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Food & Drink

Pig Out with These Alternative Thanksgiving Recipes

Photo: Casey Howell, License: N/A

Casey Howell

Clockwise: Ginger-cranberry cheesecake, Thai-style marinated rib, apples on piggyback, rice, butternut squash and bacon jam

The idea of roasting a turkey stresses us out. There’s the matter of cleaning out the ugly bits, and patting it dry for what seems like hours to get that crispy, crunchy skin. Regardless of when you go to the grocery store, you’ll find hordes of Thanksgiving zombies milling around the sweet potatoes and the green beans. Oh, and there will be chingos of leftovers that will usually go uneaten because you’re flat out sick of stuffing.

This T-Giving, we’re flipping the script and dropping traditional Turkey Day offerings for a varied and pig-happy menu that features pancetta, bacon jam and pork spare ribs for a feast that will keep guests guessing at what comes next, while also minimizing your kitchen time, as most of these recipes can be made ahead. This feast should easily serve 6-8 people.


Apples on Piggyback
The evening kicks off with a one-two flavor punch of crisp pancetta and melty Manchego paired with a crunchy hint of sweet Pink Lady apples.

16 thin slices of pancetta,
1 Pink Lady apple, peeled and cut into 16 wedges
3 ounces Manchego cheese, sliced ¼-inch thick and cut into 2-by-1/2-inch sticks
16 toothpicks

Heat a grill pan on medium high heat. Arrange pancetta slices on a work surface and place an apple wedge followed by a cheese stick in the center of each slice. Wrap the pancetta around the filling and secure with a toothpick.

Grill skewers until pancetta is golden and crispy and cheese is melted, about 5 to 6 minutes. Serve while hot. If making ahead, give the skewers a quick warm up on the grill pan.

Modified from Food & Wine


Butternut Squash and Bacon Jam
This recipe lends itself to customization. First off, if you want to make your life a lot easier, just buy some bacon jam. It’s currently available at Sur La Table at La Cantera, or you can order some at Second, the bacon jam recipe below makes about three cups, so to double or triple the recipe all you need to do is roast another squash or two. Third, you can substitute any herb or spice for the chipotle if you want to avoid spiciness. Rosemary would be a lovely addition. Note that you should adjust the sweet factor down if you remove the heat.

1 large butternut squash halved lengthwise and seeded*
1 tablespoon melted butter or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Bacon Jam
1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2/3 cup strong brewed coffee
1 teaspoon chipotle powder or 1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo

In a large cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until lightly browned, working in batches if necessary. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat and reserve excess. Add onions and garlic to remaining bacon grease and cook until onions are translucent. Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, chipotle and coffee. Bring to a boil while stirring. Add bacon and stir to combine.

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