Pumpkin Serving Bowl Makes for Memorable Thanksgiving by Design

As we gather this year with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, for some, this will mark the resumption of a cherished tradition after several years on pause. So, join me as we make this celebration one to remember.

You know those beautiful damask linens hiding out in a cupboard for years? If ever there were a time for them to grace your table, especially if they are a family heirloom, this is it. Just be aware white or ivory linen can yellow over time, so plan an extra couple of days to soak them in a tub full of soapy water, then rinse well and hang them to dry. Those linens will look like new again. (Never dry linen in a dryer.)

Next, consider the tone you wish to create. Grandma’s china, silver, and crystal are always appropriate, often sparking a memorable “remember when” conversation, but mixing in dishwasher-safe seasonal dishware or even high-end paper plates may be the solution to a manageable but still impressive holiday celebration.

For centerpieces, select from professional floral displays, supermarket flowers arranged in multiple vessels, a traditional cornucopia, a collection of candles, or children’s Thanksgiving artwork.

Although the star of most Thanksgiving gatherings is a golden roasted turkey, consider beginning dinner with a soup course for a sumptuous, unexpected touch.

My recipe for potato leek chowder with sherry yields eight to 10 first-course servings and may be prepared one day ahead, then reheated just before guests are seated. Looking to add a “wow factor” that will leave a lasting impression? Then serve this exquisite, creamy chowder tableside from a roasted pie pumpkin.

Ingredients:

5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, rinsed and peeled

¾ cup sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 large leeks, white part only

4 slices bacon

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth

1 ½ cups heavy cream

2 to 3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Dash of white pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish

Chopped fresh chives, rinsed, for garnish

1 5-pound pie pumpkin (optional)

Directions:

Slice potatoes into 1-inch cubes and transfer them to a large saucepan with just enough water to cover them. Cover and cook just until they are knife tender, about 5 to 7 minutes; drain. 

Slice the root ends and green parts from leeks and discard. Wash them well to remove sandy soil from between layers, chop and set aside.

Slice bacon into ½-inch pieces and sauté in a Dutch oven over medium heat until the fat is rendered, about 3 minutes. Stir in onion and leeks, and sauté several minutes until they are soft. Pour in chicken broth, cover, and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Stir in cream and season with salt and white pepper. Gently stir in potatoes and sherry, cook until chowder is hot, but do not boil. Ladle chowder into bowls or cream soup cups and garnish with nutmeg and chives.

Yield: 8 to 10 first-course servings

Chef’s Note: Early in the day, rinse the pumpkin, cut a lid in the stem end, and reserve. Scrape out seeds and stringy pulp. Forty minutes before serving, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pumpkin cut side up and the lid on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast 20-22 minutes until the top edge is browned, but the pumpkin is firm enough to serve as a container. Transfer pumpkin to a serving platter, pour in the chowder, garnish with nutmeg and chives, and replace the lid. Serve.

Christy Rost

Public television chef Christy Rost is the author of three cookbooks and a longtime resident of the Park Cities and Preston Hollow. For additional recipes and entertaining tips, please visit christyrost.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter @ChristyRost.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.