It’s Foodie Friday !!

And this is a monstrous menu for what is typically a large gathering. If you hadn’t figured it out yet, these recipes are coming from an unpublished book. This is one I have particular pride for, as it really did happen just as I describe in the head notes. This will give you a couple of weeks to prepare for it, if you decide you’d like to try this very different take on a traditional American theme.

A Mexican-Flavoured Thanksgiving (23 November 2000)

This is quite a blend of flavours, textures, and wonderful inspiration for an unusual Thanksgiving feast. And since this book is about Feasting, it is appropriate for me to include it here. You could include mashed potatoes (add roasted garlic or chile) as part of this menu.

There were seven of us for this feast: Mom, Rebecca and Cam, Laureen (half Mexican – I hope she doesn’t mind that I have said so), Randall, and Carolyn and me. I actually went to Mom’s house the Saturday before Thanksgiving to help around her house a bit and to prepare for the Thursday meal. I baked the cornbread for the stuffing on Tuesday, and put the chipotle soup base, cranberry chutney and ancho-honey glaze together on Wednesday. Since we normally have a three hour drive to get to Mom’s house, I otherwise would have prepared the soup (without corn or shrimp), the glaze for the turkey, the chutney, and the stuffing the day before we would have left (22 November 2000). The result was stunning. If you want to bother with this set of rather complex recipes, I guarantee you will be astonished. In the year 2000, I believe the word is “Awesome!”

I wrote this entire menu before my Grandson Sunny’s birthday, 14 November, also my birthday. Sunny is the more important one of us, since he must carry on with a new mandate in a difficult time. Sunny turned 9 and I turned 50.

I want to acknowledge the November 2000 issue of Bon Appétit and Olga Egly – both inspired ideas you see here. It is what I term ‘adaptation.’ Cam also made Sweet Potato Empanadas (page 311) for the original feast in 2000. The menu was repeated on 12 October 2002 for Family and is precisely as advertised: stunning !!!

Shrimp, Corn and Chipotle Soup

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 medium shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ground cumin
Fresh-ground peppercorns to taste
1/2 cup Chardonnay wine
3 to 3-1/2 cups chicken stock, low-fat, no salt
2 teaspoons chipotle adobo purée (I make my own – see the Original book)
4 ears of fresh yellow corn, kernels removed
1 pound fresh, medium shrimp, shelled and rinsed
Salt to taste
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
Sour cream (optional)

In a 4-quart pot, heat the oil. Add the shallots, stirring for a minute, then the garlic, cumin and pepper. When it “smells right,” add the wine. Reduce for a couple of minutes (until the alcohol smell is gone), then add the stock and stir in the adobo. When the stock begins to simmer, add the corn, bring back to a simmer and slow cook the corn kernels for about 20 minutes, then add the cleaned shrimp and salt to taste, simmering just until the shrimp are pink.

Serve in hot bowls, garnished with the fresh parsley. If you find the soup too spicy, it helps to add a dollop of sour cream.

Cranberry, Pomegranate and Ginger Chutney

Since I believe cranberry sauce should be tart to accompany your Thanksgiving dinner with Family and Friends, I have minimized the sugar content. I hope you like this – we did. Because we realized how much was there, we froze half of it; the other half was half eaten by Sunday morning (I ate the final 2 teaspoons as part of my effort to straighten up Mom’s refrigerator before we left for home). That is quite a few cranberries per person. Something interesting happens with this sauce when saved (frozen) for a year – it changes colour from cranberry red to a mixture of cranberry red and pomegranate red. For what it’s worth, the new colour, after a year, is astonishing – kinda fluorescent chartreuse, but not exactly. The flavour is unaffected.

1 pound fresh cranberries (we like Pacific Northwest)
Fresh grated ginger, a half-inch diameter by 2-inch long piece (substitute 1-2 tablespoons of powdered ginger, depending on your taste)
1 cup fresh orange juice
Juice of one fresh lime and one fresh lemon (deseeded)
1/3 to 1/2 cup mesquite honey (depending on sweet-tooth)
2 fresh pomegranates, cut in half and seeds removed to a small bowl

Place the cranberries and ginger into a small pot, adding the juices and honey. Heat very slowly until it turns to a chutney consistency, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Press the pomegranate seeds into a strainer with a wooden spoon to extract as much juice as possible, then mix it thoroughly into the cranberry chutney and simmer for no more than one minute. Set aside in a proper bowl, let cool, cover it, and put in the refrigerator.

Smoked Barbequed Turkey with Ancho-Honey Glaze and Mushroom-Cornbread Stuffing

This one is quite complex, so roll up your sleeves, get ready for a bunch of work for several hours, and know at the end that this will be a huge contribution to a Family feast.

Mushroom-Cornbread Stuffing

About 2-1/2 cups fresh, but day-old cornbread, crumbled
4 tablespoons garlic butter *
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated **
1 fresh portabello mushroom, cleaned and chopped
1 cup white “regular” mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 shallots, minced
6 cloves Italian garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1-1/2 teaspoons each sage and thyme
2 teaspoons celery salt
1 tablespoon hot mustard powder
Pepper to taste

Place the cornbread in a large bowl. To rehydrate the porcini mushrooms, pour almost boiling water over them in a small bowl and let them soak for about 1 hour. Drain them well and chop them a little (1/2-inch pieces).

Add the garlic butter to a hot sauté pan and toss in the chopped portabello mushroom. Sauté on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the button and porcini mushrooms, stirring frequently, until all of them are just turning golden brown. Cool them and add them to the cornbread bowl.

Put olive oil in hot pan, adding first the shallots, then a couple of minutes later, the garlic and almonds. Also add the herbs and spices, including fresh ground pepper, and stir well. After aroma is created, let the mixture cool and add sauté pan contents to cornbread.

After thoroughly mixing the stuffing, give it a taste and adjust the seasonings.

* Note: To make garlic butter, simply place 1/4 cup of butter in a small saucepan and add two minced garlic cloves. Heat it gently until the garlic flavour infuses the butter, about 5 to 12 minutes on lowest heat. You’ll smell it when it’s time.

** Note: I actually used three fresh boletus species [”Blue-Staining Boletus,” or Suillus caerulescens, the botanical name] mushrooms from Mom’s large yard in Port Angeles – they have a rich, earthy flavour close to commercial porcini. Be certain you know what you are doing if you use wild mushrooms, as there are potentially poisonous results ….

Quite a few diners had a healthy taste of the stuffing before it went into the turkey. The comments were universally positive and complementary. It is probably “a good thing” (thanks, Martha).

Smoked Barbequed Turkey

14 to 16 pound turkey, the best you can find

The Glaze

3 to 4 ancho chiles (depending on size)
1-1/2 cups not quite boiling bottled water
1/8 cup mesquite honey
1 tablespoon fresh-ground, toasted cumin seed
Fresh-ground pepper and salt to taste

Remove stems and seeds from chiles. Place into a large enough bowl and pour very hot water over them, ensuring they stay submerged. Soak for 30 to 45 minutes, turning a couple of times until they are completely softened. Place chiles into a blender with just enough soaking water (a few tablespoons) to make a paste. Remove to a bowl and add the other ingredients, combining thoroughly. Set aside.

The Baste

1 cup (or so) butter or margarine
Juice of 2 or 3 fresh lemons, seeds removed
4 Italian garlic cloves, minced (substitute 1 elephant garlic clove)
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika (or ancho powder for a little more spice)
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter with lemon juice, stirring in the garlic, paprika and salt and pepper, until just steaming a little bit. Use a high-quality basting brush to mix the ingredients and to baste the turkey, ensuring you do not have distasteful little hairs on the turkey while it smokes.

The Turkey

Clean the turkey and reserve the gizzard, heart and neck for stock (see below), which will be a very important step in this menu, while you get the large Weber kettle barbeque started. When the stuffing is prepared and your glaze is ready, then you can ask your Sister or Mom to finish the turkey thingie. This entails first evenly spreading the glaze under the turkey skin over the breast and thigh meat, then stuffing the turkey with the cornbread dressing, and finally trussing the turkey and sewing or pinning the cavity closed.

Start soaking 1-1/2 to 2 cups of chunky hickory wood chips in a large enough bowl, covered with very hot water. Using 5 to 7 pounds of briquets or mesquite charcoal, get the fire going right in the center of the kettle. When the coals are going really well, but not necessarily all greyed, spread them evenly to the edges of the kettle. I use Mom’s ash shovel when I am there. Make a drip pan with aluminum foil and nestle it into the centre of the fire. Be quite careful about how you place the drip pan so you will be able to utilize the drippings later for gravy. Be sure to wash your hands well after playing with the charcoal and so forth ….

Just before you place the bird in the barbeque, evenly spread two-thirds of the wet hickory chips over the hot coals. Again, be careful not to stir up ash so your drip pan stays pristine.

The stuffed and trussed turkey should be cooked breast down, but first on one side, then the other in the first hour (in other words, 1/2 hour for each breast). Every time it is turned, it should be basted. I recommend a slightly hotter fire (about 375 to 400° F.) in the first part of cooking. This will seal the juices inside the bird. In the second hour, the bird should be positioned back down, breast up. The remaining cooking time (count on about 15 – 20 minutes per pound), you should slow the fire a fair bit (about 300 to 325° F.) and the bird should be breast up and covered with foil in the last hour or two of cooking to prevent scorching, but be sure to turn it at least once more to get a nice even roast over the entire bird.

In other words, you don’t know for sure how long the turkey will be in the barbeque; therefore, you may need to make adjustments to the baste recipe (you may simply need more), the number of times it’s turned, the temperature of the kettle, the roasting times, and the amount of wood chips. The longer the smoke lasts, the stronger the smoked flavour.

The Stock

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 small Spanish onion, diced
2 cloves Italian garlic, minced
Neck, heart and gizzard from the turkey
3 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the grapeseed oil in a 4-cup saucepan and when it’s hot, add the turkey parts. Brown the neck, heart and gizzard on all sides, then add the garlic and onion stirring all well. After about 5 minutes, reduce the heat to low. When all the turkey is browned well and the onions are transparent, add the water, salt and pepper. Simmer slowly while the turkey cooks.

When you are ready to prepare the gravy, strain this stock.

The Gravy

Drippings from the turkey, defatted
About 1-1/2 cups turkey stock per above instructions
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour, mixed with milk to make a smooth emulsion

If you were careful enough the way you placed your drip pan and if you were careful adding more charcoal or chips (if you needed to), you can make use of the drippings in the barbeque. I carefully dipped out the drippings with a large spoon directly into a new saucepan; when I got back into the kitchen, I skimmed two-thirds of the fat. As an alternative, you can finish the last hour of cooking in your oven with the turkey in a roasting pan so you have good drippings with which to work.

You can either use a fresh pot or the roasting pan to make your gravy. Starting with the drippings, heat the pan to a fairly high heat, adding all but 1 cup of the turkey stock you have made as the drippings heat. Reduce to about half to two-thirds the volume to concentrate the flavours, adding salt and pepper to taste as the gravy is simmering.

Reduce the heat and slowly stir in the emulsion of milk and flour, simmering for just 2 or 3 minutes until the mixture is creamy and smooth. You can also add one tablespoon of butter to make the gravy glisten. Keep it warm as you carve the turkey.

Vegetable Calabacitas

4 ears fresh yellow corn, cleaned of husk and silk
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large, fresh poblano chiles, seeded, stemmed, then sliced
1 medium Spanish onion, quartered and sliced into rings
3 fresh zucchini squash (6 to 7-inch), cleaned and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh ground cumin
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of the turkey stock you made

Place the corn cobs into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the kernels from the cobs after you have drained them and they have cooled. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. When it’s heated, add the onion and chiles. Cook it for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring well periodically, then add the zucchini slices and spices. Sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to incorporate all the spices, then add the stock and reserved corn. After the vegetables begin to simmer, turn off the heat and place it into a serving bowl, and keep it warm until dinner.

Your turkey better be finished, the gravy should be prepared, and you’re ready to serve this meal.

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