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Caribbean Cooking: A Simple Stress Free Christmas Dinner

The greatest holiday memories should include a special Christmas dinner, preferably one that is easy to prepare and tastes delicious. The turkey—no stuffing, no fuss!

BASIC ROAST TURKEY

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours
Resting time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6 – 8 plus leftovers

One 12 to 14-pound turkey, giblets removed
6 fresh sage sprigs
6 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 carrots, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 medium yellow onions, cut into wedges
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted, or olive oil
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
Garnish: Edible tropical flower, pineapple, mango, banana slices or fruits of your choice
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat oven to 425 F.

Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat it dry. Fill main cavity with herb sprig. Place the wings underneath the body. If desired, tie the drumsticks loosely together using kitchen string.

Place the carrots, celery, and onions in a large roasting pan. Transfer the turkey to a wire rack and place it on top of the vegetables. Rub turkey all over with butter or oil, season with the salt and pepper. Roast the turkey, uncovered, until browned, 30 to 45 minutes.

Add 1 cup cold water to pan. Cover the turkey loosely with foil. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Roast until a thermometer inserted in a thigh registers 180 F, about 2 hours total.

Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Garnish with edible tropical flower, native spices, tropical fruits – pineapple wedge, mango slices, etc. Place the bunch of parsley leaves at the legs. If making gravy, reserve the juices in the roasting pan.

Tip: To stuff or not to stuff – that is the question? The safest place to bake stuffing is in a separate dish.

SAM CHAMPION’S DRESSING – GOOD MORNING AMERICA

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 65 minutes
Serves:  8

1 stick of butter
2 cups of yellow onion, diced
2 cups of celery, diced
½ cup of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup of fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
7 cups of cubed corn bread (bought or homemade)
5 cups of cubed white bread
1 to 1½ cups of chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and celery and cook until vegetables are soft but not browned. This should take about 20 minutes. Add herbs, salt, and pepper. Stir and continue to cook for one minute. Let cool. In a large bowl, combine the cubed white bread, corn bread, and the vegetable mixture. Toss together gently with a rubber spatula. Add chicken stock while slowly continuing to toss.  Place in a 9-by-13 inch oven-proof casserole dish. Bake for 35 minutes to 45 minutes until heated through and golden brown

ROASTED ASPARAGUS

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 6 – 8

2 lbs. fresh asparagus
Olive Oil
Mediterranean Spiced Sea Salt (McCormicks)

Preheat 350 degrees F. Break ends off asparagus and place in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with olive oil and spices, roast in oven for 15 minutes or till tender.

SUPER RED CABBAGE

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

4 Tblsp. Butter
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 small red cabbage, thinly shredded
2 apples, peeled and diced
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup freshly grated ginger
2 Tblsp. Red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
1 Tblsp. Brown sugar

In a large saucepan, melt butter and cook onion until translucent. Add cabbage, apples, raisins, ginger, vinegar, wine, and sugar. Cook over low heat until most of the liquid has reduced and cabbage is glosy.

Hint: Maybe made ahead and reheated.

WILD NUTTED RICE

Preparation time:  10 minutes                        
Cooking time:  45 minutes                          
Serves:  6

1-1/2 cups uncooked wild rice
1 cup orange juice
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup pecan pieces
2 Tbsp. orange rind, grated
2 tsp. olive oil

In a saucepan bring first 5 ingredients to a hard boil.  Reduce heat, cover tightly and simmer for 45 minutes.  Drain, add remaining ingredients.  Serve at room temperature.

GRAND MARNIER CUSTARD SQUARES

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 6 – 8

Bottom layer:
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine ingredients with mixer and press into bottom of 8 inch square pan. Bake 20 minutes.

Top Layer:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
3 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 Tblsp Grand Marnier
1-1/2 Tblsp orange juice
1 tsp orange extract

Blend all ingredients. Pour on hot crust. Return to oven and bake 20 additional minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Hint:  “The reason I use an 8 inch square pan instead of a springform pan for this dessert and for cheese cakes is that I can cut from corner to corner (X), side to side (+) and make 8 uniform wedges,” says Julie from Yacht Antares.

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