3 Unique Recipes to Serve for Thanksgiving, or Any Autumn Menu
For an autumn-inspired dish, try this recipe for split chicken with fermented apples and sunflower seed sauce from chef Timothy Charles of Newfoundland’s Fogo Island Inn. Photo: Courtesy of Fogo Island Inn/Valerie Howes
If a global pandemic has taught Timothy Charles anything, it’s about being thankful. Having to shut down Newfoundland’s Fogo Island Inn, where he heads up the kitchen, was — at first — a shock. Then, he and his team began to see the situation as a time for reflection on the true nature of hospitality.
“We came to realize that time is actually an ingredient,” he says. “You can go out and access anything in the global market, and the only thing you can’t buy is time. … The thought and planning that goes into creating something.”
Time as luxury … now that’s a concept. And it’s something Charles is now trying to bestow upon his guests, who come to this remote part of the province for an experience that is unique to Fogo and the people who call it home. An otherworldly location vulnerable to nature’s fiercest energies, and home to a remarkable array of flora and fauna that some might not know as food, but that feature on the inn’s ever-changing — and always inventive menus.
“We have 14 types of edible plants that grow right outside the door of the inn,” says Charles. “We want people to take the time to discover them. And understand why and how they become part of the food we make here.”
Guests who visit the inn — for a few days, or a week or more — might come for a gastronomic experience, but they end up being tutored by Mother Nature.
The recipes Charles presents here are his suggestions for fall-inspired dishes. They are not complicated, but they do take some time — that most precious of commodities.
Split Chicken With Fermented Apples and Sunflower Seed Sauce
Poultry, seeds and apples make for a natural combination in the autumn. Splitting (or spatchcocking) chicken exposes more skin, allowing the bird to cook quickly and crisp up nicely on the grill. Cooking the bird over flames lends deep smokey notes.
For the Chicken:
1 whole chicken, skin on
Cooking oil (canola or sunflower)
Tip: To split (spatchcock) the chicken:
Start at the tail end of the bird, with the breast side of the chicken facing down. Using kitchen shears, cut out the backbone by cutting down along both sides of the spine, then gently pulling out the bones. Flip your chicken over so the breasts are facing upwards and lying flat.
Rub the bird inside and out with the oil, and sprinkle lightly and evenly with kosher salt. Grill the spatchcocked chicken on the grill or firepit until cooked. The bone side should take 60 per cent of the direct-heat cooking time. Using a kitchen thermometer confirm chicken has reached 165 F at its widest point. Finished chicken should be cooked through but still juicy, with a nice char around the edges.
Let the bird rest on a platter, tented loosely with foil, for half the amount of time it was cooked, so the moisture is re-absorbed, and the flesh is tender and juicy.
Tip: Keep the bones. Freeze discarded chicken bones to use for broth or stock.
For the Sauce:
3/4 cup (180 ml) sunflower seed oil (or canola oil)
1 cup (250 ml) toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped tarragon
2 tsp (10 ml) minced garlic
1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
2/3 cup (140 ml) apple cider vinegar
Kosher or sea salt
Warm 3 tbsp (45 ml) of the oil to medium-high heat. Toast sunflower seeds in the oil until golden brown, then with a slotted spoon remove seeds from pan, reserving oil. Roughly chop seeds, then in a medium bowl, whisk together with all remaining ingredients. Salt to taste.
For the Apples:
Start this process two to three days ahead. If you don’t have time to prepare the apples ahead of time, just salt them lightly. Salted apples are a delicious seasonal treat in their own right.
4 large sweet and firm apples, cored and quartered
Kosher or sea salt two per cent, by weight
Weigh the cored and quartered apples. Calculate two per cent of their total weight, then add this amount of salt. (Total weight of the apples x 0.02 = the weight of salt required.) Place apple pieces and salt in a vacuum-sealing bag. Seal bag and place in a warm area, two to three days, until bag starts to swell.
Garnish the grilled split chicken generously with the sunflower seed and tarragon sauce. Arrange the fermented apples around the chicken and garnish with fresh tarragon.
Baked Cod With Beets and Blueberries
Cod, beets and blueberries reach their prime at the same time on Fogo Island. The sweetness of the berries rounds out the soft earthiness of the fresh beets, while the cod shines through in its humble beauty.
For the Beets:
8 beets, preferably with the tops on, reserve greens
1/4 cup (60 ml) canola oil
Kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup (80 ml) brown sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
Scrub beets, remove greens, and set aside for later. Rub beets with oil and salt. Place in a Dutch oven. Sprinkle beets with brown sugar and cover with apple cider vinegar. Cover with a lid and bake until you can insert a knife easily into the centre of the biggest beet. Cool beets in their baking liquid; reserve for later.
Tip: If beets are without tops, use chard or kale.
For the Beet Greens:
Reserved beet tops
A drizzle of canola oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Select the smallest, nicest beet leaves and set aside for garnishing. For the bigger leaves, heat a pan and add canola oil. Add the greens and wilt. Sprinkle with salt.
For the Vinaigrette:
2 cup (500 ml) blueberries
1/2 cup (125 ml) beet cooking liquid
1 tbsp (15 ml) freshly picked thyme leaves
1/4 (60 ml) cup canola oil
Place half of all the vinaigrette ingredients in the blender and puree. Transfer to a bowl, then whisk in the other half of all the ingredients, to form a loose vinaigrette.
For the Cod:
4 x 6 oz (170 g) portions of cod (Fogo Island Cod, preferably)
1/8 lb (55 g) unsalted butter
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
2 cups (500 ml) fish stock or water
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking dish with parchment paper, and grease lightly with butter. Place fish on paper. Add just enough stock or water to cover the bottom of the dish and place about 1 tsp of butter on top of each piece of fish. Salt to taste. Cover with another piece of parchment paper. Bake about 8 minutes, until fish is just starting to flake.
Place wilted greens on the bottom of a serving dish. Arrange cod with beets on top. Dress small beet leaves with most of the vinaigrette and place leaves on top of cod and beets, then spoon remaining vinaigrette around the dish to form a sauce.
Roasted Pumpkin With Cranberries
Pumpkin is a relatively new ingredient to Newfoundland, but these gourds thrive in our northern gardens. Finding honest ways to work with simple ingredients is at the root of what we do at Fogo Island Inn. This easy-to-execute and flavourful dish nods to that hope and process.
For the Pumpkin:
1 medium pumpkin (or acorn or kabocha squash)
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark miso
About 2 tbsp (30 ml) canola oil
Preheat oven to 425F. Cut pumpkin in half. Scoop out seeds and soft insides. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, pare away tough outer skin. Slice flesh into wedges.
Combine miso and oil to make a spreadable paste. (Depending on the brand of miso you have, you may need to adjust the quantity of oil.) Massage pumpkin wedges with miso spread. Place seasoned pumpkin on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until pumpkin is golden and edges are starting to caramelize.
For the Cranberries:
1 cup (250 ml) whole fresh cranberries
2 tbsp (30 ml) maple syrup
4 cups (1 l) unsweetened cranberry juice
2 tbsp (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
Gently simmer cranberries in juice, maple syrup, and vinegar. Cook until cranberries are just bursting and juice has thickened and reduced by half. Set aside.
For the Pumpkin Seeds:
1.5 cups pumpkin seeds
Coat pumpkin seeds in canola oil until they are shiny and luscious. Sprinkle with salt and bake on parchment-lined baking sheet, until fragrant and golden.
On a serving platter, place the roasted pumpkin wedges. Spoon an indulgent amount of cranberry sauce over the wedges. Top with pumpkin seeds.
Recipes developed by Timothy Charles and Sophie Hall