Traditional dishes have come back to rule the roost on Thanksgiving Day.
So I heard on NPR last week on the commute home from work. The radio show “All Things Considered” had a story about food bloggers Zach Patton and Clay Dunn of The Bitten Word.
Magazines frequently tout fresh, sometimes exotic, takes on everything from the turkey to pumpkin pie. But Patton and Dunn, in surveying 11 publications this year, found more classic dishes than not.
Guess what? White mashed potatoes are in again, after sweet potatoes had grabbed the spotlight in recent years. Kale and cauliflower aren’t the rage they were, while plain old oven-roasted turkeys are resurgent.
My favorite part of the story was hearing about the “Fakesgiving” that Patton and Dunn came up with to test dishes they plucked from the different publications. They cooked as many as possible and asked friends to help determine this year’s hits.
One of the bombs was sausage pear stuffing from Martha Stewart Living, which they described as “boarding the train to blandville.” Ouch!
But one milquetoast-sounding dish proved to be the day’s sleeper: a carrot mash from Fine Cooking. “Everyone loved it,” Patton told NPR.
I can’t vouch for it yet, but here’s the recipe:
Carrot Mash With Orange and Mint
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
11/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest; more as needed
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco, to taste
Put the carrots in a 4-quart saucepan with enough cool water to cover by at least 1 inch. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and cook at a gentle boil until the carrots can be easily pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes.
Drain well in a colander, letting the steam rise for a few minutes. Meanwhile, heat the butter, cream, oil, mint, orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a dash of hot sauce in the saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted.
For a rustic texture, return the carrots to the pan and mash with a potato masher to the consistency you like.
For a smooth texture, puree the carrots in a food processor until smooth and then add them to the pan, stirring well to combine.
Season to taste with more orange zest, salt, or hot sauce before serving.
Pam Kilpatrick had asked if we could get the recipe for the key lime pie sold at Simmons Seafood the on Isle of Palms. “I have tried many different recipes, but cannot match the creaminess,” she lamented.
Well, I reached out to the family and not surprisingly, they don’t want to reveal their trade secrets. But a couple of readers wanted to help anyway, offering up their recipes for extra-creaminess.
Sharon Cook of Charleston has tasted Simmons’ pie and thinks she has it figured out: “The secret to the creaminess of this pie is cream cheese and no eggs.”
Dreamy Creamy Key Lime Pie
The zest and juice of 8 key limes or 4 regular limes
1 can condensed sweetened milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 graham cracker crust
Whipped cream, lime slices, and lime zest for garnish
Mix all ingredients until well blended and pour into pie crust. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Top pie with whipped cream. Garnish with lime zest and slices of lime.
Nancy Huggins of Mount Pleasant wrote, “I have to agree with Pam Kilpatrick that Simmons Seafood on Isle of Palms makes a great key lime pie. And then I found this recipe! It is very similar but has a better crust.
“I have made it with fresh key limes and with bottled key lime juice (Nellie and Joe’s). Both give excellent results. I have found that 1/2 cup key lime juice needs about 12 key limes. Heating them in the microwave makes them easier to juice. Most of the time however, I use the bottled juice.”
Nancy told me over the phone that preparing the crust from scratch (versus buying a premade) makes a big difference in the taste.
Key Lime Pie
For the crust:
11/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
For the filling:
15 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the topping:
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the garnish:
1/2 cup of the crust mixture
Grated lime rind
First prepare the crust by blending together the crust ingredients. Save 1/2 cup of mixture for garnish.
Press the mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
To prepare filling, beat the eggs and condensed milk together. Add the lime juice and salt. Pour filling into the prepared crust and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until set.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping by combining the sour cream, sugar and salt. When the filling has set, spread this topping over the pie. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes to allow topping to set.
Just before serving, garnish the pie with reserved crust mixture and grated lime rind. Says Nancy: “I like to roast the 1/2 cup of reserved crumb mixture while baking the crust for better flavor.”
Who’s got the recipe?
A Johns Island reader is seeking recipes for holiday sweets made with peppermint or peppermint flavor — cookies, cakes, pies, etc.
Looking for a recipe or have one to share? Reach Features Editor Teresa Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-4886.