Few things translate holiday sentiments quite like the tastes of Thanksgiving. It’s in the moments gathered around the table (whether in peace or pure chaos), with those we love (even those we don’t always like), when savoring these seasonal flavors seems to truly register on a deeper, even soulful, level.
The taste of the holidays is upon us. And what are holidays without tradition?
Though on Thanksgiving Day, what is traditional tastes different for each of us. For some, it’s a simply-spiced creamy pumpkin pie. For others, it’s the dressing jeweled with herbs and onions, or perhaps the stuffing fully soaked in flavor. For most, it’s purely the aroma of a classic roasted turkey. We must admit, though, that for many of us, it’s the glorious leftovers that remain for days for days.
“No matter what, we always have a jerk,” says Sheila Barceló. She is not referring to her company. Rather, Sheila is referring to the Barcelós’ Thanksgiving tradition: a Jamaican jerk turkey.
“Even if we have the traditional, we still will have a jerk,” Sheila says matter-of-factly. Originally born in a rural parish of St. Elizabeth in Jamaica, Sheila embraces American dishes equally with the spice and zeal of her family’s Jamaican roots. A Lakelander caterer, whose meals mirror the vast array of local herbs and flavors, Sheila specializes in preparing dishes based entirely on whole foods and caters to every type of dietary need. Here Sheila shows how to do just that for your Thanksgiving Day, no matter how many different diets and picky palates you will be feeding.

Sheila’s menu doesn’t lack an ounce of flavor. In fact, it’s likely you’ve yet to have seen such a “traditional” Thanksgiving spread with more gusto. Just a spoonful of her vegan Butternut Squash Soup will communicate her passion for creating tastes that don’t sacrifice flavor any more than Paula Deen would sacrifice butter. (And, though you could easily fool your dairy-friendly guests, Sheila doesn’t use a bit of butter in this creamy, dense soup.)
So, while the assumption would be that your gluten-free guest can’t indulge in a little starch or that your pescatarian daughter’s plate will lack a desired variety, creating such a rich and earthy meal that meets all these demands couldn’t be more attainable or satisfying. This memorable spread is sure to leave even your vegan friends feeling hearty and bright. (So, for goodness sake, lay off the tofurkey this year.)
The Lakelander can testify that the glazed, succulent Rack of Lamb in Pomegranate Rioja Vinaigrette may even seduce your most loyal of vegetarians into conversion.
[item title=”Escovitch Red Snapper”]
3 medium red snappers, scaled and gutted
4 cups water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 scotch bonnet pepper (or any type of chili pepper, sliced into rings)
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 chayote, peeled and cut into thin strips
2 small onions, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
8 to 10 allspice berries
8 whole peppercorns
coconut oil for pan-sautéing the fish
Wash the fish thoroughly in a large bowl with a mixture of water and lemon juice.
Pat dry with paper towels, season with salt and ground black pepper. Heat a
skillet (cast iron works best) and melt coconut oil. Pan-sauté the fish for 3 to 4
minutes on each side, until crispy.
Remove the fish from skillet and drain on paper towels. Place in a deep
glass dish.
For the marinade, combine vinegar and two tablespoons of coconut oil in
saucepan on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add all sliced vegetables,
cover, and bring to a low heat. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Transfer vegetables and sauce to cover the fish in the glass dish. Serve.[/item]
[item title=”Pureed Butternut Squash Soup (Vegan)”]
2 butternut squash (7 to 8 pounds total), cut in half lengthwise and seeded
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cups onion, finely diced
2 cups celery, chopped
1 small bunch cilantro
3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
6 cups vegetable broth
4 cups coconut cream
1 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly salted and roasted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
Place squash on baking sheet, cut side faced down.
Bake for 15 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
Remove skin from the squash. Roughly chop the squash and set aside.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions, celery, and
garlic, and cook until fragrant.
Add the squash and half the stock. Using an immersion blender, carefully
puree the items in the saucepan.
To the pureed mixture, add remaining stock, coconut cream, cilantro, and
cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then add salt and nutmeg. Simmer for 5 to 7
minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and cilantro from soup.
Serve hot, garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds.[/item]
[item title=”Smokey Jamaican Jerk Turkey”]
Step 1:
10- to 12-pound turkey
Remove gizzards, liver, and neck bone from inside of turkey. (Rinse well. Reserve, and keep them refrigerated, as they will be roasted with the bird and then cooked to make gravy.)
Rinse turkey well.
Step 2:
1/2 cup smoke salt
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups orange juice concentrate
1-1/2 gallons water
Combine smoke salt, cider vinegar, orange-juice concentrate, liquid smoke, and water.
Completely emerge bird in marinade, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
Step 3:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
4 tablespoons Jamaican jerk seasoning (available in ethnic aisle of major grocery stores)
Remove the turkey from the marinade, and discard the marinade. Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel. Massage the turkey liberally with jerk seasoning, under and on top of the skin.
Step 4:
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 sprigs thyme
Put the chopped onion and sprigs of thyme inside the cavity of the turkey.
In the bottom of a roasting pan, place:
3 large carrots, roughly chopped
5 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon pimento berry
2 cups water
Place the turkey on top of the chopped vegetables in the roasting pan. Add the gizzards and neck bone to the pan and roast them with the turkey.
Cook the turkey for 20 to 25 minutes at 450 degrees F, until skin is crisp and slightly chard.
Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Smoked Jamaican Jerk Turkey
Remove the roasting pan from the oven.
Use heavy-duty foil to create a tent over the turkey. (To ensure foil does not touch the bird, use bamboo skewers.)
Return the turkey to the oven and cook 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until the internal temperature of the bird registers 165 degrees F.
Remove turkey from oven and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. Remove gizzards, liver, and neck bone from the pan and set aside to be used in Jerk Sauce / Gravy recipe below.
Step 5
Puree half of the cooked vegetables and drippings from the roasting pan.
In a sauce pan, combine the:
pureed vegetables
1 tablespoon chicken base
1 tablespoon jerk seasoning
4 cups water
roasted gizzards, liver, and neck bone
Simmer to desired gravy consistency.
Remove gizzards, liver, and neck bone.
Serve jerk sauce / gravy with the meal as desired[/item]
[item title=”Jamaican Sorrel Drink”]
Sparkling with warmth and spice, this traditional Jamaican beverage is
known for its many health benefits as well as lively flavors. Featuring the
sorrel flower, which blooms only from approximately November to January,
the sorrel drink has been long-beloved for its anti-inflammatory and hearthealth
8 cups of water
2 cups dried sorrel
2 tablespoons grated dried ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1-1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup lime juice
Combine the water, sorrel, ginger, and allspice in a large pot. Boil for 10
minutes. Set aside to cool.
Strain the cooled drink to remove all particles.
Add sugar and lime juice. Chill and serve.
Add 2 cups of Appleton spice rum (optional).[/item]
[item title=”Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese”]
2-1/2 pounds gluten-free fettuccine pasta (break into 1-1/2 to 2-inch pieces)
16 ounces ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
4 cups cheddar/mozzarella blend
2 cups parmesan, for topping
2 quarts vanilla unsweetened almond milk
1 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
3 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook pasta until al dente, following package instructions. Drain, rinse with cool water, and return to pot.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, add milk, seasonings, and spices, and bring to a boil on low. Slowly combine all cheeses, except for parmesan, and whisk until smooth. Pour over pasta; toss to coat.
Divide and pour into two casserole dishes. Bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes more. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.[/item]
[item title=”Roasted Rack of Lamb with Spicy Pomegranate Sauce”]
When purchasing the lamb, ask the butcher to “french” the bones (removing excess meat and fat), which makes the chops neat to eat.
2 eight-bone racks of lamb, frenched
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Cover bones with foil to prevent from burning.
Combine herbs and spices with mustard; set aside.
Rub the lamb with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a large skillet. Sear lamb in hot oil (fat side down) 4 to 5 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 to 7 minutes. Rub lamb with mustard and herb mixture. Place on lined or greased baking sheet.
Put the pan in the oven, and roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until desired doneness. Keep covered for 7 to 10 minutes before slicing to allow juices to redistribute.
Remove foil from bones, and serve.[/item]
[item title=”Spicy Pomegranate Sauce”]
2 cups pomegranate
2 cups of Rioja red wine
1 teaspoon black peppercorn
1 teaspoon allspice berry
1 sprig thyme
1 small sprig rosemary
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Cook over medium heat until reduced to sauce consistency. Drizzle lamb with sauce, and serve.[/item]
prop stylist: Lisa Malott of Wish Vintage Rentals
food stylist: Cheryl Pace
hair and makeup: Monica Everidge
special thanks to Sheila Barceló and the Barceló Family
special thanks to Dean and Gina Saunders