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"Homegrown" Chef Matt Jennings Shares Upgraded Thanksgiving Sides

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Homegrown: Cooking from My New England Roots is chef Matt Jennings debut cookbook. It honors the iconic foods of his heritage and celebrates the fresh ingredients that have come to define his renowned, inventive approach to cooking. With four James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef: Northeast, three Cochon 555 wins, and a spot on Food & Wine’s 40 Big Food Thinkers 40 and Under list, Jennings is a culinary innovator known for his unexpected uses of traditional northern ingredients. He joined us to show off how to upgrade a few of the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.

Red Cabbage Wedge Salad

Celebrating humble ingredients is a cornerstone of New England cooking, and cabbage is perhaps one of the humblest of all. But it’s a surprisingly versatile ingredient: crunchy, peppery, and slightly bitter when raw, it becomes luscious and sweet when cooked. This recipe is a riff on a classic wedge salad, with pan-roasted red cabbage standing in for the traditional iceberg. Some razor-thin slices of Asian pear and apple and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and bacon complete this wintry composed salad.

Serves 6

For the Dressing

  • ½ cup whole-grain mustard
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad

  • 2 thick-cut bacon slices (about ¼ pound), cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil 1 medium head red cabbage, cut into sixths, loose outer leaves removed but core intact 2 tablespoons unsalted butter Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper ½ tart apple, such as Gala or Honeycrisp, cored and sliced into thin wedges
  • ½ Asian pear, cored and sliced into thin wedges
  • Handful of frisée leaves
  • 4 roasted shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted
  1. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, maple syrup, vinegar, and fennel seeds. Whisk in the canola and olive oils; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Make the salad: Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside.
  3. Add the canola oil to the bacon fat in the pan. Set the wedges of cabbage in the pan, cut-side down. Add the butter and sear the cabbage, turning once, until each wedge is browned on both sides and tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cabbage to a plate, season to taste with salt and pepper, and let cool slightly.
  4. Arrange the wedges of cabbage cut-side up on a platter or individual plates. Top each wedge with some of the apple and pear slices and a few leaves of frisée, tucking them into the layers of cabbage. Drizzle with the dressing and top with some of the bacon, roasted shallots, and pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately, with the remaining dressing alongside.

Cornbread

Makes one 9 x 13-inch pan; serves 12

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ¾ cup honey
  • Seaweed butter, for serving (recipe follows), optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with butter.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, both sugars, and the eggs until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk. The mixture should be smooth.
  5. Transfer to the prepared pan and drizzle the honey over the top. Bake about 30 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack, then cut into squares and serve with seaweed butter alongside, if desired.

Seaweed Butter

Makes 1 cup

  • ½ ounce dried nori sheets (about 5 sheets), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In a dry wide skillet over medium heat, toast the nori, stirring, until aromatic and crisp, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the butter, salt, and toasted nori. Process until the mixture is smooth and the nori has broken down into small flakes.
  3. If serving right away, transfer to a bowl, cover, and keep at room temperature. The butter will keep in a refrigerated lidded container for up to a week. Let it come to room temperature before serving.

Excerpted from Homegrown by Matt Jennings (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017.