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November/December 2012

Now that Halloween is behind us, we move on to Thanksgiving and Christmas. My family is already planning the menus for the holiday dinners.

This Thanksgiving, the Bienvenu/Landry group (about 40 of us) is heading to the Atchafalaya Basin for a day at “the camp.” Since we have to get to the camp by boat, the teenagers are working out a ferry schedule. Two boats will carry the food. And from what I can understand, downed tree limbs (compliments of Hurricane Isaac) have been chopped up for a huge bonfire.

The menu, well I’m already stuffed just reading what’s going to be cooking on butane burners, grills, barbecue pits and on stove tops.

Here is the menu so far:

First, we have to have appetizers to munch while we sip on a couple of brews or Old Fashions. I’m contributing Natchitoches meat pies as well as several dozen of Cajungrocer’s stuffed breads. Someone is bringing the great Mexican cheesecake and I’m sure there will be lots of assorted chips and dips for the kiddies.

The main meal will consist of three fried turkeys, four turduckens, 4 gallons wild duck and sausage gumbo, a huge stuffed pork roast (Mama’s recipe), rice dressing, candied yams, corn pudding, the ever-present green bean casserole, cornbread and French bread.

Desserts will include too many pies to list here and lots of homemade cookies.



NATCHITOCHES MEAT PIES


Makes 18 to 20 meat pies

  • 1 teaspoon solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • ½ pound lean ground pork
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • Dough:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk

Heat the shortening in a heavy pot, preferably black iron over medium heat. Add the beef and pork, and cook, stirring, until all pink has disappeared, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the green onions, garlic, celery, and bell peppers and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Season with the salt, cayenne and black pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour, mixing well. Remove from the heat and cool. Make the dough by sifting the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening and incorporate into the mixture. In a small bowl, beat the egg and the milk together. Work the egg-milk mixture gradually into the dry ingredients until a thick dough is formed.
Divide the dough into 18 to 20 equal portions. On a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough pieces into thin rounds. Using a saucer as a guide, trim the dough to make even rounds. Place a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture slightly off center of the round dough. Fold to make the edges meet and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork.
Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.



MEXICAN CHEESECAKE


Makes 16 servings

  • 1/4 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cottage cheese
  • 24 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 small can green chilies
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 8 ounces jalapeno cheddar cheese dip
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Sliced black olives
  • Chopped green onions

Combine the chips and butter and press into the bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Process the cottage cheese, cream cheese, eggs (added one at a time), cheddar cheese and green chilies. Pour into the springform pan and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees. Remove from the oven. Mix together the sour cream and cheese dip, and spread over the cheesecake. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Before serving, sprinkle the top with the tomatoes, black olives and green onions.

POOR AL’S FRIED TURKEY


*You’ll need a butane burner and a large, deep pot (both available on Cajungrocer’s website)

Each turkey will serve about 10 to 12

  • 2 fresh turkeys, each about 10 to 12 pounds
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ cup chopped peppers (you choice of green bell peppers, fresh jalapenos or mild bananas, or a combination of all three)
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ¼ cup cayenne
  • About 10 gallons peanut oil

Clean the turkeys and rinse them with cool water. Leave the skin flap at the neck intact.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the onion, whole garlic, peppers, and half each of the salt and cayenne.
With a sharp boning knife, make slits in the breast and upper thighs of the turkeys and stuff this mixture into the slits with your fingers. (You may want to use plastic gloves for this.) Pack it in well. Season the outside of the turkey with the remaining salt and cayenne, rubbing well. Place the turkeys in large plastic bags and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.
Remove the turkeys from the refrigerator and set them aside for about 30 minutes. Pour enough of the oil to fill the pot about three-fourths full. Turn on the heat. The oil should be 350? to 360?F. Grab the turkey by the neck flap and gently and carefully submerge it into the hot oil. Be careful as the hot grease may overflow and splatter. Cover the pot. Turn the turkey every 10 minutes, using the long-handled forks. It will take 45 minutes to 1 hour to cook each turkey. When the legs begin to spread open and the internal temperature reaches 170? to 180?F on an instant-read meat thermometer the turkey is done.
Carefully lift the basket out of the hot oil. You can insert a broomstick through the handles and have two strong people lift the basket out of the pot. Using the long-handled fork, transfer the turkey to a large brown paper bag and let stand for about 15 minutes before removing to carve.
Repeat the process for the second turkey.



MAMA’S STUFFED PORK ROAST


Makes 12 to 14 servings

  • One 10 to 12 pound fresh ham shank
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 cups water

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Set the roast on a large cutting board or platter. Combine the onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, cayenne and black pepper in a small bowl and mix well.
With a sharp boning knife, make several deep slits in the roast spaced several inches apart. Using your index finger, stuff the seasoning mixture into the slits, packing it in firmly. Season the outside of the roast generously with more salt and cayenne pepper. Rub the roast lightly with vegetable oil.
Place the roast in a heavy roasting pan and put it in the oven. When the bottom of the pan begins to sizzle, carefully add the water. Bake the roast until it browns evenly, 30 to 45 minutes.
More water can be added if the pan becomes too dry. This will mix with the roast drippings and make a dark gravy that can be used now for basting the roast, then later to pour over steamed rice.
When the roast is well browned, reduce the heat to 350 degrees, cover, and cook until the juices run clear and the roast is tender, 3 to 4 hours.
Remove from oven and cool slightly before carving.



TURKEY LEFTOVER IDEAS

I usually keep the carcasses left from the fried turkeys to make a broth with which to make what we call a turkey bone gumbo. Use the broth in place of water or stock that you normally use.
BUT, last year I saved the leftover bits and pieces of the turduckerns and use them for a fabulously rich gumbo! Also, these bits and pieces make a rocking poorboy!



NO WASTE, right?!!!


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