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POTLUCK Thanksgiving

November 20, 1986|BETSY BALSLEY | Times Food Editor

Food trends and fads come and go, but there is one meal a year that stays the same no matter what. That, of course, is Thanksgiving dinner. The thought of Thanksgiving without turkey and its obligatory accompaniments is . . . well . . . unthinkable to most of us.

Some things have changed, however. When families were larger and relatives lived nearby, it was easy to go all out with an elaborate holiday menu. Those were the days when the real difficulty lay in how to seat everybody, not how to cope with the leftovers. But today's smaller, less close-knit families often view a traditional Thanksgiving meal less enthusiastically. It's a heartwarming meal the first time around, but later on regrets set in. Will that bird never end?

So how can one celebrate as always, but not face endless leftovers?

One happy solution is to gather a group of friends and acquaintances who are in the same situation and band together for a smashing potluck supper. Not only will the cooking chores be split among many, but any leftovers can be parceled out among those attending.

With such a Thanksgiving celebration in mind, The Times' Food staff decided to share some holiday recipes that are traditional in their own homes, plus a few new favorites that would enhance any potluck feast. Some of these recipes are simple, some more complicated. But all are wonderful and all will fit into a festive menu designed to celebrate this very special American holiday.

Cranberry sauce, the wine of your choice and plenty of hot coffee or tea will round out this typical potluck menu nicely.

Hot Pomegranate Punch

Oyster-Spinach Bisque

Sage-Stuffed Roast Turkey and Gravy

Mashed Potato Crown or

Serritelli Holiday Vegetable Medley

Green Bean Salad or Pink Arctic Freeze

Holiday Pancit

Rosemary Currant Bread

Walnut-Pumpkin Squares

Fresh sage leaves provide the dominant flavoring in a traditional bread-based stuffing for the glistening holiday bird at Betsy Balsley's home.

HOT POMEGRANATE PUNCH

(Laura Vera)

5 pomegranates

7 cups water

2 whole cloves

2 sticks cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

1 (6-ounce) can pineapple juice

2 ounces tequila

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Thin orange slices, optional

Mint leaves, optional

Remove seeds from pomegranates. Mash in mortar with pestle or puree in blender. Combine seeds with water, cloves and cinnamon in saucepan. Bring to boil. Add sugar and pineapple juice. Simmer 10 minutes. Add tequila. Serve with raisins, walnuts and peanuts on side. Garnish with thin orange with thin orange slices and mint leaves. Makes about 16 (1/2-cup) servings.

OYSTER-SPINACH BISQUE

(Donna Deane)

1/4 cup finely chopped salt pork

1/2 cup minced onion

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons butter

4 (8-ounce) jars oysters with liquor

5 1/2 cups (about) chicken broth, preferably homemade

1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice

1 stalk lemon grass, cut into 3 sections

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed

3 cups whipping cream

1 tablespoon flour

Salt, white pepper

1/4 cup dry Sherry

Red caviar

Lemon wedges

Hot pepper sauce

Saute salt pork in large saucepan until lightly browned. Add onion, garlic and 2 tablespoons butter. Continue to saute until onion is tender.

Drain oysters into measuring cup. Add enough chicken broth to oyster liquor to measure 6 cups. Set aside oysters, cutting up any large pieces.

Add broth mixture to saucepan with clam juice and lemon grass. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add spinach and continue simmering 5 minutes. Remove lemon grass. Puree soup in batches in blender or food processor. Return to pot. Stir in 1 cup whipping cream.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter and blend in flour. Add to bisque. Bring to boil, stirring until slightly thickened. Add reserved oysters. Simmer just until oysters begin to curl, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Stir in Sherry. Pour into serving tureen. Serve with remaining 2 cups cream, heated, for each guest to add to bowl of bisque, if desired. Serve with caviar, lemon wedges and hot pepper sauce. Makes about 10 cups.

ROAST TURKEY WITH SAGE DRESSING

(Betsy Balsley)

1 medium to large turkey

Salt, pepper

Sage Dressing

Melted butter

Sage leaves

Gravy

Remove neck and giblets from turkey. Cook neck and giblets in water to cover to make broth for Gravy.

Rinse turkey and pat dry. Rub salt and pepper into neck and body cavities and onto skin surface. Lightly spoon some Sage Dressing into neck cavity, then skewer neck skin to back. Stuff body cavity with some remaining dressing and secure drumsticks with string. Twist wings akimbo under turkey, if desired, or secure to body with wood picks.

Place turkey, breast side up, on rack in roasting pan. Brush with melted butter. Insert meat thermometer into thick part of thigh. Point should not touch bone. Roast at 325 degrees until meat thermometer registers 175 degrees or until thick part of drumstick feels tender when pressed with thumb and forefinger or until drumstick and thigh move easily.

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