Thanksgiving Traditions - Ashley's Recipes

Below you will find the recipes that Ashley Portra, co-host of Country Cookbook, wrote about in the November, 2009 issue of the BEK Beacon.  We hope you are able to try and enjoy them!



Corny Polenta

Serves: 4 servings


2 ears fresh husked corn on the cob or 1 cup frozen kernels, defrosted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 to 4 thin scallions, finely chopped

3 cups chicken stock

1 cup quick-cooking polenta

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons hot sauce

kosher salt 


Boil corn on the cob, until tender. Scrape the corn from the cob by balancing the cob on small inverted bowl nested in larger bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cob from the top to the bottom.

Heat the extra-virgin olive oil, a turn of the pan, in a sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add the corn and saute until it starts to brown at the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and cook until thick, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the butter and season with hot sauce and salt, to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

Source:  Rachael Ray


Garlic Steamed Clams

Serves:  6-8 servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 peeled garlic cloves

2 pounds clams, cleaned

½ cup white wine

salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in large stock pot. Add whole garlic cloves and sauté at medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until garlic is lightly browned. Remove garlic cloves from pot. Add clams. Pour white wine over clams, cover and steam for about 5 minutes or until clams have opened. Discard any clams that do not open. Plate clams on a serving platter or in a decorative bowl and pour juices over the top. Finish by sprinkling  fresh chopped parsley over the top.

Source:  Ashley Portra (2008)


Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers

Makes: 30 crackers


1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled, room temperature

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 extra-large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and blue cheese together for 1 minute, or until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, salt and pepper and mix until it's in large crumbles, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix until combined.

Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 12-inch long log. Brush the log completely with the egg wash. Spread the walnuts in a square on a cutting board and roll the log back and forth in the walnuts, pressing lightly, and distributing them evenly on the outside of the log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the log 3/8ths-inch thick with a small, sharp knife and place the crackers on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temperature.

Source:  2008, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved



Serves: 25 servings


  1 cup kosher salt

  1 cup brown sugar

  1 gallon water

  18 to 21-pound turkey, skin intact and boned except for drumsticks

  House seasoning, recipe follows

  Cornbread Dressing, recipe follows

  3 to 4-pound duck, boned

  3 to 4-pound chicken, boned


To make the brine: Mix salt and sugar with the water. Brine is ready when the mixture is completely dissolved. If the water is heated to quicken the process, make sure it is cooled to room temperature before placing meat in. Let the 3 birds sit in brine in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat roaster to 500 degrees F.

Lay turkey skin side down on a flat surface. Dust turkey with House Seasoning and add 1/4-inch layer of cornbread dressing. Lay duck skin side down on top of dressing. Dust duck with House Seasoning and add 1/4-inch layer of dressing. Repeat with the chicken.

Begin trussing up the turkey at the neck. Insert metal skewer about 1/2-inch from the edge and up through the other side. Run butcher's twine between skin and skewer and tighten to draw both sides together. Continue down to legs. With every other skewer, draw together the duck and chicken skin. Tie together turkey legs to resemble standard turkey. Dust turkey skin with paprika.

Roast turducken for 15 minutes. Then turn the roaster down to 225 degrees F to finish, approximately 3 hours. Remove turducken from roaster once the internal temperature in the chicken reaches 155 degrees F. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Cut across the middle of the breast completely through. Plate thin slices containing turkey, duck and chicken.

Cook's Notes: If using a smoker to cook, smoke at 225 degrees F for 5 hours, rotating every 20 to 30 minutes until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F and external temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Try to keep the flare-ups from the fire to a minimum.

House Seasoning:
  1 cup salt

  1/4 cup black pepper

  1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Cornbread Dressing:

  1 cup self-rising cornmeal

  1/2 cup self-rising flour

  3/4 cup buttermilk

  2 eggs

  2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  7 slices white bread, dried in warm oven


  1 sleeve saltine crackers

  2 cups chopped celery

  1 large onion, chopped

  8 tablespoons butter

  7 cups chicken stock

  1 teaspoon salt

  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1 teaspoon dried sage

  1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

  5 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the cornbread, combine all ingredients and pour into a greased shallow baking dish. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

To make the dressing, crumble dried white bread slices, cornbread and crackers. Mix together and set aside. Saute chopped celery and onion in butter until transparent, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Pour over cornbread mixture. Add stock, mix well and add salt, pepper, sage, and poultry seasoning. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Follow instructions above to stuff birds.

Source: Paula Deen


Venison Stew

Serves: 6 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds venison stew meat

1/4 cup flour

Essence, recipe follows

2 cups chopped onions

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 cup chopped tomatoes, peeled and seeded

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup red wine

4 cups brown stock

salt and black pepper

crusty bread

In a large pot, over high heat, add the olive oil. In a mixing bowl, toss the venison with flour and Essence. When the oil is hot, sear the meat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Add the celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, basil, thyme, and bay leaves to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Add the brown stock. Bring the liquid up to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the stew for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the meat is very tender. If the liquid evaporates too much add a little more stock.

Remove the stew from the oven and serve in shallow bowls with crusty bread.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Source: Emeril Lagasse


"Everything But the Kitchen Sink” Salad

Serves: 8-10 servings


3 romaine hearts, washed and dried

2 tomatoes, diced

½ medium-sized purple onion, diced

¼ cup crumbled bacon

Dorothy Lynch salad dressing

Vegetable of choice

½ cup shredded colby jack cheese

1 cup croutons


Chop romaine lettuce into bite size pieces. Combine with other vegetables, bacon and cheese. Toss well with about ½ cup of salad dressing. Depending on personal taste you may want to use more or less dressing. Before serving add croutons.



Root Vegetable Mash

Serves: 6 servings 

2 parsnips, peeled

2 rutabagas, peeled

3 potatoes, peeled

salt and pepper, to taste

1 stick butter

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon rosemary


Cube vegetables into ½ inch pieces. Bring to a boil in a sauce pot of salted water. Once vegetables are fork tender, drain well. Return veggies to pot and cook on low heat for 1 minute. Add butter, milk, and rosemary. Mash with a masher or a handheld mixer until vegetables are thick and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Source:  Ashley Portra (2009)


Open-Faced Plum Tart

Serves: 6 to 8 servings

1 (9-inch) store-bought round pie crust

1/4 cup fig jam

1 pound plums cut into 1/4-inch wedges

1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, whisked for egg wash

1/2 cup raw cane sugar


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove pie crust from refrigerator 10 minutes before using to soften slightly. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Unfold pie crust onto baking sheet. Spread fig jam on crust leaving a 2-inch border around the edges. Place plums on top of the jam. Fold edges over leaving the center exposed and press slightly to seal. Brush outside of the pie dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until dough is cooked through and golden, about 45 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream.

Source:  Sunny Anderson (2008)