We skipped a season here and, although I’d like to say we went from Winter to Summer, I think we actually skipped Winter… which means All of “Winter” was actually Spring and now that the calendar claims that Spring has sprung, it’s actually Summer here.
Are you confused yet? Me too. Continue reading
Last week one of my coworkers brought a giant bag of lemons to work and offered some to me. I graciously took some because I happened to be craving our favorite chicken wraps for dinner. We had the wraps, which we usually consume wrapped in a thin tortilla, for dinner that night when a wonderful thought occurred to me.
I was a few bites into my wrap when I turned to Mr. Eats and said, “What if I made these into nachos?”
I’m pretty sure he thought it was a terrible idea, even after I explained that they would be topped with the very same toppings we were eating at that exact moment. But, I didn’t let his lack of enthusiasm dissuade me at all. In this line of work, it’s a common occurrence for the people around you think you’re completely off your rocker when you try to explain your food visions to them. So I soldiered on.
So when the weekend rolled around and I made my nacho dreams come true.
I know that by now we have seen every possible use of Thanksgiving leftovers under the sun. We’ve seen them in pies, in soups, in sandwiches, and in salads, but one I had not seen was this masterpiece.
Imagine, if you will, your Thanksgiving leftovers tightly wrapped in a croissant dough and baked to perfection. I think my knees just went weak…
May I present to you Pain au Thanksgiving! It’s very similar to its cousin pain au chocolate but instead of being filled with chocolate, it is filled with an entire Thanksgiving dinner … all rolled up into flaky buttery croissant dough… which is where it has apparently always belonged.
As soon as I got this idea I couldn’t wait to make it. I knew that I had to do it before Thanksgiving, so that you could use it for your leftovers. Of course, the added bonus of me getting to eat TWO Thanksgiving dinners this month may have weighed on my decision as well.
For these, I used a standard croissant dough (you can use your own favorite recipe, I used this one only because I had successfully used it before). If you’re short on time (or motivation) you could even use store-bought puff pastry or some of those refrigerated “crescent” rolls in a pinch. Just keep in mind that a different dough may yield a different amount of pastries. My recipe yielded 24 pastries each one about 4 by 2 inches when baked.
For the filling, I used turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. I toyed with the idea of putting the gravy inside, but decided it would a> be too messy and b> be much better alongside the sandwich. Because, if there’s one thing I love more than a sandwich, it’s a sandwich with a jus for dipping.
I also opted to leave out the cranberry sauce since Mr. Eats turned his nose up at it. You’re welcome to include it if your guests are more cranberry-friendly – I personally think it would have been delicious stuffed inside or even drizzled on top as a glaze.
If you’re wondering what on earth you are going to do with 24 thanksgiving pastries, fear not! You can freeze the pains (baked or raw) and keep enjoying that turkey dinner for up to three months.
Pain au Thanksgiving
Yield: 24 Pain au Thanksgivings [ Printable Recipe ]
Time: 1 hour (prep), 8 – 18 hours (refrigeration), 15 – 20 minutes (baking)
For the croissant dough:
- 1 1/2 cups milk, warm (105°F–110°F)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 Tablespoon + 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 sticks unsalted butter
For the filling:
- Thanksgiving leftovers: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, whatever you want!
Baking & Serving:
- 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
- Gravy, for serving
Making the dough:
1. In the stand of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix the milk, sugar, and yeast. Let sit until foamy (appx 5 min). In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, set aside until yeast has foamed.
2. Add flour/salt mixture to yeast, while mixing on low. (I usually add half, then once incorporated add the rest)
3. Once it comes together into a smooth, slightly sticky mass, shape it into a rectangle about 1 ½ inches thick, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and set in the fridge for about an hour until chilled
Laminating the dough:
1. Once dough is chilled, line up sticks of butter and smash with a rolling pin between two sheets of parchment paper until they are roughly the shape of an 8 x 5 inch rectangle. Wrap and chill, swapping butter for dough in the fridge.
2. Unwrap dough and roll out onto a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as necessary* into a 16 x 10 in rectangle. Arrange dough w shortest side nearest you, put butter rectangle in the center, and fold like a letter—cover the butter with the bottom 1/3rd of dough first, then with the top. Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush.
3. Turn dough 90 degrees so new shortest side is near you, then pound with a rolling pin at even intervals, making uniform impressions (this will help the butter to spread). Roll dough again into a 15 x 10 inch rectangle. Brush off any excess flour, and fold in thirds again, stretching the dough as needed to square off the ends—thus forming a 3 layer 10 x 5 inch rectangle.
4. Give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back for doing your (presumably) first ever “fold”, rewrap the dough in plastic wrap, and stick it back in the fridge at least another hour. (I’m not going to lie, I got a little impatient and may not have waited the whole hour… on that same note, I also left the house a while between another fold and it was in for over an hour, and alas the world has not come to an end)
5. Repeat 5 & 6 three more times, creating a total of 4 “folds”. Once you have completed your last fold, rewrap the dough and place in refrigerator for 8 – 18 hours.
When you’re ready to shape the Pain au Thanksgiving
1. Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap and cut in half cross-wise. Re-wrap half of dough and place back in the fridge. Just look at all those buttery layers…
2. Roll on lightly floured surface into a 16 x 12 inch rectangle, stretching as needed to maintain rectangular shape
3. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Stretch each square so that it is slightly elongated and place a small amount of filling of your choice into the center. If you go over 2 tablespoons of filling you will probably have a hard time rolling it into shape.
4. Fold one side over the filling and wet it slightly with some water. Fold the other side over and press down firmly to seal.*
5. Place onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan, seam side down. Continue with remaining squares, I was able to fit 8 onto each pan. Once the pan is filled cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set in a warm spot to proof until doubled in size 1 to 2 hours.
6. Remove other half from fridge and repeat the steps again.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375F and make an egg wash by whisking one egg with 1 tablespoon water.
Right before you put the dough into the oven, brush with egg wash. If you feel so inclined, you can sprinkle some shredded cheese on top for added flavor. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until well-browned.
To freeze raw:
Once you have filled and sealed the dough, you can place them seam-side down on a small baking sheet (that will fit in the freezer) and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Freeze for 1 hour until firm, then transfer to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and return to freezer until ready to bake.
To freeze cooked:
Wrap cooled pains tightly in foil and place into a freezer-proof Ziploc bag.
To bake from frozen (un-baked):
Place frozen dough on parchment-lined sheet and cover with plastic wrap.Place on counter to rise overnight about 8 to 10 hours. Once doubled in size paint with egg wash prior to baking.
If you freeze croissants pre-baked:
Frozen croissants can be thawed overnight prior to reheating or taken from the freezer directly to the oven, in which case they will need a few minutes more to reheat. Bake for 10 minutes at 375F from thawed, add a few extra minutes if baking from frozen.
I DID IT! I SURVIVED THE WHOLE 30!
And to celebrate, I saved the best (recipe) for last. This recipe was by far the FH’s favorite Whole30 recipe. In fact, I just made a huge batch of the filling so that we could enjoy these stuffed peppers later this week, even though we aren’t even on the diet anymore!
To make this “W-30 compliant”, I used cauliflower “rice” instead of real rice. These are super delicious as-is, but if you feel like that’s not something you’re into, feel free to replace the cauliflower with cooked rice or quinoa (or orzo, any grain of your choice). I also recommend topping these with cheese, which I may very well do later this week now that I’m allowed to have cheese again. (Hi, cheese!)
As another bonus, this recipe makes a ton of filling. A ton.
So, if you don’t feel like eating 6 stuffed peppers today, you can make a couple peppers tonight and freeze the rest of the filling for your future self. You know that one, the one who comes home late and has no time to make dinner… yeah, that one! Or you can make the whole recipe and eat them throughout the week – the leftovers reheat great in the microwave. Just pop them in the microwaved (covered, of course, otherwise you may anger your household microwave-cleaner) for about 2 minutes and Voila – just as good as new!
- 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
- 1 pound (1 medium head) cauliflower, riced
- 4 large bell peppers, halved with seeds and stems removed
- 1 jar tomato sauce (I really liked this one )
- 1 large onion, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Place two halves of a pepper, cut side up, onto a microwave-safe plate and cover with wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes until just starting to soften. Repeat with remaining halves of peppers; set aside until ready to fill.
- Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan by spreading a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan.
- In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef or turkey with a generous pinch of salt until well-browned.
- Meanwhile, finely chop one of the bell peppers. Add onions and chopped bell pepper to ground meat and cook until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir to prevent burning. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.
- Add half to 3/4 of the cauliflower "rice" (it should make up about half of your total mixture) and another pinch of salt. Add chicken broth and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Reduce heat to medium and cover loosely with foil to allow cauliflower to steam. Cook about five minutes then stir again. Continue to cook another 5 minutes uncovered, allowing any remaining liquid to cook off, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat to low and add about a half jar of tomato sauce (just enough to moisten the mixture) along with the parsley, basil, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and let simmer about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
- Place peppers cut-side-up into baking dish. Fill with meat and cauliflower mixture. Top with more tomato sauce and cheese, if desired.
- Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes* until peppers are tender.
- * If baking from chilled, bake covered for 30 minutes then uncovered for the last 10 minutes.
Feel free to use cooked rice, quinoa, orzo (or any grain you like!) in place of the cauilflower - I made this for the Whole 30 where grains were outlawed so I wasn't allowed to.
Also outlawed on the Whole 30 was cheese, but these would be even better with a bit of mozzarella, fontina, or provolone mixed in (and on top).