We made a Thanksgiving dinner using only recipes by MLB players
Thanksgiving menus tend to be predictable, and that's not a bad thing. Who doesn't look forward to mashed potatoes, gravy and pumpkin pie? But this year, I got my hands on "Diamond Dishes: From the Kitchens of Baseball's Biggest Stars," "The Big Hurt's Guide to BBQ and Grilling," and "The Nolan Ryan Beef and Barbecue Cookbook," and tried to find out if it was possible to cook an approximation of a Thanksgiving dinner using only MLB players' recipes.
I made a few rules for this exercise -- the recipes had to be related to the traditional holiday meal (no Derek Jeter pancakes), and they had to be cooked by the player or someone related to him. As much as I'm sure Miguel Cabrera enjoys eating saffron and shrimp risotto, one of his recipes from "Diamond Dishes," I doubt he's whipping it up for himself.
So, let's get this meal started.
Appetizer: Guacamole Gonzalez
Every good holiday meal has some kind of dip, so I chose Adrian Gonzalez's guacamole from "Diamond Dishes." It's a simple recipe, but one that Gonzalez actually makes himself. The serrano peppers add the perfect kick, and it takes less than 20 minutes to throw together:
Adrian looks more professional making it than I did, though:
Sides: Frank Thomas' Buttered Cast-Iron Cornbread and Nolan Ryan's Spinach Casserole
I know what you're thinking -- doesn't Ryan's cookbook have "beef and barbecue" in the title? Why did you make a vegetable recipe? Well, sirloin steaks aren't particularly identified with Thanksgiving, and spinach is good for you. This casserole is also cheesy and delicious, so it's like you're not eating a vegetable at all!
Clearly Ryan has become quite the gourmand in his retirement. I'd make this casserole again, and it's definitely a suitable replacement for green bean casserole, if you want to shake things up.
Now, I've got to be honest -- Frank Thomas' cast-iron cornbread is meant to be made on a grill, but my grill is tiny and it's cold outside, so I made it in the stove. However, it still turned out pretty well:
Thomas promises a "fluffy, unsweetened bread that makes a perfect side," and that's almost true. It's fluffy and unsweetened, but just a little too salty to be perfect.
The Bird: Albert Pujols' "Home Run Chicken"
According to "Diamond Dishes," this recipe, straight from Deidre Pujols' (Albert's wife) kitchen, actually will increase your chances of hitting a home run.
This was vibrant and tasty, and the long cooking time just makes all the crisp flavors stand out more. Look, I know turkey is traditional, but wouldn't you rather eat some home run chicken and then go destroy the rest of your family in whatever after-dinner game you play? Flag football, softball, Scrabble -- it doesn't matter, you'll win.
Dessert: Ruth Ryan's Special Occasion Carrot Cake
Unfortunately, no Major Leaguers appear to have pumpkin pie recipes in their back pockets. So I chose something else orange -- carrots. This recipe is Ryan's wife Ruth's, and it's a dessert everyone will love. I made the cake in two large pans instead of three small ones, so I ran out of frosting and had to go for a more … rustic … look, but it was still delicious:
Probably because the frosting contains a pound of sugar.
It turns out making an MLB Thanksgiving wasn't hard at all, it just required a little flexibility:
But I still need someone to get me "Fowl Tips" by Wade Boggs for next year.