Cane Syrup Pecan Pie

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In Feature Stories, November 2017 by Gina StephensLeave a Comment

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Thanksgiving is a holiday of traditions. We roast a turkey, consult our grandmothers’ recipes for green bean or sweet potato casserole, and, if we’re skilled, try our hands at homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie. There’s a lot to be said for the familiarity and comfort of longstanding traditions. But there’s also something to be said for approaching the traditional in ways that we’ve never before tried. This year for Thanksgiving, we consulted the cookbooks of some of the foremost culinary leaders in our area. We cobbled together a Thanksgiving dinner using recipes from Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner, The Farmhouse Chef Jamie DeMent, plus a turkey recipe from The Fresh Market and a Mac’N’Cheese Souffle from the great culinary minds at Tupelo Honey. We hope you’ll give our suggestions for a traditional Thanksgiving with a twist a try. As long as no one burns the turkey, we don’t think it’s possible for you to go wrong.

thanksgiving turkeyClassic Roast Turkey

1 (20 pound) turkey

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more if needed

1 tbsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3 cups water

Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove giblets and neck from turkey. Discard liver or save for another use. Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Pull off pale yellow fat on both sides of tail and reserve.

Tie ends of drumsticks together with kitchen twine, or tuck them under flap of skin (or plastic or metal “hock lock”). Lift wing tips up and over back and tuck them under bird. Place turkey on a roasting rack set in a roasting pan. Add reserved turkey fat to pan. Generously brush turkey all over with 1/2 cup melted butter and sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper.

Tightly cover breast area (not wings) with aluminum foil. Add water to pan. Bake, basting every 45 minutes or so (including area under foil) until an instant-read thermometer inserted in meaty part of thigh (not touching bone) registers 180°F, about 4 3/4 hours. During last hour of roasting, remove and discard foil. As water in roasting pan evaporates, add additional water to keep drippings from scorching.

Transfer turkey to a large serving platter. Let turkey stand uncovered for at least 30 minutes before carving.

From Cooking in Season with The Fresh Market.

For recipes, visit

roasted carrots with whipped tahiniRoasted Carrots with Whipped Tahini 
Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds medium carrots

1 tbsp. olive oil

Sea Salt

Black pepper in a mill

5 medium thyme sprigs

1 fresh bay leaf

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

Zest from ½ orange

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

8 fresh mint leaves, torn

2 tsp. tasted sesame or benne seeds

½ cup Whipped Tahini (recipe below)

Whipped Tahini

Makes about 2 ½ cups

1 ½ cups tahini, well shaken

3 or 4 cloves garlic, crushed and with any green centers removed

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. sea salt

In a food processor, combine the tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt and process for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture lightens in color. With the motor running, gradually add up to 1 cup water, processing until the mixture is super smooth and creamy, like mayonnaise; the mixture will seize at first before emulsifying into a smooth spread.

Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Preheat a convection oven to 400º F (or a regular oven to 425º F). Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Place the carrots in a large bowl with the olive oil, 1 tsp. of salt, about 20 turns of the pepper mill, thyme, bay and garlic. Toss to coat well. Arrange the carrots on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through. Let cool to room temperature.

Trim the ends of the carrots and cut on the diagonal into 2-inch-long pieces. Place in a medium bowl. Add the orange juice and zest, sesame, oil, mint leaves and sesame seeds and toss to coat. Spoon the tahini in the center of a serving platter. Arrange the carrots on top of the tahini and serve.

mashed potatoesMashed Potatoes with Herb-Scented Cream
Serves 6 to 8

4 cups Heavy Cream

1 ½ tsp. black peppercorns 

½ shallot

1 head garlic, halved across the equator

1 fresh bay leaf

4 thyme sprigs

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes

Kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature

Sea salt

In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream, peppercorns, shallot, garlic and bay leaf to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the thyme. Let steep for 15 minutes. Strain the cream through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the solids and reserving the cream.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes. Place the potatoes in a pot with 10 cups water and season with 2 tbsp. kosher salt. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 18 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the potatoes well and return them to the pot.

In a large saucepan, warm the cream but don’t let it boil. Place the pot of potatoes over low heat just to warm them through. Using an electric mixer, whip the potatoes on medium speed until smooth. Add half of the warm cream to the potatoes, followed by half of the butter. Continue to beat with the mixer, and when both are fully incorporated, continue to add the remaining cream and butter bit by bit until you’ve reached a silky-smooth consistency. You may not need all of the cream and butter; it depends on how starchy your potatoes are. Season the potatoes with 1 tsp. sea salt or to taste and serve immediately.

From Poole’s: recipes and stories from a modern diner. To purchase, visit Poole’s Diner or any bookstore.

stuffing muffins
Stuffing Muffins
Makes 4–6 servings

½ pound bread (any kind will work)

1 pound savory cornbread

1 medium onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 pound pork sausage with extra sage

1 tbsp. dried sage

1 tbsp. dried oregano

2–3 cups chicken broth

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 250° F.

Slice the bread and cornbread, and toast for about 15 minutes, until the bread is dried out. Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, sauté the onions and garlic in the butter until the onions are translucent. Set aside to cool. When the bread is toasted, remove it from the oven and turn the oven up to 350° F.

Brown the sausage in a large skillet and set it aside. Chop the toasted bread into small cubes and, in a large bowl, mix it with the sausage, onions, garlic, sage and oregano. Pour the chicken broth over everything (start with 2 cups, and add more if you need more moisture) until the mixture is slightly wet.

Spoon the mix into buttered muffin pans, and bake until golden brown—20–25 minutes.

Cane Syrup Pecan Pie
Makes 6–8 servings

1 unbaked piecrust 

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1 1/2 cups pure cane syrup

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup pecan halves

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tbsp. bourbon

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the piecrust.

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour and cornstarch until smooth. Add the cane syrup and sugar, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

In a separate small bowl, beat 2 eggs. Add the eggs and the rest of the ingredients to the pot, and stir them to mix well. Pour everything into your piecrust and lightly tap it on counter to even out the nuts and release any air bubbles.

Place the pie in the oven and bake at 450° F for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350° F and bake for an additional 30–35 minutes—until the pie is done and not jiggly in the center.

Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool a little before serving.

Cane Syrup Pecan Pie

From THE FARMHOUSE CHEF: RECIPES AND STORIES FROM MY CAROLINA FARM by Jamie DeMent. Copyright © 2017 by Jamie DeMent. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.

To purchase, visit or any bookstore.

Mac & Cheese SouffleMac ‘N’ Cheese Soufflé
Makes 12 Servings

1 pound elbow macaroni

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup Milk Gravy (recipe below)

1 tbsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground

black pepper

2 pounds shredded cheddar cheese

5 large eggs

Milk Gravy

Makes 2 cups

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

¾ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground

black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

To make the milk gravy, in a heavy saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Increase the heat to medium and stir the mixture constantly for 2 minutes. (You want to be sure the mixture does not brown.) Slowly whisk in the milk and then add the salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon. Add the black pepper and cayenne. Taste and add more salt if needed. Remove from the heat until ready to use. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

To prepare the soufflé, cook the macaroni per the instructions on the box. Drain and cool; do not let the cooked pasta sit in the water. Heat the butter in a skillet over high heat, allowing it to get a little brown, about 30 seconds; it will have a faint nutty smell. Be careful not to let it burn. Remove from the heat, and mix with the panko. Reserve until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, mix together the heavy cream, milk gravy, salt, pepper and cheese.

In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs until they are frothy, about 1 minute. Mix the eggs with the cheese mixture, then add the pasta. Place in an 8 by 12-inch baking pan (or individual ramekins if preferred), then cover evenly with the reserved panko mixture. Place the pan in the oven for 20 minutes (may be a few minutes longer if refrigerated beforehand), remove from the oven when it is light brown in color and enjoy. If making individual servings, bake for only 15 minutes.

From Tupelo Honey Southern Spirits & Small Plates text © 2017 Tupelo Honey Cafe. Photography copyright © 2017 Angie Mosier. Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City, MO.

To purchase, visit Tupelo Honey or any bookstore.

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