We at the Gastrokid International Test Kitchens know that for the past couple of weeks you’ve been bombarded with food and mainstream media alike telling you about the the ways by which one can improve the Thanksgiving meal through various modifications and techniques (brine the turkey, fry the turkey, breed and raise the turkey; stuff it; don’t stuff it; etc; etc;). All well and good and lovely if you’ve got the time. But, with kids, Thanksgiving is no longer some langorous filiial exploration of artisanal, colloquial cooking, but a rush to get them fed before they melt down.
For those who haven’t planned their 12 step plan (or who haven’t even been to the market) here’s a 30 minute (thereabouts) solution to the need for a satisfying side. It is the single most vital, convertible, applicable technique to apply to Thanksgiving (you’re on your own as far as the turkey is concerned). 3 words: High Heat Roasting. Think of it as the winter (or autumn) equivalent of grilling. It’s all about the BTUs (british thermal units), the blast of heat, the caramelization. It’s about char, sweet and savory, and honest flavors. No marshmallows. No tricks. Just heat. Fat. Salt. Seasonings. Veg. My kids love love love roast vegetables and I actually think my childhood was a bit barren in its lack of produce cooked thusly.
You see, if you take just about any vegetable with an autumnal vibe (butternut squash, potato, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green beans), toss them with some oil, salt and pepper, and herbs, and then roast the heck out of them, they will become gorgeously, toastily, unctuously roasty. Here’s the trick
Last Minute Roasted Vegetables for Thanksgiving
-get a goodly amount of vegetables chopped or separated into 3/4 inch pieces (pick your favorite of the following: butternut squash, cauliflower, halved brussels sprouts, whole green beans, broccoli florets, etc; honestly, whatever you think will fly with the greatest percentage of children of all ages at the table. Our favorites are sprouts. We also love green beans.)
-a few peeled garlic cloves
-a few sprigs of fresh thyme
Heat that oven to 425. Toss the vegetables in just enough oil to lightly coat, along with salt, pepper, garlic cloves, thyme sprigs. Spread out in one layer on a cookie sheet, not crowding it too much (you don’t want it steaming; you want it sizzling and roasting). Put it in the oven (you might have to do two pans on two racks; or do it in batches) and roast until the vegetables are tender, a bit browned, and just intense. Could take 15 minutes. Could take 25. All depends on the oven and the vegetable. Smell and taste as you go. . You’ll know when they’re done. They will be sweet, earthy, perfect roasty. So simple. So good. (If the veg is too tough or too dry or too bland, add a bit more oil and salt and push it longer)
My wife has fancy little finish to the whole thing: zest some lemon peel over green beans, sprouts, or broccoli for hit of color and bright, aromatic boost. Just makes it a bit special.
So what am I making for my family on Thanksgiving? As little as possible. We’re going to relatives. They’re doing the turkey. We’ve got some baby brussels sprouts. Probably will roast them. We’re also doing a crudite platter with radishes, carrots of various colors, and some dips (roasted red pepper, spinach) that we bought at the excellent Joan’s on Third here in Los Angeles. No need to go nuts and freaky foodie on this holiday. It’s about the family in the end, isn’t it? (speaking of family, we’re also bringing over a couple of bottles of darned good Champagne)