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Home-raised turkeys and wild-game mincemeat

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

I’m reminded of that saying I’ve heard on TV lately that if you’re just wishing for good health after age 50, good luck. And if you don’t have a plan for cooking Thanksgiving dinner by today, maybe you should think about making reservations somewhere.

One of the best Thanksgiving dinners I’ve ever eaten was at Mark Miller’s Cayote Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. It was completely different from the food I normally would eat on Thanksgiving, and maybe that why it stands out in my memory.

My dilemma this year was mostly about the turkey. I have a confession to make about last year’s turkey: I know I told you that I was going to buy an organic bird because of my less-than-desirable experience with a home-raised bird. But, as fate would have it, Charlie Abowd from Adele’s gave me one of the larger-than-life organic turkeys that he had bought from Smith & Smith Farms.

Now as the saying goes, you shouldn’t look a gift horse (or in this case turkey) in the mouth. I cooked the big bird and had enough leftovers to send everyone of my guests home with their own turkey bag. The only problem with the bird was as it was cooking, its legs swelled and got caught in the top of my oven where the broiler is so we had to break the legs to get it out of the oven, hence its name, “the Tony Soprano bird.”

Once again this year Smith & Smith Farms offered home-raised organic turkeys, a basket with some of the fixings you will need and a centerpiece for your table. I ordered my fixings and centerpiece right away, but I confess I didn’t order my turkey till last Thursday.

I sheepishly called and asked if they had any turkeys, and they had one left so it now has my name on it. I begged them to please let it be between 25 and 30 pounds, even though I know they have no control of the weight of a fresh bird that is going to be butchered on Sunday and Monday for a dinner on Thursday.

So tomorrow, whether you’re going out, cooking for a crowd or just a few, I hope you all have a wonderful day. I’ll leave you with this quote by Cicero from one of my Thanksgiving cookbooks, “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”

I know this first recipe might seem over the top to some people, especially if you’ve never had good, homemade mincemeat, or you think you don’t care for the taste of mincemeat. I never really liked it growing up either, but once I started making my own and changing the recipe to suit my tastes, I cannot imagine Thanksgiving or Christmas without a homemade mincemeat pie.

This recipe was a special request from Lenore Speer, who remembers her aunt making an unforgettable mincemeat pie. The recipe I use comes from “The Carson City Historical Cookbook” and was from Charles H. Russell, governor 1951-58 (with a few minor changes).

ELK MINCEMEAT

4 pounds elk meat, cooked (I boil mine)

2 pounds beef suet (ask your butcher to save you some)

Peel of 4 lemons

Peel of 4 oranges

12 pippin apples peeled, cored, and chopped (you can use Granny Smith)

4 pounds golden raisins

3 pounds currants

1 small container of citron (dried candy fruit)

1 T. cloves

1 T. salt

1 T. nutmeg

1 T. mace

6 cups sugar

3 quarts apple cider

1 pint of brandy or to taste

Splash of sherry

Grind together on medium grind the elk, suet, lemon and orange peel and citron. Add rest of ingredients, except brandy and sherry, and cook slowly for at least 2 hours or longer. Add brandy to taste and the sherry. Seal in sterilized jars as per canning instructions or package for deep freezing.

After you have eaten mincemeat made with elk, you can never go back to eating it with beef or venison, although both meats can be substituted for the elk.

MINCEMEAT PIE

In a bowl with one quart jar of mincemeat, add about 3Ú4 cup apple juice or cider and one shot of rum and brandy (or your preference). Stir and let set to absorb juice. Make pie crust for two-crust pie. Peel, core, and cut up 3 Granny Smith or pippin apples; add to mincemeat mixture and toss with 2 to 3 T. flour. Fit bottom crust into 9-inch pie pan. Add prepared mincemeat, top crust and bake 1 hour in 350-degree oven until crust is golden brown.

If that last recipe seemed a little difficult then this next is for anyone who has trouble making a pie crust, but still wants to serve a spectacular pumpkin dessert.

FROSTY PUMPKIN PIE

1 cup canned pumpkin

1Ú2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 t. cinnamon

1Ú4 t. nutmeg

1Ú8 t. cloves

1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened

Gingersnap Crumb Crust

Whipped cream garnish

Combine first five ingredients, stirring well. Fold in ice cream. Spoon mixture into crumb crust. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. Let stand at room temperature before slicing. Garnish, if desired.

Gingersnap Crumb Crust

1 1Ú2 cups gingersnaps crumbs (you could also use vanilla or chocolate wafers or graham crackers)

3 T. sugar

1Ú3 cup melted butter

Combine all ingredients, stirring well. Press crumb mixture evenly on bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 375 for 5 minutes. Cool.

Coming up in my next column a true Christmas gift. Charlie is going to share the recipe for the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Cake that they serve at Adele’s.

Linda Marrone has lived in Carson City since 1973, and with her husband, Ralph, formerly operated Marrone’s Restaurant in Carson City and Somethin’s Cookin’ Catering.