If your Thanksgiving is anything like the one that I host, there have to be two kinds of potatoes, three kinds of vegetables and five kinds of wine and beer—and that’s just to keep the immediate family members calm and quiet between arguments about politics, football and whether the answer on the back of the Trivial Pursuit question card is accurate. While everyone is busy chewing and sipping, they can’t be debating why my gravy seems two shades off from the “ideal hickory brown color” or speed-feeding all the best leftovers from the organic, free-range, overpriced turkey to my mutts under the table (true stories, all).
Smaller-boat galleys can be tough places to cook up a feast of this wide-ranging, migraine-preventing magnitude. My pro-tip for when you’re cooking aboard: Make one easily refrigerated recipe ahead of time, and then turn it into three show-stopping dishes on Turkey Day.
This concept came to me during a bout of cranberry relish hysteria circa 2015. I already get the rubbery canned stuff for the aunt who says, Thanksgiving just isn’t the same without it; I cook down fresh cranberries on the stove for Mom, lest that classic gem’s absence be lamented in every phone call straight through Christmas; and I make a third relish recipe that involves chopping and boiling a ridiculous quantity of dried fruits, figs and more—because, well, that’s the one I like, and it’s my kitchen. After three days of cooking, I’m going to have one thing just for me.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, despite these three cranberry relish options, two relatives whined that they didn’t like their choices (the people are worse than the dogs). After my visions faded of drowning these relatives in a cranberry bog, I went online and found this wonderful recipe for cranberry-pear mostarda. The mustard seeds and cayenne give it a spicy zip that sweeter cranberry recipes lack, and so I added the mostarda to my already out-of-control relish repertoire.
This mostarda can be made five days ahead. I fast figured out that making a double-size batch and then applying it three ways saved me time, got the last of the nitpickers to pipe down and brought me the reverence of an Iron Chef.
First use: appetizer round. Bring the refrigerated mostarda back to room temperature, add chopped walnuts to it and bake it into the middle of a wheel of phyllo-wrapped brie. Any baked brie recipe will do; I’ve had success with this one, substituting the mostarda with walnuts for the suggested filling.
Second use: main event, relish-style condiment. That’s easy. Bring the mostarda up to room temperature and serve it with a spoon.
Third use: main event, side dish. Cut a few small acorn squash in half, remove the seeds, press in some butter and bake them face-down in a baking dish filled with about an inch of water, until the squash is soft. Then flip them right-side up, stuff them with a mixture of brown rice, slivered almonds, a little brown sugar and—you guessed it—the mostarda (that’s the fancy, squash-as-bowl look that gets wowzas when presented on a platter; you can also scoop out the cooked squash and turn the whole blend into a casserole to reheat at the last minute, if galley counter space is in short supply for plating).
I’m hesitant to tell you my fourth—bonus use for the mostarda—but just in case you need it, consider saving some of its juices to load up a Super Soaker water gun. The mostarda liquid is a beautifully rich, syrupy thick and jammy-lipstick red: absolutely perfect for post-dinner lounging in tubes or on floats off the swim platform, where the chef can silence any remaining bellyachers with an oh-so-satisfying squirt.
Editor's Note: For more Thanksgiving features, read our Editor's Choice: Boats We're Thankful For This Thanksgiving. Don't forget to share your own Thanksgiving recipes with us on the boats.com Facebook page.