Celebrate the Season with Haitian flavors

Marie Ruth Auguste: Let's talk turkey... and Soup Joumou!Marie Ruth Auguste: Let's talk turkey... and Soup Joumou!As the saying goes, ‘Tis the season to cook, eat and be merry!

That’s exactly what my husband and I decided to do last weekend after two previous weeks of long hours at work and “sleep only” hours at home. It’s his favorite holiday of the season and after plans of going back “home” to Boston went “bust”, we decided to drive up to northern California to visit a childhood friend and her family (shout out to, “Lolo Bug”.)

As we’re accustomed to doing most of the time during the holidays, we spent a lot of our time on the drive to Palo Alto, talking and reminiscing about the days growing up as kids and all of the “house hopping” we would do on Thanksgiving Day. We naturally started talking about who made the best turkey; I would say it was me and he would say it was his sister, (we all know it was me, but I’ve got to give his sister credit, her turkey was always really spicy)!

The one thing he and I did agree with was how long it would take for the turkeys to cook. We realized that no matter who’s house we went to or how big “the bird” was, it was most likely spent anywhere from 6 to 10 hours in the oven. We started asking ourselves why on earth it could take so long to roast a turkey. Well, I spent some of my time during the long drive polling some of my friends asking why they thought it took such an eternity to roast “the bird”? It turns out that there was one familiar phrase that almost everyone shared “so that it cooks all the way through”. Of course, some of us know that if you follow roasting guidelines and techniques, the turkey really doesn’t require all day to cook through. It’s a matter of the weight of the bird, the oven temperature and whether you stuff it or not.

Read on and you will find some traditional holiday recipes including the fancy bird, the famous Haitian “soup premier Janvier” a.k.a the pumpkin soup (soup joumou) that we love to feast on. For those of you who asked “what’s an easy way to make a whole turkey flavorful without a whole lot of marinating, poking and all day roasting”, I have two words for you: compound butter! This delicious butter will take a simple bird and punch it with so much juicy flavors you’ll be saying wowzers! This butter works well with chicken too and can be frozen for lots of uses. That said, I have to say special thanks to my younger brother Chef Ed Baudouin for introducing me to this wonderful butter recipe and all the Cordon Bleu techniques! I will never roast the same again. Thanks baby bro J !

Since we’re talking turkey you know the special black mushroom rice a.k.a duri kole ak djondjon is a nice pairing for the fancy bird. Some of you just asked about the “black rice” recipe so here you go!

Questions? Please e-mail me at ruthsrecipes@gmail.com or hit me up on Facebook.

Roasted Turkey with shallot herb butter
Prep time approx. 45 minutes; cooking time approx. 3 hours. Makes 8 servings.

2.5 sticks unsalted butter (10 ounces), softened
to room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ cup shallots, minced (about 2 large)
½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons thyme, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
One 12 pound fresh turkey, rinsed and dried
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 green apples, peeled & coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
2 cups celery sticks, coarsely chopped
1 parsley sprig
4 thyme sprigs
1 sprig of sage
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 whole garlic clove, peeled
1 lemon cut in half
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 whole scotch bonnet pepper (or hot sauce)
1 onion sliced
1 bell pepper sliced

Cooking Instructions
Suggested for juiciness: brine the turkey for 24 hours prior to cooking. Choose a brine mix of your choice at your grocery store and follow brining instructions (or make your own brine)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a prep bowl, mix butter with shallots, chopped parsley, chopped thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Gently separate the skin from the turkey breast and as much of the surrounding areas that you can without tearing the skin. Rub two thirds of the butter on the meat under the skin then smooth out the skin over the meat covering the breasts. Rub the remaining butter on the outside all over the turkey. If you did not brine the turkey, be sure to season the inside cavity with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Tuck lemon, the whole garlic clove, rosemary, 3 thyme sprigs and cloves into the cavity of the turkey. Rub roasting pan with olive oil and add chopped onions, celery, carrots, apples, the smashed garlic cloves, 1 thyme sprig, 1 parsley sprig, sage and bay leaves. Also add the turkey neck, heart and gizzard to the bottom of the pan. This mix will catch the turkey drippings and together they will make a delicious base for a sauce or gravy!
Set a v-shaped roasting rack in the pan and place the turkey on there. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes and reduce heat to 325. Continue roasting the turkey for about 2 hours longer, basting a couple of times. If the turkey starts to get too dark e.g. around the wings and breasts, tint those areas loosely with foil. Please note: the turkey is done when an instant read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh registers between 165 and 170 degrees. A temperature above 170 will explain why your turkey is dry so do use a thermometer and avoid over cooking the bird. Transfer the turkey to a serving plate or a carving board and let it rest for approximately 20 minutes before serving. Strain the turkey broth from the pan squeezing all the good juices into a sauce pan, discard the remains of the veggies/herbs but do keep the gizzard, heart and neck (especially the neck, we had people fighting over that neck at thanksgiving dinner – it’s soooo good to suck on!!!)
Add the hot pepper or hot sauce of your choice to the sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes with fresh sliced onions and bell peppers. If you like it hot be sure to prick the hot pepper and let the heat out into the sauce. Remove the excess fat from the sauce before serving (use a fat separator or a flat spoon).

Soup Joumou (pumpkin soup) with bone-in beef shank

Total time 2 hours 45 minutes. Makes 8 servings.
4 sugar pumpkins or 2 medium butternut squash
(about 5 pounds) halved and seeded
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Gray sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon base
(Organic Better than bouillon preferred)
3 pounds beef (bone-in foreshank cut, rinsed)
1 half stick unsalted real butter
1 large white onion, quartered
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 thyme sprig
1 parsley sprig
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 scotch bonnet pepper, pricked
½ teaspoon cumin
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup leaks, roughly chopped
Two cups cooked noodles
1 large potato, cubed
1 large malanga, cubed
2 scallions, cleaned and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 fistful spinach
1 fistful watercress
Extra virgin olive oil

Cooking Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle pumpkin or squash halves with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season generously with salt and black pepper. Wrap each half tightly in foil and bake on a large cookie sheet for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and cool down and then scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Meanwhile, clean, peel and coarsely chop all other vegetables. In a large bowl, combine the meat with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice, cloves, garlic, scallion, thyme, parsley and the hot pepper. In a large stock pot, heat about 4 tablespoons olive oil and quickly sauté onions, celery and carrots. Next, add the meat and seasoning, leaks, bay leaf and plenty of water to cover everything in the pot. Bring to a boil on high and then reduce heat to medium high and cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until the meat is cooked and begins to tenderize. The idea is to have the meat falling off the bone by the time it’s done. Next, blend the cooked pumpkin or butternut squash with some of the cooking broth and add to the pot. Reduce heat to medium and add potatoes, malanga, spinach, watercress, noodles, chicken bouillon base, butter and incorporate all the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Continue cooking for approximately 30 minutes or until the root veggies are cooked and the meat is falling off the bone.

Rice with Black Mushrooms

Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 cup djondjon (dried black Haitian mushrooms)
OR 2 cups fresh Portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
4 cups hot water
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup frozen green peas (or lima beans)
3 whole cloves
1 each, parsley and thyme sprig, tied together into a bouquet
Gray sea salt, to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon natural chicken bouillon base (or granule)
2 cups jasmine white rice
1 whole scotch bonnet pepper
Note: this is optional but you may add a cup of raw shrimp, peeled and cleaned for added flavor (not my preference however)

Soak djondjon in hot water for 15 minutes on a warm burner. Drain through a fine sieve pressing on the mushrooms to extract all the dark broth. Set aside. Heat oil on medium high heat and sauté onions, garlic, beans or peas, thyme/parsley bouquet, cloves and season with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt here because there is salt in the chicken bouillon base as well. Add dark mushroom broth, whole hot pepper, chicken bouillon and incorporate. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Bring to a boil and stir in the rice. Cook uncovered on medium heat until the broth almost disappears. If you’re using shrimp you may add that now. Reduce heat to low and cover tightly. Do not disturb and cook for 20 more minutes. Fluff rice and serve warm.
Note: if using Portobello mushrooms skip the soaking, just sauté them with the other ingredients add the 4 cups of water in place of the mushroom broth.