Thanksgiving Foods - The SamuraiMarine way.
Holiday cooking at the home of the SamuraiMarine
Allow me to take you on a tour of the flavors in our household during the Thanksgiving Holiday.
I am a believer in sharing recipes, and with a very small exception, I have always, willingly and freely shared my kitchen creations with people; both those I know as well as those I do not. I think that there is nothing that can truly bring people of difference cultures, backgrounds and ethnicity together better than the discussion and consumption of food and sharing time, company and conversation in the kitchen.
All that being said, I would like to share some of my personal holiday favorites here.
Image Credit goes to http://www.freedigitalphotos.net
As a kid, I never liked the cranberry sauce that I would have at home (no offense to my Mother or Grandparents). It seems to me that I think there was always some unwritten law that it was supposed to be so bitter that it would almost pop your eyes out and give you a permanent lip pucker from the tartness.
When I got older, I decided to start trying my own twist on it. Something with flavor, but would not overpower the other foods. Keeping enough of the tartness, but not overwhelmingly so. Something that, in the end, would give you that perfect balance of zing from the cranberries and sweet from the sugar.
The result was a product that pleased everyone that tasted it and now has me making upward of 70 jars some years to hand out among friends and family.
- 2 - Pound Bag of fresh cranberries (washed)
- 1 - Cup water
- 2 - Cups sugar
- 1 - Cup fresh orange juice (with pulp)
- 1 - Cup Bourbon
- Before getting started, make sure that you have everything ready to go. Because you are dealing with high temperatures, you do not want to have to travel too far once you are cooking. You will need all your stuff within arms reach. Wooden spoon, hand-blender, cranberries, sugar, etc... everything.
- Bring water to a rolling boil and add sugar.
- Keep temperature on high and stir the sugar water regularly. Do not let it sit. Keep stirring until the temperature of the sugar/water mix just starts to boil. Now add the cranberries and stir them in so that the sugar/water mixture covers all the cranberries and then cover.
- You will start to hear the popping of the cranberries, and it is OK to stir from time to time now, but do not change the temperature until you start to see the pinkish foam coming from the bottom. At this point, turn the temp down to about half.
- Bring out the hand-blender and start working it on the cranberries. This may take a while, usually takes me about twenty minutes, but go through and make sure to get all the big stuff broken up.
- Once the mixture is a nice thick slurry, you can bring the temperature back up again JUST to where it starts bubbling.
- When is starts bubbling, whip out your hand blender again and using the low setting, begin mixing. Now add your orange juice. Keep mixing and after a couple minutes add the bourbon.
- Let the mixture bubble for about five minutes and then turn off the heat.
- Separate the mixture into mason jars (size depends on how much you want at each setting) and then cap them.
- Addendum - If you like to change things up a bit, You can also add about half a Habanero to the mix at the same time you add the bourbon. This gives a little more kick.
Nothing better at the dining room table than continuously hot and ready gravy.
My personal Thanksgiving Day night cap
I made this by accident one year, and after some refinement, it has become something that makes the perfect end to a day of over-indulgence.
- 2 - Cups of water
- 2 - Cups Unfiltered Apple Cider (Hard Cider if you are Brave)
- 1/4 - Cup of Bourbon or Irish Whiskey
- 2 - Whole Cloves
- 3 - Large leaves of FRESH Mint (do not use dried.)
- Honey to taste
- Heat the water to Almost boiling (do not let it boil.)
- Add the Apple Cider and let the temperature get back up.
- Crush the clove until it is as powdery as possible and put it in the mix. Let sit for about five minutes.
- Now crush the mint leaves in a spoon that you will use to stir the mix. Crush them like you are making a Mojito. Once crushed, use that spoon to stir in the bourbon or whiskey. Again, making sure not to let the mixture boil.
- Serve in small tea or coffee cups. Preferably in front of a fireplace, with your dog at your feet and be ready to doze off.
Items on Amazon that I thought would be great for this.
I have this and cannot brag about it enough. It will be, if taken care of, the last mixer you will ever buy!
Tender T-Day Turkey - (Also good for other days as well)
I have always felt that with food, the slower the cooking process, the better the end result, so I eventually followed the same rule with my Turkey.
Next to deep-frying, this is my favorite way to prepare turkey for ANY occasion.
All you need is a good sized cooker, the ingredients that that I list and patience.
- 2 - Cups Chicken Broth
- 1 - Cup Bourbon
- 1 - Tbsp Salt (Sea Salt is the best)
- 1 - Cup Apple Juice
- 1 - Tsb fresh gound pepper
- 1 - Tbsp fresh crushed garlic
- 1 - Tsb Cumin
- Giblets from the turkey(s).
- Have a 24 quart cooker ready for use. Cleaned and put just enough vegetable oil in the bottom to coat it. That will help with cleanup later.
- Place your Bird, or birds, in with their backs UP. This allows the breasts and other white meat to cook in the juices and makes for MUCH moister meat.
- Mix the ingredients together in a sauce pan until it just starts to boil.
- Separate the heart and gizzard from the giblets and chop them finely.
- As soon as it starts to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and put your giblets in. NOTE: You can use the neck if you like, but being that there are many small bones, I suggest you only do this if you are very careful. Nothing can ruin a holiday quicker than a trip to the ER.
- After they have simmered for about 45 minutes to an hour, stir them again and pour them into the cooker with your bird or birds.
- Turn the cooker on to about 200 degrees and walk away.
- You should only need to baste it about once every few hours, if that. But try not to take the cover off at all except for those times.
- About one hour before serving, turn the temp up to 400. This will allow the bird to brown better without overcooking.
- When removing from cooker, be careful... this bird WILL fall apart.
- Use the liquid in the cooker to make your gravy.
Dairy-Free Turkey Gravy
When my wife and I went Kosher in our eating habits, the first Thanksgiving was the hardest. Since I was the one doing the cooking, I had to spend a few days experimenting with different non-dairy creamers and soy products, and just was not getting the effect.
Then someone in my temple pointed out Mimi Creme. And that was the key. It worked perfectly for the gravy and I have to say that the gravy was better, as a whole, than when I made it with cream or milk.
Prep Time: Just minutes
Total Time: Minutes.
Serves: Varies on the amount of "drippings" from the Turkey
- 1/4 - Cup white (or unbleached white wheat flour)
- 1 - Cup Mimi Creme Almond Milk (unsweetened)
- 4 to 5 - Cups Turkey Drippings (try to get as much of the solids as you can.
- 1/4 - Cup Pecans
- For this have your Hand Blender ready and a deep frying pan.
- In a mixing cup, mix the Mimi Creme and flour very well, until the lumps are out.
- Pour your Drippings into the pan and heat it up. Put the heat up to about three-quarters full.
- Let the Drippings begin to boil.
- Begin mixing the soon-to-be gravy with a fork or wire whisk.
- Begin SLOWLY adding in the Mimi Creme/Flour mixture, a little at a time, and continue to mix with the whisk.
- Continue to do this until it starts thickening. Every now and then put a couple drops on a plate and tilt it to see how it flows.
- This part is a observation call... but once it gets to a nice consistancy where it will slowly flow and not turn into paste... that is when you stop and turn off the heat.
- At this point I suggest you move it to another burner on the stove and set it to just below simmer. If you have one, pour it into a heated gravy boat.
Cannot make fast work of turkey or chicken carving without one of these. Even had good success with cutting through the bone, when needed.
Feeling the Holiday Spirit
Of the Holidays, I think Thanksgiving has to be my favorite, with Halloween following a close second.
Being a Jew, Thanksgiving represented a holiday that I could share with others and participate in, whereas Christmas never had that feel for me. T-Day was a time when we I could enjoy food, be with friends, talk about life and have a good time for a while and not worry about what was going on in the world.
Any more, though, T-Day is about the food, family and the pleasure of being together.
Why just get the hand blender when you can get the whole kit!