The well-traveled chef and Chopped judge gives thanks for Chinese restaurants, sharp knife skills and big bowls of pasta. Plus, he shares his favorite Turkey Day recipes from his book, Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking.
Crostini with Butternut Squash, Kale Pesto, & Ricotta
2 cups (¾ inch-dice) butternut squash
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ bunch Tuscan kale, trimmed and ribs removed
⅓ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more as needed
¼ cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
6 large fresh basil leaves
Juice of ½ lemon, plus more as needed
4 (1 inch-thick) slices rustic bread
2 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
½ cup (about 4 ½ ounces) Homemade Ricotta (from Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking) or high-quality and fresh store-bought
Lemon wedges, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 350°F; position the rack in the middle of the oven.
2. Spread the butternut squash on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper and toss together until the squash is coated with the oil. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until the squash is fork-tender. Remove the pan from the oven, transfer to wire rack and set aside.
3. While the squash is roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Blanch the kale in the boiling water until bright green, about 1 minute. Drain and transfer to the prepared ice bath, and let cool completely. Wring dry and transfer to the bowl of a food processor.
4. Add the Pecorino Romano, parsley, basil, lemon juice, and a few pinches of salt and pepper and pulse a few times. With the motor running, add ¼ cup olive oil in a thin stream until the mixture is uniform and combined. If the pesto is looking dry, add a bit more oil until you get the desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasonings. You should have about 1 ½ cups pesto. Set aside.
5. Preheat the broiler. Lightly drizzle the bread with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toast under broiler for 1 to 1 ½ minutes, or until golden brown and warmed through. Transfer to a cutting board and rub garlic clove halves all over the toasted side of bread.
6. Spread a thin layer of kale pesto over each slice of bread, top with a generous dollop of ricotta, and spread it over the pesto. Place a few cubes of squash on top, nestling it in the cheese so it doesn’t fall off. Squeeze a few more drops of lemon juice over the crostini, and top with a dusting of Pecorino Romano and a drizzle of olive oil. Cut each bread slice in half (for easier eating) and serve immediately.
Roasted Turkey Roulade
Serves 4 to 6
2 skin-on, boneless turkey legs and thighs (ask your butcher to debone them for you)
1 ½ tablespoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons and dried thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350° F; position rack in the middle of the oven. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
2. Lay it out on your work surface, skin side down, and season with half the salt and pepper. Divide the garlic and thyme evenly between the turkey pieces and starting at one end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll and tie firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder. Season the outside of the rolls with the remaining salt and pepper.
3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until simmering. Add the turkey rolls, seam side up, and cook until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Turn them over and transfer the pan to the oven.
4. Roast for about 60 minutes, or until the turkey is cooked through and the juices run clear when the meat is pierced. Transfer the roulades to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes before removing the twine and slicing. Serve immediately.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
4 cups (1 ½ pounds) Brussels sprouts,
halved and trimmed
8 ounces slab bacon, diced
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the Brussels sprouts in the boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat has rendered out and the bacon is crispy and brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan in a single layer, cut side down, and cook, without stirring, until the sprouts are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir and continue to cook until the sprouts are browned on the other side, 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Divide the bacon-sprout mixture among four plates and serve immediately.