Dribbling hot pan juices over a roasting bird has always been one of the quintessential images of Thanksgiving. But in recent years, I've noticed some recipes for roast turkey are leaving this step out. That makes me wonder how necessary basting really is. What do you think?
Q: I'm thinking about forgoing the meat at Thanksgiving this year, but I'm a little afraid of my family making a big deal out of it. Part of me wants to quietly make my own entree, but my grandmother's dressing is a favorite of mine, and it uses turkey stock. What's the best approach to the meal?
Q: This Thanksgiving I'm in charge of menu-planning and cooking for the first time! It is also the first Thanksgiving my uncle and his family will celebrate in the US after living 10 years abroad, and I really want to make it a memorable one. The problem is that no one in my family likes turkey and my mom is insisting on cooking a leg of lamb instead.
The classic American dinner usually has a protein as the main focus (a.k.a. as the center of the plate) and two or three side dishes orbiting around it. And when it comes to the American dinner, there's nothing more iconic than Thanksgiving dinner, with the usual turkey taking that center-of-the-plate staring role. But maybe not …
Q: My friends are hosting a large "Friendsgiving" next weekend and asked me to bring a second turkey since they do not have the oven space. I would like to arrive in time for pre-dinner cocktails, but I also want my turkey to remain hot until everyone is ready to eat! What is the best way to transport the turkey to keep it moist and warm?
I think that one of the most delightful parts of a big holiday like Thanksgiving is setting a beautiful table. This doesn't have to involve enormous bouquets or laying out the silverware with a ruler (as much as I love that moment in the Downton Abbey credits). In fact, if decorating the table stresses you out, don't worry about it! But I think that many of us enjoy setting a table for a special meal that expresses a bit of creativity.
For this Thanksgiving dinner, I wanted a beautiful table, but I didn't have a lot of time to plan it out. So I decided to ask for some help, and I'm so glad I did!
Quince is the most luscious fall fruit, but not as widely known or easily found as it should be. It holds its secrets tightly inside; quince is very astringent and not pleasant to eat when raw, but when cooked with sugar it turns coral-pink and delicious. It's also very high in pectin, which means that it is practically perfect for sorbet. This fragrant sorbet, spiced with star anise and vanilla, is thick and smooth — more like a sherbet than an icy sorbet — and it makes a wonderful accompaniment to autumn gingerbread and apple cake.
Q: This year I'm spending Thanksgiving with my boyfriend's family and I have been tasked with bringing cookies. I'm a bit intimidated because the cookies need to impress, but I have to do all my cooking the week before, so I need a recipe that can be frozen.
My wife isn't the biggest fan of turkey... which is a polite way of saying that she hates it! "She's just never had a good turkey," you might say. Au contraire mon ami, she's had 'em done all the right ways from all the right people. Yet still, as far as she's concerned, turkeys can pack its bags and jettison on a private plane co-piloted by Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Off to Never Neverland!
For others who may be turkey disinclined, some options...
For the Thanksgiving dinner I'm sharing with you this week, I wanted a really lush centerpiece, one that celebrated the beauty of the fall harvest but didn't cost me hundreds of dollars. So I turned to my favorite eco-friendly florist to help me create a beautiful, all-natural vegetable centerpiece that a real human (you know, homo sapiens, as opposed to marta stewartensis) could make with some seasonal vegetables, basic tools, and a little imagination.
But I didn't want to let all that beauty go to waste, after the meal. Since nothing is glued down or otherwise rendered inedible, you can eat nearly every piece of this arrangement — and I give you recipes to help you do just that.