In case you are still creating a Thanksgiving menu, I offer these recipes from my book “In Cod We Trust.” Three are Wampanoag Tribe member recipes; one is from the now closed Newburyport restaurant, Enzo, which focused on dishes using the best New England Ingredients. All four would be special to “show-stopper” on a Thanksgiving table, while remaining loyal to the traditions. All photos are by Allan Penn.
Brussels Sprout Panzanella Salad with Candied Bacon
This brussels sprout recipe, from the now closed Enzo Restaurant in Newburyport, answered the question, “how do we make a panzanella salad – the traditional Italian bread salad made with summery red tomatoes and fresh basil – in New England in the winter?” The result looks nothing like its parent, and should enjoy its own unique place at the table. Blanched Brussels sprouts tossed in a molasses-pancetta vinaigrette with roasted wild mushrooms, toasted bread, and finished with the deluxe pieces of candied bacon, this is North Shore Farm food; it says winter on coastal Massachusetts the way a panzanella says summer in Tuscany. There are many steps, but they’re easy, and each could be completed a full day ahead, the whole assembled quickly. Ingredients
4 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, and the sprouts sliced 1/4”
3 cups mushrooms, a mix of shitake and button is good, cleaned and sliced
6 tablespoons olive oil – divided
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cubed bread – semolina or a country-style loaf
2 slices good quality bacon, cut into 1/2” wide sections
2 tablespoons brown sugar 1 cup, or to taste,
Pancetta Molasses Dressing at room temperature
In lightly salted boiling water, blanch the sliced Brussels sprouts, dropping immediately into ice water. Spread the leaves out on paper towels to dry, padding the top layer with more paper towels. Try to get as dry as possible.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the mushrooms with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and lay out on a baking sheet. Roast for fifteen minutes, or until the mushrooms begin to get brown and crispy.
Toss the bread cubes with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, or more if the bread does not look completely coated, and lay out on a baking sheet. Toast in the same oven until brown, about fifteen minutes, depending on your bread.
In a small bowl, toss the bacon pieces with the brown sugar. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil, lay the bacon, scraping the loose brown sugar on top. Still at 400 degrees, roast for fifteen minutes, or until bacon is brown and crispy; watch carefully that it doesn’t burn. Remove from oven and lay pieces out on a baking rack to “dry.”
To assemble the salad:
In a large bowl toss the sprout leaves with enough dressing to liberally coat. Distribute dressed sprouts liberally among large salad bowls or on one large platter. Distribute mushrooms on top of the sprouts. Toss croutons and the candied bacon all over.
Yields about 3 cups
3 oz pancetta, sliced or cubed
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup molasses
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup oil (I use a blend of olive and canola oils)
Cook pancetta in a skillet until crisp and browned and the fat is rendered out. Cool slightly and then place pancetta and all the rendered fat in the bowl of a food processor.
Add the mustard molasses, and vinegar to the processor bowl. Turn the processor on and let it grind up the pancetta. When the mixture in the bowl looks semi-smooth, pour in the oil. When the dressing looks cohesive and smooth, turn off the processor and check for seasoning. Taste for salt, or more molasses or vinegar: it should taste sweet, sour and salty together.
This dressing should be stored in the refrigerator and brought up to room temperature (or heated) before use.
Aquinnah Autumn Salad: Blueberry & Butternut Squash Salad with Dried Blueberry Vinaigrette
4 dinner-sized portions
This dinner salad is a surprising, opulent composition of tastes, a delicious reflection of the high-key colors of a late summer day in Aquinnah. Roasted butternut squash, caramelized red onion, fresh blueberries, and toasted sunflower seeds lay on a bed of local greens, beneath the sweet dried blueberry and balsamic vinegar dressing. This “vinaigrette,” dried blueberries cooked down with balsamic vinegar, olive oil whirred in, is so unctuous and fruity it can accompany almost anything: venison, chicken, even salmon. The dressing amounts here make plenty, so try it everywhere. With a soup, particularly the Wampanoag Fish and Oyster Chowder, this salad makes a glorious meal. In any season it’s served, this looks like a late autumn bouquet, and tastes like a September harvest, the cusp of summer’s last berries and fall’s new squashes.
For the dressing
1 cup dried wild blueberries
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
for the salad
1 butternut squash, or 3 cups peeled and cubed
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 large head Bibb lettuce, washed and torn into pieces
juice from half a lemon, or 1 tablespoon
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
more salt and pepper to taste
Make the Blueberry Vinaigrette: Place the dried blueberries and vinegar into a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by half. Cool briefly, and then put it into a blender or food processor with 1 cup oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Blend until smooth. This can be done a couple of days ahead and stored in the refrigerator, but it will thicken considerably. To soften, warm briefly in a small saucepan.
To prepare the salad:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the squash cubes and onion wedges with 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan, and bake until the edges are brown and crispy, about 45 minutes. These can be done ahead, and served on the salad at room temperature.
In a large bowl, toss greens with remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle lemon juice over all, and toss again. Lay greens on individual plates, or on a large serving platter. Mound the squash and onions over the greens. Toss the blueberries on top, and sprinkle half the toasted sunflower seeds over that. Pour dressing in desired amount over the salad. Sprinkle the remaining sunflower seeds on top.
Wampanoag Cranberry Crumble
Tribal elder Gladys Widdis prepares this dish for Cranberry Day on Martha’s Vineyard, the annual October Wampanaog Festival that honors their ancestors and the harvest, and particularly the cranberry which sustained tribe for over twelve thousand years, according to tribal history.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
4 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen then thawed.
For the Topping
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup oatmeal flakes
6 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Vanilla Ice Cream or Whipped Cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 8” x 11” glass or ceramic baking dish In a large bowl mix together sugar, flour, spices, and cranberries. Pour into baking dish. In the bowl of a food processor blend together the dry ingredients for the topping. Add the butter, and pulse lightly to cut it into the flour. (Alternately, put all the dry ingredients into a bowl, and cut the butter in with a pasty cutter or 2 forks.)
When the mixture is the size of small peas, add the nuts. Process or mix a little more, just until blended.
Top the cranberries with the streusel, and bake for 35 minutes, or until the crumble is brown on top and bubbling with juice. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Earl Mills’ Indian Pudding
There are hundreds of recipes for Indian Pudding, but anyone who ever dined at The Flume restaurant in Mashpee will affirm that Earl Mills’ Indian Pudding is the best. It doesn’t hurt to remind people when you serve your Earl Mills’ Indian Pudding that this recipe is that of Chief Flying Eagle, chief of the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians. A lovely twist of fate makes Mills not only a revered Indian chief, but also a respected chef. Mills has many wonderful, authentic recipes that represent the Cape Cod land, sea, woods, and fields – corn chowder, clam cakes, clam chowder, succotach; in its day The Flume was considered the best restaurant on Cape Cod. Among Indian Pudding recipes, Mills’ cannot be equalled. I was lucky enough to have lunch with Earl in Mashpee, and he shared his secrets.
4 cups milk
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon grapenuts
1 tablespoon tapioca
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine all of the ingredients in a double boiler, and whip over simmering water Continue to cook over a low flame for an additional 1 – 1 1/2 hours, whipping occasionally, until the pudding starts to thicken. Once it starts to thicken, remove the whip and allow the pudding to thicken naturally, and forma skin or crust on top. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. If serving later, refrigerate. Warm in a microwave or double boiler. Add milk if necessary.