Thanks and Giving
Carved slivers of The Best DressedChicken Roaster with orange and thyme to be served. (Photos: The Best Dressed Chicken)

While Jamaicans have welcomed Thanksgiving as a moment in our collective time, perhaps we should also rethink its manifestation, especially in light of the grand pause that is the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Thanksgiving was originally a harvest celebration, so perhaps for us the harvest is all that we are doing to get to the other side of the pandemic. Till then we should still find joy in the shared ritual of gathering at the table. Every moment in which we get to share food is a moment of triumph in these unusual times.

And today, as Thanksgiving brings families together, let us consider the pure beauty of its meaning: Thanks and giving. We will find inspiration for the coming holiday season, where we will find that we can feel the joy of the season and live the joy of optimism, despite everything we face now, that together we can go on.

The Best Dressed Chicken Roaster with Orange and Thyme

Ingredients:

1 The Best Dressed Chicken Roaster

1 or 2 leafy sticks of celery

1/2 medium-sized onion, chopped in half

2 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed with flat side of knife

1/2 orange, gently squeezed

Bunch of thyme

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Gravy

1/2 medium-sized onion & 1 large onion (or 3 medium-sized onions), peeled & chopped

Some thyme leaves

Salt

Pepper

Juice of half an orange

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

2-3 dessert spoons of boiling hot water

Method:

Turn on the oven to 400°F.

Rinse the roaster with water and vinegar and pat dry with a paper towel and all over with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Into the cavity place the onion, celery, orange, garlic and thyme. Place on an oiled and suitably sized roasting dish in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes.

Take the roaster out. Whatever juices have been released by the roaster, tip the dish, collect them in a spoon and pour over the roaster. Sprinkle the onion with a little salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Surround the roaster with the chopped onion. Turn the oven down to 400°F and put the dish back in the oven. During this time take the roaster out once or twice and again spoon the roasting juices over the bird. Also move the onions around at these times so they roast evenly.

When the roaster is done take it out and leave it, in the pan, to rest for 15 minutes. This is very important as it will keep the meat moist. Then remove it to a serving dish. Now scrape all the onions, juices, fat — basically anything left in the pan into a large microwaveable bowl. Add in the orange, mustard and a sprinkle of salt. With a hand blender blend to as smooth a consistency as you like. Taste and add a little more salt if necessary. If it's too thick add a little more hot water.

Herb Butter Stuffing

Ingredients:

18 to 24 ounces bread cubes, (1.5 loaves of bread, or about 12 to 14 cups) preferably toasted or stale

1 cup unsalted butter

3 cups diced sweet onion, roughly 2 large onions

2 cups diced celery

6 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt and pepper

3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 large eggs

A mixture of fresh herbs for sprinkling

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush a 9 x 13 baking dish with melted butter, olive oil or spray with nonstick spray. Place the bread in a large mixing bowl or the baking dish that you will bake it in.

Heat the butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the onion, celery and garlic with a big pinch of salt and pepper — at least ½ to 1 teaspoon each. Cook until the onions and celery soften, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the sage, parsley and rosemary. Cook for another minute. Stir in 1 cup of stock.

Pour the onion celery mixture over the breadcrumbs and toss well to coat.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the remaining 1 ½ cups stock and 2 eggs.

Pour that mixture into the bread cubes and stir and fold the bread cubes until thoroughly combined. Bake the stuffing for 45 to 50 minutes, until the internal temperature registers 160°F.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients:

3 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, well-beaten

1/2 cup butter, melted, (1 stick)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a medium-size casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a large mixing bowl in the order listed. Beat thoroughly with a hand mixer for about 3-4 minutes to increase the fluffiness of the sweet potato mixture. Add a splash of milk if needed and mix.

Pour mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.

The brown sugar and pecan crust should be slightly browned and crunchy. Makes 10 servings.

Arugula Salad With Beets and Goat Cheese

Ingredients:

Salad

6 medium beets, roasted at 400°F for 30 minutes, peeled, diced into bite-sized pieces

4 cups fresh baby arugula

8 tablespoons goat cheese

1 cup roughly chopped toasted walnuts

Dressing

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon dry powdered mustard

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Method:

Make the vinaigrette:

Place dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to emulsify. Adjust ingredients to taste.

Assemble the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle the salad with vinaigrette and toss.

String Beans with Shallots and Crispy Onions

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

1/2 cup water

3/4 pound (12 ounces) string beans trimmed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch sugar

Method:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Do not brown.

Add the beans, salt, pepper and water; bring to a boil. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 8 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated, the beans are tender, and the shallots are jammy, about 6 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar and top with crispy onions. Serve warm.

Crispy Onions

Ingredients:

2.2 pound onion white, yellow, red, sweet, or shallots (4-5 onions)

4 cups oil for frying neutral, high-heat frying oil like vegetable oil (sunflower/canola)

Method:

Step 1: Prepare the onions

Peel and thinly slice the onions. You can do this with a sharp knife, a mandolin, or the slicer disk on your food processor, for even-sized pieces.

Step 2: Fry the onions

Heat up about an inch of oil in a large, deep pot. Once hot (over medium heat), add the onion and allow them to fry until browned and crispy (2-4 minutes). Stir occasionally to make sure they're frying evenly.

If you do this in smaller batches, then it can take as little as 2 minutes per batch. However, I've found that when frying the whole amount, it'll take about 3-4 minutes.

For air fryer crispy onions: Preheat the air fryer (if necessary) to 270ºF/130ºC and then lightly spray the basket with oil, add the onions, and spray them with a little oil too. Then air fry for 20-30 minutes, tossing/flipping the onions every 5 minutes to make sure they brown evenly, until crispy and golden brown.

When ready, remove the onions from the oil (with a slotted spoon) and place them over a layer of paper towel to absorb any excess oil (optionally blot the top with a second sheet).

Of Thanks & Giving(Photos: The Best Dressed Chicken)
The Best Dressed Chicken Roaster with Orange and Thyme
From left: Sweet Potato Casserole, Herb Butter Stuffing and String Beans with Shallots and Crispy Onions
Arugula Salad With Beets and Goat Cheese

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