As an American traveling during this time of year there are holidays that I will miss back home. Last week was Thanksgiving and I had the opportunity of a lifetime to cook a fully farm to table Thanksgiving meal for friends and their families here at Taino Farm in the Dominican Republic.
On this day we had owner, friends and family present. All guests were able to come to the farm, go on a tour of our fully organic permaculture and aquaponics systems, as well as led on a river float that shows them the serine side to living in this remote location in the tropics.
Now while not everything from the traditional American Thanksgiving is available here in Los Brazos or on the farm, I was able to make extremely similar variations of the meals I grew up eating for this heartwarming holiday. Below I will list all the dishes that I made for the holiday with a few of the basic ingredients that I used for each; I apologize ahead of time for not having a picture of all the dishes. I got a bit caught up in the cooking and entertainment of my guests, after all it is a holiday to surround yourself with friends and enjoy their company.
Turkey: Organic free range, raised here on the farm, was cleaned and broken down into a stew that I simmered for 8 hours with potatoes, carrots, onions, and herbs (all from our garden here). Lets just say it melted of the bones!!
Stuffing: Turkey broth mixed with local dried bread, carrots, celery, and herbs. Cooking for this many, I had to make the stuffing in batches outside of the turkey rather than having the whole birds stuffed.
Salad: Collected greens from our garden and made a mix available. I used kale, arugula, lettuce, mustard greens, hibiscus, basil and mint.
Dressing: Topped the salad with a STAR FRUIT MANGOSTEEN VINAIGRETTE!!!
Cornbread: What kind of holiday would it have been had I not made Cast Iron Cornbread served with our blend of local honey and local butter.
Green Beans: A simple dish using the beans we grow in the garden with our onions and sweet peppers to create a refreshing side dish that still brought green beans to the table.
Deviled Eggs: Used avocado and yolks as the base and added spicy mustard greens, basil, and topped with fresh tomato.
Mashed Yucca: For a dominican play on mashed potatoes I used local Yucca, a starchy tuber grown all over and consumed by all dominicans, and mixed with garlic, butter and chives.
Pumpkin Pie: What would this holiday be without PUMPKIN PIE to finish everything off. From scratch making the crust as well as the filling. We grew the pumpkin, ginger, clove, cinnamon, and rest of the spice blend, and I aquired local sugar cane and local honey.
To put it bluntly, this holiday rocked. Everyone had a great time and I was able to showcase an exorbitant amount of organic foods all grown here at the farm to one of the best groups of friends around.
A special thanks to Matt and his family for collaborating on this event with me. Truly thankful for all your help and support.
Here at Taino farms we have a great working relationship with the community and our local staff members. It is because of them that we are able to come to Los Brazos to work, learn, live, and integrate and because they mean so much to the success of the operation I wanted to show my appreciation in my own way.
Being a cook and food enthusiast I thought it appropriate to cook them an over the top meal. Of course we are in their culture so the dish I decided to make for them had dominican flare.
Upon the farm we have an intricate aquaponics system running to produce certain foods in an organic and sustainable manner and one of the main proponents of that system in Tilapia. Tilapia byproducts become the food for the plants and the plants filter the water for the tilapia. It is an sustainable system that put Taino Farm ahead of others.
In celebration of both our staff and the products of this system I created baked tilapia filets, fish head soup with coconut bouillabaisse.
(for the full recipe please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
All parts of the tilapia were used and nothing was wasted in the creation of this dish. With any unused parts of the fish I made a simple fish broth in which we used to create future soups.
Inspiration for this meal comes from the local people of Los Brazos and the amazing system they help maintain that allows up a fruitful bounty. It is them we thank, them we celebrate and they who inspire things like this.
As we are always trying to re-purpose things here and find multiple uses, sustainability and all, I thought I would show you what I decided to do with leftover chicken. Now because I would never want to waste the life of an animal, yes its parts of the circle of life, today’s dish was re-purposed chicken.
Here I was literally pulling off scraps of chicken from the bones including all parts, tendons, cartilage, anything edible. Again my aim was to not waste a single scrap. Leftover bones became the base for a chicken stock that I can re-purpose in many other ways in the kitchen.
Inspiration for the dish started when a staff member showed me that you can dig up the root of a plant I had never seen and explained to me that we could cook it. I had never seen it before, but it turns out that it was Taro Root. A tuber that grows at the base of a plant with wide broad leaves.
NOTE: when cooking with taro root always be sure to boil or cook thoroughly. It has high levels of calcium oxalate crystals (can cause kidney stones), and the crystals can cut up your tongue and throat leaving a tingling sensation.
Using this starchy root vegetable and the leftover chicken, mixed with other herbs and other vegetables available here on the farm I make this soup.
Now because I like to cook with fats, due to the immense flavor, this dish had all of the vegetables cooked in chicken fat that had risen to the top of the preserves stock from the previous day. You do not need to do this, I just did it as a treat for myself; I splurged on something unhealthy, shoot me haha.
This dish turned out great and was a huge success. If you modify your own version please get back to me with details I would love to hear about them.
For my full recipe please email me at email@example.com and as always be inspired in the kitchen and don’t be afraid to tweak standard recipes to make them your own, unique.