Sunday, November 18, 2012

What To Bring This Thanksgiving: An Easy Side Dish and Cocktail Loaded with Fall Flavors

Whether you’re having Thanksgiving at home this year, or are visiting friends and family, the grapefruit and pear notes in a wine-based Aplomb will win everyone over with its simplicity and great taste.

When it’s someone else’s turn to throw a Thanksgiving feast, your host usually asks you to bring a little something to add to the cornucopia — something that won’t interfere too much with his or her preparations. Usually you hear, “A bottle of Pinot Noir would be great,” or “Bring something I can reheat as the turkey rests.”

We like to heed this request, as showing up with something unexpected can make the host harrumph. But instead of just a bottle of wine or another stuffing, we have two alternatives that we think may work in your favor: A wine-based cocktail and some carrot and parsnip triangles.

Roasted carrots and parsnips, well herbed, may be the perfect side dish. Make ahead and reheat when you arrive at your host’s place.

Let’s start with the triangles. This is a side dish that can accompany any meal really. Looking at the ingredients, we know that carrots are common enough, but parsnips at the table always seems to elicit a slight gasp, suggesting the vegetable’s exoticism. We often hear, “I never think to use parsnips.” Why not? They fit perfectly into the flavors-of-Thanksgiving profile — sweet, herbal, nutty. And as an added bonus, they are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as potassium.

Finding thick-bottomed roots that abruptly taper to a point are the key to making triangles.

When shopping for these root vegetables, look for ones that are conical in shape (a wide base that tapers to a point, but roots that aren’t too long). If you can’t find ones shaped this way, then any will do. Just don’t call them triangles. Perhaps “Carrot and Parsnip Parallelograms” would be more appropriate.

Carrot and Parsnip Triangles

sharp knife for slicing
cutting board
large bowl
cookie sheet (lined with parchment) or baking pan

2 tablespoon olive oil
5 large carrots (preferably with a wide base and narrow point), peeled
4 large parsnips (preferably with a wide base and narrow point), peeled
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried chervil or parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F.

On a cutting board, cut the carrots and parsnips lengthwise, in 1/4-inch strips. This will create the triangle shapes in varying lengths and thicknesses. Add to bowl, then olive oil and herbs and toss until all the vegetables are coated evenly.

Spread the vegetables out on a stone baking pan or a cookie sheet covered in parchment.

Place on center rack for 15 minutes. With tongs, flip and bake for another 10 minutes. (Watch to make sure the edges don’t burn.) Serve immediately.

You may add salt, but we feel the herbs bring out the sharp sweetness of the parsnips and the woodsy sweetness of the carrots.

Serves 8-ish. (It all depends on how many other sides are available.)

❤ ❤ ❤

Now that you’ve got your side dish out of the way, it’s time to focus on the drink. This one is called Aplomb because, at the eleventh hour, when the guests start to arrive, you want a drink with a name that evokes confidence and poise. The Aplomb is guaranteed to elicit oohs and aahs with its mix of pear liqueur, red grapefruit juice, and one of the easiest and delicious wines that is perfect for cocktail creations, Moscato d’Asti. Produced in northwestern Italy, this traditional dessert wine is fruity, with peach and pear notes, and not too sweet. You’ll also notice a slight effervescence if you take a sip. This type of wine is known as a frizzante, with the bubbles offsetting the sweetness. Adding pear liqueur brings out the fruit, and mixing with grapefruit juice creates a more interesting notes of sweet, bitter, and sour.

If you’d like to earn forever love and respect from your host, pre-batch the cocktail by shaking in ice and straining into a big 1.75-liter bottle. Bring a bag of ice and a bowl with you to keep it chilled at the bar, or, alternatively, if there’s room in the fridge (doubtful), or the host has a mini fridge, by all means keep it in there. Just take it out from time to time and refill your fellow celebrants’ glasses. A few gentle swishes before pouring should suffice.

(created by Cocktail Buzz)

1/2 ounce pear liqueur (we like Xanté, but any will do)
1 ounce red grapefruit juice (you can substitute pink if you cannot find red)
1 1/2 ounces Moscato d’Asti wine

Shake the first two ingredients in ice vigorously, so that little ice shards are created. Strain into chilled glass. Top with Moscato d'Asti. Garnish with grapefruit peel, if desired.

More Ideas, with Pairings

These other wine-based cocktails and apps may suit your taste buds (and your host’s) as well.
  • Deviled Quail Eggs paired with The Bird Nest (champagne, with a hint of blue curaçao and tequila)
  • Seedless red grapes and brie paired with The Wink (Moscato d'Asti, pear brandy, celery bitters)
Photos © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz.

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