Thanksgiving at Company of the Cauldron

A Thanksgiving menu and recipes for our readers

by: Marianne R. Stanton

photography by: Terry Pommett

All and Andrea Kovalencik certainly have one of the most charming island restaurants in the Company of the Cauldron. The rich wood tones and plaster walls adorned with antiques and nautical memorabilia and the long tables truly make one feel as if they had stepped back in time to another era. Throw in candlelight behind hurricane lamps, fresh flowers, the harp music of Mary Keller and All’s creative cuisine, and you have a foolproof recipe for a memorable meal.

When we decided to ask a local restaurant to create a Thanksgiving menu for our readers, complete with recipes, we chose the 45-seat Company of the Cauldron, both for its ambience, and the creativity and inspiration that is reflected in All’s cooking. We had two caveats for All before he started. First, we wanted the recipes to be accessible for the home cook. Second, we wanted a roast turkey.

We had to specify ROAST turkey because in the past All has done different variations of the bird. One year there was a deep fried turkey – but not everyone has a deep fryer big enough for a turkey. Another year there was a composite roasted meat dish known as a Turducken, in which a chicken and a duck are stuffed inside a turkey and then roasted. Strange, but tasty nonetheless.

All surprised us with a lavender, honey and herb-infused turkey, that was first brined for 12 hours, and then injected with the herbal-honey mixture and allowed to rest in the refrigerator before being roasted to a golden brown.

“I started using lavender more and more this year as I realized it was very similar to rosemary, but less intense,” said All. The result is turkey meat that is moist and fragrant. It helps, said All, to use the best free-range turkey one can buy. For years, he said, he has been ordering his turkeys from Annye’s on Amelia Drive.

The herbs he obtains from longtime friend Elin Anderwald who has several acres out of town where she raises herbs and vegetables and keeps bees and makes honey. All also turned to another local small farmer, and a new one, for the salad greens for his Thanksgiving dinner: Pumpkin Pond Farm. Marty and Mary McGowan, of Sconset Gardener fame, are in their first year of production at their organic farm between Hummock Pond Road and Millbrook Road. All said he was overjoyed with the field greens he obtained from Pumpkin Pond Farm this summer.

“This was their first year, so I was able to call in the morning and tell them what I needed and they’d pick them that day for my table that evening. I was very happy with what I received from them,” said All.

The menu All created focuses on seasonal ingredients, many of which are grown or obtained locally. The Nantucket Bay Scallop Spring Roll in a puréed soup of Yukon Gold potatoes and sunchokes is a new twist for a familiar winter treat.

In one of the side dishes, Nantucket cranberries are the tart, yet sweet ingredient in brussel sprouts with bacon and cranberries.

“I’ve always liked the smokiness of the bacon with brussel sprouts. It’s a lot like the bacon and cabbage I was served growing up,” says All.

The horseradish and maple-glazed sweet potato spears are another contrast of pungent and sweet, which make this accompaniment far more interesting than the “traditional ” candied yams with marshmallows.

Andrea said she would serve a Pinot Noir or Viognier with this dinner.

“My first choice would by a Migration Pinot Noir by Duckhorn to pair with the herbal, rich and fruity flavors of the meal,” said Andrea.

“A Zinfandel would work equally as well. You want a fruit-forward wine, and not one that is especially tannic.
“For those who want a white wine, I like the Rhone varietals. A Viognier is very nice. You could drink it throughout the entire meal, and it would pick up on all the flavors.”
For dessert, All’s sous-chef Dan Silver whipped up Pumpkin Créme Brulée, a smooth yet rich ending to Thanksgiving dinner. Serve it with a glass of port or a good cup of espresso.
If you are on Nantucket and feeling more like going out for a turkey dinner than cooking one, you’re in luck. For the past five years All and Andrea have been serving Thanksgiving dinner at the Cauldron, and they will be again this year. There’s one seating at 5:30, Thanksgiving Day, with the dinner cooked by All and served by his wife, Andrea, and volunteers from the restaurant community who want to chip in. Proceeds from the dinner are donated to an island charity. This year’s recipient is a fund set up by the Interfaith Council to help islanders who are having a hard time paying their rent this winter due to loss of employment and other issues. For reservations, call 228-4016.

Marianne R. Stanton is the editor and publisher of Nantucket Today and The Inquirer and Mirror, Nantucket’s newspaper since 1821. She writes frequently about food, wine and travel for Nantucket Today.

Cranberry and Bacon-Seared Brussels Sprouts
1⁄2 pound country-smoked bacon, diced
1 Spanish onion, diced
1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
2 pounds blanched Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved 
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 
3 tablespoons brown sugar, optional
Coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper

In a large, deep skillet, cook the diced bacon over moderately-high heat until browned. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Save some of the fat in the pan, add the onion to the pan, reduce the heat to moderate and cook. Stir in the cranberries until softened. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Roast in an oven at 400° F. until heated through and sprouts are tender.

Slow-Roasted Turkey Infused with Local Honey, Lavender and Herbs 
1 cup chicken broth
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1⁄4 cup honey
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 sprig fresh lavender
1 fresh sage leaf
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
Sprig fresh lemon thyme
1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a pot and simmer for five minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Let marinade cool to room temperature. Using a turkey injector, inject liquid into the turkey throughout all the breast and thighs. Be sure to inject evenly throughout the bird. Refrigerate the turkey for at least six hours.

Roasting the Turkey
Rub turkey with olive oil or butter. Wrap ends of legs and wings with aluminum foil to prevent burning while cooking. Sprinkle salt, thyme, basil and pepper onto turkey and rub in well. Preheat oven to 500° F. Place turkey in oven and cook until honey-colored, 10-20 minutes. Leave uncovered. Lower heat to 200° F. and cook 40-50 minutes per pound. Baste occasionally. 
Note: Do not stuff this turkey, due to the low cooking temperature.

Crisp Nantucket Bay Scallop Roll
1 pound bay scallops
1 package small spring roll wrappers (preferably TYJ brand)
1⁄4 cup chopped scallions
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon finely-chopped ginger
1 teaspoon sweet soy sauce or honey
1⁄2 teaspoon cornstarch
1⁄2 teaspoon lime juice
2 beaten egg yolks
Peanut oil for frying

1. Pan-sear scallops 10 or 12 at a time in a very hot pan with olive oil.
2. Toss together with all ingredients.
3. Fill wrapper according to directions on packaging. Try not to include too much of the liquid left in the bottom of the bowl. Roll up and fold the edge, sealing with beaten egg yolk and brush with sugar water. Place aside with edge face-down to hold shape until time for frying.
4. Heat oil in nonstick pan. When the oil is ready, carefully add the spring rolls, a few at a time, cooking until they are golden brown and crispy.

Warm Yukon Gold and Sunchoke Potato Vichyssoise, Side by Side
The recipe for each soup is identical except for the main ingredient.
2 leeks, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3⁄4 cup potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
(Or 3⁄4 cups sunchoke, peeled and thinly sliced)
21⁄3 cups chicken broth
Pinch of turmeric for the potato soup and squeeze of fresh lemon for the sunchoke
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
11⁄4 cups heavy whipping cream

1. Gently sweat the chopped leeks and the chopped onion in butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
2. Add potatoes and stock to the saucepan. Salt and pepper to taste; do not overdo them! Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer very gently for 30 minutes.
3. Purée in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Cool. Gently stir in the cream before serving. The consistency of both soups must be similar so they do not to run into each other.
4. Heat gently over medium heat, stirring constantly just before serving.
5. Ladle both soups simultaneously, side by side, into bowl.

Sweet Potato Spears Roasted with Horseradish and Maple Syrup
4 pounds sweet potatoes (approximately 4 large sweet potatoes)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄3 cup ground horseradish
1⁄3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
2. Wash and clean the sweet potatoes.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil, horseradish and maple syrup. Set aside.
4. Cut the potatoes into long spear shapes.
5. Toss the potatoes in the oil and horseradish until well-coated.
6. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet prepared with cooking spray or lightly oiled.
7. Bake for 25 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spuds are golden and crisp.
8. Sprinkle with rosemary and serve.
Serves 12.

Pumpkin Créme Brulée with Candied Pecans
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar (plus additional 
as needed)
8 egg yolks
3 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean (split and pulp scraped out)
1 14-ounce can pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon brown sugar

1. In a bowl combine the canned pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Stir until smooth and set aside.
2. In a heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream, vanilla bean pulp and pod, and 2/3 of the sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Take off heat.
3. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining sugar and the yolks together until smooth.
4. Gradually add a little bit of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks to warm it while whisking constantly to keep the yolks from curdling. Do this gradually until all the cream is incorporated with the yolks. Remove vanilla bean pod and stir the mixture into the pumpkin until smooth.
5. Preheat the oven to 300° F. Pour the mixture into 4-ounce ramekins. Arrange the ramekins in a baking pan and place on the oven rack. Pour enough hot water into the baking pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the custards are set around the edges, but still slightly jiggly in the center. Transfer to a rack to cool. Chill for at least 4 hours.
6. To serve, sprinkle a thin, even coating of sugar over the custard. Use a preheated broiler or blowtorch to caramelize the sugar (If using a broiler I recommend putting the custards in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to putting them under the broiler).
Yields 8-10 servings.

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