3 Inspiring Blue-Ribbon Recipes for Thanksgiving

What will you serve at your Thanksgiving dinner? Try these blue-ribbon recipes from the 2012 N.C. State Fair.

If you’re still searching for some great recipes to try this Thanksgiving, look no further than the award-winning dishes from the 2012 N.C. State Fair Special Cooking Contest. This year’s entries covered a variety of foods, from Peanut Butter Bacon Sliders to Chai Latte Pie. We recommend trying all the winning entries, but the following are our top picks for Thanksgiving Day.

1. Sweet Potato Salad

Kathryn Jackson poses with her blue-ribbon Sweet Potato Salad.

Kathryn Jackson of Benson won a blue ribbon for her Sweet Potato Salad in the Anything But Ordinary! Sweet Potato Recipe Contest at the N.C. State Fair. The contest, sponsored by the N.C. SweetPotato Commission, was full of great entries. This one won over judges because of its great flavor, and it’s sure to win over the judges at your house, too. Following is Jackson’s recipe:
Sweet Potato Salad
3 cups grated sweet potatoes
½ cup raisins
1 cup celery, chopped
¼ cup green onion, chopped
5 ounces of baked ham, chopped
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons orange juice

Bring potatoes to a boil in water. Cover and cook for one minute. Drain immediately. Place potatoes in ice water. Let stand for five minutes. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels. Combine potatoes, raisins, celery and onion. Stir in ham. Mix sour cream and orange juice. Toss with potato mixture. Cover and chill overnight. Serve on lettuce leaves. Makes six to eight servings.

2. Grilled Granny Smith Caprese

Marci Rakshys won the Apple Recipe Contest with her Grilled Granny Smith Caprese.

Marci Rakshys of Durham came in first in the N.C. Apple Growers Association Apple Recipe Contest for her recipe, Grilled Granny Smith Apple Caprese. This elaborate dish will make an amazing appetizer or side dish for your guests. Following is Rakshys’ winning receipe:
Grilled Granny Smith Apple Caprese

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt divided (into ½ teaspoon each)
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons soy sauce
4 medium-large green Granny Smith apples from North Carolina, cored and cut into 1/4 to 1/3-inch thick slices (about 2 pounds)
16 ounces sliced, fresh mozzarella cheese
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
½ cup fresh basil leaves
4 to 6 thinly sliced pieces prosciutto
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans

Combine first six ingredients in a large plastic freezer bag. Add apples, seal and shake gently to coat. Chill one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake slices of prosciutto on an ungreased cookie sheet for eight minutes or until crisp. Then cool and crumble.
Using a medium-size frying pan over medium heat, melt butter, soy sauce, ½ teaspoon of sea salt and one teaspoon of garlic powder until ingredients are warm. Add chopped pecans and toast in mixture.
Preheat grill to 350 to 400 degrees (medium-high) heat. Spray grill with nonstick spray. Remove apples from marinade, reserving marinade. Grill apples covered, 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until tender and grill marks appear.
Arrange alternating slices of warm grilled apple slices, basil and mozzarella cheese on a large, shallow platter. Drizzle with reserved marinade, season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with crumbled prosciutto and toasted pecans.

3. Tarheel Tourtiere

Jane Blanco's Tarheel Tourtiere earned her a blue ribbon at the State Fair.

Jane Blanco of Raleigh took home first place for her Tarheel Tourtiere in the N.C. Pork Council Tar Heel Pork Challenge. There’s just something about the combination of N.C. pork and spices that makes this dish so appealing. The pork mixture can be made in advance, which really helps during the holidays. Here’s Blanco’s winning recipe:
Tarheel Tourtiere
1½ tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground pork
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground mace
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup raisins
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
2 medium gala apples, cored and sliced
¾ cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
2 packs refrigerated crescent rolls

½ cup powdered sugar
2 -3 teaspoons apple cider, apple juice or maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil.

Sauté onion and garlic in butter until transparent. Add ground pork, salt, pepper, mace and cayenne, and brown thoroughly. Mix in raisins. Combine cornstarch and water and dissolve completely; add to pork mixture and blend well. Allow pork to cool to room temperature (this step may also be prepared in advance with mixture refrigerated or frozen until ready to use).

To assemble, unroll crescent dough and separate into 16 triangles. Arrange triangles in a circle on the baking sheet with the points facing out and the triangles overlapping at the center (center of ring should be about five inches in diameter. Evenly spread pork mixture over the widest end of the triangles. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and top with apple slices. Bring points of triangles up over the filling and tuck under the wide ends of the dough at center of the ring (filling will not be completely covered).

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden. Cool and drizzle with glaze. Serves six to eight.

Do you think you’ll try any of these dishes? Let us know. Leave us a comment below or share with us on Facebook or Twitter. What are some of your favorites during the holiday season?


About Bearded Lady

Paul Jones blogged for the 2009-2012 N.C. State Fairs. Here's his bio from 2009: Paul Jones, here (a.k.a. Bearded Lady). I love the N.C. State Fair. I love the rides, I love the food, but my favorite part of the Fair is the displays of the unusual. The two-headed snake, the world’s smallest woman, the world’s tallest horse and the list goes on. Originally from South Carolina, I hope that I can bring a different perspective to this blog as I shed light on some of the ordinary, yet extraordinary, aspects of this year’s Fair.

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