News & Politics

Turkey Day Five Ways: Gillian Clark’s Kitsch Menu

Nobody will turn his nose up at Clark’s archly ennobled Betty Crocker classics. There’s no place for canned cream-of-mushroom glop in her green-bean-and-onion casserole—the smooth mushroom sherry cream sauce is worth the extra prep time.

Main Dish

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast


Creamed-Onion-Stuffed Onion

Sausage-and-Apple-Stuffed Sausage

Sweet-Potato-and-Marshmallow Pâté

"Green Bean and Onion Casserole" (Haricots Verts in Mushroom Vin Blanc With Crispy Onions)

Cranberry-Sauce Aspic


Pumpkin Soufflé

Creamed Onion-Stuffed Onion
Serves six

8 ounces butter
4 ounces flour
2 cups milk, warmed
1 sprig fresh thyme
6 medium yellow onions, whole
4 medium yellow onions, diced
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, toasted
4 bacon strips, browned in the oven and finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make a béchamel sauce: Melt four ounces of butter in a large saucepan set over low heat. Slowly whisk in the flour and cook for five minutes. Gradually whisk in the warm milk. Add the sprig of thyme. Simmer until thickened, whisking constantly, for about five minutes. Strain and set aside.

Boil six of the onions until you can pierce them easily with a knife. Peel the onions and using a paring knife cut off the top and the trim root end (leaving it intact). Carve out the inside of the onion, leaving about three layers of outer skin. Set the skins in a baking dish.

Melt four ounces of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Sweat the diced onions until translucent, then add the white wine. Let the mixture simmer until it is almost dry, taking care not to let the onions brown. Remove from the heat, and add 1/3 of the béchamel sauce to the onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Fill the onion shells with the onion stuffing. Pour the remaining sauce over and around the onions in the baking pan. Sprinkle the tops with breadcrumbs and bacon crumbles. Bake the onions in the oven until they are heated through and the tops are bubbly and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Sausage-Stuffed Sausages

Serves six

2 large onions, diced
3 granny smith apples, diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups chicken stock
4 cups seasoned stuffing mix (preferably Pepperidge Farm)
1 pound loose pork sausage meat
1 pound tub sausage casing (about 20 inches), rinsed

In a large, heavy saucepan set over low heat, sweat the onions and the apples in the butter. When the onions are translucent, add the chicken stock, raise the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Stir in the stuffing mix and cook over low heat for ten minutes.

In another saucepan set over low heat, warm the loose pork sausage meat, taking care not to cook it. Set aside. When it is cool, combine the meat with the apple-stuffing mix and combine thoroughly by hand or in a stand mixer. Refrigerate the mixture overnight.

Stuff the sausage mixture into the sausage casings to make four- or five-inch tied sausages. Poach each sausage for two minutes in simmering water. Cool, then brown in a pan over low heat just before serving.

Haricots Vert, Shiitake, and Fried Onion Casserole
Serves six

1 pound haricots vert, ends trimmed
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
1/4 cup sherry
2 cups heavy cream
2 large onions
2 cups flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
Salt and pepper, to taste

Blanch the haricots vert in boiling water. Shock them in ice water and set aside. In a pan over high heat, sauté the shiitake mushrooms in olive oil. Add the shallots, then add the sherry. Turn the heat to medium and reduce until the mixture is almost dry. Add the heavy cream, turn the heat to low, and simmer until it is reduced by half. Toss in the haricots vert and transfer the mixture to a nine-inch rectangular casserole dish.

Use a very sharp knife to shred the onions into paper-thin slices. Toss them in the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, and and deep-fry them in the oil until golden. Drain the fried onions on paper towels and pile them atop the green-bean casserole. Heat in the oven until heated throughout. Serve warm.

Cranberry Aspic
Makes one large mold

2 10-ounce packages of cranberries, preferably fresh
4 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
Rind of 1 orange, grated
1/3 cup orange juice
1 quart unsweetened cranberry juice
6 packets Knox unflavored gelatin (powdered)

Heat all ingredients except cranberry juice in a nonreactive saucepan over medium-low heat. Let cook until the berries start to burst and the liquid is thickened, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

In a separate pot, bring the cranberry juice to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the gelatin. Discard the cinnamon sticks from the berry mixture and stir the berries into the gelatin. Pour into a mold (or a large juice can). Set in the refrigerator for at least eight hours.

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
Serves six

1 10-pound bone-in turkey breast
1/2 stick butter, softened
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
10 fresh basil leaves
1 cup finely diced carrot
1 cup finely diced celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons salt, plus more for seasoning
1 tablespoons pepper, plus more for seasoning

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Rub the breast with butter. In a bowl, toss the carrot, celery, garlic, and half of the parsley, basil, and thyme with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables on the bottom of a baking dish just large enough to hold the turkey breast. Sprinkle the breast with the remaining herbs, season it to taste with salt and pepper, and place it on top of the vegetables. Roast in the oven for an hour, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Roast another 20 minutes per pound or until the juices run clear.

Pumpkin Soufflé
Serves six

12 ounces canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for coating the ramekins
5 egg yolks
5 egg whites
Butter, softened, for greasing ramekins

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a stand mixer, thoroughly blend all ingredients except egg whites. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Using a spatula, gently fold the whites into the pumpkin mixture. Using a pastry brush, coat the ramekins with butter and coat with granulated sugar. Toss out the excess sugar from each ramekin. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the soufflés are puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Pâté
Serves six

6 large sweet potatoes, boiled with skin-on
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
6 or 7 marshmallows
Butter, for greasing

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Peel the potatoes, mash them, and blend them with the egg yolks, spices, salt, and sugar. When the mixture is well-incorporated, use a spatula to fold in the beaten egg whites. Pour half of the mixture into a well-buttered four-by-nine-inch loaf pan (it should fill up halfway). Bake until just set, about 15 minutes. Press a layer of marshmallows over the set mixture and pour the remaining mixture over top. Turn the oven to 300 degrees and bake for ten minutes. When you see a bit of marshmallow oozing from the sides, take it out. Let it sit for five minutes before serving.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.