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Thanksgiving is just around the corner and you’re probably gathering your menu ideas. Everything will cost a bit more so, add studying the weekly grocery store circular, clipping coupons, and checking for app deals to your planning activities. If you haven’t started shopping or bought a turkey yet, allow me to suggest that this should be the year to shake things up and make fish the main course.

Realize, of course, you are risking knocking the earth off its axis and causing your family and friends to forever remember this as the Thanksgiving you completely lost your mind. Nevertheless, be steadfast, be bold, and remember, nobody at that first Thanksgiving said, hey, you overcooked the bird or questioned the decision to put stuffing directly into the bird cavity. And yes, it is highly likely they served fish. Be in charge of the meal, and invoke house rules… your house, your rules- and your menu. Don’t worry, the shock will be short lived as they will eventually get hungry. That’s when you lay it on them- a dish so delicious they will quickly forget the missing bird and be raving about you being the trendsetter for the decade.

While your guests are devouring your meal and clamoring for seconds, you can lay a history lesson on them. The first Thanksgiving did not offer a menu of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, or pie of any kind. The first feast featured turnips, cabbage, squash, the gift of five deer from the Wampanoag people, fish and shellfish, including clams and lobster. You can also regale your guests with some other tips. Making fish the star of the meal saves countless hours of prep time. There is no need to allow time to thaw a 25-pound bird.. You don’t need to break out an HP calculator or a calculus book to figure out the optimum cooking time so that the turkey is not dry. Baking or grilling fish is much more straightforward, and can be prepared and baked or grilled in an hour or less, depending on the recipe and how many people you’re serving.

Tired of your guests going comatose after that last bite of pie due to the heavy dose of tryptophan? Fish is healthy and promotes conscious interchange among your guests long after dinner has been consumed. Turkey breast may be lean and a good source of protein, but it is generally considered bland and dry. It is therefore roasted with the skin on, basted in butter, stuffed with bread and covered with a fatty gravy to make it less dry with more taste. All this adds high levels of sodium, saturated fats, and cholesterol. Fish is a lighter, more heart-healthy option, loaded with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. If that isn’t enough to seal the deal, the side dishes that complement fish – roasted potatoes, grilled veggies, and light sauces, are much better for your health than the sweet potatoes, stuffing/dressing, and mashed potatoes

Fall is a great time to catch a big meal-worthy salmon or striper in the north, mahi or redfish in the south. In past years we have featured other fish options for Thanksgiving, but this year, in honor of the salmon run, here is a recipe that will make a grand presentation that will leave your guests requesting an encore.

Whole Roasted Salmon with Orange Butter Glaze

Here are your ingredients:

1 whole salmon – Approximately 8 pounds, scaled and cleaned with the head and tail on

4 leeks, trimmed of stems and halved lengthwise

4 oranges

1 red onion, cut into 1/8-inch slices

6 sprigs of fresh cilantro

1 cup of dry white wine

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Here are the directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Slice leeks in half lengthwise. Lay them on bottom of a 12 x 18 jelly roll pan

  3. Take oranges, cut away the peel, pith and outer membranes. Slice in 1/4" round slices.

  4. Rinse salmon in cold water, clean out cavity, pat dry with paper towel.

  5. Cut 3 shallow slits through salmon’s skin, 3" apart, on each side of fish. Season cavity with salt and pepper.

  6. Stuff cavity with fresh cilantro, sliced oranges, and sliced onion.

  7. Lay a piece of cheesecloth over the leeks in your pan. Lay the salmon on cheesecloth.

  8. Juice remaining oranges into a small saucepan and boil over medium-high heat

  9. Melt butter into the juice. Brush the orange-butter mixture over salmon.

  10. Place the pan into the preheated oven.

  11. Baste salmon every 10 minutes with orange-butter mixture until skin is crispy and meat is pink and firm – about an hour.

  12. Use foil to cover fish head or tail if they start getting too dark.

  13. When salmon is done, remove pan from oven and pour wine into the pan to loosen the salmon if it has stuck. This helps deglaze the pan to get the best flavors.

  14. Lift fish, using the cheesecloth, onto a serving platter. Discard cheesecloth and serve.

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