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African Thanksgiving


Harissa-Roasted Turkey   

Marcus Samuelsson
Chef and co-owner, Aquavit, Riingo, and Merkato 55

When Ethiopia-born, Sweden-raised Marcus Samuelsson arrived in New York sixteen years ago, he celebrated Thanksgiving by making one or two dishes in his tiny kitchen and had friends contribute recipes. “I’ve always made it a spicy Thanksgiving, which is typical of Africa and a reflection of myself,” he says. Samuelsson made his name at Aquavit, focusing on the Swedish half of his heritage, but with his recently published book, The Soul of a New Cuisine, and his soon-to-be-opened meatpacking-district restaurant, Merkato 55, he’s entering an Africa-focused phase. For this meal, Samuelsson covers his turkey with a coating of harissa, a Moroccan chile-spice mix, which he also uses in the stuffing. Couscous, a typical North African dish, stands in for the traditional potatoes, and Samuelsson notes that the fruity flavors from the mango and raisins nicely complement the rest of the meal. Collard greens with bacon “offer something bitter for contrast,” Samuelsson says, and bring some African-American tradition to the table. When it comes to dessert, “the apple cake is my mom’s recipe, but I spiced it up with cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger,” says Samuelsson, who tops the dessert with whipped cream. No matter what your background, he adds, “everyone enjoys comfort like this at the end of the meal.”


Harissa-Roasted Turkey
Mango Couscous
Mango Sambal
Pumpkin Mash
Sautéed Collard Greens and Bok Choy
Apple Cake With Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Harissa-Roasted Turkey
3/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground caraway
1 cup chile powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped mint

Heat the oil until it shimmers in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the caraway, chile powder, coriander, salt, and mint, and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

1 12-to-14-pound turkey
1/2 cup kosher salt
6 garlic cloves, quartered
2 red onions, quartered
2 cups of sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 sprigs thyme, roughly chopped
1 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon harissa
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cups low-salt chicken broth

Cure the turkey overnight: Stir together 8 quarts water with 1/2 cup kosher salt in a 5-gallon bucket lined with a heavy-duty garbage bag. Soak turkey, covered and chilled, for 10 hours.

In a bowl, toss together garlic, onion, sweet potatoes, and thyme with 1/2 tablespoon of harissa.

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees. Rinse the turkey under cold water, and pat dry. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the turkey, inside and out. Stuff the vegetable mixture into the large cavity, and seal closed with a wooden skewer. Put the extra vegetables in the roasting pan.

Combine 1 cup harissa with 1/2 cup oil, and generously rub over and under the skin of the bird. Fold the neck skin under the body and secure with a small skewer, tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string, and secure wings to body with small skewers. Place turkey in the roasting pan and cover the breast with foil. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, then pour 2 cups of broth into the pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom. Roast the turkey for 40 minutes, then remove the vegetables from the pan and reduce the oven temperature to 350. Add 1 cup broth to the pan and continue to roast the bird, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into fleshy part of a thigh registers 170 degrees, between 11/2 and 2 hours more (total roasting time: 21/2 to 3 hours). Remove the foil during the last 20 minutes of cooking. Transfer turkey to a platter, and let stand 25 minutes. Remove the excess fat from the roasting pan, then set the pan over medium-low heat, add 1 cup water to the broth, and stir to release the caramelized particles on the bottom of the pan. Continue to heat until broth starts to simmer. Serve with stuffing.


1/2 cup olive oil
5 cups 3/4-inch-cubed white bread
2 tablespoons crushed almonds
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cinnamon sticks
3 garlic cloves, cut in half
3 shallots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 quinces, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon harissa
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until lightly toasted, adding the almonds during the last minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combine the remaining oil, the parsnips, and the cinnamon sticks in a Dutch oven, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, shallots, quinces, and harissa, and sauté until the shallot is soft. Stir in the stock, orange juice, and honey; bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the thyme, salt, raisins, and almond-and-bread-cube mixture. Stir well. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.

Mango Couscous
1 cup couscous
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 ripe tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup loosely packed small cilantro sprigs, chopped
1/4 cup loosely packed small parsley sprigs, chopped
Prepare the couscous according to the package directions. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the garlic, mango, and jalapeño, and sauté until the mango begins to color lightly. Stir in the remaining oil, the couscous, raisins, tomato, lime juice, cilantro, and parsley, and toss to heat through. Season to taste with salt.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

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