Giving Thanks for 75 Degrees

I spent Thanksgiving at my mom’s house in South Florida. My grandparents, who are now 93, relocated to Boca Raton last year. In celebration of their move, the menu featured a Florida theme.

Smoked Marlin Dip with Crackers
Sweet and Spicy Pepitas
Deviled Crab Empanadas with Citrus-Chive Aioli
Crudite and Plaintain Chips with Black Bean Dip

Baked Brie en Croute with Cranberry-Mango Chutney

Mango Mojitos

*  *  *

Butter Lettuce Salad with Mango,

Florida Avocado, Hearts of Palm and a Citrus Vinaigrette

*  *  *

Mojo-Brined Turkey with Gravy

Corn Bread and Mofongo Stuffing

Cranberry-Mango Chutney

Sweet Potato-Plantain Gratin with a Coconut-Rum Glaze

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Grilled Asparagus

Baked Manicotti (courtesy of the Purificatos)

*  *  *

Kabocha Flan

Key Lime Pie

I had intentions of getting photos of the whole meal. But the pressure of producing 20+ different dishes (including the vegan, gluten-free and heart healthy variations not listed above) and a serious burn got the better of me. Suffice it to say that the dishes not pictured were delicious and the mojitos helped ease the pain from my blistering fingers.

We were an even dozen around two tables pushed together. In keeping with the tropical theme, my mom went with colorful napkins and no tablecloth.

Florida Thanksgiving Table

She also came up with a stellar floral arrangement.

Tropical Flowers

The exhaustively researched bird was from BN Ranch. It was compact for its impressive heft.

BN Ranch Turkey

Lacking room in the fridge, I opted to use a cooler to brine the bird.

CoolerMy stepdad devised a rather ingenious strategy for getting a whole lot of potable water into the scrubbed, bleached and rinsed cooler.

Aaron and Surgical TubingHe was also a great help in juicing the citrus that went in the brine along with bay leaves, cumin seed, garlic, cilantro and a whole lot of salt.

Mojo BrineThe bird spent 36 hours in the brine and another 12 hours air drying before it was stuffed with some of the leftover citrus and garlic and rubbed down with butter.

Mojo-Brined Turkey Raw 2It started out in a high heat oven before I dropped the temperature to 375. I basted the turkey periodically and, after a couple of hours, draped it in an olive oil-soaked cheesecloth. (Sadly, I failed to get a shot of the Shroud of Turkin.) It cooked faster than expected. Within four hours, this beauty emerged from the oven.

Mojo-Brined Turkey Cooked

Tony did a bang up job of carving the bird, which was delightfully moist, meaty and redolent of citrus and spice.

Turkey CarcassThe next day, I added the carcass and trimmings to a large pot and let it simmer for a very long time.

Turkey StockThe whole house smelled like turkey. Fortunately, we had plenty of leftovers on hand to satisfy any eau de turkey-induced cravings.


Naturally, the day started with coffee and kabocha flan.

Kabocha Flan, Sliced

I strained the stock into a liquid measuring cup and cooled it so that I could easily skim the fat off the top. Liquid Gold

I then froze the super concentrated stock in a few miniature plastic containers, which I packed in a portable cooler and schlepped back to Brooklyn by way of Miami Beach. Having suffered a nasty bout of food poisoning while in Miami, I gave the stock one more boil back at home before tucking it in my freezer. I see some serious gumbo in my future. In the meantime, I’ll try to get working on a recipe for the Kobocha Flan.

1 thought on “Giving Thanks for 75 Degrees

  1. Pingback: A Recipe for Recovery | the drunken fig

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