After enduring many hardships in the New World, the Pilgrims finally succeeded in having a plentiful harvest. They were very grateful to G-d for providing for them, and wanted to find an appropriate way to honor G-d. They turned to the Bible for inspiration and found what they were looking for in Exodus.
They discovered “the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end” (Exodus 34:22), one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals celebrated in ancient Israel during the times of the Temple in Jerusalem. This feast signaled the end of the harvest, and the conclusion of the agricultural year of the Land of Israel. It is the harvest festival of Sukkot.
During Sukkot, it is customary to include the Seven Species of the Land of Israel in the sukkah, and to incorporate them into the menu. The seven most important plants that were grown in ancient Israel were wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates and olives (Deut 8:8). The Pilgrims consumed the foods from the New World such as turkey, corn, pumpkins, and cranberries.
For this Thanksgiving celebration, I have decided to return to the holiday’s roots. I will prepare the traditional New World bird with the Seven Species of the Land of Israel. It is a turkey brined in pomegranate juice, with wheat and barley couscous stuffing.
For the Pomegranate Brine
Adapted from POM Wonderful.
- 4 cups pomegranate juice
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
For the Turkey
- one 15-pound turkey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, chopped
- black pepper
For the Pomegranate Glaze
- 3 cups pomegranate juice
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- black pepper
- Place the turkey in a large pot.
- Combine all the ingredients for the brine, and pour over the turkey.
- Cover the pot tightly, and refrigerate overnight.
- Pre-heat the oven to 325°F.
- Scatter the chopped onion, carrot, and celery in a large roasting pan.
- Remove the turkey from the brine, and place it over the cut up vegetables.
- Brush olive oil over the turkey.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Roast for approximately 4 hours.
- Boil 3 cups of pomegranate juice until reduced by half.
- Mix in the pomegranate arils and black pepper.
- Brush over the roasted turkey.
For the Couscous Stuffing
- 1 1/2 cups semolina couscous
- 1 1/2 cups barley couscous
- 3 cups boiling water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons orange blossom water
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped figs
- 1/2 cup pitted, chopped dates
- Pour the couscous into a large bowl.
- Add the salt, boiling water, orange blossom water, and cinnamon.
- Stir all the ingredients together, and then cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- Mix in the olive oil, raisins, figs, and dates.
- Sautee the almonds in a little olive oil.
- Sprinkle the almonds over the couscous.