Happy Thanksgiving! Part One

by Angela aka Farmer Jane on November 24, 2011 · 0 comments

Today we had Rock Cornish Game hens, basted in garlic infused duck fat and finished off with an apricot balsamic reduction glaze. The game hens were were bathed in a brine of salt, sugar, fresh ginger, peppercorn and star anise one day prior to Thanksgiving. Each person got a game hen stuffed to overflowing with french bread stuffing. The game birds were accompanied with a mash potato and a mashed sweet potato and of course homemade cranberry sauce.

I did write everything down this time (I always forget to write how I’ve made something) and here are my recipes for this year’s Thanksgiving meal. The one exception is with the apple cobbler with streusel topping I grabbed online and I tweaked. :)

For the sake of not wanting to put too many recipes in one post, I’ll do a part two tomorrow.

Brine for game hens, turkey, chicken or even pork:

1 1/2 cups of salt

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1/4 cup peppercorns

8 inch piece of fresh garlic peeled and sliced thin length wise

10 star anise

8 bay leaves

1 gallon of water


In one gallon of water mix sugar and salt until dissolved. Add the rest of ingredients, poultry and let soak overnight in fridge for a minimum of 12 hours. Two hours prior to baking, take poultry out of the fridge to allow to come to room temperature. Rinse poultry off in water, pat dry and add garlic infused duck fat. (recipe below)

Garlic infused duck fat:

1 cup duck fat

8 cloves garlic


Heat duck fat up on medium high, add garlic cloves and reduce to simmer. When garlic cloves begin to brown, remove garlic from duck fat. Duck fat can be used to baste game hens or any type of poultry.


1/2 cup of garlic infused duck fat

1 1/2 tbs all purpose flour

1 cup fresh chicken stock (recipe below)

2 tsp salt (or more depending on taste)


Heat duck fat on medium high, add flour and stir for for about 3 minutes. Slowly add chicken stock and salt and continue stirring reducing heat to a simmer. . Makes a beautiful full flavored gravy!

Apricot Balsamic Reduction (glaze)

1/2 cup of dried apricots

Juice of 1 orange

2 inch piece of fresh ginger

16 whole allspice

1/8 cup GOOD balsamic vinegar

1/8 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup water


Heat water on medium heat and add dried apricots cover with lid and allow to simmer for about 1 hour. Add orange juice, ginger, sugar and allspice and continue to simmer on low for about an hour. Remove apricots, ginger and allspice and turn heat up to medium high. Allow the sauce to reduce down to a glaze. Set aside until game birds are finished. Apply glaze before serving.

I also made Potato Leek soup which took a solid 24 hours to make. Well, not the potato leek part, but the chicken stock I made which would be used in the stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. As I learn how to make everything from scratch for Thanksgiving, I’m alloting more time for my soup stocks. I’m also becoming a master at creating very rich and full flavored broths.

Chicken stock

3 parsnips

4 carrots

2 yellow onion

1 bulb of garlic

7 stalks of celery

2 bay leaves

12 peppercorns

1 tsp mustard seed

1 whole nutmeg

4 tbs salt

1 tsp fennel seed

2 medium tomatoes

4 quartered leg and thigh. You can also use one whole chicken or even the left over bones from a roasted chicken or duck


Combine all ingredients, skimming off any foam that forms on top of the soup, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer covered for between 12 and 24 hours. Strain out content until you have a clear broth, and return to pot. You can add water at this time or use concentrated broth for gravies, or anything that needs an extra punch of flavor.

Potato Leek soup

2 quarts of chicken stock

1 leek

1 yellow onion

5 medium potatoes

salt and pepper to taste


In frying pan add a few tablespoons of oil and saute onion and leeks together until tender. Rough cut potatoes into 1 inch squares and add to broth. Allow the potatoes to cook on medium high and add leeks and onions. When potatoes are soft, remove from heat and let cool a bit. Don’t serve soup boiling hot as you will not taste all the flavors.

Sweet potato Beet Mash

2 large sweet potatoes

1 large beet

1/2 cup yogurt

2 tsp molasses

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg


In a pot of boiling water cook sweet potatoes and beet until soft. Drain, beat till smooth with an electric mixer, masher or potato ricer. Add yogurt, molasses, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg and mix till everything is combined.

Mashed Potatoes

8 large potatoes

1 tbs garlic infused duck fat

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 1/2 cup half and half

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup sour cream

1 green onion sliced thin

salt and pepper to taste


Rough cut potatoes into large pieces and boil in water till soft. Drain, and mash or beat until smooth. Combine all ingredients. Enjoy!

My brain and body are a bit fried from cooking over the last two days, so I’ll make sure to look over my post from today and correct any typos I may have missed in the morning.

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving feasts…what did you have for Thanksgiving this year?

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