. (Notice Lighthouse Roasters’ coffee mug for added, purely coincidental, effect!)

For a lunch snack, we had the perfect appetizer which has been a tradition in Grant’s family for quite awhile- Texas Tandies! Grant’s Mom got the recipe for these from a family friend in Texas and they quickly became a family favorite. My family likes them now, too!

Texas Tandies

2 cups grated sharp cheddar
1 stick chilled butter
1 cup of flour
pinch of sea salt to taste
pinch of cayenne to taste
½ tsp Tabasco
1 tsp of Worchester
2 Tbsp Water
Pecans

Cut chilled butter into small pieces and mix with flour until grainy. Add cheese, salt, and cayenne.  Mix liquids and sprinkle into mixture until dough just holds together.  Form into two balls and wrap with plastic.  Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Pre-heat oven to 350 and roll out dough onto a floured surface.  Cut out with a small round cookie cutter and gently press a pecan onto each cookie… Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or so. Let them cool for about ½ an hour (if possible!).
Good with Ice Cold Beer or Bollinger!

Since it was just the two of us, Grant decided to get a turkey breast rather than an entire turkey. He de-boned it and flattened it and then stuffed it with the most amazing dressing ever. Recipe soon to follow…

He first seared the turkey in an iron skillet on the stove and then cooked it in the oven until done. It was super delicious!!!

As is customary in my family, we had way too many side dishes but I just couldn’t narrow it down. I made roasted carrots and parsnips and glazed them with a mixture of butter, honey,  balsamic vinegar, and a little sea salt and black pepper. They were super simple, very pretty and quite delicious.

We also made Brussels Sprouts seasoned with a tiny bit of Spanish chorizo! Grant is a genius for coming up with this!

We tried a completely new idea of a dish for us, too, Braised Leeks. They were interesting and went well with the mashed potatoes and gravy but weren’t the most amazing thing we had ever tasted by any stretch of the imagination. As for those mashed potatoes, I tried to channel my step dad, Larry, who makes the best mashed potatoes, and therefore, did not skimp on the butter! They were delightfully fluffy and a perfect vehicle for the gravy.

Now about that dressing… Grant got this recipe spot on this year. It was the perfect blend of sweet and savory, moist and crispy, nutty and fruity. He used some to stuff the turkey breast and the rest, he cooked in a baking dish and we ate on the side.

Apricot Pecan Dressing

2 tsp butter (or bacon fat)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cups hearty Artisanal bread (we used a crusty rosemary bread), cut into cubes
1-2 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Saute onion, garlic, and celery in butter until soft. Mix bread cubes, sage, pecans, and apricots together in a large bowl. Add the onions, garlic, celery and mix thoroughly. Add stock until mixture is well moistened but not too wet.  Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Place mixture in a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes covered and then 30 more minutes uncovered to crisp the top.

Oh, and there was wine. We enjoyed a lovely Oregon Pinot Noir from A to Z and a pumpkin pie with pecan crumble for dessert.

I know there are many pecan pie fans out there and I have a great recipe for it which I adapted from an Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock recipe but I much prefer pumpkin pie. Since there are only two of us, I decided to try to combine the two holiday favorites and created a pumpkin pie with a pecan crumble top. It worked quite well. So well, that I ended up taking one down to Robert’s Western World Thanksgiving night and two more to our last Red Barn Round-Up of the year this past Sunday. What a great Round-Up it was as we were fortunate enough to have the very musically talented and artistically savvy Julie Lee perform as well as Mister Paul Burch. If you haven’t heard their latest albums, the holidays are the perfect time because both would make excellent gifts! And while you are at it, you can also buy some of Julie’s art work! What better time to support local art?

So here is the pumpkin pie recipe. Please remember to make your own crust. You can find my recipe here.

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crumble Top

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp freshly ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1 1/2 cups of roasted pumpkin, pureed
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 extra large eggs
1 cup coconut milk

for crumble top:
1 cup pecans, toasted & ground
½ cup flour
½ cup sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
½ cup unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the pumpkin open and into four wedges, clean the seeds out (I roasted them up with a little salt for a yummy snack!), cut the strings out and rub the inside with a little olive oil and place face down in a baking dish. Bake for about an hour, until the pumpkin is tender when forked. Once cooled, scoop out the flesh and mix well in a blender or food processor. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together brown sugar, salt, arrowroot. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, maple syrup, eggs and mix well. Then, add the coconut milk and gently stir. Pour into the unbaked pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn oven down to 350 degrees for another 40 minutes (set timer for 20 minutes, though, as you will need to add the crumble top!).

Make the crumble top. Grind roasted pecans in a food processor or chop very finely. You can then add the other ingredients to the food processor or mix by hand. Be very careful and open oven door and quickly but gently crumble the topping over the pumpkin pie. Bake for the remainder 20 minutes or until pie is set.

Lots of good music coming up this month so I should have lots to report… I am also super excited about a new cookbook we picked up at McCay’s used books this past weekend. It has recipes of Barcelona! If we can’t visit Spain, at least we can eat like we did.

Enjoy all your holiday baking!