Turkey may take center stage on the Thanksgiving table, but the side dishes are just as beloved. And because it's such a distinctly American holiday, Thanksgiving is a great time to celebrate our country's finest ingredients, like Wisconsin Cheese. In fact, there's a growing group of cheese enthusiasts who have dubbed the holiday "Cheesegiving."
A cheese board with a few artisan selections and accompaniments is a great way to keep hungry mouths at bay while the bird is cooking, but cheese also plays a role in many traditional (and some not so traditional) sides. With this in mind, we asked the experts – cheesemongers, cheese shop owners and food bloggers – to share their favorite cheesy Thanksgiving dishes, which are all feature in the new Harvest issue of Grate. Pair. Share., an online magazine from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. They include:
Download a photo of the Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin. For more hi-res photos, contact Joanna Miller, (608) 692-3234, firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Wisconsin Cheese, contact Heather Porter Engwall, (608) 203-7235, email@example.com.
Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin By Greg Upward, Fromagination, courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Servings: 6-8 Ingredients:
Large loaf of country bread, cubed
2-3 garlic cloves
1 medium heirloom pumpkin
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons butter
3 pounds mixed mushrooms (button, portobello, oyster, etc.), roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups heavy cream, plus more depending on pumpkin size
1-2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
4 cups (1 pound) Wisconsin Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese or other Wisconsin alpine-style cheese, shredded
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin emmantaler cheese, shredded
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Grand Cru® cheese or other alpine-style cheese, shredded Cooking Directions:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Toast bread cubes in shallow baking pan for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and rub bread cubes with garlic cloves; set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Using serrated knife, remove top of pumpkin (like carving a traditional pumpkin). Scrape top and inside of pumpkin, removing seeds and fibers. Season inside of pumpkin with salt and pepper and set on prepared baking sheet.
In large saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms begin to release juices. Set aside to cool slightly.
In separate saucepan, warm cream over medium-heat, add bay leaves, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Bring to gentle simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place all three shredded cheeses in bowl and mix to combine.
Place single layer of bread cubes in bottom of pumpkin; top with layer of mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle handful of cheese over top and drizzle with about 1/3 cup heavy cream. Gently pack layer down using back of spoon. Repeat layers until pumpkin is filled to about 1/2-inch below top. Number of layers will depend on size of pumpkin.
Place top on stuffed pumpkin and bake for 1 hour, depending on size, until filling is hot and cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven and let sit about 10 minutes before serving.
Carefully transfer pumpkin to plate and serve. Scoop out a bit of pumpkin with stuffing for each serving.
* Wisconsin makes several styles of alpine cheeses, including Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Grand Cru®, and swiss.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Dunbarton Blue By Benjamin Roberts, St. Paul Cheese Shop, courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Servings: 8 Ingredients:
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, cleaned and outer leaves removed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound (8 ounces) thick-cut bacon (about 8 slices)
4 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Dunbarton Blue cheese or other Wisconsin cheddar blue cheese, shredded
Black pepper Cooking Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Halve Brussels sprouts and toss with olive oil in mixing bowl. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Spread sprouts evenly on baking sheet and roast 30 to 35 minutes. Do not crowd. Shake occasionally while roasting so they brown evenly.
Meanwhile, chop bacon into 1-inch pieces and cook in large pan over medium-low heat until crisp. Remove from fat with slotted spoon and reserve on paper towel. Increase heat to medium high and add shallots. Sauté shallots until translucent, about 5 minutes, and reserve with bacon.
Combine warm roasted Brussels sprouts, bacon and shallots in large bowl. Add Dunbarton Blue to bowl and lightly toss. Season to taste with pepper and serve.
The Cheesemonger's Macaroni By Kathleen Cotter, The Bloomy Rind, courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Servings: 6-8 Ingredients:
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Snowfields™ cheese or butterkäse cheese, shredded
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Hook's 4-year cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Marieke® Gouda cheese, shredded
8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions Cooking Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Warm milk in small saucepan on the stove or in a bowl in microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes.
In large skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
Gradually add warm milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened.
Add salt and black pepper. Reserve 1/4 cup of each cheese; set aside. Add remaining cheese to skillet, mixing well. Add cooked pasta to pan. Spoon pasta mixture into lightly buttered 2-quart baking dish; top with reserved cheese.
Bake 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Want to customize your mac and cheese? Try one or more of these optional add-ins: cayenne, thyme, ground red pepper, sriracha, bacon, bread crumb topping.
Sweet Potato Gratin By Tracy Kellner, Provenance Food and Wine, courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Servings: 6-8 Ingredients:
Butter for baking dish, softened
2 cups heavy cream or half & half*, divided
3 large or 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced lengthwise on a mandoline to about 1/8-inch thickness, divided
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Grand Cru® cheese or other Wisconsin alpine-style cheese, shredded, divided
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
6-8 sage leaves for garnish, optional Cooking Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Lightly butter 2-quart casserole dish. Pour 1/4 cup cream or half & half into dish.
Begin layering sweet potatoes over cream so they overlap. You will be making 4 layers.
Top with about 1/2 cup cheese and salt and pepper to taste; add second layer of potatoes; top with about 1/2 cup cheese and salt and pepper to taste. After second layer, pour 1/2 of remaining cream over potatoes. Top with third potato layer, 1/2 cup cheese and fourth potato layer. Pour remaining cream over top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. If using sage leaves, arrange them in pretty pattern over top.
Cover casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake about 45 minutes; remove foil and bake additional 30 to 40 minutes, until cream has been absorbed and potatoes are tender to knife blade. Remove casserole from oven and let sit, covered, for at least 20 minutes to set. Cut into squares and serve.
* For additional flavor, whisk in 1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg, grated, and ground cloves into cream, if desired.
Pumpkin Tiramisu By Completely Delicious, courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Servings: 6-8 Ingredients:
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces Wisconsin mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 3-ounce packages of ladyfingers
1/4 cup strong coffee or espresso
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3-ounce package of ladyfingers
Pumpkin pie spice, for dusting Cooking Directions:
Line 9x5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap; set aside.
In bowl of electric mixer, beat heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla to soft peaks. In separate bowl, mix mascarpone cheese, pumpkin purée and pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Fold whipped cream into pumpkin mixture.
Line bottom of loaf pan with layer of pumpkin cream. Arrange layer of ladyfingers side by side on top. Drizzle 1/3 of coffee or espresso on top of the ladyfingers. Repeat layers of pumpkin cream and ladyfingers two more times (final layer of ladyfingers may extend above pan sides). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
To serve, invert tiramisu onto plate and remove plastic wrap. Gently press ladyfingers side by side onto sides of tiramisu. Beat heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla to soft peaks and spoon on top of tiramisu. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.