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Cajun Roast Turkey And Dark Gumbo

Cookbook author David Rosengarten is our Chef on a Shoestring with Thanksgiving recipes from his new cookbook, "David Rosengarten Entertains: Fabulous Parties for Food Lovers."

He believes that a great party doesn't involve just good food, but in creating the perfect party mood.

He has choosen a wonderful holiday menu on our entertaining budget of $80 for eight people.

The menu has a New Orleans Zydeco theme: Cajun Bloody Mary; Dark Gumbo, Country Style; Cajun Roasted Turkey; and Vanilla Ice Cream with Pralines.

Cajun Bloody Mary with Pickled Vegetables

Makes at least 3 dozen 4-ounce Bloody Marys
4 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes in thick tomato puree, chilled
6 cups tomato juice, chilled
2 tablespoons celery salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 cups chilled vodka
Kosher salt
Pickled vegetable garnishes

1. Working in batches, puree the canned tomatoes and their thick puree in a food processor until smooth. You should have a rich liquid with no lumps.

2. Combine the puree with the tomato juice in a large bowl, blending well.

3. Add the celery salt, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne, Tabasco, and vodka. Season with salt; you may need more than you expect to bring up the flavor of the mix (canned tomatoes have less salt than tomato juice). Keep the mixture cold.

4. For each serving, fill an 8-ounce tumbler with ice cubes. Pour about 4 ounces of the Bloody Mary mixture over the ice, which should almost fill the glass. Garnish with pickled vegetables, at least three pieces per drink.

Vegetable Garnishes
Arrange at least four or five different kinds of pickled vegetables on four or five dishes. Generally speaking, "long" vegetables work best as stirrers. But "short" vegetables can work too, as long as you thread several of each on a toothpick or 6-inch bamboo skewer. Here are a few specific ideas:

Pickled Okra. This, of course, is the perfect garnish for a Cajun Bloody Mary. Strive to find it! Luckily, a company called Talk 0' Texas makes pickled okra in two varieties (I prefer the "hot"), and distributes the product to supermarkets across the country.

Pickled String Beans. This is another pickled vegetable you often see in Louisiana Bloodies. A Washington State company called Hogue Farms makes a pickled string bean that is widely distributed.

Pickled Asparagus Spears. Hogue Farms makes this as well.

Pepperoncini. Also called "Tuscan peppers," and available in most supermarkets across the U.S.

Pickled Cocktail Onions. Available everywhere. I like to thread three of them on a fancy toothpick, then assemble dozens of these picks on a plate.

Pimiento-Stuffed Olives. Choose smaller olives, and arrange on toothpicks like the cocktail onions.

Dark Gumbo Country Style, with Spare Ribs and Andouille
Up North, the word "gumbo" usually conjures visions of a tomato-ey soup, reddish, and rife with chunky things like okra. You can find this kind of gumbo in Louisiana, but the amazing thing about the gumbo there is its variety. Gumbos can have different colors, different textures, and different ingredients.

This is one of my very favorite types: a dark-brown, medium-rich one, with chunks of meat but no okra. What makes it so special? This is one of those amazing Louisiana dishes you hear about that involves the darkening of the roux - for at least an hour - until it's the color of mahogany. This adds not only color but incredible flavor to the gumbo: nutty, toasty, almost coffeelike.

I had a gumbo like this at Mr. B's Bistro in New Orleans, made with chicken, and andouille sausage and loved it so much I asked for the recipe. I have transformed the "dish" to make it easier for the home cook, and have changed it by converting chicken to pork--which I think does nothing but emphasize the wild, back-country character of the dish. Is it hot enough for you? I suggest initially going with my spice ratios below, because the gumbo gets "hotter" as it cooks; you can always adjust with Tabasco sauce or spices at the last minute. Speaking of which, I find that a tiny pinch of ground clove just before serving adds a lovely accent.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 1/2 pounds country-style spare ribs
3 quarts chicken stock
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and cut into medium-fine dice
2 medium jalapenos, seeded and cut into medium-fine dice
1 medium onion, cut into medium-fine dice
3 scallions, green and white, cut into medium-fine dice, plus extra chopped scallion for garnish
1 stalk celery, cut into medium-fine dice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or more)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more)
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (see Cook's Note)
Pinch of ground clove
6 cups hot cooked white rice

1. Place the oil in a large, heavy stockpot over high heat. Lightly salt the spare ribs and add them to the pot. Sear the meat on both sides until it's golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.

2. Add the chicken stock to the pot, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any crusty bits, Add the garlic clove: Bring to a boil, remove any scum on top by skimming with a large spoon, then turn the heat down to medium. Cook at a lightly rolling simmer for 2 hours. When done, the pork should be tender and you should have about 8 cups of stock. Remove the spare ribs from the stock with a slotted spoon and reserve. Measure the stock; if there's less than 8 cups, add water to bring it up to 8 cups. Keep the stock hot.

3. Start the roux after the pork has simmered for about 1 hour. Place the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat. When it's melted, add 1/2 cup of flour all at once, stirring vigorously into the melted butter with a wooden spoon. When it's incorporated, repeat with another 1/2 cup of flour. When that's incorporated, gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour; you will need most of it, but you may not need it all. Stop adding flour as soon as the roux begins to clump up and is on the verge of turning solid; it should remain a very thick, but runny, paste. Continue to cook the roux over medium-low heat, stirring often and monitoring its color, for about an hour. It will darken as it cooks, finally reaching a color like dark mahogany or rich fudge. Don't let the roux get too dark (as dark as black coffee, say), because it can burn.

4. When the roux is cooked, stir the green peppers into the roux and cook for 30 seconds. Immediately add the jalapenos, onion, 3 scallions, and celery. Stir into the roux, and cook for 30 seconds.

5. Add the hot stock all at once to the roux. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the roux melts entirely and thickens the stock. Reduce the heat to medium.

6. Add the thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, crushed red pepper, black pepper, allspice, and bay leaf. Remove the pork meat from the bones; break it into walnut-sized chunks with your fingers. Discard the bones and add the meat to the gumbo. Simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered.

7. Add the andouille. Cover the pot, and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes more. You can make the gumbo to this step a day ahead.

8. When you're ready to serve, add the clove, taste for seasoning, and adjust. Fill a small teacup with hot white rice and invert it into a wide, shallow soup bowl; the rice should sit in a mound in the center of the bowl. Ladle the hot gumbo with chunks of pork and slices of andouille around the rice, garnish with a little chopped scallion, and serve immediately. Keep plating until 12 bowls altogether are served.

COOK'S NOTE: You can find great mail-order andouille sausage at Poche's in Breaux Bridge. They also sell Turdukins.

Roast Turkey with Cajun-Style Rub
3 tablespoons paprika
5 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne red pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 whole 12-14 pound turkey, well-chilled

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Prepare the rub. Combine the paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, freshly ground black pepper, onion powder, cayenne red pepper, oregano and thyme in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using a whisk, blend well.

3. Rub mixture all over the cold turkey--both on and under the skin, as evenly as possible. Let the rub sit on the turkey for 10 minutes before placing it in the oven. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan in the lower portion of the pre-heated oven, legs toward the back. Roast until the turkey starts to turn golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees, and roast the turkey for about 1 1/2 hours, basting with the pan juices every 20 minutes or so. (The white meat is done when a quick-read thermometer reaches 150 degrees.)

4. Remove turkey from oven and (at table, if desired), remove the large breast filet from each side of the turkey. Let the filets rest a few minutes before carving into slices.

5. Meanwhile, return the rest of the bird to the 325-degree oven. Cook until the dark meat reaches 175 degrees, about 20 minutes more. Remove, let rest a few minutes, and serve the dark meat.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Pecans, Bananas Foster - Cointreau Sauce and Pralines
Please note: Exercise caution when you add the bourbon and the Cointreau. Stand well back from the pan, and keep the area as clear as possible.
Serves 12

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 ripe bananas sliced in 1/2-inch diagonal rounds
1/2 cup bourbon
1 cup Cointreau
1 cup heavy cream
4 teaspoons firmly packed grated orange zest
1/2 gallon store-bought vanilla ice cream (enough for 12 generous scoops)
3 Pralines, quartered

1. Divide the butter, brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon evenly between two large, heavy skillets at high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is brown and bubbling, about 2 minutes.

2. Divide the bananas between the two skillets and continue to cook, turning once or twice, until the bananas just begin to brown, about 2 minutes.

3. Remove the skillets from the heat and divide the bourbon between them. Return the skillets to medium-high heat and tip the pans slightly over the flame to ignite the bourbon (or use a long safety match). Cook until the flames are completely exhausted.

4. Remove the skillets from the heat and divide the Cointreau between them. Return the skillets to medium-high heat and tip the pans slightly over the flame to ignite the Cointreau (or use a long match). Cook until the flames are completely exhausted.

5. Remove the skillets from the heat, divide the heavy cream and orange zest between them, and stir the contents of each pan until blended.

6. Divide scoops of vanilla ice cream among 12 bowls. Divide the sauce, ladling it evenly around. Garnish each ice cream scoop with a quarter praline stuck into the top. Serve immediately.

Makes 10 to 12 pralines

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Place the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and half-and-half in a heavy saucepan (with a candy thermometer, clipped to the side) over medium heat stirring constantly. When the temperature reaches 228 degrees F, stir in the butter, pecans, and vanilla and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 235 degrees F.

2. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool for 6 minutes. Then stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the pecans begin to cling to the spoon, about 1 minute. Stop stirring immediately (if you keep stirring, the mixture will lose its gloss).

3. Drop the mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, onto a piece of well-greased aluminum foil or well-greased marble, creating rough rounds about 2 1/2inches in diameter. Allow to cool until set, about 10 to 15 minutes.

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