Complementing the turkey: SCCC student chefs share their favorite additions to Thanksgiving meal

Paul Pownall and his friends — student chefs at Schenectady County Community College’s highly regard

For many, Thanksgiving means roast turkey, mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, green beans and pumpkin pie.

Paul Pownall and his friends — student chefs at Schenectady County Community College’s highly regarded culinary arts school — have different appetites for the fourth Thursday in November.

Pownall must have sausage lasagna on his holiday table. Kara Lindsay Shoen prefers her mother’s oyster stuffing. Shannon Dowen-Ronda makes cinnamon crème brûlée for Thanksgiving dessert. Michelle Anaya-Malone begins festivities with lumpia — Filipino spring rolls.

All four chefs, officers in the college’s chapter of the American Culinary Federation, share their recipes with Daily Gazette readers today.

Pownall, a sophomore and chapter treasurer who lives in Watervliet, said he grew up with Italian food. He said that while many cooks put large pieces of sausage into their layers of pasta and cheese, he runs his through the food processor. “Now you’re getting pieces throughout, instead of big chunks,” he said.

People can serve the lasagna with extra sauce and sausage on the side. Warm Italian garlic bread — with or without cheese — is mandatory with any lasagna dish.

“I could eat this every day, no problem,” Pownall said.

Decadence and a twist

Shoen, also a sophomore, said her oyster stuffing recipe comes from her mother. Donna Sue Hays used to make the lavish side dish when she lived in Knoxville, Tenn.

The family lives in Saratoga Springs now. “Every year, we ask for it,” Shoen said. “Even my grandfather, even with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease, he asks for it.”

Shoen said when she was a kid, she didn’t like the baked mix of oysters, corn bread, carrots, onions and celery. Maturity meant more sophisticated tastes and a new appreciation for her mom’s dressing.

“The oysters seem like a decadent treat, and unexpected in a stuffing recipe,” said Shoen, president of the student culinary chapter. “We have to make sure we have our Tennessee traditions,” she said.

Cinnamon crème brûlée is another extravagant way to celebrate the holiday.

“It’s basically a baked custard,” said Dowen-Ronda, a sophomore who lives in Albany and is vice president of the culinary chapter. “A lot of people like it for the caramelization on top. You kind of break into the cream center. It’s kind of a decadent dessert.”

The dish can be a little tricky, Dowen-Ronda said, noting that you need just the right amount of custard in the glass dish to make sure it sets properly. “It’s easier than people think,”she said. “And it’s just impressive to people. They aren’t expecting a crème brûlée at the table.”

Anaya-Malone, a recent culinary arts graduate who is currently finishing baking courses at the college, said lumpia are common at Filipino celebrations. She mixes ground pork in some spring rolls and shrimp in others. Shredded cabbage, carrots, onion and garlic are also in on the action.

Anaya-Malone, the chapter secretary, said people should be careful with lumpia as a Thanksgiving appetizer. One or two will be OK, she said. Any more and diners may be sorely pressed to finish their turkey, mashed potatoes and other traditional courses.

Still, she hopes people will think spring this autumn.

“They’re out of the norm,” she said. “You want a nice twist to your Thanksgiving meal.”

Sausage Lasagna

From Paul Pownall of Watervliet.

32 ounces tomato sauce, jar or homemade

1 pound Italian sausage, browned, drained and crumbled

1 pound lasagna noodles, cooked according to directions

2 cups ricotta cheese

2 eggs

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix the ricotta cheese, eggs and parsley,and set aside. Mix Parmesan and mozzarella and set aside.

Place a thin layer of just the tomato sauce on the bottom of your pan, then combine remaining tomato sauce and crumbled sausage.

Put down first layer of noodles and spread with 1⁄4 cup of the ricotta mixture and 1⁄4 cup of the Parmesan-mozzarella mixture. Top with sauce. Repeat steps for three layers of noodles.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, heat in oven until it reaches 165 degrees and serve.

Chef’s note: Regular lasagna noodles or no-cook lasagna noodles can be used. If no-cook noodles are used, apply sauce liberally.

Donna’s Smoked Oyster Stuffing

From Kara Lindsay Shoen of Saratoga Springs.

1 cup carrots, finely chopped

2 cups celery, finely chopped

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

1 stick butter

1⁄4 cup apple butter

2 bay leaves, dried or fresh

2 cups turkey broth

1 tin (3.7 ounces) of petite smoked oysters

4 eggs, beaten

1 bag (14-ounces) of Arnold corn bread stuffing

11⁄2 teaspoons Bell’s poultry seasoning

1⁄2 cup chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the carrots, celery, onion and butter into a large, straight-sided sauté pan. On medium heat, cook the vegetables until onions become translucent. Add the apple butter; mix well. Add 1 bay leaf.

Add 11⁄2 cup of the turkey broth and the tin of oysters to the vegetables. Reduce heat to low and let simmer.

Take the remaining 1⁄2 cup of turkey broth, add 4 beaten eggs, and temper the egg mixture: add three 1⁄2-cup portions of the vegetable broth mixture, one at a time, to slowly raise the temperature of the egg mixture. Stir constantly as to not scramble the eggs.

Once stirred, add the egg mixture to the sauté pan. Remove from heat and stir until combined.

In a separate bowl, add the corn bread stuffing, poultry seasoning and chopped parsley. Slowly add the hot vegetable egg broth mixture, folding into the stuffing croutons lightly and evenly.

Bake in a shallow oven-proof pan for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the depth of the vessel and preference for either thick or thin stuffing.

Cinnamon crème brûlée

From Shannon Dowen-Ronda of Albany.

1 quart heavy cream

2 cinnamon sticks

1⁄2 cup sugar

8 large egg yolks

Ground cinnamon

Hot water

1⁄2 cup turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put heavy cream and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it boils, pull it off the heat and steep (let rest) for 15 minutes, covered. Then remove cinnamon sticks.

Whisk together the 1⁄2 cup of sugar with the egg yolks. Temper the eggs with the hot cinnamon cream by whisking together. Pour into individual glass cup-style dishes — ramekins are preferred — and gently sprinkle some ground cinnamon into each dish.

Place the ramekins into a roasting pan for a water bath. Fill the roasting pan with hot water halfway up the sides of ramekins and put the pan into the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the sides are set but the center still trembles. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Put the 1⁄2 cup of turbinado sugar and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon into a container and mix together; set aside.

Remove the crème brûlée from the refrigerator and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the custard and using a small cooking torch, melt the sugar until it forms a crisp top. If you don’t have a torch, the ramekins can be placed back in the roasting pan with ice covering the bottom of the pan and placed under the broiler until the sugar caramelizes.

Serves 6.


From Michelle Anaya-Malone of Albany.

1 pound ground pork or 1 pound chopped shrimp

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3 teaspoons soy sauce

Vegetable oil, for frying

1⁄2 cup grated carrots

1⁄2 cup chopped green onions

1⁄2 cup shredded cabbage

1⁄2 cup bean sprouts

3 cloves garlic

1⁄4 cup julienne onion

1 package of lumpia-spring roll wrapper, found at Asian grocery stores

(Note: Carrots and cabbage can be replaced with a package of pre-cut coleslaw mix)

For vinegar dipping sauce:

1⁄2 cup rice vinegar

3 to 4 garlic cloves, crushed

Black pepper, to taste

Dried chili pepper, for heat (optional)

Marinate the ground pork or shrimp with salt, pepper, garlic powder and 11⁄2 teaspoons of soy sauce for 10 to 15 minutes.

If using ground pork, after the marinade, sauté pork and set aside. Drain fat.

Add a small bit of vegetable oil to a sauté pan and sauté the vegetables, garlic and onion. Add shrimp or cooked pork at the end of cooking with the remaining 11⁄2 teaspoons of soy sauce.

Transfer the mixture into a colander and drain the moisture in the cooked ingredients for 30 minutes. Then transfer to a sheet pan and refrigerate until the mixture is cool.

Once the mixture is cool, begin the set-up for rolling of spring rolls.

On a counter top or work station, place a wrapper diagonally, with the corner facing toward you. Add a full tablespoon of the shrimp or pork mixture on the south end point of the wrapper and begin to roll. Once you roll toward the middle, fold the sides of the wrapper inward.

Continue to roll the wrapper toward the end. Dab a little of water on the tip of the wrapper and fold the roll. A little dab of water will hold the roll in place.

Place the roll onto a pan, with the flap downward. Place wax or parchment paper between rows of rolls (moisture will cause the rolls to stick together). Repeat roll process until supplies of wrappers and mixture are finished.

Heat the vegetable oil, using a deep sauce pan or fryer. Place one or two rolls in the heated oil. Cook until golden brown.

Place the cooked spring rolls on a rack or place on a plate with paper towel to remove excess oil.

Serve immediately with the vinegar dipping sauce or a sweet duck sauce.

Categories: Life and Arts

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