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There's No Need to Go Whole Turkey for Small Thanksgiving Gathering : Alternative Menus for the Holiday

November 21, 1985

If Thanksgiving dinner will be a feast for two or three, there are plenty of menu alternatives to a whole turkey. Today's turkey parts make it possible to enjoy the flavor of the traditional bird without worrying that you'll tire of it long before the last morsels have been consumed.

Stuffed Breast of Turkey San Joaquin is a creative California variation of the traditional Thanksgiving theme, ideal for a small group. It features a turkey half-breast with spicy pasta stuffing.

The pasta substitutes for bread cubes, then dried apricots, pears, raisins and figs that have been soaked in Port are added for texture and flavor. While the turkey bakes atop the stuffing, it is brushed with a glaze of apricot jam and Port textured with chopped hazelnuts.

The glaze doubles as a sauce for the meat. Serve with a green salad and selection of steamed seasonal vegetables.

Cornish game hens also are a good choice for a small gathering. Bake until golden with an herbed rice and apple stuffing. Poached apples filled with cranberry sauce make a festive garnish. A choice of vegetables and chilled bottle of white wine complete this splendid feast.

Roast duckling is a third festive alternative. It's delicious with Wild Rice Stuffing and can be served with a variety of accompaniments.



1 cup dried apricots

10 dried pears

3/4 cup raisins

3/4 cup dried figs

1 cup Port

12 ounces orzo pasta, cooked and drained

2 eggs

Dash ground mace

1 (2 1/2-pound) turkey half-breast

Salt, pepper


Soak apricots, pears, raisins and figs in Port for 45 minutes. Combine with cooked pasta, eggs and mace. Spoon into 1 1/2-quart baking dish.

Rinse turkey half-breast and pat dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place on top of stuffing. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees 45 minutes, brushing with Glaze. Uncover, continue baking 45 minutes, basting throughout cooking. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: About 12 ounces of rice, cooked and drained, may be substituted for pasta.


1/2 cup Port

3/4 cup apricot jam

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

Combine Port, jam and hazelnuts in saucepan and cook over medium heat 5 minutes.




2 (1-pound) Cornish hens


1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

1 1/2 cups chopped Golden Delicious apples

1/4 cup butter or margarine

2 cups cooked rice

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Remove giblets from hens and cook in boiling water until tender. Drain and chop. Wash hens and pat dry. Sprinkle cavities lightly with salt.

Saute onion, celery and apples in 1/4 cup butter until tender. Add giblets, rice, parsley, thyme, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Lightly stuff hens and fasten with skewers.

Place breast side up on rack in shallow roasting pan. Brush with melted butter. Roast uncovered at 400 degrees 1 hour or until tender. Bake any remaining stuffing in covered casserole 20 minutes, basting occasionally with drippings from hens. Makes 2 servings.



1/3 cup whole cranberry sauce

1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup water

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup sugar

2 Golden Delicious apples

Combine cranberry sauce with orange peel and nutmeg. Heat water, orange juice and sugar to boiling. Core apples, being careful not to cut through blossom ends. Peel 1/3 down from stem ends.

Place apples in boiling syrup and poach until just tender. Remove from syrup and drain. Fill centers with cranberry sauce. Serve warm. Makes 2 servings.



1 (4 1/2 to 5-pound) duckling

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup diced celery

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1/2 cup sliced green onions

2 cups cooked rice

1 (4-ounce) package wild rice, cooked

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

If duckling is frozen, thaw in original package 24 hours under refrigeration. Remove covering, then neck and giblets from body cavity. Wash, drain and dry duckling. Sprinkle neck and body cavities with salt.

Cook celery in butter over low heat until almost tender. Stir in green onions, rice, wild rice and parsley. Lightly spoon into neck and body cavities of duck. Skewer neck skin to back. Cover opening of body cavity with foil. Tie legs together loosely.

Place breast side up on rack in shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Makes 2 to 3 servings.

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