African Thanksgiving

Harissa-Roasted Turkey Photo: Kang Kim. Food Styling by Alison Attenborough

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.”

MENUHarissa-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.

StuffingPhoto: Kang Kim

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.

Apple CakePhoto: Kang Kim

Mango Sambal
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 red onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup peanuts
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1–2 bird’s-eye chiles, seeds and ribs removed, chopped to taste
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
2 mangoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 mint sprigs, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Heat the peanut oil in a medium nonstick sauté pan, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the peanuts, ginger, chiles, and chile powder to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peanuts are golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Remove from heat and cool.

Transfer to a bowl, and fold in the mangoes, sesame seeds, mint, and sesame oil before serving.

Pumpkin Mash
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 shallots, sliced
4 garlic cloves
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 pounds Yukon-gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 2-pound pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 chives, minced

Melt the butter in a large deep pot set over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and brown sugar, and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, pumpkin, chicken stock, and milk, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes and pumpkin are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and pumpkin, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Discard the ginger and cinnamon sticks.

Transfer the potatoes and pumpkin to a bowl, and mash with a fork. Stir in the nutmeg and salt, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid as needed to achieve an even, creamy consistency. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chives before serving.

Collard GreensPhoto: Kang Kim

Sautéed Collard Greens and Bok Choy
6 slices bacon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, halved
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
4 cups thinly sliced collard greens
4 cups very thinly sliced bok choy

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then crumble into small pieces.

Combine the oil and butter in a small saucepan, add the garlic, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes, or until the garlic is golden brown, taking care not to let it burn. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside; reserve the oil.

In another small saucepan, bring the coconut milk and soy sauce to a boil. Remove from the heat, and stir in the mustard and bacon.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved garlic oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the collard greens and bok choy, and cook, stirring frequently, until the greens start to wilt. Stir in the coconut-milk mixture, and cook until the greens are tender and the sauce has thickened. Add reserved garlic.

Apple Cake With Cinnamon Whipped Cream
7 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
2 apples
1 cup sugar
Zest from 1/2 lemon, chopped
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
11/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a small pan. Add the pecans, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom, and sauté for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Slice the unpeeled apples into 14 wedges, and put them in a plastic bag with cup sugar, the spice-pecan mixture, and lemon zest. Shake the bag to make sure the apple wedges are covered.

In a bowl, beat together the remaining sugar and butter until it turns white. Stir in the egg. Mix together the vanilla sugar, flour, and baking powder, and stir it into the creamed butter, and then add the half-and-half.

Butter a 9-inch round pan, and coat with bread crumbs. Pour in the batter, and place the apple wedges on the batter, in the shape of a clock, placing the two remaining wedges in the middle. Sprinkle the nut mixture over the top of the apples, and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum

Toast the cinnamon in a small sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool.

Combine the cream and sugar in a large bowl and beat until semi-stiff peaks form, then fold in the vanilla, cinnamon, and rum.

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