Traditions are one of the things that make holidays so special. Recalling a certain smell or taste can transport you back to your first Thanksgiving together or that winter you got snowed in. In anticipation of the upcoming festive season, we’ve enlisted the help of five fabulous Nashville chefs who know a thing or two about melding extraordinary flavors with memorable moments.
Blue cheese sweet potato casserole with roasted pineapple butter and grated apple pie with foie gras Angel’s Envy ice cream
For more than 30 years, Deb has been a trailblazer on Nashville’s culinary scene. After 13 years as the award-winning chef and owner of the critically acclaimed Zola, Deb closed the restaurant and took a break in 2010. She returned to Nashville in 2012 to open Etch downtown, and her newest endeavor, Etc., opened in Green Hills this summer.
Deb’s cooking is an amalgamation of tradition and flair. Wanting to change things up because of the “yahoos” in her family who have been “food geeks since day one,” Deb threw some blue cheese in with the sweet potatoes one day, and the foundation was born for the blue cheese sweet potato casserole. The apple pie, on the other hand, is a recipe passed down from her grandmother. It’s the recipe that made her fall in love with apple pie — “and it reminds me of a really great woman!”
Blue Cheese Sweet Potato Casserole
4-5 medium sweet potatoes
½ cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, diced
3 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Amarillo (Peruvian hot sauce)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
¼ cup candied ginger, macerated
3 ounces blue cheese crumbles
2 cups finely crushed corn tortilla chips
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon cayenne
Preheat oven to 350 F. Microwave sweet potatoes until halfway cooked (about 4 to 5 minutes). Allow to cool. Peel and dice into small to medium cubes. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they begin to brown. Add sweet potatoes. Stir often and cook the hash until sweet potatoes are soft. If sticking occurs, add a splash of water. Add 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ginger, salt, pepper, Amarillo, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and candied ginger. Taste and add salt if needed. Place in a casserole dish and let cool. Crumble blue cheese over top. In a mixing bowl, stir together crushed tortilla chips, remaining teaspoon of cinnamon, butter, cayenne and remaining ¼ cup brown sugar. Taste and add salt if needed. Top casserole with tortilla mixture. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve casserole at room temperature with roasted pineapple butter.
Roasted Pineapple Butter
½ large ripe pineapple, grilled, cooled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ cups unsalted butter
In a small sauté pan, heat sugar and grilled pineapple over low heat until sugar melts into pineapple. Cool and chop well. Soften unsalted butter and whip with the pineapple. Add a pinch of salt. If too thick, add hot water one drop at a time.
Grated Apple Pie
8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust, chilled
6 ounces pecan pieces
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grate apples on a box grater and dump into a strainer over a large bowl. Place a heavy weighted bowl on top of shredded apples for 30 minutes to press out excess liquid. Apples should be fairly dry. Drain off juice. Combine sugar, lemon juice, egg, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and drained shredded apples in a bowl and mix well. Spoon the apple mixture evenly into pie shell. Combine pecan pieces and melted butter in bowl and toss to combine; spoon evenly over top of pie. Set pie on a baking sheet, cover lightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until filling is bubbling and top is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely before slicing. Serve topped with foie gras Angel’s Envy ice cream.
Foie Gras Angel’s Envy Ice Cream
4-5 ounces B-grade foie gras, cut into morsels
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup butter, browned
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
2 cups cream
¼ cup Angel’s Envy bourbon
In a medium sauté pan, warm half of sugar with 2 tablespoons water over medium heat. Let melt until light brown, only stirring once or twice. Add foie gras and turn once to lightly brown. Add rest of sugar and milk. Bring to a light boil and then reduce heat to low. In a small mixing bowl, whip egg yolks to ribbon-like texture. Slowly drizzle (temper) a few ounces of hot milk into the eggs while continuously whisking. Add eggs back to milk, continuously whisking. Add to blender. On high, add cream, browned butter and bourbon. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight before churning in an ice-cream maker.