Guess who's coming to dinner 

The Indy drops in with its annual list of lip-smackin' holiday recipes

The holiday season means many things to many people—visiting with family, exchanging presents, incurring unconscionable debt—but almost everyone associates Thanksgiving and Christmas with food. We're talking huge, heaping piles of traditional family favorites, decadent new dishes and those Jell-O molds your aunt insists on bringing every year. We're talking tryptophan overdoses, six days worth of leftovers, countless unbuckled belt buckles and an obscene amount of dirty dishes that we'll eventually get to. We're talking heaven.

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Every November the Indy celebrates this gloriously gluttonous time of year with our own holiday menu. We track down an eclectic collection of local chefs or foodies and ask them to share something they'd typically make for a holiday spread. Some recipes seem extravagant, but are ridiculously easy to follow. Others are short and simple, but create an elegant finished product. All of them, we're sure, are delicious.

This year's lineup features our most diverse holiday menu yet. The two main courses include a recipe for turkey (with bacon!) and another for duck (with beer!). The three sides feature fresh local veggies and easy alternatives to dishes that traditionally come from a can. The soup comes topped with bits of gingersnap cookies. And the two desserts put a little twist on the typical mousse.

So, dig in. Experiment. Enjoy. Go back for seconds. And worry about those dishes another time.

Main Course

Bacon and herb roasted turkey with smoked tomato gravy

Jason Lovell

Executive chef, The Ranch Club

8501 Ranch Club Road, Missoula

Food for thought: You'll find a version of this dish on the menu at The Ranch Club, a public restaurant located off Mullan Road. Jason likes it because the bacon not only flavors the meat and skin, but also helps the bird come from the oven with a beautiful golden hue. He suggests asking your butcher to grind some bacon for you, and offers one other hint: "I like to brine the bird overnight for seasoning and retaining of moisture." At the restaurant, you'll find the same dish prepared with Cornish hens.

What you'll need:

For the turkey brine:

1 gallon of chicken stock

1 gallon of water

1 cup kosher salt

3 tablespoons chopped rosemary

2 tablespoons chopped sage

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

(include stems if you like)

2 tablespoons fennel seed

2 tablespoons mustard seed

2 tablespoons coriander seed

5 cloves of chopped garlic

8 bay leaves

1 cup sugar

1 cup maple syrup

One 16–20 pound turkey (Hutterite turkey is delicious)

For the bacon rub:

1 pound smoked bacon, ground

1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened

3 tablespoons chopped rosemary

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped sage

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

Ground peppercorns to taste

For the smoked tomato gravy:

5 smoked tomatoes (oven roasted are fine), peeled, seeded and chopped

1 medium onion, small dice

1 peeled carrot, small dice

2 ribs of celery, small dice

1 clove of garlic, minced

3 oz. all purpose flour

1 quart of low sodium chicken broth or stock

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper

How to make it:

To brine the turkey, combine all the ingredients in a large saucepot—except the

turkey. Bring contents to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Put ingredients in large bowl or pot and chill. Place turkey in brine once brine is cooled completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drain, rinse and pat dry the turkey. Throw away the brine. Carefully lift skin from the flesh of the bird. Start at the neck and work your way back. You just want to loosen the skin without ripping it.

Combine bacon, 2/3 of the herb mixture, and pepper. Combine remaining herbs and butter. Rub bacon-herb mixture under skin, distributing evenly. Rub butter-herb mixture all over outside. Place the turkey in a roasting pan on a rack. Add 2 cups good chicken stock or broth to pan. Roast turkey for 30 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce temperature to 300 and roast 3 more hours, basting every 30 minutes or so. A meat thermometer inserted into the thigh of the bird should read 165. Pull turkey from the oven, transfer to a large pan and cover loosely with foil. Let turkey rest for 30 minutes. A phenomenon called carry over cooking will bring the resting temperature to 180.

While the turkey is resting, start making the gravy. In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery, and sauté until browned. Add garlic and cook for one minute longer. Add flour, stirring to combine roux. Allow to cook 3 minutes longer, stirring. Remove roux to a plate and chill. Meanwhile, bring contents of roasting pan to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the little bits (fond) stuck to the bottom of pan. Strain contents into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, add chilled roux, whisking to incorporate and reduce to simmer. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Simmer gravy for 20 minutes or until thickened. If too thick, add a little water or stock. If too thin, allow to cook 10 minutes longer.

Side dish

Green bean and roasted

mushroom casserole

Tyson Nicol and Ethan Siegel

Owners Organic Sprouts Kitchen


Food for thought: Organic Sprouts Kitchen provides children with nutrient-rich meals through a local hot lunch program, as well as family-style lunches and dinners that can be delivered straight to your door. But you may best recognize them as the folks who served delicious breakfast sandwiches at the Clark Fork River Market over the summer.

Co-chefs Tyson and Ethan describe this recipe as a twist on the canned green beans and cream of mushroom soup casserole we all know. "The true flavors of the green beans and mushrooms along with all of their nutrients are here in a simple preparation," explains Ethan. "The thyme goes wonderfully with the mushrooms and the browned onions with panko breadcrumbs replace the usual french fried onions in a can."

What you'll need:

1/4 cup flour

1/2 stick butter

1 1/2 cups cream

1 pint crimini mushrooms, quartered

1 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed

1 fresh thyme sprig

Olive oil

Lemon juice

1/2 of a small onion, julienne

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

How to make it:

Start by pre-heating your oven to 400 degrees. In a roasting pan, toss your mushrooms with oil, salt and pepper. Add a sprig of thyme to the pan and put in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Blanch your green beans in boiling water with some pinches of salt and a cap full of lemon juice (keeps beans brighter in color) for just 2 minutes.

Start a roux in a saucepan by melting your butter and whisking in your flour. Once you've made your roux, over low heat slowly whisk in your cream and cook until the sauce thickens. Pull out your browned mushrooms, removing the thyme. Pour the mushrooms with all the juices into your cream sauce. Drain your beans and add them to the mixture. In a sauté pan, brown your onion and toss it in the breadcrumbs with a little salt. In a small casserole dish, add the bean and mushroom sauce mixture, spreading evenly. Now put the onion and breadcrumb mixture on top and bake in the same 400-degree oven for 30 minutes.


Roasted butternut squash bisque

Erin Crobar

Executive chef, Finn & Porter

100 Madison Street, Missoula

Food for thought: Erin Crobar is a western Montana native who graduated from Whitefish High School and has worked in some of the best local kitchens. Now the executive chef at Finn & Porter, Erin provided a fresh fall soup recipe originally conceived by sous chef John Falch. This recipe makes 1 gallon.

What you'll need:

2 whole butternut squash

1 whole yellow onion

1 whole granny smith apple, peeled and cored

1/2 gallon chicken stock or base

3/4 cup roux

2 pints heavy cream

1 1/2 quarts coconut milk

1 1/2 cups pulpless orange juice

3 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 cups white wine

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon curry powder

3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Kosher salt to taste

Gingerbread cookies

How to make it:

Cut the butternut squash in half and de-seed. Wrap it first in plastic wrap, then with aluminum foil and lay in a roasting pan with water. Roast at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

While squash roasts, clean onions and apple. Add them to the pan for 40 minutes.

Boil the chicken stock. Add peeled, roasted squash, apples and onions. Simmer for 45 minutes, or until tender. While these simmer, make your roux.

Remove the pot from heat and, with a 1-quart measuring cup, add the chicken stock mixture to a blender with 1 cup of cream at a time. Puree well. Add pureed mixture back to pot. Add all ingredients except roux, and bring to a boil. Then add roux to thicken at the end. Add salt to taste. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Garnish with finely crushed gingersnap cookies.


Kale slaw

Luci Brieger

and Steve Elliott

Owners Lifeline Produce

2363 Chief Victor's Camp Road, Victor

Food for thought: When Luci and Steve returned our call at the end of a long day at Lifeline Produce, they whipped through at least a half-dozen different possible recipes. But the first one they mentioned was the one we decided to go with—a recipe that originally came from the Moscow Food Co-op in Moscow, Idaho. Brieger says it's been a regular at their family's holiday table for years and, best of all, it's simple to prepare.

What you'll need:

4–5 cups finely chopped raw kale with ribs removed

5–6 cups grated or chopped green cabbage

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup diced sweet onion

Optional: raisins, apples, walnuts, seeds, tofu, noodles, different vegetables like Chinese or red cabbage, celeriac, celery, dried fruit, etc.

For the dressing:

3/4 cup sesame oil (or other oil)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup lime or lemon juice or vinegar of your choice

2 teaspoons garlic, more or less

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, more or less

3/4 cup mayonnaise

How to make it:

Mix together about 12–14 cups of the vegetables. Coat with the dressing. Enjoy and feel virtuous for eating kale.

Side dish


Todd Engel

Head chef, Iron Horse Brew Pub

501 N. Higgins Avenue, Missoula

Food for thought: When Todd was growing up, his mother made this recipe every Thanksgiving. He's carried on the tradition with a straightforward explanation: "It's very simple to make, and is way better than just opening a can of cranberries." Amen, Todd. We tested this recipe last weekend and can confirm it's delicious.

What you'll need:

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup of orange juice

12 oz. fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 cup sugar

How to make it:

Combine orange juice, water and sugar in a pan, and bring to a boil. Add cranberries and orange zest, then bring back to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into a bowl and cool completely. Serve chilled.


Chocolate mousse pie

James Monroe

Chef and owner, The Cutting Board

307 Dewey Avenue, Eureka

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Food for thought: The Cutting Board burst onto the national landscape this year when "Live with Regis and Kelly" featured the "Bubba Burger"—aka "The Eureka Burger"—in a hometown grilling competition. The burger placed second, and ever since the restaurant's gone from making a handful of Bubbas to more than 100 per day. We asked James and his wife Marsha for a holiday-themed recipe, and they passed along this dessert, which is another favorite at the Eureka restaurant.

What you'll need:

For the graham cracker crust:

7 whole graham crackers

2 oz. butter, melted

3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

3 cups whipping cream

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 giant Symphony bar

2 cups mini marshmallows

1 teaspoon vanilla

How to make it:

Place crackers in food processor and pulse until they become fine crumbs. Mix in the 2 ounces melted butter and the sugar. Mix with a fork and press against sides of a 9-inch pie pan to make a crust.

Combine 1/2 cup whipping cream and the 1 cup chocolate chips in a small bowl placed over a water bath. Set at medium low heat until all the chocolate melts and the cream combines. Let it cool slightly. Once the chocolate cools, pour it into the cracker crust and gently move it around the bottom and slightly up the sides with a spoon. Set aside.

Also over a water bath, combine 1/2 cup whipping cream and 2 cups mini marshmallows in a stainless steel bowl. Set at low heat on the stove. Stir occasionally and let melt. When marshmallows have almost melted, add the Symphony bar (break it into pieces first). Let melt completely. Set aside to cool.

In a smaller mixer, with whip attachment, whip the remaining 2 cups of whipping cream with 1 teaspoon of vanilla. It should be quite stiff.

Fold together the cooled marshmallow mixture and the whipped cream. Pour this into the crust, cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge to set.

Main course

Seared duck breast with

sharp cheddar polenta and

pale ale butterscotch sauce

Daniel Dean

Head chef, Bitter Root Brewery

101 Marcus Street, Hamilton

Food for thought: Before becoming head chef at Bitter Root Brewery, Daniel worked at the Stock Farm and specialized in fine dining. That comes through in this recipe, which, he says, delicately highlights the flavors of the cheese, beer and meat. And while it's not the sort of thing you'll find at the brewery, it does indicate the level of culinary creativity Daniel brings to standard pub fare. This recipe serves 10.

What you'll need:

For the polenta:

1/4 cup butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 quarts chicken stock

2 cups coarse yellow corn meal

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

6 oz. sharp cheddar, grated

For the pale ale butterscotch sauce:

2 cups granulated sugar

1 pound butter

1 quart heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups pale ale

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons cold water

For the duck:

Duck breasts

Salt and pepper

How to make it:

To make the sauce, heat sugar on medium until it turns a light golden brown. Add butter and stir continuously until both butter and sugar are golden brown. (Be careful not to burn it.) Add the beer and salt and simmer until the alcohol is cooked out and the sugar is dissolved in the liquid. Add heavy cream and bring to a boil. Mix cornstarch with cold water to make slurry. Whisk in slurry and simmer sauce for 5–10 minutes.

Start with the polenta by heating butter in a stockpot on medium heat. Lightly sauté garlic until golden brown. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in corn meal. Add salt and pepper. Cook on medium, stirring often, until smooth and creamy. Take off heat and fold in sharp cheddar. Serve immediately.

The duck breasts are the easiest part. (Note: If possible, wild duck is much better than domestic.) Season cleaned duck breasts with salt and pepper and sear skin-side down in a hot pan until golden brown on both sides. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and finish duck breasts in oven for 6–8 minutes until 155 degrees. Time it to serve with the polenta.


Butterscotch mousse soufflés

Jill Geisler

Pastry chef, Mustard Seed

Southgate Mall, Missoula

Food for thought: For the past three years, Jill and her cohort, Matt Ball, have dominated the dessert category in the Indy’s Best of Missoula reader poll. We asked Jill to provide a dessert from her award-winning offerings, and she did us one better—a secret sneak-peak at a new item that should be available at the Mustard Seed in December. Jill describes it as a “cold set mousse ‘soufflé’ with the surprise of a chocolate truffle cake on the bottom.” This recipe serves eight.

What you’ll need:

For the chocolate truffle cake:

6 oz. unsalted butter

10 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 eggs

For the chocolate sauce:

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup light corn syrup

10 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

For the butterscotch mousse:

1 cup heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split

2 teaspoons gelatin

4 tablespoons water

11 oz. butterscotch chips

2 cups heavy cream

For the garnish:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Toffee bits

How to make it:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter bottom and lower sides of 8 4-oz. ramekins and place in a shallow baking pan. Melt the butter and chocolate in a medium bowl set over simmering water (in a double boiler), stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Remove from heat and set aside.

In another small bowl set over simmering water, whisk the eggs constantly until just warm to the touch. Transfer the eggs to a mixer and beat until triple in volume. Fold the eggs into the chocolate mixture and blend until smooth. Carefully spoon the mixture into the ramekins. Wipe off any spilled chocolate from the rims. Pour enough hot water into the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 12 minutes. The center will be a little soft.

Carefully lift out the ramekins from the baking pan and set on a cooling rack. Pour the water from the pan and set aside to cool down. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes. Drizzle chocolate sauce on each, return them to the baking pan and refrigerate until completely cooled, about 1 hour.

To make the chocolate sauce, heat the cream to a simmer in a small bowl set over simmering water. Blend in the corn syrup. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. For the butterscotch mousse, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let soften for 5 minutes. In a saucepan set over moderate heat, bring 1 cup of heavy cream with the vanilla bean and scraped seeds to a simmer. Spoon the softened gelatin into the cream and whisk for 1 minute until completely dissolved. Discard the bean. Place the butterscotch chips in a large bowl and pour the hot cream mixture on top and quickly whisk until the chips are completely melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally.

Now prepare the ramekins for the mousse. Cut lengths of parchment paper 1 1/2-inches wide. Use double thickness (for rigidity) and extend a half-inch from the rim. Secure by taping one end to the dish, wrap tightly around and tape the overlapping end. Beat the remaining 2 cups cream to soft peaks and fold into cooled butterscotch mixture until smooth. Spoon the mousse on top of the chocolate truffle cakes, filling to a half-inch above the rim and smoothing the tops with the back of the spoon. Chill for 2 hours or until set.

For the garnish, peel off the paper from the ramekins. Place toffee bits on a plate and, holding onto ramekins, roll the top half-inch of mousse in the toffee all the way around. Whip the cream until stiff and add powdered sugar. Dollop whipped cream on top of the mousse and drizzle with the warm chocolate sauce.

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