The Vanderbilt Grace Hotel in Newport, Rhode Island, has luxurious living down pat. And the historic mansion’s new culinary experience, Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, is a reason to visit in itself, featuring international food and wine with a decidedly New England flair. Here, I caught up with Chef Jonathan on all things Thanksgiving – from cooking the perfect turkey to preparing for the big meal (and even got a recipe for a downright delicious pumpkin soup).
1. In a thick-bottomed pot, cook the pumpkin, carrot, apple, onion, garlic, and thyme in the butter for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine and cook until it has all evaporated.
2. Add the chicken stock and simmer until all the vegetables are soft, approximately 30 minutes. Blend the soup and strain it. Add the cream and season to taste with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
3. Sear the seasoned scallops in hot olive oil on both sides until golden.
4. Place the seared diver-harvested scallops in a soup plate, cover with the velvety soup.
5. Garnish the soup with some whipped cream, flavored with a little five-spice powder.
6. Sprinkle the top of the soup with some crisp fried ginger strips.
Rue La La: Let’s talk side dishes. What’s your personal favorite holiday dish?
Jonathan Cartwright: Brussels sprouts blanched then cooked with shallots and butter.
Rue La La: Sounds delicious! You cook for lots of people all the time. What’s the trick to cooking for a big bunch?
Jonathan Cartwright: It helps to be organized and do the preparations in advance. Also teach your children to help and ask family to make sides or dessert!
Rue La La: Thanksgiving is just a few days away – is there a secret to cooking a really great turkey?
Jonathan Cartwright: Moisture is the key. Brine the bird beforehand or add a couple cups of water to the roasting pan and baste often. I usually fill the neck cavity with apples and cover the breast with soft butter before placing it in a medium preheated oven.
Rue La La: And what suggestions do you have for leftovers?
Jonathan Cartwright: I love turkey-and-vegetable stew or soup. Turkey potpie, or even turkey and stuffing fried together. And of course, a great cold turkey-and-cranberry sandwich.
Rue La La: That all sounds so good. Do you have any wine pairing suggestions for Thanksgiving dinner and dessert?
Jonathan Cartwright: I love a red from Burgundy with my turkey but any Pinot Noir is nice. For dessert wines, I like a Banyuls or even a glass of champagne or sparkling wine.
Rue La La: You’re from England – are there any English traditions that rival Thanksgiving?
Jonathan Cartwright: We don’t have Thanksgiving but helped start it back in the day! Perhaps Easter is similar for us where family gathers and we cook larger than normal amounts of food and baked items. Christmas is traditionally Turkey Day for us in the UK.
Rue La La: We have to ask, what is your perfect holiday meal?
Jonathan Cartwright: Turkey with sage-and-onion stuffing, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes with a nice gravy, and a little bit of cranberry sauce.
By Brianna Lapolla, Staff Writer
Our Vanderbilt Grace Hotel – Newport, RI Boutique opens Monday, November 19, at 11AM ET.
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