Thanksgiving Paella & Cranberry Granita

26 Nov

While most folks use their cold turkey and fixings for retro favorites like turkey Divan, turkey loaf, hash, chowder, or a beloved Kentucky Hot Brown (a hot open-face turkey sandwich smothered with cheese sauce), I opt for more exotic tastes that evoke another time and place, as in my turkey paella! Or if truth be told, sometimes I make an entire Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday, which I will be doing this year. Paella later in the week.

The depth of flavor in the (almost) traditional version comes from turkey stock, simply made from a picked-over carcass with bay leaves and garlic or you can use broth from a can. Paella, which originated in the Valencia region of Spain, has as its basic ingredients, rice, saffron and olive oil. The rice is cooked in stock then the add-ons are cooked in the rice. Here, they include red pepper, sausage, smoked chorizo, peas — and Thanksgiving turkey! Paella is generally served in a paellera, a broad, round shallow pan with handles, from which it gets its name. I make mine in a big casserole on top of the stove and then spoon it into a heated paellera for effect.

More leftovers? Leftover vegetables get marinated in a spunky vinaigrette. You will need about 3 pounds of cooked/steamed vegetables to which sweet grape tomatoes are added. If making vegetables from scratch because your Thanksgiving guests ate them all, simply steam a mélange of tiny Brussels sprouts, string beans, thick oval slices of carrots and small broccoli or cauliflower florets.

But the crown jewel on the table set with leftovers is my cranberry granita — made from a jellied block of cranberry sauce. Refreshing with its citrusy flavors, it is especially dramatic strewn with fresh raspberries or shimmering pomegranate seeds.

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving.

Marinated Vegetables

If using leftover vegetables, you will need about 3 pounds of cooked/steamed vegetables to which halved grape tomatoes are added.

3 pounds cooked or steamed vegetables (Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, stringbeans)
1 pound grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3/4 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 cloves garlic, pushed through a garlic press
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

If using cold leftover vegetables, put them in a large strainer and place the strainer in a large pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and pat dry. If using fresh vegetables, boil or steam them until tender. Drain under cold water and pat dry.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Toss with vegetables. Add salt and pepper. Cover and marinate at least 6 hours or overnight. Let come to room temperature. Adjust seasonings. Serves 6 or more

Cranberry Granita

2 oranges
2 large lemons
3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
16 ounces jellied cranberry sauce

Grate rind of oranges to get 1 heaping teaspoon zest. Cut oranges in half and squeeze to get ½ cup juice. Grate rind of lemons to get 1 heaping teaspoon zest. Cut lemons in half and squeeze to get ½ cup juice. Put juices and zest in a medium saucepan with sugar, water and vanilla. Cut jellied cranberry sauce into large pieces and put in saucepan.

Bring to a boil, whisking constantly with a wire whisk. Lower heat to medium and continue to cook, about 5 minutes, until cranberry sauce has completely melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and cool.

Transfer mixture to a large shallow metal pan or two metal pie tins. Carefully place in freezer. Stir mixture with a fork, every 30 minutes, breaking up ice crystals. Freeze for 3 hours. Using a spoon, scrape mixture into chilled wine glasses. Serve immediately. Serves 6 or more

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