Serving some non-traditional dishes on Thanksgiving Day

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Even though I’m not really a turkey lover, I do manage to get my fill of the traditional trimmings, such as mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes and more.
I must admit the taste of deep-fried turkey has caused me to consider eating more than my usual quotient of the bird, rather than mainline the ham, which is usually part of the Thanksgiving spread.
Recently, I received an email from an ardent reader of my food column (thank you, Diane) inquiring about my recipe for cheesy grits, which she would be serving with ribs as part of her Thanksgiving feast. After providing her with the recipe, I started thinking about some other non-traditional dishes served at this most traditional time of the year.

Grilled Turkey Tenderloin with Stuffing
For those who don’t want to cook a whole turkey, these grilled turkey tenderloins with stuffing should satisfy.
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon leaves
3 (12 oz.) turkey breast tenderloins
8 serving size turkey stuffing mix
Mix lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, thyme and tarragon in a glass baking dish. Add turkey tenderloins and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour but not longer than 24 hours.
Brush grill rack with vegetable oil and heat grill. Grease a 9-inch-square aluminum pan and set aside. Remove turkey tenderloins from marinade and place directly on grill. Cover grill and cook turkey for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in large bowl, stir stuffing mix together with amount of water called for on package. Spoon into prepared aluminum pan and cover with foil.
Add pan with stuffing to grill rack. Brush turkey with marinade and turn. Discard remaining marinade. Cover and grill 10-15 minutes longer or until center is no longer pink or internal temperature reaches 180 degrees and stuffing is hot and tender. Let turkey and stuffing stand for 10 minutes before serving. Cut tenderloins into one-inch pieces and serve with stuffing. Makes 6-8 servings.

Roasted Sweet Potato Bisque
Start off your Thanksgiving feast with a hot cup of this creamy bisque made with roasted sweet potatoes.
5 slices bacon
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large sweet potatoes
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a baking pan lined with foil. Roast them until completely soft, having left a burnt caramel syrup on their bottoms, about 1-2 hours, depending on the size of your sweet potato. Allow to cool and then gently peel off their skins and set the fillings aside.
In large stockpot, cook bacon until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels and set aside. Drain off all but two tablespoons of the bacon fat. Cook onion and garlic in bacon fat until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in sweet potatoes and chicken stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are falling apart. Using a potato masher or immersion blender, mash the vegetables. Stir in heavy cream and heat through.
Serve each cup of bisque with a garnish of crisp bacon. Makes 8-10 cup servings.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
There are many variations on this idea, but the combination of the Brussels sprouts sautéed in olive oil with fresh prosciutto and shallots and then roasted in the oven until tender is too much to resist. I’ve left the amounts off so you can adjust the amounts to your own taste.
Fresh Brussels sprouts
Extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse ground salt and pepper, to taste
Dice the prosciutto into small pieces. Slice the shallots into thin rings or slices. Rinse the Brussels sprouts and then trim the ends.
In a large oven-proof skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the prosciutto becomes a little crispy and the shallots begin to brown. Add the Brussels sprouts. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until everything is well-coated with oil; add more oil if necessary.
Place the skillet in a 350-degree oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep them well-coated with oil. Remove from the oven once sprouts are tender and just beginning to brown.

Mushroom Sage Risotto
This slow-cooker version has a dense consistency and is creamy.
1-1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tsps. minced garlic
1-1/2 cups cremini or baby portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Mix the rice, olive oil, garlic, onion, sage and mushrooms together in a small bowl, and then pour it into your slow-cooker. Add the chicken stock and white wine and cook on high for 2-1/2 hours. Once the risotto is finished cooking, stir in the Parmesan cheese and leave uncovered. Makes 6-8 servings.

White and Purple Creamed Onions
1-1/2 lbs. small white and purple onions, peeled
2 Tbsps. butter
2 Tbsps. flour
1-1/2 cups half-and-half
1/4 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsps. chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Place onions in a medium saucepan. Add some salt and enough water to cover. Bring onions to a boil; cover and cook 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid; set onions and cooking liquid aside.
Using the same saucepan, melt butter; blend in flour. Gradually add the half-and-half and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Stir in the paprika.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Add some of the reserved liquid to thin the sauce, if too thick. Add onions to the sauce; heat through and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at nharding@brunswickbeacon.com.