Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends and food. But it’s also a time for heroism.
OK, maybe not heroism in the conventional sense, but heroism in the sense of doing something truly heroic — you know, like making the best egg nog in the city, or taking a tired old American tradition like stuffing and turning it into sublime.
As we said, we’re talking about some real heroes here.
So join The Brooklyn Paper staff in raising a glass to this year’s unsung Thanksgiving heroes.
Move over apple, pumpkin and pecan! Shakoor Watson, the baker at Shakoor’s Sweet Tooth in Bedford-Stuyvesant, started a Thanksgiving dessert revolution with his sweet potato cheesecake.
By dislodging the “Big Three” from their entrenched après-dinner position, Watson proved that there’s room for innovation in the holiday menu of staples.
Like a culinary Ornette Coleman, Watson improvised his way to epicurean perfection, developing his recipe on the fly several years ago when a restaurateur solicited him to replace the eatery’s previous cake provider.
It’s been sweet success ever since.
“It’s our most popular item,” said Watson’s wife, Marissa.
The people have spoken.
— Mike McLaughlin
There’s stuffing, and then there’s the delicious, moist version with a hint of something else.
That’s the difference with the stuffing recipe created by Joe Pounds, the executive chef at the Australian-inspired Wombat in Williamsburg. The secret? Lemon myrtle straight from the Outback (it’s an herb!), and chicken livers.
“Lemon myrtle brings out a nice flavor and it eliminates the chalky taste you sometimes get when you just throw in liver,” Pounds said.
The offal also add a richness to the stuffing, Pounds said, but vegetarians can substitute another Australian favorite — parsnips — for liver (then again, why?).
And here’s another special officer: home chefs can drop by The Wombat for a few free strands of myrtle, Pounds said. “I have to order so much of it, I can give out a little bit.” (See BrooklynPaper.com for Pounds’s full recipe.)
— Sarah Portlock
Typical restaurant Thanksgiving feasts include turkey. And that’s a nice thing. But Turkey Day memories are made in the side dishes — and the best in the borough is the mac and cheese at Williamsburg’s hotspot, DuMont.
An order of the creamy casserole from this Union Avenue eatery comes in a piping plate topped with a crunchy crust and stuffed with cheddar, rich Gruyere, sharp Parmesan and bits of salty bacon. Naturally, it’s a part of the restaurant’s $60-per-person Thanksgiving dinner.
There’s no mystery to DuMont’s transcendent dish (entree portion is $14), said chef Polo Dobkin, who credited hard work and top-notch ingredients.
“We spend a lot of money on the cheese — from high quality Gruyere and cheddar all the way down to the brioche bread crumbs,” Dobkin said.
— Ben Muessig
Land of nog
Sam Barbieri’s egg nog is a true grassroots success story.
The owner of the popular Brooklyn Heights bar, Pete’s Waterfront Ale House, Barbieri started making small batches of his creamy rum-bourbon-nutmeg concoction about a dozen years ago, serving it to regulars by the glass.
Demand always exceeded supply.
“It got popular and people kept asking for it, so I started selling it in bottles,” Barbieri said. “Last year, we sold 840 bottles! I make three 30-gallon batches three times a week once the holidays really kick in.”
Without giving out the trade secret, Barbieri said his recipe calls for three kinds of rum, brandy and bourbon, plus freshly ground nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, clove, vanilla, heavy cream and milk.
The result is a boozy mix that has more kick than your granny’s egg nog (or your granny, for that matter).
Pete’s Waterfront Ale House [155 Atlantic Ave., between Henry and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 522-3794].
— Gersh Kuntzman
Shakoor’s Sweet Tooth [305 Halsey St., between Throop Avenue and Marcus Garvey Boulevard in Bedford-Stuyvesant, (718) 574-2580]. Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 3–9 pm; Sunday, noon–6 pm.
The Wombat [613 Grand St., between Lorimer and Leonard streets in Williamsburg, (718) 218-7077]. Hours: Monday–Thursday, 5 pm–2 am; Friday–Sunday, 11 am-2 am. All major credit cards.
DuMont [432 Union Ave., between Devoe Street and Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg (718) 486-7717]. Hours: Monday–Thursday, 11 am3 pm and 6–11 pm; Friday, 11 am3 pm and 6–midnight; Saturday, 6 pm–midnight. All major credit cards.
©2008 Community News Group
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