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Good morning, week-before-Thanksgiving companions. To a threesome of potato casserole cousins below, here is a neighborhood request for potato casseroles made with instant potatoes, "and can the casseroles that are made with fresh potatoes use instant potatoes as a substitute?"

Yeast of the Ridge is thinking Thanksgiving and knows your answers will need to be speedy as they will be printed right before turkey day, "but nonetheless. I would like some recipes that readers have adapted from their own ethnic traditions and turned into holiday traditions right here in the South. I can imagine, say, a Guatemalan version of stuffing for a very Tennessee turkey."

And if the answers don't come in time for Thanksgiving weekend, she will wait and get ready for December's holiday meals.

 

CHERISHED CHICKEN

Dan Cobb read that we are looking for stovetop chicken recipes that don't dry out and remembered his grandmother. "She lived all her life in Akron [Ohio]. At that time, her neighborhood had a majority of Italian families, and this simple recipe was a community favorite, handed down many times. It is even better left over, so make as much as your biggest pan will hold. It originally called for a whole, cut-up, unskinned chicken, but I substituted thighs since they make it a lot easier and juicier. Suit yourself."

 

Chicken Cacciatore

6 to 8 chicken thighs, skinned

1/2 cup flour

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup oil

Pinch of rosemary

1 green pepper, cored and chopped

2 onions, sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 can diced tomatoes with juice

1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

Lightly flour chicken, and salt and pepper to taste.

Brown in oil.

Add rosemary, green pepper, onion, garlic and wine. Cook 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, cover and simmer 40 minutes. Add mushrooms during last 5 minutes of cooking.

This goes well with mashed potatoes; the cacciatore juice is a good topping.

 

MAKE-AHEAD POTATOES

Kitty Forbes purchased a creamy dish at a food sale at the Church of the Good Shepherd "to benefit the young people's pilgrimage. It was prepared by Adelaide Naumann, from the 'Junior League of Austin Cookbook.' She notes that adding a pinch of baking soda to the mashed potatoes will make them fluffier (I've never added the soda)."

An ideal holiday recipe, it may be prepared ahead.

 

Night Before Mashed Potatoes

8 to 10 potatoes, peeled

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Butter

Seasoned salt

Boil and drain potatoes.

Whip hot potatoes, adding cream cheese and sour cream.

Beat until fluffy and smooth. Add salt and pepper.

Place in a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

Dot generously with butter, and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Cover with foil, and refrigerate.

Potatoes may be frozen at this stage and thawed before baking. Bake, covered with foil, 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Uncover, and continue baking for 20 minutes.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

The next potato dish, very similar, is from Ruzha Cleaveland. "I clipped this mashed potato recipe from the November 1996 [Chattanooga] Times."

 

Mashed Potato Casserole

8 to 10 Russet potatoes, peeled

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup sour cream

4 tablespoons butter, softened

Salt, pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until soft. Drain and mash. Combine cream cheese, sour cream and butter. Add to mashed potatoes. Season to taste. Place potatoes in 9- by 13-inch baking dish, and cover with foil. You may freeze at this point. When ready to serve, thaw. Sprinkle with chives, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Lee Keeble's recipe from Ooltewah gives potato measure by weight and adds a little celery salt to the mix.

 

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

5 pounds potatoes

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, soften

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons butter

Salt, pepper and celery salt to taste

Cook peeled and quartered potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. Combine cream cheese and sour cream until well blended. Add the hot drained potatoes, and beat until light and fluffy. Add more sour cream if necessary. Season with salt, pepper and celery salt. Spoon into casserole dish, and top with melted butter.

To serve later, cover with Saran Wrap, and refrigerate. When ready to serve, heat at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

 

BLANKETS OF BACON

Just in time for the holidays, Carole Sharpe shared with us a pigs in a blanket recipe, and a little local history. Young readers might have no idea that a high school curriculum once featured sewing and cooking under the umbrella of home economics. Hmmm.

"The request brought back many memories for me. In 1957, I was a seventh-grader at Chattanooga's Dickinson Junior High School and entered my first home economics class, and from there I enrolled in home-ec classes from grades 7-12, the latter three years at Chattanooga [City] High School.

"The home-ec semesters were divided between sewing and cooking. During my seventh-grade, second-semester cooking class, one of the first items we prepared was pigs in a blanket. However, compared to the modern recipe, which is widely advertised by Pillsbury and features cocktail wieners wrapped in pastry or crescent rolls, our vintage recipe was totally different: no pastry. During that period in history, pigs in a blanket were used as the main course, rather than an appetizer, and served with sides. Such were the days of the '50s; my husband still loves them."

 

City High Pigs in a Blanket

Full-size wieners

Slices of American cheese

Bacon

Choose the number of full-size wieners that you will need, and place on an ungreased baking sheet. With a sharp knife, place a slice down the center top of the wiener.

Fill the sliced area with a folded half slice of American cheese.

Wrap the wiener with a fresh slice of bacon, and secure with 2 wooden toothpicks.

Broil in a preheated oven until the bacon is fully browned and crisp and the cheese is melted.

 

MEATY MINESTRONE

From Fairfield Glade, Tennessee, and a lifetime trove of shared recipes came this cold-weather favorite from Roseann Strazinsky.

 

Minestrone

3 cups water

1 1/2 pounds beef shank

1 medium onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery with tops, sliced

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt

1 (10-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables

1/2 cup shredded cabbage

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup vermicelli or 16-ounce can garbanzo beans

1 teaspoon oregano

1 zucchini, sliced

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Place all ingredients in crock pot except zucchini. Stir to mix thoroughly. Cover, and cook on low 10 to 16 hours (or 4 to 6 hours on high). During last hour, remove meat and bones. Cut meat from bones, discarding bones and returning meat to soup with zucchini. Turn crock pot to high, and cook 1 hour. Ladle into bowls, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty French bread.

This hearty meal of recipes makes me feel full and satisfied. But we will all be hungry for more next Wednesday, so please bring something for the feast, by email or otherwise.

See you then.

 

REQUESTS

— Instant-potato casseroles

— Ethnic holiday dishes

 

TO REACH US

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

Email: chattfare@gmail.com

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Jane Henegar
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