Tailgate at the table

Is football — more specifically, Thursday's Ravens-49ers game, the first time a Baltimore NFL team has played on Thanksgiving in 46 years — threatening to overshadow your holiday meal plans?

Instead of fighting the game, why not embrace it? To help, we've recast the traditional Thanksgiving foods with a tailgate twist. You can still have your turkey, your stuffing, your potatoes, your greens, your pie, but in a game-friendly way. Think of it as a tailgate party at your table.


With our menu, including a turkey meatloaf sandwich, stuffing muffins and potato sauerkraut croquettes, you'll score points with food and football fans alike. No matter what, your household is likely to be more peaceful than the Harbaughs', with brothers John (Baltimore coach) and Jim (San Francisco coach) facing off on the field.

Buffalo mushrooms


Buffalo wings are a tailgating staple, but poultry's already covered, so we've used mushrooms. They're battered with the same formula used on fried chicken because it keeps the mushrooms from getting soggy after the sauce is added. With no bones to deal with and a meaty flavor from the baby bella mushrooms, you might not go back to chicken wings.

8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, cut in half

8 ounces butter

5 ounces hot sauce


64 ounces canola oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons dry thyme

1 tablespoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups all purpose flour

2 eggs

2 tablespoons water

In a food processor, add 1 cup of flour, the salt, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, paprika and pepper. Turn on processor and add in the water. Process the mixture for 10 seconds. The spiced flour mixture should be mealy.

Set up your frying station by filling three separate containers for dredging: one with 1 cup of plain flour, the second with the egg and the third with the spiced flour. In a deep pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When your thermometer hits 375 turn the heat down and prepare your items for deep frying. Take a mushroom half and dredge in the plain flour first. Knock off as much as you can and then dredge it into the egg. Let the excess of the egg drip off and then dredge in the spiced flour. Drop the mushroom lightly into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, turning with a wooden spoon or chopstick. Remove from oil and place on a sheet pan with a rack insert or folded up paper towels.

To make the sauce, place the butter in a sauce pan over medium low heat. When the butter is fully melted turn off the heat and add all of the hot sauce. Whisk till combined.

To serve: Place mushrooms in a metal bowl and pour a cup of the sauce on top. Toss until the mushrooms are coated with the sauce. Place mushrooms on a plate and serve with a side of celery and blue cheese dressing.

Turkey meatloaf sandwiches

Your initial tailgating turkey instinct might be to deep fry. But why deal with the mess (and fire threat)? This sandwich is mobile, easy to eat and not too messy. The addition of pureed sausage helps keep the meatloaf moist and acts as a binder, while the cranberries and walnuts give it a good texture. The cranberry compote (see next recipe) makes this sandwich taste like Thanksgiving.

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 medium onion

1/2 apple

3 cloves garlic

1/2 pound mild Italian sausage

1 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 cup chopped dried sweetened cranberries

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

2 eggs

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put rack in the middle position. Place breadcrumbs, milk and sausage in a food processor. Pulse till pureed.

Saute onion, garlic and apple over medium heat for 5 minutes until slightly translucent. Drop heat to medium low and cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Combine sausage mixture, ground turkey, onion mixture, eggs, parsley, cranberries, walnuts, one tablespoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix till just combined.

Wipe the inside of a 81/2-by-41/2-inch metal loaf pan with olive oil. Create a foil sling by lining the inside of the pan width-wise with a piece of aluminum foil that will overhang 3 inches on both sides. Do the same thing with a pice of aluminum foil that will cover the inside of the loaf pan lengthwise. Wipe the aluminum foil lining with oil. Fill the loaf pan with the meatloaf mixture and spread evenly.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven until a thermometer reaches 160 degrees (about 50 minutes). Cool for 10 minutes, then extract the meatloaf with the foil sling. Be slow and careful doing this.

Slice into 1/2-inch thick slices and place on sandwich bread with cranberry compote on one side and a mayo/ Dijon mixture on the other (optional). Two slices of the meatloaf should fit on one sandwich snugly side by side.

Cranberry compote

This compote is fresh, vibrant and goes perfectly with the turkey meatloaf. It's also great by itself, and after realizing how easy it is to make, you'll never have can-shaped cranberries again.

12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries

1/2 medium white onion chopped to medium dice

1 orange, zested and juiced

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

Heat saucepan. Add butter, onion and salt. Cook over medium heat until translucent. Add nutmeg and orange zest. Stir to combine. Add the cranberries and water. Cover. Wait for all of the berries to pop. Stir in sugar and cinnamon stick. Simmer over low heat until thick (around 20 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.

Stuffing muffins

The best part of stuffing is the crunchy edges, and these muffins are 360 degrees of crunchy bits. These muffins are portable, so if something exciting happens during the game, you can run into the TV room and still have something to munch on.

1 baguette cut into 1/2 -inch cubes

1 pound polish sausage (taken out of the casing)

12 ounces white onion

5 ounces celery

1 apple

1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary

1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme

1 teaspoon finely chopped sage

2 tablespoons butter

1 pinch of salt

1/3 cup finely chopped parsley

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a pan over medium heat, cook the sausage until it is no longer raw. Move to a paper towel when cooked through. Melt butter in the pan that you just cooked the sausage in. Add onions and cook until semi-translucent. Add the celery and the apple and cook until everything is soft. Add salt, rosemary, sage and thyme to the onion mixture. Mix the sausage back in and transfer to a metal mixing bowl to cool down to room temperature. Stir in the bread cubes and parsley.

Bring the stock to a simmer and take off of heat. Temper the hot chicken stock into the eggs by slowly ladling the stock into the eggs while whisking vigorously the whole time. Pour egg mixture over the bread mix. Stir to thoroughly coat with egg and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to let the bread soak up all of the egg. Spray the inside cups of a muffin tin and spoon the stuffing into the cups.

Bake for 25 minutes. Take out of the oven and let cool. Take out of tins and serve. If the muffins are stuck in the pans, run a knife around the inside of the cups to loosen.


Potato sauerkraut croquettes


Mashed potatoes are a must at Thanksgiving, and in many houses, so is sauerkraut. Here it gives a little flavor and texture to the potatoes. The key is making sure most of the moisture is squeezed out of the sauerkraut before chopping. Garlicky sun-dried tomato sauce is a great complement to the fried potato croquettes.

For croquettes:

4 large russet potatoes sliced into 1/4-inch planks

8 cloves of garlic

8 ounces sauerkraut squeezed, weighed and chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup bread crumbs

64 ounces canola oil

3 eggs

For garlic and sun-dried tomato sauce:

1/4 pound sun-dried tomatoes

1 quart of boiling hot water


red pepper flakes

1 cup of reserved tomato liquid

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

To make croquettes: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes, garlic and boil until fork tender (when it easily goes through the potato). Strain out the potatoes and garlic and let cool to room temperature. Place the potatoes garlic, sauerkraut, salt, pepper, nutmeg and 1 egg into a mixing bowl. Mash everything together until it is thoroughly combined. Roll potato mixture into a ball slightly larger than a golf ball. Continue until all of the potato mixture is gone.

Set up your frying station by filling three separate containers for dredging, one with 1 cup of plain flour, the second with egg and the third with the bread crumbs

In a deep pot heat the oil over medium-high heat. When your thermometer hits 375 degrees, turn the heat down and prepare your items for deep frying.

Take a potato ball and dredge in the plain flour first. Knock off as much as you can and then dredge it into the egg. Let the excess of the egg drip off and then dredge in the spiced flour. Drop the croquette lightly into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, turning with a wooden spoon or chopstick. Remove from oil and place on a sheet pan with a rack insert or folded up paper towels.

To make sauce: In a small mixing bowl, cover the sun-dried tomatoes with the boiling water. Let it steep for 20 minutes, then drain, while reserving 1 cup of the tomato liquid. In a small food processor, combine the tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, water and oil and process until smooth.

To serve: place a spoonful or two of the tomato sauce on a plate and place the croquette on the sauce, or use it as a dipping sauce in separate container.

BBQ kale chips

The Thanksgiving table isn't complete without some kind of greens. This version is one that even your kids can get behind. These kale chips are surprisingly crisp and delicious.

1 bunch Tuscan kale, washed, dried and deveined

1 ounce olive oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

dash of cayenne powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Mix kale with olive oil and then mix with spice mixture. Lay kale over two sheet pans with rack inserts. Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp. Let cool before eating.

Sage and fennel popcorn

A quick snack before, during and after the game that's really easy to make, this popcorn will make you happy you decided to forgo the microwave stuff and remind you of fall, thanks to its seasonings.

1/3 cup of canola or peanut oil

15 sage leaves

1 cup of popping corn

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

In a large pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat until almost smoking. Place 10 sage leaves in and fry until they are dark and crisp. Move the fried sage leaves to a paper towel.

While the oil is still hot and the flame is still at medium heat, add the popcorn and coat with the oil. Cover the pot and let sit until you start to hear popping sounds. Shake the pot back and forth over the heat until you hear no more popping sounds. Remove pot from the heat.

Place the fried sage leaves, fresh sage leaves, salt and fennel seeds in a coffee grinder. Grind until it is a fine powder. Add spice mixture to the popcorn and mix to combine. Pour into a bowl and enjoy immediately.

Cranberry-blueberry cream pie (Ravens pie)

It might not be the traditional pumpkin, but this purple pie has plenty of team spirit. It is a basic vanilla cream pie, but with pureed cranberry and blueberry (red plus blue equals purple, after all) added to the mix. If it's a hit on Thanksgiving, why not make it a game day tradition, too?

For filling:

12 ounce bag of cranberries

6 ounces blueberries

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup of water

16 ounces milk

2 ounces sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 ounces cornstarch

2 ounces sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons butter

For pie crust:

12 ounces all-purpose flour

8 ounces frozen butter

4 ounces ice-cold water

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 ounce sugar

To make the pie crust, add flour, salt and sugar into a food processor and pulse to sift and mix. Add butter and start processor. Add water through the top slowly. Process until the dough comes away form the sides of the processor. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer to chill for at least one hour.

To make filling, place cranberries, blueberries, sugar and water into a saucepot. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn heat down to medium low and continue to cook uncovered until all of the cranberries are busted and the mixture is soft and thick. In another sauce pan, heat the milk and the sugar until the mixture almost comes to a boil. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and cornstarch until combined. Temper the hot milk mixture into the eggs by slowly ladling the milk into the eggs while whisking vigorously the whole time.

Add tempered milk and egg mixture into a blender with the fruit mixture. Blend until smooth and then transfer back into a sauce pot and bring to a boil while whisking. Pour hot thick filling into cool pie shell. Chill.