When I was a little girl, Thanksgiving morning always coincided with one of my brother's big soccer matches, which everyone in our small town seemed to attend. I'm not sure why this event had to occur at a time when most mothers were more concerned with remembering to take the giblets out of the turkey than remembering that it was their turn to bring the team orange slices. Some traditions are funny like that. Nobody dares to suggest change, no matter how irrational the tradition may be, because, well, it's a tradition.
Because I was too young to stay home by myself, I was always an unwilling part of this big pilgrimage to the community soccer fields. Because I had absolutely no interest in watching my brother and all of his friends run around, kicking each other in the shins, and because I tried to keep my distance from the notorious soccer mom with the deafening scream, I usually found ways to entertain myself away from the field. One memorable year, another bored sister and I found our way onto the nearby tennis courts, where we proceeded to practice our gymnastics moves (you see where this is going.......) We hadn't been there five minutes when-crack!-I overestimated my landing, and my chin made contact with the ground, my tongue sandwiched right between my teeth.
Despite hours of ice and Children's Tylenol, when the time came to sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, several hours later, my tongue was still too raw and swollen to allow me to enjoy anything more than a bland Popsicle. The smallest grain of salt would have felt like thousands, so I sadly watched as my turkey, my stuffing, and yes, even my pumpkin pie were devoured and thoroughly enjoyed by the rest of my family.
The moral of the story is (yes, there's a moral)......be sure to treat yourself to a wonderful and hearty breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, because you never know what's going to happen between then and dinnertime. The following are two potential dishes that you could serve as part of your Thanksgiving breakfast or brunch. If you want to go all out, serve them with the Sweet and Spicy Bacon recipe from last year's post (this bacon is a non-negotiable and expected every year in my house.) These Bananas Foster scones, modeled after the famous N'Awlins dessert, are flaky and comforting, with bits of rich caramelized banana throughout. This variation on hash browns uses healthier and holiday-appropriate sweet potatoes, which add nice color to your breakfast spread. Here are a few extra tips for this pleasing pair of breakfast bites:
- It is important that the scone dough is cold when it enters the oven, as the heat will cause the cold pieces of butter to melt, with some of the liquid evaporating and forming pockets of flaky layers (the same thought process applies to pie crusts and biscuits.) If you find that the dough has become warm from the addition of the bananas, refrigerate it for 30 minutes or until it has chilled.
- If you don't have brandy for the banana mixture, feel free to replace it with dark rum or even Grand Marnier.
- This recipe makes very large scones. If I am serving a group, I will often make many smaller scones, cutting the original size into thirds, so people don't feel as though they need to conquer such a huge portion. The scones can also be formed into rounds or squares as opposed to wedges.
- Turbinado sugar is a coarse brown sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw. Regular sugar can be used as a substitute.
- If you don't have buttermilk, then mix 1 teaspoon vinegar for every 1 cup milk, let rest for 10 minutes at room temperature, and you have a suitable substitute!
- In order to test if the scones have finished baking, I find that the "toothpick test," inserting a toothpick into the center to see if it emerges clean, works the best. Sometimes even baked scones feel soft to the touch, so you risk overbaking them.
- Baked scones can be frozen in zip-top bags for up to 2 weeks. Scone dough can be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 3 weeks.
- The hash browns are best served warm or room temperature, but they are even pretty darn tasty as leftovers straight from the fridge!
- If you have a cast-iron skillet, I find that this works really well for the hash browns, forming a nice browned skin on the potatoes without turning them to mush.
- You can peel the potatoes for the hash browns if you wish, but I think that they are better, not to mention easier to prepare, with skins on.
Bananas Foster Scones and Sweet Potato Hash Browns
Makes 12 enormous scones and 6 servings of hash browns
Bananas Foster Scones
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup brandy
4 ½ cups flour
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ pound cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons buttermilk
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
Prepare the bananas: Place the brown sugar in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 2 bananas, cut sides down, and cook for 2-3 minutes without stirring, until the sugar starts to dissolve. Add the brandy and cook for several minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture thickens. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Chop the bananas and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse the mixture to blend. Add the pieces of butter and pulse the mixture 10-12 times until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the reserved bananas; toss to mix. Add 1 ¼ cups of the buttermilk and mix until just combined and the dough begins to stick together. Add the remaining buttermilk a bit at a time if the dough is too dry.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into two 6-inch rounds about 1-inch thick. Cut each round into 6 wedges and place the wedges on the prepared baking sheets, spaced apart. Brush each scone with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake the scones for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.
Sweet Potato Hash Browns
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into ⅓-inch dice
3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the diced sweet potatoes and cook until they can be easily pierced with a fork, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and place the potatoes in the refrigerator until cold, 30-45 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer the onions to a plate and set aside.
Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the reserved onions and cook for 2 minutes. Toss in the parsley, season with salt and pepper, and serve.