By Christie Melhorn, October 6 2017 —
Eating heaps of turkey and loosening your belt aren’t the only Thanksgiving traditions to embrace this weekend. On Monday Oct. 9 at 12 p.m., the Edmonton Eskimos and Montreal Alouettes go head-to-head in the Canadian Football League’s annual Thanksgiving Day Classic — a wonderful excuse to start feasting before dinner time.
This year’s Classic promises to be intense. The Alouettes currently sit at fifth in the Western Division and the Eskimos are only one standing higher. The Eskimos started strong this season with seven straight wins, but their winning streak crumbled into six consecutive losses and a multitude of injuries that have especially dented their defensive-line. The Alouettes are struggling with similar back-to-back losses and injuries, such as that of Darian Durant, who, despite his current funk, is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The team endured a crippling 59–11 defeat against the Calgary Stampeders last week.
Both teams are in a slump. But this leveling of the playing field and lightheartedness of the holidays might be what both teams need to shake it off, play cleaner and fight harder.
Of course, hearty snacks are a must at any sports-related gathering. Embrace the warm, homey flavors of the season with these bacon-wrapped brussel sprouts and maple goat cheese dip. They’re loaded with good fats and are just sweet enough that you won’t spoil the pie you’ll hopefully have for dessert.
Preparing this dish won’t take up your whole day either. You can whip it up the morning of the game or during commercial breaks. If you don’t care about the game, bring it to a Thanksgiving meal over the weekend. Or just make it for dinner — it’s quite filling!
- Food processor or blender
- Medium bowl
- Baking sheet
- Cutting board
- 15–20 medium sized brussel sprouts
- 12-ounce package of bacon
- Pinch of salt
- Dash of pepper
- 10 ounces of goat cheese
- 1–2 tablespoons of maple syrup
- 1/4 cup toasted and chopped pecans
- After preheating the oven to 400 degrees, rinse brussel sprouts and dab with a paper towel to dry.
- Ensure stems are removed then cut brussel sprouts in half lengthwise. Toss into a medium bowl and mix with a pinch or two of salt and pepper.
- Before opening the package of bacon, roll lengthwise into a tube. Hold for a few seconds then unravel. This will help prevent the strips from sticking together or tearing when separating.
- On a clean counter space or cutting board, lay out the bacon strips 3–5 at a time to prevent crowding.
- Place brussel sprout halves at one end of each bacon strip and roll together tightly. Secure with toothpick on the rounded top of the half without puncturing through to the flat end.
- Set wrapped pieces onto a baking sheet. When filled, place into the oven for about 30 minutes or until the bacon is nicely crisped and the brussel sprouts are soft but not mushy.
Maple goat cheese dip
- While your brussel sprouts are cooking, warm a skillet over medium heat for a minute then add 1/4 cup of pecans.
- Once lightly browned, remove pecans and place onto a cutting board. Let cool before chopping into smaller chunks. Hold the knife by the handle with your dominant hand and with your other hand over the top of the blade. Cut slowly so you don’t send pecans flying off the board.
- Place cream cheese into a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds. If using a blender, do this at a medium to low setting. This will give the cream cheese a whipped texture.
- Depending on how sweet you want it, add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup and pulse for another 30 seconds. Pulse for an extra 30 seconds if you want it to be fluffier. Just be careful not to liquefy the cream cheese!
- Use a spatula to move the dip from the food processor or blender into a small bowl and sprinkle with the pecans.
I recommend placing the bowl of dip in the middle of a sturdy plate with the brussel sprouts scattered around it. A fondue plate works nicely as well.