The best Thanksgiving appetizers are ones that are light, more about flavor than satisfying hunger.
Cheese, olives, vegetable crudite and pickles are an easy way to anticipate the meal while everyone is getting settled and beverages are being served.
Years ago I discovered turkey liver pate when I was stumped by what to do with that very large turkey liver inside the turkey. Ever since, I have happily served the pate as an appetizer with crackers or thin slices of fresh Italian bread.
This year, having bought beets to make a Thanksgiving beet salad, the beet greens were a healthy substitute for Italian parsley. The sweetness of the greens are a perfect compliment to the richness of the liver.
The other part of Thanksgiving that is important to me is the turkey stock that I start making while dinner is still in progress.
Everyone has their favorite after Thanksgiving left-over sandwich. For me, nothing is better than the turkey stew with dumplings made with the thick stock prepared from the Thanksgiving turkey.
Many people throw out the turkey carcass because it looks gross. But this ugly duckling (excuse the shifting metaphor) turns into a beautiful swan of a soup.
Before Thanksgiving dinner begins, the stock pot is on the stove, even as the turkey is finishing roasting in the oven. After the turkey is carved, instead of leaving the unsightly mess of bones on the cutting board, all of it goes into the stock pot, even the little bits of stuffing.
By the time the last guest says goodbye, the stock is ready to be strained, the bones picked clean of meat for soup. Refrigerated and then frozen, the stock continues the pleasures of Thanksgiving into winter.
Turkey Liver Pate
1 turkey liver, washed, cut into quarter sized pieces
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, washed, stem trimmed, thin sliced
1 piece of bacon, finely chopped
2 eggs, hard boiled, peeled, quartered
4 cups beet greens, stems and leaves washed to remove the grit, finely chopped OR 1 cup Italian parsley, washed, leaves and stems finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, ends trimmed, papers removed, finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
Saute together the garlic, onions and beet greens or Italian parsley with 1 tablespoon olive oil until lightly browned. Push the caramelized vegetables to one side of the pan. Add another tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Sauté the liver pieces until lightly browned. Do not overcook the liver. I only needs to be seared.
Use a rubber spatula to move the liver and sautéed vegetables into a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons and season with cayenne (optional), sea salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust with more salt and pepper and olive oil.
Refrigerate in a covered container. Before serving, allow the pate to come to room temperature. Serve with crackers, thin slices of bread or lightly toasted bread.
Bones and carcass of turkey
Place all the bones and the carcass of the turkey into a large stock pot. Cover with water and lightly cover.
Simmer 1 hour. Strain the bones. Place the stock into covered containers and refrigerate. The stock will keep in the refrigerator for several days and can be frozen for several months.
Inspired by California-Mediterranean cuisines and farmers markets, I cook healthy, flavorful dishes that are easy-to-prepare yet elegant. I write for Zester Daily, One for the Table, Luxury Travel Magazine, Huffington Post & New York Daily News. My latest Amazon eCookbook is 10 Delicious Holiday Recipes. My handcrafted chocolates are available at www.dchocolates.com. "Subscribe via email" and you'll get an email whenever I post a new recipe.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
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