Anyone who knows my family or has been to any of our holiday ‘gatherings’ knows that we prepare dishes that are anything but traditional. Last Thursday, in the midst of oyster shucking on the back porch and our infamous living room open bar, my Dad and I were in the kitchen preparing our Thanksgiving dishes. Being the confectioner that I am, I was put in charge of making the pies. I decided on two traditional pumpkin pies and one derby pie (this is where the twist comes in!). I am sure most people have the traditional pecan pie at their Thanksgiving table, but I wanted to try something different. While looking up recipes, I came across a recipe for the derby pie. Instead of the traditional pecan pie, the derby pie also included chocolate chips and Kentucky bourbon. It is often associated with the Kentucky Derby – hence the name. I used a Paula Dean recipe for the pie crust that I had experimented with before in one of my food labs at school. The recipe, obviously pre-diabetes, is a very traditional one that turns out a delicious flakey crust.
Fun Fact: Shortening is an ingredient used in many desserts that have flakey crust. It received its’ name because it ‘shortens’ the gluten strands in the dough, promoting the flakey texture!
I first toasted the pecan halves in a skillet to give them more flavor, and set about 1/2 cup aside so I could sprinkle them on top. I used whiskey instead of bourbon and also did not mix the chocolate chips into the pie filling, but made a bed of them on the bottom of the crust. I poured the pie filling over the bed of chocolate chips, sprinkled the extra pecans on top, and baked to perfection.
The second experimental ‘traditional’ dish we prepared was our stuffed turkey. Okay, so this one was mostly my Father but I can say that after watching him I would be ready to create my own! We stuffed our turkey with spinach, sauteed mushrooms, and fried oysters – delicious! We first had to bread and fry the oysters and saute the mushrooms. Next, we pounded out the turkey using a small cast iron skillet and layered the spinach, mushrooms, and oysters on top. Rolling and tying it up took both of us about 15 minutes, we were not about to let any stuffing fall out and go to waste in the oven. We placed a few stalks of celery on the bottom of a deep baking dish and placed the turkey on top. Before it went into the oven we sprinkled it with a few seasonings (black pepper, fennel, rosemary, that I can remember) and covered it with foil. It took about an hour in the oven on 325 to bake and it turned out so well! Everyone at dinner seemed to love it, even those who are not so fond of oysters. At your next family gathering, think out of the box try to create something out of the ordinary, I’m sure it will be a hit!