Jennifer Ruple

The sounds of rattling pans, clinking platters and laughter, not to mention heavenly smells, filled the air during Durocher’s and Cumulus Media’s Best Thanksgiving Side Dish Cook-off. The event, held Saturday, Nov. 16 at Durocher’s Sylvania location, 5555 Monroe St., teamed four area radio listeners with on-air personalities from local stations to compete for 2019 bragging rights and fantastic prizes.
To make the finals, listeners of K-100, 94.5 WXKR, Q 105.5 Toledo and 93.5 WRQN were asked to send in their best Thanksgiving side dish recipes. Each station chose one recipe for the competition and sent a representative to assist their finalist with the cooking of the dishes. Contestants had one hour to prepare their side dishes in four of Durocher’s fully functioning display kitchens. When it was “time’s up,” the contestants presented their dishes to a panel of judges – I was honored to be asked to help choose the winner along with Jeff Tuttle of 98.3 Nash Icon and Chris Durocher, president and owner of Durocher’s.
Heating up the competition were Shannon Bylow and Lyn Casye from K-100, Laurie Gombash and Eric Chase from Q 105.5, Deborah Norin-Kuehn and Becky Shock of 93.5 WRQN, and Coco Sutton and Pyke from 94.5 WXKR.
While each of the dishes are worthy of a spot on the Thanksgiving buffet, there could only be one winner. Congratulations to Laurie Gombash who took home first place honors for her Cheezy Smashed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon. I, along with the all the finalists, hope you enjoy reading and cooking
their recipes. Until next year…

Cheezy Smashed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Submitted by Laurie Gombash
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1/2 package bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup Asiago cheese

Heat oven to 425 F. Trim the ends of Brussels sprouts and cut in half lengthwise. Cut bacon into 1-inch pieces.
To a one-gallon bag, add sprouts, bacon, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper. Knead bag so that all ingredients are coated with olive oil.
Spread ingredients onto a baking pan and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn over sprouts and bacon. Return to oven and bake 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and smash Brussels sprouts down slightly. Sprinkle with Asiago cheese and cook for 5 more minutes.

Busia’s Kapusta (Sweet and Sour Cabbage)
Submitted by Shannon Bylow
2 heads cabbage
1 medium white onion
1 1/2 quarts water
1 pound unflavored Crisco
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar

In a large pot, melt Crisco. Add onion, cabbage, salt and pepper and simmer until cabbage cooks down a bit.
Add water and bring to a boil for 15 minutes.
Turn down heat and add vinegar and sugar. Cook until cabbage cooks down a bit.
Cook’s note: The Polish tradition is to layer the cabbage on top of mashed potatoes and top with gravy.

Cheesy Spinach Casserole
Submitted by Deborah Norin-Kuehn
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
Three 10-ounce packs frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
8-ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 pound grated Gruyere cheese

Heat oven to 375 F. In a heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté onions until translucent. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook until mushrooms release their liquid.
Add spinach and Worcestershire and cook until spinach is no longer bright green. Add cream cheese, half-and-half and seasonings and cook until cream cheese is melted. Stir in breadcrumbs and Tabasco.
Pour into greased 6×8-inch casserole. Sprinkle with Gruyere and bake uncovered until warm throughout and cheese begins to brown.

Herbed Oyster Stuffing
Submitted by Coco Sutton
2 loaves, 2 to 3 day-old Italian or French bread (1 pound total), cut into 3/4-inch cubes (12 cups)
1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (if needed)
2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried sage, crumbled
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
24 oyster, shucked, drained and chopped (1 cup)
2 1/4 cups turkey giblet stock or low-sodium chicken broth

Heat oven to 325 F. Spread bread cubes on 2 shallow baking pans and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans halfway through baking, until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool bread then transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels, reserving fat in skillet. If bacon renders less than 1/4 cup fat, add oil to skillet to total ¼ cup fat.
Cook onions, celery, thyme, sage, garlic, salt and pepper in fat over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
Transfer to bowl with bread cubes.
Stir in bacon, parsley, butter and oysters.
Drizzle with stock, season with salt and pepper, and toss well.
Transfer stuffing to a buttered 3 to 3 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Bake, covered in middle of oven 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until browned, about 30 minutes more.