Atlantic Cape News

Media Contact:

  • Stacey Clapp
  • 5100 Black Horse Pike
  • Mays Landing, NJ 08330-2699
  • College Relations Office
  • (609) 343-4907

Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes with a Tasty Twist

November 14, 2007

Chef Kelly McClay, dean of the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College, likes to honor tradition during Thanksgiving, with a gourmet slant.

"I prepare alternative holiday fare using traditional ingredients," she said. "When starting new traditions, it's nice to break out of the mold. Plus, many of these dishes can be made ahead of time as opposed to at the last minute."

Instead of plain old corn, McClay likes to whip up corn chowder, a hearty soup that is appropriate to the season, or butternut squash soup. She also prepares traditional, seasonally appropriate vegetables such as braised cabbage and/or roasted root vegetables such as carrots, onions, turnips and rutabaga.

As a healthy alternative to candied sweet potatoes, McClay prefers sweet potato soufflé. "It's light and very flavorful," she said.

Although our Native-American and Pilgrim forebears did not have potatoes, a modern Thanksgiving would not be complete without the spuds. McClay likes to give them a gourmet twist by adding roasted garlic, sour cream and chives or goat cheese and chives.

As for the turkey, she suggests a roulade as an alternative to the traditionally prepared bird. This is a boneless breast that is rolled and filled with traditional bread stuffing, wild rice or vegetables.

When it comes to the all-important condiments, McClay prefers cranberry and apple chutney, as opposed to the usual cranberry sauce.

For dessert, she suggests pumpkin crème brulee, if it's a small dinner party. Otherwise, try cranberry upside down cake and/or apple pie topped with pumpkin ice cream.

The following recipes were created by McClay. For more Thanksgiving recipes, visit

Turkey Roulade


½ C.    Margarine or butter

1 C.     Sliced celery

1 C.     Chopped onions

1 lb.     Herb seasoned stuffing mix

 ¾ C.   Sweetened dried cranberries

2 C.     Chicken stock

2 T.      Fresh chopped sage

½ tsp.  Salt

5 lb.     Turkey breast, boned and butterflied

Method of Preparation:

1. Melt margarine in a large skillet. Add onion and celery; cook until tender, stirring occasionally.

2. Combine celery mixture, stuffing mix and sweetened dried cranberries in a large mixing bowl.

3. Combine chicken stock with stuffing mixture; stir until moistened. Set aside.

4. Open the butterflied turkey breast and place skin-side down on a work surface. The long side should be parallel with edge of work surface. Slide six 12-inch pieces of cooking string under the breast at 2-inch intervals.

5. Spread the stuffing over the turkey breast, sprinkle with sage. Starting at the long side roll the breast tightly. Tie strings to secure. Tuck in excess skin.

6. Turn roll over and place in roasting pans. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Uncover for last 20 minutes of cooking time.

7. Bake at 375° F for about 2 hours until a meat thermometer registers 165° F.

8. Cut into 1 1/4-inch slices. Serve with pan gravy

Yield: 8 servings


Pumpkin Crème Brulee


2 C.     Heavy cream

¼ C.    Light brown sugar

¼ C.    Sugar

¼ C.    Sanding or course sugar

8          Egg yolks, large

½ tsp.  Pure vanilla extract

¼ tsp.  Ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp.Grated nutmeg

1 C.     Canned pumpkin

Method of Preparation:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Arrange six 6 oz. ramekins in a large metal baking pan.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy. Slowly add ¾ cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. This will give a smoother texture.
  5. Pour evenly into the ramekins; add enough hot water to the pan to come halfway up the sides. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, cover and refrigerate until well chilled. This should take at least three hours; they can be stored for up to two days if tightly sealed.
  6. Sprinkle each ramekin with ½ tsp. of sugar. Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the sugar.

        Yield: 6 servings