I have a burning question: Why would anyone serve canned cranberry sauce when homemade is so easy and delicious? Essentially, you toss fresh cranberries and sugar in a pot, bring it to a boil, and gussy it up with various flavors. Every year, I create at least one new cranberry sauce and each year, I declare that one my favorite. This Thanksgiving, I am making this beautiful, garnet-colored sauce, a recipe that I developed for Driscoll's Berries. The bright red of raspberries complements the darker scarlet of the cranberries, and the flavor is sensational.
A simmering pot of mincemeat announces the holiday season with its heady, spicy aroma, but this one is meat-less. The suet and beef from the old recipes are gone, and the fruit flavor has been increased with apple juice concentrate, which also acts as a sweetener. As supermarket candied citrus peels are usually tasteless, look for high-quality imported ones. Some mincemeat is aged for months, but this one is ready to go the day after making. The result is a multi-colored and deeply-flavored mélange that tastes different with every bite.
Turning that turkey carcass into a really good soup (no use making a really mediocre soup, is there?) is a two step process. Most folks just toss everything into a pot with water, and simmer it all together until it is soup. By the time the broth is flavored, the meat and vegetables are washed out. It is much better to make a broth first, and then turn that into your soup du jour. This minestrone is one of my very favorites.
Brined turkey first made a splash a few years ago in the pages of Cook’s Illustrated, thanks to a recipe in Jean Anderson Jean Jean JJJean 's The Food of Portugal (with a few tips from kosher butchers along the way). The brining concept fooled many cooks into thinking that their turkey was juicier, and a new favorite turkey method was born. I am not a fan of the added flavors (your turkey may taste more like a ham than poultry) and the logistics can be daunting. For my money, if you want a brined turkey, buy a kosher or “self-basting” one, as both have already been treated with salt. And, as anyone who has brined turkey knows, finding room in the refrigerator can be a hassle, although I have a solution for that one. But, for those of you who want to try it and shape your own opinion, here's a recipe that I have taught often in my classes with great success. And I has another interesting aspect--make-ahead gravy.
Oyster stuffing is a "love it or hate it" food. But for many Americans, especially cooks in New England, it is the turkey stuffing of choice. (Call it dressing, if you wish.) My cousin Lisa's husband Mike loves oyster stuffing and always brings it as his offering to the family dinner. So, for Mike, and the rest of you for whom it isn't Thanksgiving without oyster stuffing, here is my version, with shiitake mushrooms and leeks coming along for the ride.
I usually like my holiday turkey unadorned. I feel that if I am going to get a top-notch organic bird, I want to taste the turkey, and not the embellishments. Dry-brining adds flavor to the meat without overwhelming. This recipe, which will taste like it has been roasted without ever seeing a grill, is one of my favorites. The caramelized onion gravy always gets comments like "this is the best gravy I ever had!," and other over-the-top remarks. Serve it when you have a guest list of grownups and a fine bottle of Zinfandel to serve alongside. Keep reading for the instructions...
I have had Thanksgiving dinners where I didn't want a large bird. One time, I was leaving on a trip the next day, and I didn't want leftovers. Another time, because of work schedules, there were only a four of us at the table. Here is a wonderful turkey dish for when you don't need to go the whole hog.
I promised a turkey a day, but I have had a lot of questions about gravy in my classes. I understand the dilemma, as the way that most of us were taught to make gravy almost ensures lumps. My grandma simply stirred (she didn't have a whisk to smooth out lumps) flour into the fatty pan drippings to make a paste, and then added giblet stock. If you think of gravy as a sauce, made with a roux of turkey fat and flour with stock (and the degreased drippings), you'll have success. Want to learn more?
So, you feel like giving deep-fried turkey a try? OK, but don't say that I didn't warn you. (Somehow, I don't feel warm and toasty about a cooking method that almost burned down my friend's garage.) Here's my recipe, with lots of tips and caveats.
There used to be only one way to roast a turkey--stick in a pan and roast it in the oven. However, without a little attention to the details, you can end up with a dry bird. Fixing the problem of keeping the breast meat moist is very easy. In fact, it is so easy that no one wants to believe me.