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A Diabetic-Friendly Thanksgiving Menu from Chef Tom Valenti

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[Photographs from left: CountryLiving and Amazon]

Chef-restaurateur Tom Valenti of Ouest in New York City knows what delicious is better than most chefs I know. He's also a diabetic. In fact, he co-wrote a terrific cookbook, You Don't Have to be Diabetic to Love This Cookbook. So when he e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago asking if we wanted to post some Thanksgiving-appropriate recipes from the book we of course said yes. Here's what Tom had to say about each of the dishes:

Bacony Brussels Sprouts:

I've done a lot of original things with bacon in my time, but I cannot claim credit for the combination of bacon and Brussels sprouts. Nonetheless, I had to include it in this book because I never tire of it, and the dish loses very little when made with diabetes-friendly turkey bacon. These Brussels sprouts go well with just about anything and are a must at Thanksgiving dinner.

Roasted Cippolini Onions:

Cooking sweet cippolini onions with balsamic vinegar until the vinegar is reduced produces an irresistible sweet and sour effect. These are delicious with calf's liver and other full-flavored meats, poultry, and game.

Oyster and Sausage Stuffing:

I've been making a version of this stuffing for years, and it's one of the things I love and look forward to most when Thanksgiving rolls around. One of the stuffing's many appealing attributes is that it will fill your home with the smells of good cooking - first the toasted pine nuts and then the sausage, vegetables, white wine and herbs. Once the stuffing is in the oven, your senses and those of the people watching the ball game in the next room will be utterly, fully engaged. Of course, given our reason for being there together, I have to skimp on the bread a bit, but never fear: Mushrooms do a good job of making up for volume, while adding another flavor to the mix.

Whole Roasted Turkey:

This is probably a recipe unlike any other you've ever used for roasting a whole turkey. I myself was always taught that the rule of thumb was 20 minutes per pound, and I've also seen techniques that put water or stock in the pan with the bird, tent the breast with aluminum foil, and of course, call for lots of basting.

If you have a tried-and-true method that has served you well every Thanksgiving, then by all means stick to it. But my method is much simpler than the traditional ones, and I highly recommend it. Basically, I treat the turkey like a big chicken, using a modified version of the technique I'd use to roast a whole chicken, starting it in a very hot oven and lowering the temperature as soon as the bird starts to brown. At that point, I cook the turkey for fifteen minutes per pound, letting it coast to doneness for fifteen minutes after I've turned the oven off.

I normally season turkeys inside and out, but in order to keep the sodium down here, I have seasoned only the cavity. Using an instant-read meat thermometer to determine doneness is crucial; be sure to insert it at the top of a thigh.

Miniature Pumpkin Pies with Graham Cracker Crusts:

These little single-serving pies show how satisfying a few bites of the real thing can be: They're made with a quick graham-cracker crust pressed into the bottom of a tin into which pumpkin pie filling is spooned. Once the miniature pies are baked and chilled, the result is enough to make even the most ardent sweet tooths feel fulfilled.

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