So, why am I posting about Thanksgiving in February? The gloomy days of November have come and gone long ago, making way for the gloomy days of February, and I still have the flavors of Thanksgiving on the brain?
This dish was inspired by a dish posted on one of my first and favorite food blogs, Thyme for Cooking. Even though there’s more to turkey than Thanksgiving, for some reason, seeing Katie’s dish just got me thinking “I want Thanksgiving food tonight” and this is what came of it. The idea was something hearty, comfort-foodish, and Thanksgiving all on one plate without the day(s) long marathon of stress and cooking way too much. I did this by making a creamy butternut squash risotto infused with sage (my reason for entering in this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Erin from The Skinny Gourmet) and topped off with spiced strips of Turkey tenderloin and reconstituted dried cranberries–all very Thanksgivingy flavors. I also still had cornbread muffins leftover from preparing chili. Too bad there was no Thanksgiving vacation to go with it. The dish did just what I needed–satisfied the craving, left me in a happy stupor, and was a quick endeavor (for a weekday meal!). Definitely a fun change and definitely a lot of Thanksgiving components all in one dish.
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1 shallot
- ~2 cups butternut squash (for me, that was half of one medium sized squash)
- 5 Tbsp butter
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 cup sage leaves
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ~1.7 5lbs turkey tenderloins
- spice rub
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
In a saucepan, pour in all of the chicken broth and put this over low heat. Dice the sage leaves somewhat finely and throw this into the broth. You want to give it a chance to flavor the broth while you do everything else. You’ll need this broth warm later when you’re actively preparing the risotto.
So on to everything else. Begin by preparing the fresh ingredients. Peel, halve, and deseed the butternut squash. You might have way too much squash for this dish (or if you love squash, maybe its just right!), so be prepared to set some of it aside in the fridge for another day. I only used about half of the squash. Dice what you’re using up into small chunks–figure you’ll need about 2 cups or so squash, give or take. Set this aside. Finely dice up the shallot and set this aside as well.
In a small bowl, mix together the spice mixture. My thinking here was something savory like ras el hanout (a rub used in the Moroccan styled lemon & olive chicken), but also, the kind of flavors you’d get in pumpkin pie or a butternut squash soup (but without worrying about mixing it into the squash). When it came to making this dish, my thought was if it makes you think Thanksgiving food for even a second, it goes in.
So what to do with the spices? Well, on to the turkey. No day long roast for us–you can treat the tenderloins like you would chicken. So dice these up into bite-sized pieces and rub them all over with the spice mixture. Cook the pieces in some hot oil for about 10-15 minutes or so until they’re cooked all the way through and then set aside.
Now, melt down all but one tablespoon of the butter. Then, add in the diced shallot and chunked squash, sautéing to soften them up a bit and get some nice flavors out in the air, figure somewhere around five minutes. Also, is your broth on heat? You might want to raise the heat a little at this point, but no higher than medium. You don’t want it bubbling–just nice and warm.
Then, add in the dry risotto (still on medium heat). This gives the rice a chance to toast and crisp up a bit on the outside before we go and load it up with liquid. Toss this around a bit, letting it toast for somewhere around three minutes or so. Then, add in the wine, stirring until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
And now begins the characteristic process of making risotto: scoop in a small amount of the warm broth (about 1/4 cup at a time), stir somewhat constantly, and then, once almost all of the liquid has been dried up, repeat the process. I tried to avoid adding in the slivers of sage until the very last few batches, just to prevent mushing it all up with all of the stirring. Figure that this process will take you somewhere around 15-20 minutes. As you near the end of the broth (e.g. you figure 2 or 3 more scoops are left), put the dried cranberries into the broth so that they have some time to soften up without turning the broth bright red or going to mush.
As you finish stirring in the last bit of broth, take this off of the heat, add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and the last tablespoon of butter, stirring until it just melts into the risotto. Once it is incorporated and temptingly creamy looking, add in the reconstituted cranberries and cooked turkey from earlier. Stir a bit more, giving the turkey a chance to warm up a bit again in the presence of the warm risotto.
To serve, I tried to sex things up a bit by frying some sage leaves in butter, topping off a mound of this intentionally not seasonal dish with the crisp sage leaves and some pecans for added crunch and autumnal nostalgia (funny, I don’t even like autumn!).