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Caribbean Cooking: Thanksgiving on the Water

Every day we have a reason to be thankful. But at Thanksgiving time, November 23 for those on the American islands, we have a special reason to get together with family and friends and celebrate the occasion with a delicious meal.

Turkeys are traditional and take a long time to cook, especially if they are stuffed. Instead of stuffing your turkey, make a stove top stuffing and put a mixture of vegetables and herbs in the cavity for flavor. Coat the turkey with butter or oil, use an oil-soaked cheesecloth, or lay slices of bacon over it. When turkey is cooked, cool it for about 20 minutes before carving and serving.  The juices will be absorbed, the meat moister and the carving easier. Should you decide not to be so traditional this year, cook Cornish Game Hens.

MENU
• FRENCH ONION SOUP
• TURKEY or GAME HENS WITH WILD RICE STUFFING
• WILD MUSHROOM-GARLIC GRAVY
• PERFECT MASHED POTATOES
• BROCCOLI WITH ORANGE SAUCE
• MANGO DELIGHT

FRENCH ONION SOUP

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: Six

1/2 stick (4 Tblsp.) butter
3 large onions, sliced thinly
2 cans beef broth + 2 cans water
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1 Tblsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tblsp. Kitchen Bouquet
Garnish:
French bread
Olive oil
Freshly grated Gruyere cheese
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, melt butter, add onions, and sauté until soft. Add beef broth plus two cans water and all other ingredients. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, cut slices of French bread into 1/2 inch pieces and toast them at 350 degrees in the oven for about 15 minutes–until they are dry crusts.

When you’re ready to serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls and cover each with a thick handful of Gruyere cheese. Top each with a piece of the toasted bread, which has been drizzled with olive oil. Sprinkle it with the Parmesan, then run them under a broiler for a few minutes. Serve hot.

Hint: Short on time? Use salad croutons instead of the toasted French bread.

GAME HENS WITH WILD RICE STUFFING

Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves: Six

6 Cornish Game Hens
1 (6 oz.) box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup minced onion
1 (2-3/4 oz.) can paté de foie with truffles
1/4 cup cognac
2 Tblsp. Finely-chopped parsley
1 egg yolk
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Oregano

Preheat oven to 400ºF after preparing rice according to instructions on box, but using only 2 cups water. In a large skillet melt butter and sauté onions until transparent. Add cooked rice and the paté and stir until paté is dissolved. Add cognac and stir. Remove from heat and add parsley, egg, yolk, salt and pepper. Stuff each hen and rub outside of hens with a little olive oil and oregano. Roast in oven, basting occasionally. Check for doneness on legs.

WILD MUSHROOM-GARLIC GRAVY

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Makes about 5 cups

1 onion, finely-chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 lb mixed wild mushrooms
1/3 cup olive oil
Pan juices from game hens or chicken stock
1/4 cup flour
2 cups hot tea
1 Tblsp fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried
1 Tblsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
1 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper
1 cup red wine

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add mushrooms, cook over medium heat for about five minutes, set aside. Pour turkey pan juices into a measuring cup. Chill quickly to let fat rise to the top, remove fat. Add enough turkey or chicken stock to make 2 cups. Place roasting pan on top of stove and heat. Sprinkle in flour. Pour in the tea a little at a time, mixing well with each addition. Smooth out brown bits and stir constantly as you bring mixture to a boil.  Add rosemary, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour in wine and add onion, garlic, mushroom mixture. Keep stirring. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Pour into a gravy boat.

PERFECT MASHED POTATOES

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: Four to six

2 lbs Yukon gold, russet or long white potatoes
1 Tblsp salt
1 cup milk or cream
4 Tblsp butter
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Peel and cut potatoes into 1-1/2-inch-thick slices. Place in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water; add salt. Bring to a simmer and keep potatoes at a simmer until tender. Drain potatoes in a colander. Place milk or cream in another saucepan over medium-high heat.

Mash potatoes with a masher, add butter and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth, Drizzle in hot milk, whisking continuously. Add pepper, nutmeg, and salt to taste; whisk to combine. Serve immediately.

If using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, transfer hot, drained potatoes to bowl of the electric mixer. Mix on medium-low speed, until most lumps have disappeared, about a minute or so. Add butter; mix until blended. On low speed, add hot milk in a slow stream, then pepper, nutmeg, and salt to taste. Mix to combine. Serve hot.

Hint: For thicker mashed potatoes, use three-fourths cup milk or cream; for richer potatoes, add two more tablespoons of butter.

BROCCOLI WITH ORANGE SAUCE

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: Four

1 lb fresh broccoli
2 Tblsp butter
1 clove garlic
1 Tblsp cornstarch
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp freshly-grated orange peel
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp lemon pepper
1 Tblsp finely-chopped parsley
Garnish: chopped unsalted almonds or cashews

Steam broccoli while making orange sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan, add garlic, cover and cook over medium heat for one minute. Stir in cornstarch and slowly add orange juice, orange peel, thyme, mustard and lemon pepper, stirring constantly for two to three  minutes. Add parsley and cook another one to two minutes until sauce boils and thickens. Pour over broccoli and serve. Garnish. The sauce may be made ahead of time, then quickly reheated before serving.

MANGO DELIGHT

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: One hour
Serves: Six

6 mangoes
2 cups plain yogurt
1 cup sugar
Garnish: cinnamon

Peel mango and slice. Purée in a blender. Add yogurt and sugar; mix well. Pour into decorative glasses and chill. Sprinkle with cinnamon before serving.

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