Many foodies are breaking the traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Holiday Trend. Even President Obama has been pardoning the turkey and eating fish the last few years. I love fish, but I don’t know about eating it for Thanksgiving. Many have turned to “bird” alternatives like duck, hen, cornish game hens (one for each!) and even quail wrapped in bacon with mushroom risotto. What can go wrong there? You each get your own bird, full of stuffing, and you can choose from dark or white meat – no fighting!
Now, I know this much, the first Thanksgiving Feast by the Pilgrims from Europe to North America with the Native Americans was a gathering of foods from both cultures. Native American Indians showed them how to cook corn and even make popcorn, while the Europeans with their guns brought turkey, wine and whatever else they gathered. I don’t know how many of those Thanksgivings there were where the Native Americans were sitting and eating peacefully with their new European neighbors, but the irony is, how many of our holiday Thanksgivings are amicably spent with family and/or in-laws?
That aside, this is a day of a long year of hunting, gathering, preserving and sharing. My brother had gone fishing out on the most eastern tip of Long Island, and my childhood friend went hunting for wild boar down in the Carolinas. I had stayed in my area for Columbus day and helped press some wine. Well, Hurricane Sandy wiped out power for more than a week, so the fish my brother caught went bad once it defrosted and could not be cooked in time. I guess even the fish that were caught got away. I did manage to cook all the boar, much of it in sauce as ragu in the Mario Batali style according to his recipe, but almost all of it defrosted, and I gave it out to neighbors and friends. It was delicious, and I hope the others enjoyed it in time before it went bad. The wine? Well, the wine was made from the previous year and while I enjoyed it, my dear friend Victor was terminally ill and shortcuts were taken. It was fine for consumption, so I consumed it.
So, this year’s Thanksgiving feast was a bit less “traditional” in terms of food items. Both me and my brother are self employed, and needless to say, money is tight. Normally most people get a free turkey, ham or frozen lasagna from Shop-Rite if you spend $300 in a certain period of time. Well, none of us are spending $300 on food in a 1-month stretch. We are surviving off the fish, boar, tomato sauce we got from a day of hunting/gathering, and not spending it on luxurious food or other items we can do without for now. By luxurious food items I mean things like lobster, steak, lamb chops, perhaps even other items like nuts, chocolate, cake, etc. Here is where we start eating much more pasta, rice and beans.
Especially in this year’s case, it probably cost far more in brining, refrigeration and/or defrosting and cooking of a turkey for only 2 people than its worth. For just 2-3 people and/or servings, a whole turkey does not make sense. So, my brother decided to do some great new recipes, which still could have easily fed 5-6 people in the end.
First up… appetizer of Garlic Shrimp with White Beans, its a Rustic Spaniard Recipe, and here you have the recipe and photo: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Garlic-Shrimp-and-White-Beans-51117810
Next up, Mario Batali’s Grille Beef Braciole Pinwheels, its actually an extravagant departure from the usual Italian peasant pork braciole. You can find the full recipe here, but I will show you a breakdown: http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/Beef-Braciole-Mario-Batali – Get your filet mignon tenderloin, butterfly it and stuff with fontina cheese, chopped garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, salami and/or prosciutto and let it marinate in the fridge.
So then you cut it up between the strings into 2″ pieces. Brush both sides with olive oil to prevent sticking to the grill (which should be heated on high for at least 15 minutes at this point). And you are ready to grill.
Once the are on the grill, watch closely. Its typically for some of the cheese to stick to the grill but use a steel spatula to remove the meat from the grill once its been cooking for at least 7 minutes.
Meanwhile the Brussels sprouts are cooking in the oven. I like them a bit charred to give them more flavor, its a great side dish and can replace the salad since its a healthy green leafy vegetable.
After antipasti of cheeses, bread, olives, salami, crackers and other things, this is more than enough for us, I am full already, and it was then followed by nuts, Italian pastry and yes, its more than enough.
No matter what you cook, be thankful you have food to cook and enjoy it. Turkey, well, its tradition, the pilgrims did not have the wide variety of foods available to them today as we do, and that we can also be thankful for.