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Thanksgiving is only a few days away- so let’s talk TURKEY, and I mean it.

First, be honest with yourself- are you the type who loves the idea of a traditional Thanksgiving, where family members pull out grandma’s or Auntie Zelda’s carefully saved recipes- and creates a meal exactly like last year, the year before that, and even before you were born? If this scenario sounds familiar to you, and you look forward to it every year, we say, enjoy!

This feature though, is for the adventurous- the cook who loves trying new things, experimenting in the kitchen, and savoring the exotic, even if you’re hosting a large number of family members and friends with more conservative expectations. I know- this takes guts- but you can do it!

So check out the following recipes for turkey, chicken, or even duck for those with an extra dose of nerve, some from exotic lands, and others from exotic minds. And remember, whether everybody in your group loves what you make, or hates it- it will be a Thanksgiving your family will never forget, no matter which way it goes.

(Check for A Note About Exotic Ingredients at the bottom, before getting started!)

Turkey with Tandoori FlavorsTurkey with Tandoori Flavors (Indian, Pakistan, Bangla Desh)
Tandoori Cuisine relates to items cooked in a dish cooked Tandoor. Famous Tandoori items are Naan, Tandoori chicken, Kebab, and Tikka. Tandoori cooking has been around for over 5,000 years.

(14- to 16- pound) fresh turkey, washed and patted dry
20 to 25 raw cashew nuts
12 quarter-size slices peeled fresh ginger
10 large fresh garlic cloves, peeled
3 to 5 fresh green chili peppers, such as serrano, stemmed
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, including soft stems
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 1/4 cups nonfat plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
1/3 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoon salt, or to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon ground dried fenugreek leaves
1 tablespoon garam masala (sold in a small packet)
1 tablespoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground mace
3 to 4 cups canned chicken broth, reduced fat, low-sodium preferred
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

(This recipe can be made over the course of 1 and up to 3 days, whichever suits your schedule)

Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey. Making sure the skin does not tear, run your fingers gently between the skin and the flesh of the turkey, starting at the neck cavity and moving towards the breast, tail and drumsticks. The idea is to loosen the skin and create a pocket.

In a food processor, process together the cashews, ginger, garlic, green Chili peppers, cilantro, and mint leaves until minced. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, and salt, and process to make a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the fenugreek leaves, garam masala, paprika, nutmeg, and mace, stirring about 30 seconds, then mix the spices and oil into the bowl with the yogurt mixture.

Remove 1/4 cup of the marinade to a bowl and cover and refrigerate for the gravy. Divide the remaining marinade into 3 portions. Rub one portion under the loosened turkey skin and rub the second portion over the skin and inside the cavity. Reserve the remaining portion in the refrigerator for basting the turkey as it cooks. Fold the wings across the back and tie them together with heavy kitchen string, then tie the ends of the drumsticks together and insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, making sure it does not touch the bone. Cover the turkey securely with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 12 and up to 36 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the turkey, breast side up, in a large roasting pan. Baste once with the reserved marinade and roast, uncovered, basting every 35 to 45 (or one hour) minutes until the turkey is well-browned and a meat thermometer reads 180°F, 4 to 5 hours. (If the skin browns too fast, cover it with a piece of oil-basted muslin or tent loosely with heavy-duty aluminum foil.) Remove from the oven and allow the turkey to stand about 15 minutes before carving.
Tandoori Seasonings
If you like gravy with your turkey, proceed immediately with the following

Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour the pan juices through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl and then, with a spoon, skim off all the extra fat that floats to the top. Put about 2 tablespoons of the fat into a medium nonstick saucepan. 

Add about 1 cup chicken broth to the roasting pan and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat, stirring and scraping any browned bits. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl with the pan juices.

Mix the flour into the reserved turkey fat and cook, stirring, over medium heat until very fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes. Mix in the reserved marinade and cook until it is completely incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the remaining broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the gravy is thick, about 5 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and serve with the turkey.
Roast Turkey With Hoisin Sauce (China, Vietnam).


Roast Turkey with Hoisin SauceRoast Turkey With Hoisin Sauce (China, Vietnam)

A recipe designed to produce a cooked turkey that is moist and delicious - the turkey is covered with a spicy mixture consisting of hoisin sauce, honey, oyster sauce, soy sauce and garlic before roasting. Hoisin sauce lends a sweet and spicy flavor to the marinade in this roast turkey recipe. Do not stuff the turkey.

1 16 pound (about 7.5 kg) turkey


4 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

4 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons salt

6 - 8 garlic cloves, crushed


Mix the marinade ingredients and rub over the turkey. Do not stuff.

Place in the oven with a tray filled with water underneath. Cook at 375 degrees F. for approximately 3-5 hours or according to directions.

Baked Thai Lemon ChickenBaked Thai Lemon Chicken (Thailand, Cambodia)
In this easy baked chicken recipe, both lemon and lemongrass are used to create a delicious garlic infused lemony chicken that literally melts in your mouth. Quarter chicken pieces (leg and thigh) are perfect to use, and make nice individual portions for serving guests. It only takes 12 minutes to prepare, and because it's mild in flavor, everyone loves it! This recipe is for 2-4 people, so multiply ingredients by the number of guests you are expecting!

2 to 4 quarter chicken pieces (leg & thigh), or 6-8 drumsticks (with skin)
pinch of salt

Lemon Marinade:
3 Tbsp. prepared lemongrass (can be purchased frozen at Asian stores) or 1+1/2 stalks fresh lemongrass, prepared
juice of 1 lemon
6 Tbsp. fish sauce (available by the bottle in Asian/Chinese food stores)
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 fresh red chili, minced, or 1/3 to 1/2 Tbsp. dried crushed chili (add more or less to taste)
1/3 cup liquid honey
1 cup coconut milk

optional garnish: lemon slices and fresh coriander

Stir all the 'Lemon Marinade' ingredients together in a bowl. Stir well to dissolve the honey into the coconut milk. Set aside.

Be sure not to remove the fat from the chicken pieces (most of this will seep out and won't be eaten anyway, but what remains will help flavor the chicken and keep it moist). Spread the chicken pieces out in a flat-bottomed baking dish (not piled on top of each other). Pour 3/4 of the lemon marinade over the chicken pieces. Turn the chicken pieces in the sauce several times, ensuring they are well saturated. Reserve remaining sauce for later. Aarinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours ahead of time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Turn the chicken pieces right-side-up and sprinkle each one with a little salt. Add 3-4 Tbsp. water to the bottom of the dish around the chicken, ensuring it won't dry out.

Bake uncovered on the middle rack of your oven for 1 hour. Half-way through baking, drizzle chicken pieces with the remaining marinade. Chicken is done with it turns a beautiful golden-brown.

Garnish with lemon slices and a sprinkling of fresh coriander!

Truffled Tahitian DuckTruffled Tahitian Duck Recipe (Tahiti)
Did you know that truffles are the most expensive food in the world, selling for about $3600 per pound. Fortunately for those who want to try this recipe, truffle oil, though not cheap, costs a whole lot less! So go ahead, it is Thanksgiving after all, and treat yourself!

1 duck (5 pounds), thawed
1 Tahitian vanilla bean
2 Tablespoons black truffle oil
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sea salt, coarse
(1 roast duck serves 6. Multiply number of ducks depending on number of guests)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Combine seeds with truffle oil and vegetable oil. Run vanilla/truffle paste all over duck skin. Season with sea salt and white pepper.

Roast in oven, breast side up, for 1- 1 1/2 hours...or until thermometer placed in leg reads 170 degrees. Baste every half hour. Let rest 15 minutes before carving.

Mix pan juices with sage and flour to make exceptional gravy.

A Note About Exotic Ingredients
In case you do not know where to find some of the ingredients listed above, we suggest you try your local supermarket, which might be better stocked than you think, or find a specialty store or international market in your area that sells hard to find ingredients to an immigrant population, and to gourmands like yourself, or check our good friend the internet and have the ingredients shipped to your door, or use this as an opportunity to learn the fine art of substituting that hard-to-find ingredient with something similar that you already have on hand. / Issue 140 - September 3791
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