So why does a turkey taste so much better at Thanksgiving? I say it’s mood-food and I’m sticking to it. It’s the long weekend. It’s all those wonderful side dishes – and we all have favorite ones that, over time, has become a family tradition. And lastly, it’s because mentally, we give ourselves permission to over-indulge with no signs of regret.
Although Thanksgiving Day isn’t celebrated in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries, the concept of mood-food, however, is the basis of MidEasterranean cuisine: Celebrating food surrounded by loved ones, enriching the spirit and the mood of the occasion, and enjoying long-standing family traditional dishes.
If you’ve ever befriended a true Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, you’ll know that we take every opportunity to celebrate an occasion – especially those involving more food. MidEasterranean cuisine is truly about surrounding ourselves with plenty of good food, fine wine, joy and laughter.
I do have to share this though, despite the fact that I’ve now been living in Canada for 15 years, same length of time I resided in the US, I still prefer the timing of the US Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) rather than the Canadian Thanksgiving (second Monday in October). I enjoy Thanksgiving post Halloween and when the autumn mood is in full bloom…rust-colored leaves, pumpkins of all sizes, chilly mornings, thick scarves, with whispers of the Christmas season in the background.
I fell in love with white truffle oil 5 years ago when I worked for a caterer in Vancouver. I’d enjoyed black truffles numerous times before particularly on one my favorite dishes, Tornedos Rossini (Filet Mignon + foie gras + black truffles + port + brandy + Madeira served over buttered crostini + drizzled with veal demi-glace.) Divine is the word! BTW – my favorite white truffle oil is La Madia. I've tested several varieties, but I keep coming back to this one.
White truffles or white truffle oil I found to be more delicate, softer, and more gentle compared to the black truffle or black truffle oil. They’re both wonderful really, but for the last 5 years, I cannot imagine my kitchen stock without a bottle of white truffle oil. I use it as often as I can – over soft poached eggs, tossed with caramelized wild mushrooms, drizzled over potato gnocchi with sage butter sauce, and here, I finish the pan-caramelized Brussels sprouts with lardon, shallots, and port and a generous drizzle of the gold liquid. It will send your taste buds to heaven, I promise. So much in fact, it may even convert you to become a lover of Brussels sprouts…and you won’t be the first or last.
2 key tips for working with truffle oil: 1.) Use it to finish a dish as cooking this oil will mute the flavor, and 2.) apply the less is more; start with a bit, and go from there.
Whether you’re celebrating the Canadian or US Thanksgiving – traditional or not, Enjoy the mood-food and the turning of the season!
Caramelized brussels sprouts with white truffle oil
1 cup Brussels sprouts, cleaned, cut lengthwise in half
Blanch in salted-boiling water for 1 minute, then shock in cold water. Strain immediately and transfer to colander to rid some of the moisture.
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup lardon (fresh bacon slices)
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 shallot, emincé
Generous splash of good quality tawny port, to deglaze pan (you can sub the port with Marsala or Madeira)
Generous splash of dry white wine, to deglaze pan
Generous splash of white truffle oil, to taste
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat the butter and the lardons in a sauce pan – don’t use non-stick as you want to get good caramelization here – over medium-high heat. When butter begins to bubble, add in the thyme sprig and blanched brussels sprouts (turn them face down to get the “face” seared well. Cook sprouts on both sides for a few minutes or until both sides are caramelized golden.
Turn heat down to medium-low, add in the shallot slices and cook until shallots become translucent.
Deglaze the pan with the port and wine, au sec (wait until liquor has evaporated) – use more if needed.
Turn heat off and finish with a generous splash of white truffle oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Can be served hot or at room temperature.
Serves 2, as a side dish.