Turkey Day, à la Française — French Chefs’ Thanksgiving Recipes

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Daniel Humm's roasted chicken. (Image: Berliner Speisemeisterei)

With Thanksgiving around the corner, you may be wondering how to avoid serving the same dishes as last year. French chefs Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse and Swiss Daniel Humm may be able to help: they’ve shared their Thanksgiving recipes with French Morning, offering cooks who’ve run out of ideas some food for thought.

Daniel Boulud’s Cheese-Stuffed Pumpkin with Gruyère, Bacon and Walnuts

Serves 10-12, Preparation time: 20 minutes, Cooking time: 3 1/2 hours

pumpkinIngredients: 1 cheese pumpkin, approximately 10-12 pounds, 1 kabocha squash (or butternut squash), 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 loaf sourdough bread, 1 clove garlic, peeled, 3/4 lb. apple wood smoked bacon, cut into approx 1/4 inch thick batons, 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, 1 bunch chives, sliced, 1 lb Gruyère cheese, grated, 5 cups half and half, 1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove. Salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Slice the kabocha squash in half, remove the seeds, rub the inside with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lie the squash flesh side down on a sheet tray lined with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 1 hour, or until cooked through (check with the tip of a paring knife).

Meanwhile, turn the cheese pumpkin upside down, and with a small serrated paring knife, remove a circular cap wide enough to later fill the pumpkin with stuffing (approximately 10 inches in diameter). Cut the sourdough bread into slices 1 inch thick and toast. Lightly rub the toasted bread with the clove of garlic. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the bacon and cook, stirring, until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. When the cooked kabocha squash is cool enough to handle, remove the flesh with a spoon and cut into a rough dice. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the half and half with the ground spices, and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper. Begin filling the pumpkin by starting with a layer of bread, then half of the bacon, half of the walnuts, half of the pumpkin seeds, half of the chives, and half of the cheese. Pour in about half of the half and half mixture and lightly press down. Repeat with remaining filling ingredients to reach the top of the pumpkin. Pour in the remainder of the half and half to reach the rim. Place the cap back on the pumpkin and transfer onto baking tray lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the cheese pumpkin is cooked though. Serve warm, scooping a bit of the cheese pumpkin from the sides along with the filling.

Daniel Humm’s Roast chicken with apples, chestnuts, garlic and herbs

chcikenIngredients: 1 teaspoon canola oil, 2 tablespoons minced shallot, 1 cup peeled and diced raw chestnuts, 1/2 peeled Granny Smith apple cut into 1/8 inch dice, 1 cup rye bread crumbs, 1 cup butter, at room temperature, 2 tablespoons minced parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 (one) 3-3.5 pound whole chicken

Instructions: In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over low heat. Add the shallot and sweat until translucent (3 to 4 minutes). Add the chestnuts and apple and sweat for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the bread crumbs, butter, parsley, and salt, stirring to thoroughly combine. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and keep at room temperature until ready to stuff the chicken.

Open the cavity of the chicken and pull out any excess fat. To butterfly the chicken, begin by placing it breast side down on a cutting board. Insert a sharp knife or shears into the cavity and cut down both sides of the backbone and remove it from the chicken. Flip the chicken so that the breast side is up and use your hands to crack the sternum and flatten the chicken. Remove the wings. Using a boning knife, scrape the meat and skin from the ends of the legs to expose about 1 inch of the bone. Make a small incision on each side of the breast. Cross the legs, tucking them under the skin to hold them in place. Carefully work your fingers under the skin to create space for the stuffing. Pipe the apple and chestnut stuffing under the skin of the legs and breasts. The stuffing should be distributed evenly to maintain the shape of the chicken. Chill the chicken in the refrigerator until the stuffing is set, about 2 hours.

To Finish Roasting the Chicken

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons canola oil, 8 Lady apples, halved, 2 heads garlic, halved crosswise, 1/4 cup peeled raw chestnuts, 1/4 cup peeled and halved cipollini onions 1/4 cup peeled pearl onions, salt, 1 bunch rosemary, 1 bunch thyme.

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 475°F. In a large cast-iron pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add the apples and garlic, cut sides down, along with the chestnuts and onions, and cook until golden (3 to 4 minutes). Move the apples, garlic, chestnuts, and onions to the outer edges of the pan and place the chicken in the center, skin side up. Season with salt and sear the chicken for 2 minutes on the stove before transferring to the oven. Roast for 35 minutes, add the rosemary and thyme, and continue roasting for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the skin is golden and the temperature of the thickest part of the breast close to the bone is 150°F. Transfer the chicken to a wire rack and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Serve the chicken with the roasted apples, garlic, chestnuts, and onions.

Alain Ducasse’s Poached pears, pear sorbet, and chocolate sauce

poire pocheePoached Pears and chocolate sauce (Serves 4)

Ingredients: 8 ripe Bartlett pears, 3 cups water, 3/4 cup superfine sugar, juice of half a lemon, 1 vanilla bean pod, 4.5 oz dark chocolate, 2 tablespoons light cream, chocolate sauce

Instructions: Make a pear sorbet (recipe below). Wash 4 ripe Bartlett pears. Leaving the stem on the pears, peel them, reserving the peelings. In a saucepan, combine 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup of superfine sugar, the juice of half a lemon, 1 vanilla bean pod, opened and scraped, and the pear peelings. Bring to a boil. Then immerse the pears upright in this syrup and cook for 15 minutes. Take the saucepan off the heat and leave the pears in it while they cool. Break 4.5 ounces of dark chocolate (70%) into pieces and melt in a double boiler or in the microwave. Add 2 tablespoons of light cream and 2 to 3 spoonfuls of the pear cooking syrup and mix well. Put a scoop of pear sorbet in each dish. Top with a pear, pour chocolate sauce over, and serve immediately.

Pear sorbet (ingredients included above)

Instructions: Peel and core 4 very ripe pears. Cut the fruit into small chunks. Blend the pears with 1/4 cup of superfine sugar, and use a sorbet-maker to finish the sorbet.