Thanksgiving
Alternatives

by Janie Master

Turkey Again?!

It’s that time! Want to think of something different this Thanksgiving?  Roasting a turkey is all very well if you have enough people to finish it.  Turkey leftovers deserve a cookery book to themselves – especially the frozen variety which turn to particle board when heated up!  If, like us, you have had occasion to spend Thanksgiving by yourselves why take on the turkey at all? Vegetarians don’t. What about duck? What about vegetarians?  

Here are a couple of recipes for you. The first is our “Thanksgiving Roast Duck” and the second is our “Wild Vegetarian Thanksgiving” and we serve them both together but the joy is that you can either use the veggie dish alone for your vegan pals or double or triple up on the ducks and use it for 8 – 12 family members or pals instead of the “big turkey bird’!

Thanksgiving Roast Duck

serves four

If you have a frozen duck, take the duck out of its plastic wrap and remove any extra fat by cutting it from around the cavity. Wash it inside and out in cold water and rub it all over with about 1 cup salt including plenty inside the cavity. Immerse it in cold water to just cover it for at least 12 hours. This will make up for its loss of moisture during the freezing process. This is a must for frozen chicken or turkeys too. You will have a much moister bird as a result.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lb duck
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 peeled onion
  • 3 sage leaves or 1 tsp dried leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tbs honey or maple syrup mixed with the juice and zest of an orange
  • optional – 1/4 tsp hot chili powder

Method

Set your oven to 425F. Strain the duck from the brine and pat dry. Chop the celery and onion roughly and mince the garlic. Toss in a bowl with minced sage leaves and season well with salt and black pepper. Stuff inside the cavity of the duck and place on a rack in a roasting pan breast side up. Add 2 cups boiling water to the pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the foil and then, pushing away from you with the back of a large kitchen knife, rub the skin of the duck until you have pushed out a lot of the duck fat into the pan. Remove the duck to a plate and pour off all the fat and juice into a bowl and reserve. Return the duck to the roasting pan and brush all over with honey or maple syrup mix. Bake for another 40 mins, brushing the duck every 10 minutes or so with your honey/orange mix. If the duck is browning too much replace the foil.

Place duck on a warm serving platter and pour any remaining juice from the pan into a saucepan. Scoop out the vegetables from the cavity and add to the saucepan. Boil down to a syrup and add a glass of red wine (or cider mixed with 1 tbs vinegar) and simmer for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, skim off most of the fat from the steaming liquid you kept aside in a bowl and add the stock to the gravy in the saucepan. Cook for 5 mins and adjust seasoning. Sieve into a gravy boat. The duck will be crisp on the outside and fall away from the bone in the center. Deleeeshious!

Calamity Jane Chef

Enjoy these or any of our family wines with your Thanksgiving Dinner

Wild Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Jasmine Rice

serves 6-8

Jasmine rice is available in most well appointed supermarkets or specialty stores. It originated in Thailand and does, indeed, smell of jasmine flowers when cooked. It is one of the easiest rice products to cook and is well worth finding for special occasions.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
  • 2 1/4 cups water

Method

Modern cleaning and packaging methods have meant that no pre-washing is necessary with jasmine rice. It is better that way. Just pour the water over the rice in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring it to a boil. Cover very tightly (I put a sheet of aluminum or greaseproof paper under the lid and press it down firmly) and simmer at lowest heat for 25 mins without stirring or uncovering. Do not add any salt as you will be seasoning the rice later. Leave to cool in the pot.

Stuffing and Wrapping the Rice in Pastry

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit – currants, cranberries, chopped apricots and apples
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped nuts – cashews, pecans or roasted peanuts are best
  • 4-6 chopped scallions
  • grated zest of a lime
  • 2 sticks finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup green beans chopped into small circles crosswise
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbs sesame oil or peanut oil
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry

Method

Defrost pastry to room temperature and place sheets on floured board. Roll out longwise to half again its length with quick even strokes. Place onto lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush all over with water or milk. Mix all above ingredients with cooked jasmine rice in a bowl with a fork and season with salt to taste. Make sure the oil is well incorporated so that your rice does not stick together. Mound along center of pastry leaving 2 inches clean at each end. Roll out second sheet exactly the same as above and place over the top pressing edges together tightly all round rice filling. Turn up edge of pastry and score with tines of a fork to seal. Brush with milk or beaten egg and milk. You can refrigerate log here for hours.

To serve – place in oven 425F for 30-40 mins until puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately and slice crosswise.

Wild Mushroom and Sweet Potato Hot-pot

Ingredients

  • 3 yams or sweet potatoes
  • 4 tbs butter or olive oil
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 tbs brown sugar or honey
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp ground ginger powder
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch allspice
  • 12 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup sherry, Madeira or apple juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 lb mixed wild mushrooms (porcini, shitake, sliced portabella, chanterelles or morelles)
  • 1 minced clove garlic
  • 1 red potato unpeeled but cleaned

Method

Peel and chop yams into bite-sized pieces and boil in salted water for 5-8 mins until tender but still firm. Place sherry (or other liquid) and raisins into small saucepan and simmer until plumped up (about 10 mins). Slice potato into thin rounds and boil 3 mins in salted water – drain and brush with butter or oil and set aside. Melt 1 tbs butter or oil in sauté pan and add onion and cook until golden brown. Add garlic and cook 2 mins more. Add cleaned and coarsely chopped mushrooms and season with salt and black pepper (If you’re using dried mushrooms soak them overnight in water, drain and then sauté them). Saute for 5 mins. Meanwhile toss yam chunks in a little butter or oil and sprinkle with sugar or honey. Spread on baking sheet and place under broiler until caramelized and brown. Pile yams into ovenproof crock or dish and mix in mushrooms, raisins, ginger and spices. Pour over lemon juice and sprinkle with salt to taste. Place potato slices overlapping on the top and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve: Brush potatoes with melted butter or oil and place in oven 425F for 20 mins until potatoes are golden brown. I put them beside the pastry log about 15 mins after it has begun to bake so that they both are ready at the same time.

If you want a sauce to go with these festive veggie dishes I suggest you puree up a pineapple cut into chunks in your food processor.  When it is well blended add 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons cilantro, 1/2 peeled and seeded jalapeno pepper or a pinch chili powder. Warm in small saucepan.  The spicy acidity of the sauce complements the woody taste of the wild mushrooms and the sweetness of the yams and rice log.

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