Of all the holidays in this country, none may be as rich with tradition as Thanksgiving.
The turkey stars. Bit players include stuffing, potatoes and buckets of gravy. Everything is seasoned to taste, influenced by the flavorings and stuffings and side dishes served by your parents, their parents and your great-grandparents.
Perhaps this year you invite someone to share your family's Thanksgiving meal, a young couple overwhelmed by a new baby, a member of the armed services from a nearby base, an elderly neighbor.
Perhaps you take a second look at your menu. We're not suggesting the turkey step aside. We're only saying it may be time to consider adding another player to your meal's ingredient mix: pomegranates.
They're in season now through January, impart bright flavor wherever they appear and are lovely to look at. We also seem to have a growing appetite for them, eating the seeds (arils) in salads and side dishes as well as sipping the juice and flavoring everything from ice cream to gum with it. Total U.S. acreage grew from 4,737 acres in 1997 to 24,517 in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Cookbook author and TV celeb Alton Brown so enjoys them, they were the focus of a TV episode and are in his book, "Good Eats: The Later Years." Among the recipes: a tequila sunrise (with pomegranate syrup) and a Pomegranate Jel-Low (unflavored gelatin, fresh juice and crunchy arils).
Not ready for Jel-Low? Try welcoming pomegranates to your table with a glaze for the turkey or as the tart note in a wild rice side dish.
Roasted turkey with pomegranate-thyme glaze
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 3 to 3 3/4 hours
Servings: 10 to 12, with leftovers
Note: Adapted from "The New Way to Cook Light" (Oxmoor House, $34.95). The original recipe uses a turkey breast and cooks it on a barbecue grill. We've used a whole bird, incorporated some preparation techniques and oven-roasted the turkey.
12 to 14 pound turkey, thawed, giblets, neck removed
4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 small bunch thyme sprigs, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 onion, quartered