By Jan Norris
Up against the turkey and dressing and cranberry sauce again? Even some of the chefs have a hard time facing the centuries-old traditional Thanksgiving dinner every year.
“It’s what people what,” said chef Dudley Bell Rich, who will be preparing the dinner for guests and his own family at Carmen’s at the Top of the Bridge restaurant in Boca Raton on Thanksgiving Day. “They don’t want foods they don’t understand at that dinner. It’s all about tradition.”
At Carmen’s, he’ll serve a buffet with carved turkey, prime rib, stuffing, yams, creamed pearl onions, Brussels sprouts with bacon, root vegetables – parsnips and turnips. For dessert, “Homemade pies, of course – apple, pumpkin, blueberry. For me, I’d have a chestnut pie, but in reality, people don’t want that.”
Even if the chefs at area hotels and restaurants provide unusual dishes, they also will have the traditional menu much like Rich’s as the focal point.
Chestnuts may not make it onto Carmen’s menu, but they are on others. Chef Darryl Moiles at the Four Seasons Palm Beach will feature a few turkey-alternative dishes, including a chestnut beignet cooked to order at one of the stations in the buffet dinner.
His alternative menu has an Asian flair: Peking duck, a dim sum selection, Karabuto pork tenderloin with a rum-raisin glaze, and Florida snapper are among the non-traditional menu items. Sweetened goat cheese stuffed pears are on the dessert menu, along with a white chocolate bread pudding and a dark chocolate praline mousse torte. But here, too, are carved turkey, dressing, cranberry chutney and pumpkin pie.
At The Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach, Chef Ryan Artim is giving the hotel Thanksgiving guests “Plymouth Rock Cuisine.” It’s a chance to have the dinner served family-style in one of the cabanas beachside. Guests can start with a smooth Pumpkin martini — see the recipe at www.thecoastalstar.com — created by mixologists at the Lobby Bar. The menu lists an array of seafood, including a signature Lobster Cognac Bisque with Chestnut Marshmallow.
Along with numerous appetizers and salads, the main dinner includes brined, free-range turkey, a Meyer Lemon-crusted cod, and wood-grilled beef tenderloin medallions. All the trimmings — vegetables and desserts — are part of the meal.
At the Boca Raton Resort and Club, the Tuscan restaurant Lucca will serve an unusual menu with a Mediterranean twist.
Hen egg ravioli with a pumpkin ricotta, “conserva” of organic duck, sage fennel sausage, cranberry mustard and brown butter toasted cornbread is on the menu. Traditional roast turkey and accompaniments are part of this spread.
Chef Chris Schaeffer will offer guests at the Seagate Club in Delray Beach a choice of items on his three-course menu. Along with traditional turkey, he’ll have available a grilled pork chop with bacon, marinated sea bass, and a duck leg confit with cranberry pudding, One of his unusual vegetable dishes is pureed leeks with prunes, a sweet-tart dish.
As for Thanksgiving dinner at home, many chefs don’t bother, or leave the cooking to someone else the day after. Chef Dudley Bell puts it best: “No chef I know eats at home — we all are cooking on the holiday. By then, I’ve seen enough food and frankly, am over turkey by the time the Thursday rolls around. I have my family in for dinner at the restaurant — the last thing I want to do is go home and cook another Thanksgiving dinner.”
IF YOU GO
at the Top of the Bridge
999 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton (in the Bridge Hotel)
Buffet dinner served noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Adults, $54; children, $20, Thanksgiving Day.
Reservations required; call 368-9500.
2800 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach
Buffet dinner served 3-9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
Adults, $100, children ages 5-12 are $35. Tax, tip and beverages are extra. Dress slacks with closed-toe shoes required for men.
Reservations required; call 533-3742.
Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach
100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan
Plymouth Rock dinners served in beach cabanas for parties of 4 to 8 people; first seating 4 p.m.
Adults, $150; children 12 and older, $50; under 12 are free. Complimentary bottle of Ritz-Carlton red or white wine included; tax, tip and gratuity are extra.
Reservations required; call 540-4924.
Boca Raton Resort and Club
501 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton
Adults, $75, children $32. Tuscan buffet served 4-9 p.m. Reservations required. Open to guests and members of the Resort; Lucca, 447-5822; the Resort, 447-3000.
401 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach
Three-course dinner served 2-9 p.m.
Adults, $40; children under 12, $20 ; tax, tip and gratuity are extra.
Reservations required. Open to club members and hotel guests; call 330-3775.
To get some of the ingredients listed, visit your favorite gourmet market, or call them ahead to make sure they have them.
Lucca’s Thanksgiving Day Ravioli
2 pasta sheets – see note
¼ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup pumpkin pie filling
1 tablespoon honey
salt and white pepper to taste
3 large eggs, separated
1 small link sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ bunch sage leaves, picked
1 lemon, cut in half
2 tablespoons cranberry mostarda – see note
1 small piece of cornbread, small diced and baked dry (or 1/3 cup cornbread crumbs)
2 tablespoons duck confit, warmed – see note
Thaw pasta sheets. Place them on a clean, lightly floured work surface. Cut into four 3-inch-by-3-inch squares.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine ricotta, pumpkin pie filling and honey; season to taste with salt and white pepper. Put about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of half the pasta squares. Use a spoon to press a well-like indentation in the filling. Separate the yolks from the whites (reserve the whites), and place a yolk in the center of each well. Whip the egg whites with the remaining yolk, and using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash around the filling and the egg yolk; this will seal the pasta sheets. Gently place the remaining pasta sheets over the filling. Press around the filling and the yolk to seal the pasta sheets. Use a fork and work around the edges of the ravioli to crimp the edge.
Have a large pot of gently boiling water on the stove. Carefully drop in the ravioli and cook until they begin to float. Remove from water.
While you are cooking ravioli, make the sauce. On medium heat in a sauté pan, crumble and brown the sausage; drain fat from pan.
In another pan on medium heat, add butter and sage leaves. Cook until it begins to brown and emit a hazelnut aroma.
At this point, squeeze the juice of the lemon into the butter to stop the browning. Add cranberry mostarda and sausage; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Plate the ravioli: Place ravioli in a shallow soup plate. Spoon brown butter sauce with mostarda, sausage and sage leaves around the plate.
Place warm duck confit on top and grate good quality Parmesan over all.
Makes 2 servings.
Note: Pasta sheets, cranberry mostarda (mustard) and duck confit can be purchased at gourmet markets such as Whole Foods, in Boca Raton, C’est Si Bon in Palm Beach, and the Boy’s Market in Delray Beach.
Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
2 cups heavy cream
3-1/4 cup sugar, plus 4 teaspoons
8 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin
Gingersnap cookie, for garnish
Candied orange peel, for garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Arrange 8 (1/2-cup) ramekins or custard cups in a large metal baking pan (or use 8 individual oven-safe bowls).
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add 3/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking briskly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Divide among the prepared custard cups.
Add enough hot water to the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are set in the center but not stiff, approximately 50 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
Dust each custard cup with 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Alternately, preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning, rotating the cups, about 1 to 2 minutes.) Place on small dessert plates, Garnish plate with gingersnap and candied orange peel if desired.
Makes 8 servings.
Pumpkin Le Poire Martini
6 ounces Grey Goose pear vodka
2 ounces Liquor 43
2 ounces Pumpkin syrup — see note
4 ounces cream
1 teaspoon equal parts ground allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg — or pumpkin pe spice mix
4 teaspoons hand-whipped cream
Orange zest for garnish
Pour vodka, Liquor 43, pumpkin syrup and cream into martini shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, strain and pour into martini glass. Garnish each with a pinch of pumpkin pie spice, a teaspoon of hand-whipped cream and orange zest. Add caramelized pear to side of glass if desired (recipe follows).
Makes 4 servings.
Note: Pumpkin syrup is sold as a coffee flavoring, and is available at some gourmet markets and online. Brand names for this product are Torani, Monin and DaVinci.
Caramelized pear (for garnish, optional)
4 slices thinly sliced pear (longways)
2 tablespoons unmelted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon brandy
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of pumpkin pie spice
In a sauté pan on medium heat, melt the butter then stir in the sugar. Simmer, stir occasionally until the mixture begins to turn golden brown and caramelizes. Add brandy and lemon juice to the pan and simmer to incorporate. Add pear slices and cook each side slowly to tenderize and caramelize. Sprinkle with pumpkin spice and let cool. Add to side of martini glass.