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Got Thanksgiving Leftovers?

Rockfish and crab can do wonders 

      Once traditional Thanksgiving Dinner is over, there are leftovers to consider. Of course turkey sandwiches with or without stuffing are part of the post-holiday tradition. But have you thought of these other worthy alternatives?
 
Rockfish Cakes
      Leftover mashed potatoes combine with striped bass in a wonderful way. Fishcakes are easy to prepare, delicious, provide a great center point to any meal and keep well, refrigerated and frozen. You can substitute stuffing for potatoes if you’d care.
      Frozen striped bass begins to lose its delicate and delicious edge after a month or two. Beginning with the end of Thanksgiving, I start using my ­earliest-dated rockfish packages. So the time is right on both scores.
      Start by thawing out two pounds of fish, rinsing them, cutting them into two-inch squares, then blotting up excess moisture.
       Preheat a large cast iron or other heavy skillet, anoint with a good dollop of butter and an ounce or two of peanut oil. Scatter a handful of fish pieces, being careful not to pile them up in the pan. You want them to brown quickly. Placing them too densely will cause them to be overwhelmed with exuded liquid and they will boil … not good. 
     When the pieces are nicely browned, turn down the heat and flake the fish with your spatula, placing them in a large bowl. Continue until all fish has been cooked and flaked, then add salt, pepper, two teaspoons of dried dill and two teaspoons of parsley. Toss together. If using stuffing, don’t add spices.
      Take leftover mashed potatoes and about half the volume of the fish and warm a bit in the microwave or oven. Next add three beaten eggs, three chopped green onions and a tablespoon of Dijon or other spicy mustard, then another of flour and some half-and-half or milk until the taters (or stuffing) are workable. Then add the flaked fish, using your fingers or a large fork.
       You may vary the amount of potatoes with ingredients until you have a firm mixture. If the potatoes (or stuffing) get too thick, add half-and-half or milk. Spoon out a generous portion of the mixture, place it on a square of plastic wrap and press into a patty of whatever size you’d like. Collect patties on a plate.
       Finally, brown the patties in a large, heavy greased skillet or in the broiler, turning them once. 
 
Wild Rice
      Another excellent leftover dish assumes that you have either or both wild rice or Chesapeake Bay blue crabmeat. That may be a stretch but this dish is worthy of purchasing whatever is missing as it wonderfully complements fishcakes.
About 8 ounces of wild rice (pure wild rice, not a mixture) will do but, since it keeps wonderfully and even freezes well, feel free to prepare the whole one-pound package of wild rice.
      If you’ve never prepared wild rice, it can be a daunting task. However, I found long ago, ignore all printed recipes and simply rinse the grains thoroughly. In a large pot, add unsalted water, bring to a boil and add rice, cooking for 20 minutes.
      Drain the rice and repeat boiling for another 15 minutes with fresh, salted water, then drain once again. Lastly steam the rice vigorously for about 15 minutes or until the grains have popped open. You will find your wild rice just about perfect, every time. 
       In a large skillet, melt a tablespoon of salted butter and brown a half-cup of finely chopped onion and some shredded carrot (or red bell pepper) for color. Then add eight ounces of crabmeat, tossing gently until warm. Add the whole affair into the still hot wild rice with a good squeeze of fresh lemon. Gently mix.
      You won’t regret one moment of preparation time for either of these post-Thanksgiving dishes. 
 
Fish Finder
      The bite is excellent for both rockfish and white perch, and now is an ideal time to finish putting fish in the freezer for the winter. Both species are at the top of their eating form: firm, fat and free of unpalatable defects. 
      Trolling is the primary searching tool this time of year, especially from a boat with a heated cabin. Dragging small-to-medium soft plastics and bucktails will do the job. Jigging bridge pilings, marked schools or throwing jigs and metal spoons to breaking fish also works this time of year. Remember that the bigger fish are inevitably deeper than the others.
      Concentrate on the traditional areas, the mouths of the tribs for rockfish and deep over shell bottom for perch. Just south of the Eastern Shore Rockpile is usually a fine white perch hangout. Bait anglers are scoring flood tides day and night at Sandy Point, Matapeake, Jonas Green, Romancoke and Hoopers as well as Point Lookout at the mouth of the Potomac.
 
Hunting Seasons
Deer, antlered and antlerless
• Archery: Thru Nov 23
• Firearms: Nov. 24 thru Dec. 8
Snow geese, limit 25: Thru Nov. 23 
Ducks, limit 6: Thru Nov. 23
Migratory Canada geese, limit 2: Thru Nov. 23
Sea ducks, limit 5: Thru Jan. 11
Rabbit, limit 4: Thru Feb. 28
Squirrel, limit 6: Thru Feb. 28
Regulations at www.eregulations.com/maryland/hunting/.