By Brack Johnson


Turkey is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table. But, the truth is, most people load their plates with heaping portions of the side dishes.


Here are recipes for fabulous trimmings for the feast. From sweet potatoes to root veggies, many of the ingredients are grown right here in the Triangle.


With all this goodness happening on the side, be sure to save a little room for the bird!



Fire In My Belly: Real Cooking

Published by Andrews McMeel







Gussied-up Mac-n-Cheese
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons salt
1 pound dried cavatippi (macaroni formed in a spiral tube shape)
8 ounces (about 1 cup) andouille sausage
4 cups heavy cream
1 pound Velveeta, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups (about 8 ounces) smoked cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup (about 4 ounces) Parrano cheese (may use 2 ounces aged Gouda and 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano), grated
4 ounces unsalted potato chips, crumbled


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart baking dish and set aside.


Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add the salt and stir to dissolve. Add the pasta and cook just until tender yet still quite chewy in the center (a little under the al dente stage). Drain the pasta in a colander and set aside.


While the pasta cooks, line a plate with a double layer of paper towels. Squeeze the sausage from the casing, then quarter it length-wise and cut it crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Heat an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add the sausage pieces, and cook until browned around the edges, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to the paper towels to drain.


In a Dutch oven, heat the cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down to low, add the Velveeta, and stir until it melts. Add the sausage, cheddar and Parrano, stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Pull the pot from the heat and fold in the cooked pasta. Pour the pasta into the baking dish and top with the crumbled potato chips.
Bake until bubbly and browned around the edges, about 20 minutes. Pull the dish from the oven and let the sauce set up for at least 5 minutes before serving.


Serves 8




Around the Southern Table: Coming Home to Comforting Meals and Treasured Memories

Published by Oxmoor House






All Things Sweet Potato Casserole
4-1/2 cups mashed baked sweet potatoes
(about 4 pounds whole)
2 large eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and divided
1-1/2 cups crushed gingersnaps (30 cookies)
3 cups miniature marshmallows


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine potatoes, eggs, next 5 ingredients, and 1/2 cup melted butter in a large bowl; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon into a lightly greased, 13- x 9-inch baking dish.


Stir remaining 1/4 cup melted butter into crushed gingersnaps. Top potato mixture with marshmallows and the gingersnap mixture in alternating crosswise rows.


Bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly browned.


Makes 12 servings.



Very Fond of Food: A Year in Recipes

Published by Robert Rose








Root Vegetable Cakes With a Cheesy Bechamel Sauce
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
A handful of chopped curly kale
1/2 celery root, peeled and chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
A handful of spinach, chopped
1/2 leek, cut into thin rounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the sauce:
2 cups milk
A few slices of carrot and onion
A few sprigs of fresh parsley
A few peppercorns
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon arrowroot
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper


Add all the vegetables except the spinach and leek to a saucepan of salted water and bring to a boil, cooking until soft. This should take about 15 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and drain the water, leaving about 1 inch. Mash the vegetables roughly with a tablespoon of butter and some salt and pepper.


In a small frying pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter and soften the spinach and leek for a few minutes. Mix the spinach and leek into the coarsely mashed vegetables and form the mixture into small cakes. Pop them in the fridge for an hour or so.


To make the sauce, put the milk in a saucepan with the carrot, onion, parsley and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain out the vegetables and pour the milk into a measuring cup. Wash out the saucepan and dry, then melt the butter. Slowly add the arrowroot, stirring continuously. Very slowly add the milk, again stirring all the while. When it is incorporated and smooth, add the cheese and stir until it melts. Season to taste. If too thick, add a few more drops of milk.


In a big frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Put the cakes in and cook for a few minutes on each side, until they are lacy and golden. Serve with big spoonfuls of sauce.


Serves 4




Girl in the Kitchen: How a Top Chef Cooks, Thinks, Shops, Eats and Drink

Published by Chronicle Books







Chestnut Confit With Roasted Potatoes, Bacon and Kumquats
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 pounds new (baby) potatoes, quartered
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
12 kumquats, quartered, flesh removed and discarded (reserve the skins)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
8 ounces fresh chestnuts (about 12) shelled and peeled


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.


Heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spatula, drain on a paper towel, and reserve the rendered fat.


Add the potatoes to the pan with the bacon fat, toss to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the potatoes to a nonstick baking sheet and bake until tender, about 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, combine the orange juice, sugar, kumquat skins and vinegar in a medium, nonreactive saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and let it simmer until the skins are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the skins with a slotted spoon and set aide.


Add the chestnuts to the liquid and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the liquid has reduced by three-fourths into a thick syrup, about 1 hour. The nuts should be tender enough to break into bits with the nudge of a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper.


Toss the roasted potatoes with the reserved bacon and kumquat peels. Place them on a platter and top with the chestnut confit to serve.


Serves 4 to 6