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6 Extra Special Wines & Thanksgiving Sides

Nancy Fann-Im

Let's face it: Thanksgiving is all about the sides. Turkey is great and all, but it only comes in two varieties: juicy or dry. The sides, on the other hand, can take on myriad glorious variations and are the dishes that make or break your Thanksgiving dinner. This Thanksgiving, give your sides an extra oomph with these tried-and-true recipes.

Brussel sprouts with bacon

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

• 1-2 cups Brussels sprouts, washed and sliced in half
• 3 pieces uncooked bacon, diced
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 3-4 tbsp creamy dijon mustard
• Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry the bacon, stirring frequently and slowly until crisp. Remove from the pan and reserve. Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan and roast, stirring until the sprouts start to change color and brown slightly (8-10 minutes).

2. While this is cooking heat the heavy cream in a separate pan to simmer, adding the Dijon mustard, blending until incorporated (turning the cream a light mustard color).

3. Return the bacon to the sprouts and continue to heat. Slowly add half of the mustard cream to the skillet and stir to coat.

4. Remove from heat, place sprouts in a serving dish and toss with the remaining cream, seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.

Ideal Pairing: Cabernet Franc

A platter of baked acorn squash

Honey-Kissed Acorn Squash

• Medium acorn squash, split in half, seeds and pulp removed. As a side note — reserve seeds and roast like pumpkin seeds.
• 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
• Kosher salt and pepper to taste
• 3 tablespoons honey

1. Preheat oven to 390 degrees

2. Cut squash halves into rings or half moons and arrange on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on each of the slices. Sprinkle thyme, salt and pepper, and place in the center of the oven for 30-40 minutes, until soft and brown on the edges.

3. At this point you can remove the sheet from the oven and move to the next step – or just cover loosely with foil and continue the next step 20 minutes before you are preparing to serve. Drizzle honey on each of the slices and return to the oven under the broiler, keeping a close eye, as the sugars from the honey will brown fairly quickly. Remove and serve immediately or at room temperature.

Ideal Pairing: Chardonnay

A skillet of roasted mushrooms

Perfectly Roasted Mushrooms

• 1 lb wild mushrooms, brushed clean (mine were store-bought, and I used 8 ounces each of baby bellas, button, and I tossed in a few shiitake)
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• 1 tsp ground black pepper
• 2 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• ¼ cup olive oil

1. Preheat the oven and a sheet pan (cookie sheet) to 400 degrees. Trim the stems of the mushrooms and quarter*. Toss with the salt, pepper, garlic, and first measure of oil (2 Tbsp).

2. Spread the mushrooms evenly across the pan. Roast for 10 minutes, stir, then rotate the pan. Continue roasting, checking frequently, until the pan is dry (Three 10-minute rotations to achieve the look above).

3. Remove and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use. To reheat the mushrooms, toss with the second measure of oil and heat slowly on the stove-top until the mushrooms are all sizzling around the edges. Serve, oil and all.

Ideal Pairing: Cabernet Franc

A bite of Jalapeno Mac and cheese

Jalapeno-Chorizo Mac and Cheese

• 16 oz. box elbow macaroni (wheat)
• 2 links (about 1 pound) fresh chorizo sausage
• 1 medium jalapeño, diced
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
• 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
• 2 1/2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
• Salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon each
• 2 fresno peppers (garnish, optional)
• 1 teaspoon butter
• 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1. Start by cooking noodles according to the package directions provided.

2. While the noodles are cooking, remove the chorizo casings and fry the meat over medium heat in a sauce pan, breaking up the sausage with a fork until crumbly and crisp. Add the jalapeño, cooking until soft, then remove from heat.

3. Combine milk, stock, salt/pepper and ground mustard in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium. Just before the mixture simmers add in 2 cups of the shredded cheddar cheese, stirring to melt. Pasta should be drained and returned to the warm pot over low heat. Add the chorizo and cheese sauce, stirring to combine with the noodles.

4. Preheat oven to 375° and spoon the mac and cheese to a well-greased casserole dish. If using the fresno peppers, gently push them into the noodles. Place in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes.

5. While the first bake is happening, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauce pan and add the bread crumbs. Over medium heat, stir breadcrumbs to absorb the butter and toast until slightly brown.

6. Once the casserole has baked, remove from oven and top with the remaining cheddar cheese and bread-crumb mixture. Return to oven and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes or until the top layer is melted and bubbly.

7. Serve directly from casserole at the table, family style.

Ideal Pairing: Rosé

A baking sheet with oven-roasted beets and rosemary

Oven-Roasted Whole Beets

• Beets
• Olive Oil
• Salt
• Pepper

1. Wash your beets well, cut off the tops (the greens are very good quickly sautéed in olive oil), drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a 400-degree over for about 40 minutes.

2. Remove the beets from the oven and allow them to cool until you can handle them. The beets can then be sliced, tossed with additional olive oil or butter, warmed and served.

Ideal Pairing: Pinot Noir

Apple cheddar tarts

Savory Sweet Potato Apple Thyme Cheddar Tart

• 1/2 a sweet potato peeled and cut in half length wise
• 1/2 an apple cut in half and quartered (leave the peel on the apple)
• 2 Tbsp butter
• 1 tsp thyme (divided)
• 1/4 cup of sharp cheddar cubed
• 1 frozen pie crust thawed and unrolled

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange little pats of butter and sprinkle 1/2 of the thyme onto the pie crust.

2. Start layering around the inside of the tart alternating between sweet potato and apple. Keep in mind we will be folding the edges over in the end, so try and keep about a 3/4 inch border. Once you have completed your first layer, sprinkle some of the cubes of the cheddar and then finish with a smaller circle of potatoes and apple to cover the center opening.

3. Begin folding the edge of the tart over onto the layered potatoes and apples, rotating until you have completely folded the edges up all the way around.

4. Finish with more cheese, thyme and pats of butter over the tart before sliding it into the oven.

5. Your tart should be light and golden brown after 40 minutes. Rotate the tart 180 degrees at the 20 minute mark. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Slice and serve as an appetizer, side dish, or main course.

Ideal Pairing: Champagne

Don't forget, no recipe is complete without a glass of wine to pair it with! Stock your cellar with some of the wonderful options in our wine store and wine clubs and check our wine pairing page for ideal combinations!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Gold Medal Wine Club!

Recipes sourced from Tim Vidra. Article was originally published by Tasting Room