What to Eat and Drink for a Fully Florida Thanksgiving

Florida may not exactly have the type of fall weather that inspires you to curl up in a thick sweater by a roaring fireplace, but when it comes to food, the Sunshine State is home to exotic cuisine that can make your Thanksgiving dinner uniquely delicious.

Need some ideas? The authors of three brand-new Florida cookbooks teamed up with Mark DeNote, author of The Great Florida Craft Beer Guide, to offer some recipes—and craft beer pairings!—that will add fresh local Florida flavor to your holiday.

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Appetizer
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Credit: V Sands Photography

Credit: V Sands Photography

Start off with an appetizer of chips and Miami Mango Salsa from Mango!

Author Jen Karetnick: “This is a mainstay in my house during mango season, and you’d think we’d get sick of it. But it’s so refreshing and flavorful, it’s hard to resist. So it’s usually on hand.”

Miami Mango Salsa

Makes 2 cups

2 ripe mangos, diced

1 small Vidalia onion, finely diced

1 Scotch bonnet chili pepper, minced (optional)

Juice of 1 key lime

1 tablespoon apple cider or white vinegar

2 tablespoons minced, fresh cilantro

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a non-reactive bowl, mix all the ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use. Before serving, allow the salsa to come to room temperature.

Mark recommends: “Choose something that will play well with the mango and the spicy flavors, a saison or Belgian like 7venth Sun’s Star Witness Saison. The tropical fruit and grassy notes from the hops should pair well with the mango and strong spicy flavors while the dry finish should let the fruit and heat shine. If you’re beyond 7venth Sun’s distribution area, I would advise Saint Somewhere’s Saison Athene.”

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Main course
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Credit: Diana Zalucky

Credit: Diana Zalucky

Make fish your main dish this year instead of traditional turkey—or serve both! From Good Catch: Recipes and Stories Celebrating the Best of Florida’s Waters, we recommend Lemon-Herb Swordfish Spiedini.

Coauthors Pam Brandon, Katie Farmand, and Heather McPherson: “Swordfish is one of several species of billfish that populate Florida’s oceans. It’s highly migratory and a prized catch for sport fishermen. It has a firm, meaty texture, which makes it perfect for the grill. Its mild flavor melds well with different flavors, including stronger herbs like rosemary that would overpower milder, flakier fish.”

Lemon-Herb Swordfish Spiedini

Serves 4

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

1 large lemon, zested and juiced

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

11/2 pounds swordfish steaks, cut into 2-inch cubes

Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 1 hour

  1. Combine parsley, rosemary, oil, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl, stirring to combine. Add swordfish cubes, tossing to coat. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 6 hours.
  2. Thread swordfish cubes onto skewers.
  3. Preheat a large grill pan to medium-high. Brush pan with oil.
  4. Place skewers on pan and sear 3 to 4 minutes, then flip and cook 3 to 4 minutes more, until swordfish is opaque and just cooked through. Sprinkle lemon juice over fish just before serving.

Mark recommends: “I would look for a beer that would match flavor and play a strong supporting role. In central and south Florida, that beer would be Tequesta Brewing’s Chancellor Kolsch. It is light enough to let the citrus and protein emerge, but will still play Abbot to the fish’s Costello. If I am beyond Tequesta’s distribution, I would look for Coppertail Brewing’s Unholy Trippel or Swamp Head’s Stumpknocker—something that is complex and will both match and merge with these flavors.”

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Dessert
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Credit: Michael Katz

Credit: Michael Katz

Got guava? Thanks to The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook, you can scratch that jar of pumpkin and try Guava Cheesecake for dessert.

Coauthors Ana Quincoces and Nicole Valls: “Guava and cream cheese are a match made in heaven and a classic Cuban combination! Naturally Versailles’ Guava Cheesecake is a hit among its patrons.”

Guava Cheesecake

Serves 8 to 10

4 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup sugar

16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup half and half

2 egg yolks

4 whole eggs

1 cup guava marmalade

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine the butter, graham cracker crumbs, and ¼ cup of the sugar in a bowl. Firmly press this mixture into the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of an 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Leave the oven set to 400°F.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, vanilla, and remaining ¾ cup sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add the half and half and mix until the mixture is thin and free of lumps. Add the egg yolks and then the eggs one at a time until combined. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust and bake for 15 minutes at 400°F. Reduce the heat to 300°F and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes more. Turn off the heat and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven with the oven door partially open.
  4. Once the cheesecake has reached room temperature, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  5. Spread the cup of guava marmalade over the top of the cheesecake before serving. Note: You may also top with guava shells.

Mark recommends: “For the Guava Cheesecake, I am torn. I am a big coffee stout and dessert fan, but I think guava is a unique flavor that may be overpowered by some strong coffee stouts. If I wanted to go the coffee route, I would pick Cigar City’s Cubano Espresso Brown Ale. It will give a nice coffee flavor to the guava and cheesecake, as much as real coffee would. If I wanted a beer to let the guava be its guide, then I would seek out a witbier or hefeweizen like Funky Buddha’s Floridian, Green Room’s Diamond Wit, Cask and Larder’s Southern Wit, or Cigar City’s Florida Cracker. These beers will keep with the theme of dessert sweetness while allowing the guava to headline the show.”

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Darwin Brewing Company

Darwin Brewing Company

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Categories: Beer, Cooking

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  1. Congratulations to our Good Catch authors | The Florida Bookshelf - November 19, 2014

    […] in the book, it’s hard to choose what to cook first. Yesterday, the authors suggested their Lemon-Herb Swordfish Spiedini as an alternative (or an accompaniment!) to turkey for Thanksgiving […]

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