Sunday, November 20, 2011

Seafood NOT Turkey at the first Thanksgiving

Turkey is the star of the modern Thanksgiving feast,  but the true star should be the food that enabled the Pilgrims to survive, New England caught seafood!

In the only official written account of the first Thanksgiving, Turkey is not even mentioned. The feast consisted of cod, eels, and sea bass. Shellfish including clams, lobster, and mussels as well as duck, venison and vegetables like corn, beans and squash.

The following account is from “Mourt’s Relation,” mostly written by a Plymouth MA resident, Edward Winslow: “Squanto went at noon to fish for eels. At night he came home with as many as he could well lift in one hand, which our people were glad of. They were fat and sweet. He trod them out with his feet, and so caught them with his hands without any other instrument.”

While your planning your menu this year, think about paying homage to the first Thanksgiving with some New England seafood on your table.To get you going,  below is my  interpretation of what a Thanksgiving dish in 1621 could have been.


Cod & Clams in Parsley Sauce

4 servings:

4 6 -8 ounce Hook & Line Caught Cod fillets
16 littleneck or mahogany clams, soaked in salted water for 30 minutes and
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 ½ cups hot water
3 tablespoons flour
2 large Yukon gold or similar potatoes, very thinly sliced

-Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, add salt and cook potatoes until softened.
Drain and set aside. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add olive
oil sufficient to generously skim the pan. Place clams into pan, cover and cook
until clams open. Remove immediately and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add garlic and 2 tablespoons parsley to pan, sprinkle salt and pepper on both
sides of fish and add to pan. Sprinkle flour around fish and add water slowly,
whisking flour to prevent lumps. Turn heat to low and cook, spooning liquid
over fish to cook top of fillet. Continue for 10 – 12 minutes until fish is just
done. Slice into fish – it should barely be opaque. Remove fish to heated
plates, and add clams and potatoes to pan to reheat. If sauce is thick, add hot
water until just thin.
Arrange clams and potatoes around fish, divide sauce among plates and
sprinkle remaining parsley over fillets.
Serve this with a dry white wine such as a Sancerre or a full bodied Sauvignon Blanc, either domestic or from New Zealand. This recipe takes some extra time and effort, but results in a memorable meal for you and your guests.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Garcia Family,
Rich, Nicole, Bry, Savanna, Summer & Adrianne ( the dog)

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