Thanksgiving cooking help: Free Range on Food

Nov 23, 2011

Thanksgiving 911: We're here for a special two-hour chat devoted to all your last-minute holiday cooking and baking questions.

Past Free Range on Food chats

Happy day before T-gives, everybody! Hope you're in the holiday spirit and not stressing out too much about the big day tomorrow, but we're here to help you if you are. Think of this as your crisis-management panel.

And we'll do this for TWO HOURS today, not just one, so that we can handle even more of your questions and set you at ease.

I'm chatting from my sister and bro-in-law's place in North Berwick, Maine, where the turkey has been slaughtered, my sis has foraged for a ton of oyster mushrooms, the homegrown butternut squashes are ready for roasting, and the wood oven needs firing up. Sounds cozy, doesn't it?

What's on your agenda for the big meal? We've given you a raft of ideas between last Wednesday's section and our special Sunday section (in the latter, we included Tamar Haspel's fun tale of raising her own turkey for the table, along with my take on lighter, brighter dishes using leftovers; Tim's vegan-roast taste test; and Jim Shahin's recipes for smoked side dishes.

We'll have special guests David Hagedorn and Stephanie Sedgwick joining us today to help handle the questions, and hoping Jim Shahin stops by, too.

We'll have giveaway books, as usual, for our favorite chatters today, but they will remain a mystery until the chat's end. Now let's do this!

Any suggestions for appetizers (non-meat) or desserts that I could make using puff pastry (that I found in my freezer)?

Have a look at this recipe for Eggplant and Potato Pastries from our database. There are several dessert options there as well, but this one for Tourte au Potiron (French Pumpkin Pie) seems especially appropriate this week.

Good morning. I've been drying out my cubed bread since Saturday to use for my dressing. The recipe I am using (and have used in prior years) states to toast the fresh bread but in prior years, I am certain that I have never dried out my cubes for as long as I have this year. So my question to you all is, do I still need to toast it? I'm having one of those "doh.." moments here. Thanks in advance and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Looking forward to reading the chat.

No, if you've dried it out it not necessary to toast. Take that step right off your list.

Not a question but a quick shout out of thanks for the staff menu favorites. I made Joe's Cranberry Salsa last night (no jalapeno; used Cointreau instead of Grand Marnier) and it looks good. The initial taste was good and tart too! Thanks for the tip about freezing the cranberries first. I can't wait to eat it tomorrow.

You're welcome!

Last year (I believe) the Post had a great recipe for Thanksgiving stuffing. I can't seem to find it. Do you still have it? I think it had sausage and nuts. Thanks, Jessica

You must be talking about Brother Timothy's Stuffing. I was so tempted to make it again this year.

I am getting a 10-12 fresh bird from Whole foods today. Is brining a necessity? If so, what are some simple options that won't add too many additional flavors and will just keep it moist? Thanks!

I'm finding myself in the don't-bother camp, especially with a smaller bird like this. Best to butterfly it, and make sure you don't overcook the breast meat, and it'll be good. Make some sort of paste that you shove under the skin -- food processor of bacon or pancetta, sage, garlic, that kind of thing.

For leg/thigh quarters, should I put on a rack like a whole turkey, or can I put them directly on top of onions, carrots, etc.? I've only even done whole turkeys in the past.

Either way. What are you doing with all that dark meat?

what's the best way to make delicious gravy?

The best way is to have a great cook do it for you. The second best way: Start with a great stock. A few days ago, I made a terrific stock using 16 turkey necks and tons of carrots, onions and celery that I coated with oil and roasted in a 450 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. I then transferred the necks to a stock pot, deglazed the pan with water (if you boil it on the stove right in the roasting pan, you scrape up all the bits, the most important part of the geavy, and make cleaning the pan a breeze),and  strained the rick liquid into the stock pot. (Discard the solids.) Then, add new veggies (carrot, celery, onion), thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns and cover with chicken stock (preferable) or water. Bring to the boil and simmer the stock for 1-1 1/2 hours. Remove the necks and set aside. Strain the stock through a wide-mesh strainer (discard solids) and again through a fine-mesh strainer. (Better yet, use a flour sack cloth. It clarifies the stock and keeps the fat from going through into the stock. This is my Number One Kitchen Tip of All Time.) Now you have terrific stock. If you want it even more concentrated, reduce it.

Now you can make gravy.

Still with me? Hello? Hello?

In a heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat, melt 4 tablespoon butter until it bubbles and add 4 tablespoons of flour. Stir and cook the roux for several minutes until it is nutty brown. Whisk in 4-6 cups stock (depending on how thick you want it), along with a crushed garlic clove and a half teaspoon of pepper and some salt if it needs it, stirring until the roux is dissolved. Bring the gravy to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and let the gravy cook for 10-15 minutes. Strain.

Now, your gravy is done, way ahead of time. Optimally,you should make the gravy thick, then deglaze the pan the turkey roasts in with water or stock, scraping up the lovely brown bits. Strain this liquid into a fat separator and add the pan drippings, sans the turkey fat, into your gravy. Adjust the seasoning. 

Alternatively, you can make the stock ahead of time and just make your gravy directly in the roasting pan after you remove the turkey. Get rid of all but 4 tablespoons of turkey fat ,add the flour, make a roux and add your stock, garlic and ground pepper, scraping up all the brown bits. Strain the gravy. Adjust seasoning.

By the way...those turkey necks? Pick all the meat off of them and freeze it. When you're ready to make ragu from it, saute diced onions, carrots and celery, add fresh thyme amd tomato paste, and cook for a couple of minutes. Deglaze with some red wine and cook off alcohol. Add some of that turkey stock you had the foresight to save. Reduce sauce until slightly syrupy, add chopped rosemary and garlic at the last minute, along with the shreeded neck meat and cook just until the meat is heated through. Serve over fusilli.

There, I just wrote a column on how to make gravy, with a bonus.

If pinot noir is a good choice because of its versatility and bubbles go with everything, would a Blanc de Noirs be a good choice? Being in New Mexico I was looking at a Gruet Blanc de Noirs.

Dave McIntyre says:

Absotively! That should be a very nice choice, and you score one for local wine, too!

I decided to go all sides for our meal, and figured with full bellies, who would miss the turkey. So far I have green beans, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, shallot gravy (wonder if there is a mushroom gravy?), roasted root vegetables, cranberry sauce, and pie. Does this seem boring or is this a traditional, substantial meal for 5 adults?

You know, I like a centerpiece for this holiday meal.  How about a lasagna, such as Butternut Squash (still a smasheroo after all these years); a Golden Gruyere, Spinach and Mushroom one (from Stephanie!) or even this Mushroom Lasagna Bolognese (from some Hagedorn fellow; likes to use LOTS of ingredients).

As for the mushroom gravy, yes! See the related question.

Last year I made roasted root vegetables with butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots. I recall the carrots were not as soft as the other veggies. Are there any tricks to getting everything to cook evenly?

That sounds like it was a veritable fall riot o' color, I bet.

A couple ways to go: Compensate for the different density by cutting the carrots at a smaller size, or par-cook them first (in boiling water for a short time) so they'll finish the same time the rest of the vegetables do. Or you could cook them a day in advance; that way you'd know the vegetables were all done. Just reheat in a 350-degree oven, maybe covered with foil,  for 20 minutes or so. 

Check out this recipe, which completes them with a honey-mustard glaze. 

I have a large can of pumpkin. I will use half of it Wednesday night to make a pie. How should I (and how long can I) store the other half of the can until I make pumpkin bars?

Transfer it to a zip-top freezer bag, press out all the extra air, and pop it in the freezer for up to 6 months. Or you could refrigerate it for a week, I'd say.

Do you have a recipe for a gravy that doesn't need drippings or any other meat? Is it possible to use just vegetables?

You betcha. I like this one. Mushroom-Miso-Mustard Gravy. There's also the aptly named Vegan Brown Gravy.

Would love some ideas for gravy to pour over mashed potatoes for my vegetarian meal please.

At the risk of sounding like an echo:

Mushroom-Miso-Mustard Gravy, at your service.

I want to make the mashed potatoes today, and reheat them in a crock-pot. Are there any adjustments I should make to the amount of liquid, and about how long do you think they'd take to heat through? Also, about how many pounds of potatoes would you cook up for a crowd of 14 people?

5 pounds is enough for 14 people, with all the other stuff you're likely serving. Cook the potatoes in salted water with lots of garlic cloves, drain when fork tender, pass through a ricer, then add warm heavy cream, enough to achieve the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. The best way to reheat them is to put them in a stainless container and set it in a water bath of simmering water on the stove (or use your crock pot as the water bath), stirring from time to time. Add more cream if the potatoes are too thick. Adjust seasoning.  They don't need it, but served the potaotes with a hunk of butter on the top if you want. The hey to great mashed potatoes: a ricer. Don't have one? Target is open.

How can I reduce the tartness in cranberry sauce, but still keep it sweet?

J-E-L-L-O! Here's my relish: bring one pound cranberries to the boil in 2 cups cranberry juice until the berries pop. Mash them with a potato masher, leaving some berries whole. Add a large box of raspberry Jello and a 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom, stirring to dissolve the gelatin. Remove from heat and stir in a cup of water and two large cans of drained Mandarin oranges. Pour into a bowl or bowls (or mold) to set. (You can use OJ as some/part or all of the liquid or all cranberry juice or whatever proportions you prefer.)

Wine!

 

I make what is evidently a 'killer' sweet noodle kugel, replete with apples, nuts & raisins. It has gotten so that whenever I am invited to someone's house for dinner, they request I make this. Last month, though, I encountered a problem for the first time. When the kugel was finished, it looked fine, it tasted fine, but it fell apart completely... so much so that the host finally exchanged the serving spatula with a spoon! I have been asked to bring this to Thanksgiving dinner and am very afraid this may happen again. I have reviewed the ingredients in my head and the only things I can come up with are the facts that, first, I used store brands for the cottage cheese and sour cream, which I have not done in the past. The second thought is that maybe I used low-fat cottage cheese and/or sour cream but, to be honest, I don't remember. Could either of those factor in to my previous 'sweet spoon noodle?' FWIW, I think the only reason I was even invited to this meal was for the kugel, so I would really hate it to turn out lousy! I truly appreciate your assistance and wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!

This is not a dish to go all-diet on. If you cut back on the fat, the kugel will be watery. Stick with full fat. You might even throw in an extra egg yolk for insurance.

Any idea if I need to pre-bake a store bought refrigerated pie crust for use with a pecan pie? Is there a rule of thumb for which pies need to be pre-baked and which not, or do they all?

Here's one way to look at it. Think about the filling. If it's, say, the syrupy-eggy middle of Mama's Pecan Pie or a Sweet Potato Pie that won't necessarily seep into the pie dough below and make it soggy. If it's particularly wet/juicy, like a filling with fruit that will exude juices, you'd want to prebake that bottom crust. Or if it's a pie recipe that has a separate filling that doesn't need to be baked, well then...you know where I'm headed.

I've got turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, creamed onions, and apple and pumplkin pie. I'll pick up the dinner rolls, brussels sprouts and wine tonight and my sister is bringing appetizers. I must be forgetting something...what is it?

The menu sounds good. ... Are you forgetting to have fun?

For the past 12 years, I worked in an industry in which I was required to work on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, etc. I was laid off this summer and one of the 'silver linings' was that I would be able to have holidays off. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, it seems I will be dining alone. Thought about going to a restaurant but, since I'm still out of work, that seems rather frivolous. So instead, I will be having a small smoked turkey breast, salad, a cut-down version of my grandma's stuffing and a good book! I am thankful for life, in general, and thankful to share love with many people. May not be what I originally considered, but I think it sounds like a perfect 1st Thanksgiving off!

Sounds lovely to me! Everybody gets all crazed when they hear somebody is having T-gives dinner alone, but you know what? If you're cool with it, everybody else should be, too. Have a good holiday.

For the vegetarian thanksgiving, Whole Foods has premade mushroom gravy

I'm making a sweet potato au gratin tomorrow and I'm thinking about combining the things I like best from two recipes. When I get creative, things usually end badly, so I wanted to see what you all thought. I'd like to combine the melty, creamy goodness of gruyere, cream and butter with a little pizzazz from a touch of gorgonzola and sage. All in one au gratin. What do you think?

Works for me!

Hi! I'm making the Brussels sprouts with balsamic cranberry vinaigrette from your recipes archive, and I'm excited about it, but I'm worried my family may not be. The recipe calls for steaming the sprouts, which I worry might be too ... cabbage-y for some people. Am I overthinking it? Would it work to saute the sprouts instead, as in the Brussels sprouts California-style recipe? Or is there another way to downplay the cabbageness? Thank you so much for all your good tips and great recipes!

Absoultely you can saute California style. You could also quarter the sprouts and steam quickly to keep a lid on the cabbage flavor. Here's the recipe if anyone else thinks it sounds good.

You forgot either vanilla ice cream or heavy cream to whip for Chantilly cream, for topping your pies! Also, make sure you have butter for the rolls, and milk or cream to whiten the coffee/tea, for those of us who use it.

I'm a good cook but I have to admit. I have never made gravy and never felt comfortable making it and left it to others to make it. We are having a fried turkey this year so no drippings. I'm thinking of getting some turkey wings and other parts and roasting them so I can have some drippings (I found a recipe online). Do I have another alternative? I want to make the gravy Wednesday as I have a lot of other dishes to make on Thursday and I'd stress out until it's made.

See above. Other parts are terrific for stock other than necks, which really give your stock a meaty, almost beef-like flavor. Wings and thighs are great, but don't waste that meat! 

PS: You could a made the gravy last Wednesday and frozen it.

I have 2 colors of sweet potatoes (white and "normal" orange) to turn into a casserole for tomorrow. I was planning to bake them, then mash with oj, ginger, and butter. Do you think that I could "marbelize" them to make it look pretty in the dish? How different are the flavors likely to be? Any recommendations? I'm not a fan of marshmallow. Also: Was there supposed to be a Food section in my paper today? There isn't, sadly.

No FOOD section today. We published a special section last Sunday. Idea is that all you're all set. If not, here we are.:)

Marbelizing is fine. It's not flavor I'd worry about. The different kind of sweets will have different cooking times. Since it sounds like you're planning to cook them apart so you should be fine.

I like to mash mine with sour cream, sliced scallions and I wrote up the recipe, click here for the exact instructions.

Any suggestions on what to make for dinner on Thanksgiving when you did the full meal for lunch and you're back at your place sans leftovers because you weren't the ones who made the meal? I'm thinking something that's still infused with the turkey spirit but that screams, "Let's sit back and watch some Thanksgiving Day football!" Bonus points for drink ideas, as my family partakes of nothing but water and iced tea at the actual meal.

I don't know about you, but the last thing I'd want to do is jump right back on the turkey bandwagon after a large Thanksgiving spread.

I'd put something together like this dish from our own David Hagedorn: "Indian Meatballs," using ground turkey and serving it with a side of basmati rice. It's a substantial snack that should fill whatever space you still have left in your stomach.

I'd pair it with a Kabinett-style Riesling from Germany.

Hi, these rolls look great. Can I make the dough this evening and let it do a slow rise in the fridge, overnight? (am thinking of all I can "make ahead", here). Thanks!

I love these rolls, from James Beard. And I don't see why not! That should work, sure. Try it for the first rise, and then if the dough doesn't rise enough, it should finish the job once you pull it out to come to room temperature and let it go longer, before shaping.

I have a great pumpkin pie recipe that my mother-in-law gave me and husband really wants for Thanksgiving (which I'm not hosting). The twist is that I'm on reduced activity due to pregnancy complications. I'm trying to figure out how much of the pie I can do sitting down so I don't overdo it. I'm sure I can get the crust made and rolled out, and the pecan topping mixed. My husband is willing to roast and puree the squash/pumpkin mix we'll use in the filling and I think I can probably mix up the filling seated too. Am I right, or will standing make a big difference here?

If this husband is willing to roast/puree, maybe he can be of even more help to you? I'd think applying leverage and pressure during rolling might be something better suited to him, standing up. Helping you. The rest can be sit-down work. Be safe and comfortable. It's just a pie. 

Hi there! My family's traditional Thanksgiving always included rutabagas (which we mistakenly called turnips; I'm not sure why). I'd like to bring some to my in-laws' this year, and I'm looking for a good way to prepare them. I can always do them mashed with a little butter, but I was hoping for a pointer toward something a little more exciting, either a recipe or some really zingy spices to add to the traditional preparation. Any ideas?

I like the sound of this Rutabaga Caponata. Might be a nice snack to keep the masses nourished while waiting for the big meal.

I'm planning to make an amazing pumpkin crunch recipe for dessert tomorrow. I made it once before, and it was absolutely delicious, and super easy. It involves mixing a 15 oz. can of pumpkin with 12 oz. of evaporated milk, 1-1/2 cupes of sugar, 3 eggs and cinnamong. You put it in a 9x13 pan, dump plain yellow cake mix over top, and pour 2 sticks off melted butter over the top. My question is about reducing the amount of sugar. I thought it was great the last time I made it, although very rich. My mom and my sister thought it was great but a little too sweet. I'm wondering what you thought about reducing the sugar to 1 cup, instead of 1-1/2 cup? Thanks!

Yep, you should be fine reducing that sugar. Sounds like it needs it!

What's the history of the green bean casserole? I'd never heard of it until I came to the DC area. I lived in the Midwest for years and grew up in Kentucky but never had I heard of this casserole especially for Thanksgiving.

This is the time of year when that topic is covered like gravy on mashed potatoes.  Here's a brief summary from the International Business Times. It was one home economist's answer to using pantry items.  To me, it's just an excuse to eat those fried onions.  (Speaking of...try using fried shallots that are available at Asian markets for a similar recipe sometime. They have a little sweet aftertaste.)

In a related development, I realize that I am the same age as the original recipe. O-L-D. Or, classic!

Finally, I would remiss in not linking you to our SEO-award-winning blogpost on this subject (for a vegan option and more). So here you go.

I'm trying to make my pies today. I've bought store bought refrigerated pie crust for pecan and pumpkin pies. I used a pie pan and a tart pan because that's what I had. When I pre-baked the crusts, the crust in the tart pan shrunk away from the edges, and the crust in the pie pan flopped over at the top. Are these salvageable, or do I need to run out and buy more pie crust????

Get new crusts and skip the pre-baking. Pecan  and pumpkin pies bake long enough that the crust doesn't need to be pre-baked.

I'm looking for a recipe for a recipe that has a pecan ginger crust (e.g. gingersnap crumbs instead of graham cracker crumbs). I can probably just substitute bourbon for the brandy in our family pumpkin pie filling. Any thoughts on where to look, or what to adapt?

You can follow the crust directions for this Pumpkin Mousse Pie -- heck, you might even be interested to try the whole thing. It was quite tasty, as I recall.  And call me crazy, but the guts of this Gingerbread-Hazelnut Rum Balls recipe might make a good crust as well.

There, I've written the magic word: hazelnuts! love them this time of year. Chatters, thrill me with tales of hazelnuts.

Hi, I live alone. Recipes require one stalk of celery, yet what's for sale seems to be bunches of about 8 to 10 stalks. I don't want to overbuy, only to have it rot in the fridge. Who sells celery by individual stalks? Section 405 (from Tracee's chat)

I feel your pain. I've long complained about this issue -- which is even worse for us single cooks. When I researched the piece I wrote about how to use up all that extra celery, I learned that Safeway was selling it by the stalk in some of its stores -- including the recently remodeled one in Georgetown. I'm not sure if that's still the case; it was a pilot program. But it's worth a call to find out. There are also stores that sell pre-chopped celery; I see it from time to time at the Whole Foods on P Street, in the produce section. And you can always hit up the salad bar, don't forget, for smaller amounts.

If you do find yourself with a whole bunch, Shaved Celery with Sardines on Blue Cheese Toast is an excellent app -- even at Thanksgiving!

Hi! I'm planning ahead for leftovers. Lots of recipes to try, one of which I'm interested in is a turkey stew. I want to halve it though, as it makes copious amounts, and was wondering if that requires adjusting the cooking time as well. Will it dry out too much if I leave it for the 2-3 hours recommended, or does half the amount of stew still require the same amount of time for flavors to develop and meld?

It's a little hard to say without seeing the recipe you're following. Are you using dark meat, white meat or both? The bottom line is: It's a stew. It includes liquid. The meat should stay moist for as long as it takes to cook it. If it looks like the liquid is reducing too fast and the meat could be drying out, add more liquid.

I've been fortunate enough to be invited to 2 Thanksgiving dinners, an early afternoon one and an evening one (ambitious, I know!). The first one will have all the food taken care of, but the second is a potluck. I'd like to bring something that will hold up unrefrigerated for a few hours through dinner #1, and i'm leaning toward something dessert-like. Any suggestions?

Maybe it's  just because I have our upcoming section on the brain, but I'm thinking cookies. Obviously we have tons in the database, but you can start with the recipes from last year's cookie extravaganza.

Chocolate Spice Cookies

Just wanted to tell you all thanks for all your time, help, expertise and tips throughout the year. My family eats very well due to your knowledge and generosity, and you encourage me to cook new and different things all the time. Thanks so much!

Gratitude. We appreciate it. And right back atcha.

(I just won a recent prize, so count me out today thanks)....I have a pumpkin pie in the oven. Yesterday I made a double batch of crust, and as I was measuring flour, I wasn't sure if I had enough (2.5 cups) or if I accidentally stopped 1/2 cup short. As I rolled out a pretty sticky dough today, it also seemed to be a bit smaller than it should have been. So, I think that each crust is missing 1/4 cup of flour. What will this do to the texture? I know it means that there is a higher fat content for sure. It's in the oven now so I don't know what we'll find when we go to serve this pie tomorrow.

You might find the butter that didn't get incorporated into flour would sizzle a bit, or come to the surface of the pie. I've SO been there. Should be edible, particularly with a pumpkin filling. A dollop of mascarpone-enriched whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon sugar will help.

I saw that you recommended butterflying a turkey to an earlier poster. I am just cooking a breast. Should I butterfly that? If so, what do I do? Pull it apart so it is flatter? Thanks!

Nope, no need to butterfly a breast.

OK, for fun, you'll love this. Got the great (really!) to make my own jellied cranberry sauce. Started it last night. Recipe called for fresh cranberries, sugar, apple cider, and lemon juice. I got it all together, cooked it, it looked great, but guess what? Instead of reading "apple cider", I read "apple cider *vinegar*"! Hah! Somewhat saved it by making it into cranberry chutney--which doesn't taste too bad by itself, I might add. But, can I stop cooking now, before I even get to tomorrow??!!

There's still plenty of time for take-out.:)

I read the article about the veggie thanksgiving and notice they left out the Worthington products such as Turkee Slices. Loma Linda, Worthington, Cedar Lake and the newer name of Morningstar Farms have been producing great vegitarian meat substitutes for decades--long before vegitarianism became trendy. My family uses the turkee slices with stuffing as a sort of casserole and my MIL makes oyster dressing using the Worthington Skallops. You can substitute these meat substitutes into any family favorite recipe and usually you only have to adjust the fluid content.

There are tons of meat substitutes, but that's not what we were testing -- we were testing holiday roast substitutes. So we looked for those products, ones that are meant to sub for the big roasts or other meaty centerpieces at the holiday table.

I'm already planning to make turkey noodle soup with my leftovers - own stock and everything! The farm where I got my turkey gave me a bag of giblets... I took because it seemed like the thing to do. But now I confess I don't really know what to do with them. Seems like they should be a part of the soup stock, but not quite sure how. Throw them in with carcass and such? Simmer on their own? Thanks for the help!

You just throw them right in , EXCEPT for the liver. You need to remove this or it will make your stock taste bad.

Planning on making the Turkish Almond Dip from your Recipe Archives as an appetizer for tomorrow, but I was only able to find red grapes, not green. Do you think any adjustments are necessary to the recipe? I'm thinking it might need a little extra tartness.

You will love it. I'm making it, too. It's the kind of thing you can snack on all afternoon and not feel too bad about it.  Red grapes are fine...just changes the color.

Stephanie, I want to make your brussel sprouts recipe. Do you think it's OK to prep the sprouts today to have them ready for tomorrow--any loss of flavor or color if I cut them now? thanks!

They'll dry out a bit. I think it would be okay to trim, but I won't cut in half until tomorrow.

For many years I had Tday with a family friend of Italian ancestry. Every year the meal started with a bowl of the most amazing homemade noodles with sausage and homemade sauce. Every year some newbie wouldn't realize that the turkey was to come, and would gorge on the first course. We all laughed, but the poor bird never got done justice. Finally one year the family cook brought out a pair of chickens instead of a turkey. Everybody got the two bites of bird we were up for after the pasta, and no waste. I still miss that pasta.

Love it.

Joe, I'm unfamiliar with this type of drink. What exactly does it taste like? The picture makes it look delicious though. :)

Jason Wilson says:

Aperol is a bittersweet aperitif from Italy, in the same category as Campari, but with only 11 percent alcohol it's lower proof than even most wines. The taste is of sweet citrus, with floral aromas, which are brought into balance with a hint of bitterness from the gentian. It's been available in the U.S. since about 2006, and came to popularity among craft bartenders -- so much so that some wags began refering to Aperol as "the bartender's MSG".\

Any ideas for a vegetable side that is nut and sesame free, and will not be too diminished if served a couple of hours after cooking? (We're bringing a dish elsewhere; a quick microwaving would be an option, but no oven time/space will be free.) White and sweet potatoes already acounted for.

A real easy (and delicious) green veggie is green beans with lemon. Boil the beans for 6 minutes in salted water. Drain and plunge into ice water to cool. Drain and dry. Mix with olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Will be fine for hours at room temperature. Enjoy.

I just wanted to thank everyone for the Christmas cookie suggestions for my girls baking outing. I think classic Gingerbread is the way to go and am really excited about it. Also as a thank you here is my favorite sweet potato recipe for anyone looking for an easy, savory side. Enjoy the holiday for me, because I'll be working :(

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes

* 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

* 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

* 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

* 1 teaspoon kosher salt

* 2 lb medium sweet potatoes

* 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

 

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coarsely grind coriander, fennel, oregano, and red pepper flakes in an electric coffee/spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Stir together spices and salt. Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1-inch wedges. Toss wedges with oil and spices in a large roasting pan and roast in middle of oven 20 minutes. Turn wedges over with a spatula and roast until tender and slightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Thanks!

In order to not make a nuisance of myself in the kitchen at my in-laws on Thanksgiving, I'm thinking about making our contributions ahead of time. We're doing a kale slaw with a lemon/sunflower seed dressing and roasted butternut squash. I've tested out the slaw after an overnight sit (fine), but I'm not sure how to handle the squash. We usually give the chunks a bath in olive oil, S&P, and garam masala and roast at high-ish heat till pretty. What do you think about roasting ahead of time and reheating in the oven at whatever temperature is convenient at the time (note: turkey being cooked on the grill)?

I think you could make the squash and reheat once you're there. Cover with foil till it's warmed through (at 350 degrees or thereabouts), then uncover to crisp up that caramelized surface.  If you're up for a variation, check out Roasted Butternut Squash With Date Molasses and Candied Ginger (pix below) as well as Roasted Rosemary Butternut Squash and Shallots.

We bought a half-bushel of apples at the farmers' market, and instead of just making apple pie or apple crisp, I though I'd use some of the apples for that open-faced French fruit tart that has a single crust, a layer of custard and sliced apples. But now I CAN'T REMEMBER WHAT IT'S CALLED. Please help, so I can look it up online (or if you could link to a recipe for it, all the better). Merci beaucoup!

I think you're talking about Tarte Normande Aux Pommes. I'd go straight to Julia Child for this recipe

I'm making this, Jacques Pepin's mother's apple tart. I saw him make it on TV a couple of weeks ago and it was so beautiful and easy, I thought I'd give it a go. If it's good enough for Jacques, it's good enough for me.

Considering lines for parking/paying in grocery stores today it is much easier and faster to make your own crusts if you have a little flour and butter or crisco or (lard?). I bet you could salvage the crusts you have parbaked. You might have to serve them on a plate or platter, not in the dishes you baked them in. Going to grocery store today is a cruel and unusual punishment that would turn me off cooking completely. Good luck, and if there is any question about your pies, look them in the eye and say: But it is suppose to look like this!

I agree! No way would it be less hassle to run to the store than to throw together a new crust from scratch...

Do the Free Rangers have any recipes for simple (three-four ingredients max) vegetable side dishes? I always end up putting out steamed spinach and feeling as though I could have done better. One of the group does not eat red meat so can't make the Voltaggio recipe for brussel sprouts that uses bacon.

I'm in love with this Brussels Sprouts California Style recipe with pomegranates and pistachios. I have to think it will be  a stunning and colorful addition to the Thanksgiving table.

I am going to make the cornbread chorizo stuffing that I found on your website. It looks like it was first published in Nov. 2003. It calls for 8 cups of crumbled cornbread, or the yield from an 8x8 pan of cornbread. Do you have a weight equivalent for this? I am sure that my 8x8 pan recipe is not going to yield 8 cups, but I don't know whether to double it, triple it, or what. A cup is such an inexact measurement when it comes to crumbled bread. Any advice on about how many ounces you think a cup in this recipe would be? Thanks.

Hmm. So you don't believe the recipe is what you're saying! I don't have a weight equivalent, no, but honestly think you should just ... make an 8x8 pan of cornbread, as the recipe says. This is not something about which you need to be super-exact.

Just this morning I was assigned to bring homemade bread for a dinner of 20. I can do sourdough baguettes or seed rolls or pumpkin rolls (orange and moist but not too much pumpkin taste). Any other ideas for a reliable bread recipe that both kids and adults will like?

These yeast rolls from Virginia Willis sound great. We're having our traditional yeast rolls from my husband's grandmother -- dough rising right now! -- and I can't imagine a Thanksgiving without them.

Meme's Yeast Rolls

I'm bringing an Indian-style green bean dish for Thanksgiving that I'll be making tonight. Essentially, you cook / steam the beans in a spiced tomato sauce. I'm a little worried about the green beans getting overcooked in the reheating process tomorrow - I like my green beans to have a little bit of crunch left in them. So, would you: a) slightly undercook the beans tonight and assume they'll finish cooking while reheating; b) cook the sauce and blanch / lightly steam the beans separately and then combine during reheating tomorrow; or c) cook the sauce tonight, steam the beans tomorrow right before serving? Not a huge fan of C because it requires two burners right before the meal, and experience has taught me that it will be barely restrained chaos at my parents' house at that time.

I'm going with door B. The bean may lose a little color overnight but they'll stay crisp.

How long will celery last?

It will last a week or two as long as it's fresh when you buy, kept in a crisper, and is in an open plastic bag (keeps moisture in but allows some air circulation).

It lasts longest if you wrap it in aluminum foil, actually! And you can recrisp it by cutting the ends and sticking them in a glass of water.

You had a recipe a week or two ago for roasted brussels sprouts with apple...can that be done tonight and just reheated tomorrow? Cook only halfway or will the recipe lose something if premade?

I woudn't choose any Brussels sprouts dish for a do-ahead. I eat leftover sprouts, but many will find them too cabbagey.

Hi, may be a stupid question, but...what is the best way to find out if the turkey has been defrosted enough? (open it up and put hand in it?) I bought it yesterday, it's been in fridge since...should it be ready to go by morning? If not, any suggestions? thanks!

How frozen was your bird to begin with? How much does it weigh? How are you preparing it? All factors before I offer a helpful answer. You can roast a bird when it's still frozen...it just takes longer, and you have to make some stop-gap measures along the way for seasoning, etc.

That being said -- and if you're looking for a frost-free turkey -- hands-on is the way to check. Does it have ice crystals in the cavity? (A bath in room temp water can help get rid of those; change water as needed.) Can you move the legs and wings away from the body without too much effort? When you press into the breast meat with your fingertips (boy, I hope that doesn't get lifted out of context somewhere), does it yield?

I'm curious what others are planning to eat tonight and tomorrow morning. I'm looking for something filling enough to stave off serious hunger but light enough that there's plenty of room for the Thanksgiving spread.

Not sure about tonight yet, probably something like sushi or a nice wintry soup. But tomorrow morning, I'll go with my usual morning routine: fruit, coffee and possibly yogurt. Anything more, and I might resemble a certain character in a Monty Python sketch.

What else can be used instead of flour, for a gluten-free gravy?

Cornstarch will work for you, just make sure to dissolve in a cold liquid (chicken, broth, water, wine, apple cider...) before adding to the gravy.

Any additional spices / ingredients you suggest besides the traditional to give it a little something something? Thanks!!

Try this recipe, which includes green and red bell peppers as well as one of my favorite ingredients, scallions!

Since most recipes have you cut up the stalk, why not get the equivalent at any sald bar where celery usually appears by itself?

Thanks, but ... didn't I say that? ;-)

How do I know if I'm supposed to "blind bake" the pie crust before putting in the filling. I've been assigned pie duty for the first time and have the pie dough and fixins for four pies ready to go (apple, pecan, pumpkin and chocolate silk). Sometimes grandma says only pre-bake if the pie is going in for over 50 minutes or less, but the next time I check with her, she says always blind bake. What's a novice to do? PS: a 20 minute discussion about pie crusts takes place every year at the Thanksgiving dinner table.....so this is serious stuff!

I'm not a baking expert, but I only blind bake shells for pies/tarts whose filling don't get baked. I mkae the crsut a little larger than I want it to be to allow for shrinkage of about a half-inch and I top the docked (fancy word for fork-pricked) crust with parchment paper and another pie pan that I weigh down with some rice or beans. Bake at 450 for several minutes (like 6 or 7), then remove the pan/beans and parchment and continue  baking for a 5-6 minutes until the crust is golden, pricking with the tip of a paring knife if necessary if bubbles are forming.

I suppose you could stop short in the second 6-minute baking to make a blind-baked shell for a pie that you intend to fill and bake, but I've never done that with an apple, pumpkin or pecan pie.

 

Do you have a Thanksgiving spin on Deviled Eggs....they will be an appetizer before we eat tomorrow!

Hmm. A Thanksgiving spin, like cranberries or turkey or stuffing? I'd rather just make something fabulous and different from the rest of the meal, like my own kimchi deviled eggs -- just put the egg yolks in a food processor with squeezed-dry kimchi and some sriracha, and then after filling the whites top with some more chopped kimchi and another squirt of sriracha, maybe some scallions.

Is that one 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries that you're using, or two?

Yes, one (is is 12-ounces? I used the Ocean Spray bag) but you could use a little more if you want it extra-cranny.

I have to beautiful butternut squashes that I wish weren't crowing my counter right now. I'm hosting tomorrow and just don't have time/room for one more dish in the oven. Is there anything I could do with it tonight that could re-heat tomorrow? I've already done the massive grocery run so it'd be nice if I didn't have a ton of extra ingredients.

You could make mashed butternut squash. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, oil cut sides. Place, cut side down, on lightly oiled, foil-lined, rimmed  sheet pan. Roast until tender in 350 degree oven (time depends on size of squash.) Scoop the cooked squash out of the shells, discard the shell. Refrigerate the squash. Next day, heat some butter in a large pan. Add squash, salt and pepper, and spices of your choice (I like nutmeg or curry powder) and cook until hot and some of the moisture has evaporated. It won't take long, 8 to 10 minutes. You can add sauteed onions and/or sauteed apple chunks to make this special.

thanks!! but how do I know which is the liver? do I need a turkey anatomy book? I'm a bit nervous about this...

It's easy to pick out.:)

I've been asked to supply a third dessert: Pumpkin pie and apple crisp are two other offerings. I'm tempted to go with a cranberry bar or something tart -- any ideas?

These cute Tiny Tim Cranberry Tarts are one option, but I also like the sound of these Cranberry Oat Bars and this gorgeous Cranberry Cheese Tart With Sour Cream Glaze

Cranberry Cheese Tart With Sour Cream Glaze

Just wanted to pass along a tip my mom gave me. I don't have a rack for my roasting pan. One year when I called my mom in a panic, she said I could use three large rings from canning jars to keep the bird off the bottom of the roasting pan. It works great, and I've never found the need to purchase a roasting rack. Good luck to everyone and Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank you so much for being here today. I bought a 12 pound vegetarian fed organic turkey just because I saw one and it was the right size. Now I am wondering WHAT TO DO? I usually buy large turkeys and brine them overnight in salt, sugar, apple juice/sage/ fresh orange solution. Should I brine this one? What kind of brine and how long should it stay in the oven? High heat? low heat?

You're welcome! I like a 12-pounder. Good size and it usually means that it's a younger bird, which translates to a better chance for tender meat. Sure, treat it to your favorite brine (as long as it's not a kosher turkey).  Even if you use a brine recipe built for a larger bird, it should be okay. Try this Apple Cider Brine...I tweaked it for my own turkey just this morning. I do like to start it a higher temp (375), then reduce to 350 or 325.  These days I rely exclusively on an instant-read thermometer -- here's hoping you can see your way to getting one before tomorrow. Shoot for 160 for breast meat, 170 for dark meat (take temp away from the bone).

I am looking for a not so costly drink that can be either with alcohol or no alcohol for for the turkey dinner tomorrow? Any suggestions?

Jason Wilson says:
For the past few years, I've been suggesting a crisp, dry cider with Thanksgiving dinner. Either a French cider like Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut (available at Potomac Spirits and Rodman’s in the District) or Comte Louis de Lauriston Cidre Bouche Brut by Christian Drouin (available at MacArthur Beverage) or an American cider like Farnum Hill’s Semi-Dry and Farmhouse ciders from New Hampshire.

It's just me and my husband this year but I still wanted a traditional spread. We certainly didn't need a whole turkey so I bought a split turkey breast but have no idea how to cook it. Please help!

You have any number of options available in our Recipe Finder database, but might I suggest this Brined Roasted Turkey Breast with White Wine Pan Sauce?

I keep reading about using beans (or rice?) to weight down a pie shell crust while pre-baking. Can the beans (or rice?) be cooked with afterwards -- maybe in a soup -- or do they just go on the compost heap?

Save them, and reuse them for this same purpose. (I prefer to use coins myself.)

I've never eaten these. Do you crunch the seeds, swallow them whole, spit them out??

Chew 'em, swallow 'em. Although some people will crunch them to release the juice and then spit them out.

Add fresh thyme, ...?

Thyme is fine, but tarragon would work. They don't really need much more than some garlic and chopped parsley or scallions, IMO. Or how about some black mustard seeds and lemon zest you've popped in some bubbling butter? Or brown butter? There, I've now created several questions from your one and even more confusion.

Just want to say thank you. A couple weeks back, I asked about a fudge recipe that turned out too hard. You suggested that it was just overcooked. So I tried it again and only boiled it to 235 degrees (instead of 238). It turned out great - taste as good as always, and it was possible to get it into the pan and spread out and to cut it into squares. Thanks, and happy Thanksgiving

So glad!

Hi there, I froze some egg whites a few months back -- can I use them for a meringue? Will a bit of frost on top change the answer? And, completely unrelated, do onions on their last leg emit more sulfur compounds than fresher onions?

1. Yep, your egg whites should work fine, even with the frost, once you thaw them.

2. Actually, fresher onions have more sulphur than older onions.

Pecan Pie is easy, and would complement the other two.

Generally darker in color, multi-lobed, and smooth on the outside. It's bigger than the gizzard and heart, and looks much less like a muscle (because it isn't one).

No, that clicked! Carrots, asparagus, thyme (that's whats still in the garden), scallions, lemon juice, garlic! thanks!

Last week in the food section there was an article about kosher turkey cooking. The turkey was cooked on a grill and the picture of the cut up turkey had the breast sliced looking like a large chicken breast - diagonally might describe it. This week there is a video online of Joe Yonan and cutting the turkey with a more traditional look. Is one way better than the other? Is one way easier/neater than the other? Thank you so much. Happy Thanksgiving!

It's totally up to you and your guests -- whether you like thick or thin. I tend to keep things on the thick side, which allows for greater leftover possibilities. And maybe a thick piece wouldn't dry out as much as a thin slice. But there's always pan juices or a broth to bring a thin slice back to a moister existence. If you want even, thick slices, sometimes it's easy to detach that whole, one-side section of breast meat at a time (does that make sense?) Cut vertically as close to the center bone as you can, then make a shelf-like cut along the bottom. Cut around the sides and you should be able to lift off that diagonal section. Happy turkey day to you, too.

Making a pumpkin bread pudding for tomorrow and need to prepare most of it tonight. Should I keep the custard and bread separate and bake in the morning or assemble it all tonight and bake and put in the fridge? How long can it sit in the custard before baking? Any additional toppings or add-ins you suggest? Thanks you guys are awesome!

I think it's much better to let the custard soak into the bread overnight; it gives the bread a souffle-like quality--just make sure there is enough custard. As an add-in, pumpkin seeds come to mind. And I love golden raisins. And I would put cardamom in the custard base.

Ack! I've just read that one should not pre-bake a pie crust for pumpkin pie. I'm planning to use the pie crust recipe you all provided (as part of the apple pie recipe) for both a pumpkin pie and an apple pie. I had planned to make the crusts and pre-bake them tonight, assembling the pies tomorrow. Now it sounds like I should make the crusts tonight, pre-bake the apple pie crust and just bake the whole pumpkin pie?

I don't pre-bake apple pie crusts either. I just fill and bake. I pre-bake when the filling's not going to be baked, like in pudding and cream pies, but not fruit-filled ones.

Someone borrowed my nice fluted tart pan and didn't return it yet. Any substitute for baking the fancy choco-cherry tart I am supposed to bring to a thanksgiving meal?

Maybe a free-form tart? Such as a Spiced Pear Walnut Galette.

Spiced Pear Walnut Galette

Any pan with a removable bottom would work. I love tarts bake in my removable-bottom, 9-inch cake pans. They have a lovely modern look without the fluting.

My family loves coleslaw, but have a relative coming who is allergic to cabbage. Do any of you have suggestions for a cabbage substitute? Would something like Bok Choi work? Thanks!

Do you know if he or she is allergic to cabbage's relatives, too? Bok choy is also in the brassica family, as are kohlrabi, broccoli, Brussels sprouts. I think you're right that it could make for a nice slaw, but best to check on all the limitations first...

I've never tried it, but I read somewhere recently that the toasted rice could be used in a pilaf. And I bet you could also grind it for use in Thai recipes that call for toasted rice (lots of the salads). Personally, I ended up with some beans I discovered I really didn't like and I just keep reusing those - it's been a least a couple years now and they're still fine.

In this household, the best Wednesday-before-TDay dinner includes picking all the warm meat from the turkey necks and eating it. What's this save stuff? ;-)

Ok, this might be my favorite recipe EVER from you guys. I successfully made this into a lemon cake version not that long ago but now I'm wondering if I can double it. I know sometimes recipes act a little funny with just straight doubling but since this one is done in ounces I should be able to simply double everything right? Second question - where do I find lemon oil now? I haven't been able to find it at Sur La Table recently and want to make sure I can always get my hands on some for my new "Signature Lemon Cake"! Thanks guys :)

I think you should be able to double the recipe, yes.

Re lemon oil:  I've seen it at Mediterranean markets as well, and of course there's always Amazon.com. Also there's a California brand of lemon-flavored olive oil that's sold at Wagshal's Market in Spring Valley (NW DC), although I can't remember the name of it now.  It would work, in a pinch.

I love Boyajian brand, which is what I believe Sur La Table carried. Have you checked with La Cuisine in Alexandria? You can indeed find Boyajian on Amazon or from their own website here.

For those people not cooking for many and especially for lazy people like me... I cut up a stick of unsalted butter, place the slices underneath the skin of a breast of turkey. Make sure you salt and pepper the cavity of the breast and throw in some garlic cloves. Then dump the turkey breast in a crockpot with another stick of unsalted butter. Cook on high for 6 hours or so. Turn once. Obviously the skin doesn't brown and you can't make gravy, but it is the moistest turkey you will ever have. And the easiest!

Thanks -- but a crisp skin is possibly my favorite part!

Grated carrots!!!

But of course!

I'd like to bake a jalapeno cornbread for Thursday, but most of the recipes I've found also call for sugar. I'd like a savory cornbread rather than sweet, so do you think I would do any damage by just omitting the sugar? I'm planning to use buttermilk, if that makes any difference. Thanks!

I am sooo with you on preferring savory over sweet cornbread. This is "bread" after all, not cake.

I'm not sure how much sugar your recipe calls for, but you likely want some element of sweetness in it. Here's a savory style cornbread recipe that uses a small amount of maple syrup to balance out the red onions, bacon grease and jalapenos.

Mmmm, bacon grease!

Google images for "turkey liver."

What is this so-called "Google" of which you speak? ;-)

Hey gang, happy Thanksgiving. Got my rich turkey stock done (great recipe guys, thanks), prepped my creamed onions, drying out my cornbread for stuffing, mashed my sweets and mac and cheese is ready to pop in the oven. Great, huh? I'm having massive anxiety over the right temp and time to roast my turkey breast and wings. One source recommended 1 1/2 hrs. at 350 degrees for a 5 1/2 lb. breast. That seems to short a time to me. Do you think that's correct?

Based on the USDA's own numbers, you're right on target.

Personally, though, I'd keep a close eye on that breast meat, which can dry out, unless you've taken precautions against that, like brining.

Just wondering . . . .

Nothing, it's the liver you need leave out.

Jicama or celery root

Does cooking a bird breast side down really help the breast stay juicy? We usually do this for our roast chickens and flip halfway through. We also tried it last year with our turkey and it turned out beautifully. However, last year's bird was 11 lbs. This year, it's 17. Is it really worth it to flip such a huge beast, or is there another way I can ensure the breast stays juicy while the thighs cook? I've also heard that some people put foil over the breast for the first half of cooking time.

Personally, I think this flipping the bird business is a total waste of time (except when someone cuts you off on the Beltway) and a potential big mess. I mean, really, you're going to turn over a heavy bird that most likely will stick to the rack just to annoy you and further complicate the procedure? Using what? 2 big forks?Mitts? Ridiculous. If you brine the turkey, roast it on a rack, put some soft butter under the skin and baste it a few times, your turkey should be juicy. And use a thermometer to take out the guesswork. Tent with foil along the way if the bird is getting too brown. Juiciest piece of advice? Don't overthink this, folks.

Seeing Jamie Oliver's way of cutting a turkey changed my life! Instead of argueing over who will cut the turkey, I offer to do it because his was is SO easy and much nicer looking. It's on his website. You cut off the breast (cutting down from the breastbone and sidways as far down as you can) and then cut that breast into diagonals.

I may be asking about the wrong holiday here, but it's time to start baking the fruit cake if it's going to be nice and ripe for Christmas. You ran a recipe a while back--like, ten years ago!--for a light (as opposed to dark) fruitcake where the only fruit was lots and lots of cherries, and the only nut was lots and lots of pecans. It was a huge hit, but I've lost the recipe and can't find it in using your recipe search. Can you help? Or can you point me to another, similar recipe? My problem with fruitcake is citron and peel. Cherries, on the other hand....how can you not love a cake packed with cherries? Thanks!

This was only in 2009 but this Azorean Spice Cake is  the ticket. I'm  not a fruitcake queen -- in fact, you can quote me on that! -- but this fills all the requirements and it tastes very good. There would be no re-gifting involved, I'll wager.  No citron, no cherries. But you could add the latter.

 

Elinor Klivans did a nice fruitcake story for us in 1998. I think this recipe sounds the closest to what you were after:

Kentucky Bourbon Cake

Makes 1 large cake baked in a tube pan

At first glance it looks as if this cake calls for way too much bourbon, but most of it is absorbed by the fruit as it steeps in the liquor. Both fruit and cake will give only a hint of bourbon. This adaptation of a traditional recipe comes via Sammye Williams, a native Kentuckian, who now lives in the Washington area.

For the cake:

1 1/4 cups bourbon whiskey

1 pound red candied cherries, halved

1 1/4 cups golden raisins

4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

3/4 pound (3 sticks) soft unsalted butter, plus additional for the pan

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

6 large eggs, separated

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups (about 1 pound) pecan halves

For the syrup:

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons bourbon whiskey

The day before making the cake: Pour the bourbon over the cherries and raisins in a medium bowl and stir the mixture occasionally. Cover and let sit overnight.

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Butter the bottom, sides and center tube of a 9 1/2- or 10-inch tube pan with sides at least 3 3/4 inches high. Line the bottom with parchment or wax paper and butter the paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder and nutmeg together. Set aside.

Beat the butter and both sugars in the large bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture will look curdled. Mix in the vanilla and bourbon-cherry mixture, including any liquid that remains in the bowl. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated. Set aside.

Beat the egg whites with clean beaters in a clean large bowl of an electric mixer until firm peaks form. Stir about 1/3 of the egg-white mixture into the prepared batter. Then use a rubber spatula to fold in the remaining egg whites just until no white streaks remain. Stir in the pecans. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

Bake for about 3 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool thoroughly in the pan. Loosen the cake from the sides and center tube and remove it from the pan. Discard the paper lining the bottom.

For the syrup: Heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the bourbon. Soak a large piece of cheesecloth in the bourbon syrup. Wrap the cake tightly in the cheesecloth, pressing some of the cheesecloth into the center hole. Wrap in plastic wrap, then in heavy aluminum foil. Put into a large tin, if desired. Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks. Check the cheesecloth every 2 weeks and moisten with additional syrup if it becomes dry. Refrigerate for up to 2 months. Cut the cold cake into thin slices and serve at room temperature.

Per serving (based on 24): 519 calories, 6 gm protein, 63 gm carbohydrates, 26 gm fat, 84 mg cholesterol, 9 gm saturated fat, 24 mg sodium, 2 gm dietary fiber

Is there a significant flavor difference between a heritage bronze turkey and a broad breasted white?

The heritage turkeys have a slightly bolder flavor and stringier texture, a little more prone to overcooking/drying out. But they're delicious. I do like the broad-breasted whites, too -- but prefer them to be locally/naturally raised, minimally processed.

I picked up a fresh whole turkey breast at a butcher and the package says that it has been basted. Is this the same thing as brining? I wanted to do the salt-encrusted turkey breast from the Post recipe archives, but don't want this to be too salty. Will this still work?

Pre-basting is similar to brining. It means the bird has been injected with a broth. I would not use the salt-crusted recipe for this particular meat. It will likely become a sodium monster.

Can I peel the sweet potatoes tonight - not cook them, just peel them? I live several hours ahead of DC and may be too tired already to do both things tonight.

Yes.

They might get a little discolored at the edges. How will you cook them afterward?

Thanks for taking my question. I'm hoping to replicate white wine sangria on Thanksgiving that my girlfriends and I have had several time on weekends in Florida. The restaurant told us the sangria has chardonnay and cut up oranges, a few pieces of apple. The last time there was cinnamon in the sangria. (We've been there more than once). My question is, do you think it would be cinnamon with sugar or just plain cinnamon?

Jason Wilson says:

A real sangria usually has wine, brandy, a liqueur, and then also the fruit. So this sangria is already missing a few of those things. I would say that if the restaurant doesn't add a little liqueur to the mix, then probably there is some simply syrup or sugar in the mix, as well as cinnamon. A good white sangria I make calls for a bottle of a more acidic white white like sauvignon blanc, 4 ounces applejack, 2 ounces Cointreau or triple sec, and slices of orange, lemons, and apples -- and of course you can add cinnamon sticks, etc to the mix.

We are combining forces with our neighbors across the street for dinner tomorrow night, and while we have the dinner itself covered - I am wondering what we can serve for pre-dinner cocktails that would be festive & fun, and if you have a recommendation for a quick, light appetizer (dinner isn't until 7, and possibly later given the timing of the bird, that would be most welcome as well! Many thanks for all of your advice, especially today!

Jason Wilson sez:

As I wrote in Sunday's column, I like to serve lighter wine cocktails as aperitifs, such as the Aperol Spritz or the Negroni Sbagliato, both of which call for prosecco and Italian aperitivi, or perhaps something like the Duke of Marlborough, which calls for sherry and vermouth.

Probably frozen dumplings and a quick veggie saute, plus snacking on the dishes I'm prepping for tomorrow! And definitely a test run of tomorrow's signature cocktails.

Joe, Do you line your pie crust with anything before you add your coins for baking the pie crust? Eeew....

Of course. Foil. I'd line before putting anything on there.

But they're so much easier to peel after they're cooked--I just run them under cold water and they slide off.

What's the best way to make this a stand out dish? I have Fig Preserves and Almonds I will incorporate. I also have some honey. What about herbs or other ingredients? Thanks!

It sounds like you're well on your way to a delicious dish. I think mint might be a nice touch with those ingredients. You could also try a flavored honey, like lavender honey (if you like the taste of lavender, which many don't). You could also play off the sweetness of the figs and honey with something savory, like garlic or ginger.

For the chatter w/ the question about deviled eggs - I made the standard recipe the other day (yolks, mayo, mustard, a little salt and pepper) but I also fried up 4 slices of bacon, let it cool, and the chopped up the bacon in my mini food processor and mixed it into the filling. They were a huge hit!

Absolutely. I sometimes do candied bacon on top -- that's always a hit. (You know how to do that? Sprinkle the bacon with brown sugar and bake. Best to do on foil or Silpat to prevent the sticky/soldered-on mess.)

Have any of you used Michael Ruhlman's method of making turkey stock in the oven overnight? Trying to decide whether to use that for the stock for the gravy, or just go with the traditional long simmer on the stove.

I have not, but I could see how it'd be nice to a) smell that all night and b) free up stove space and c) not subject my small kitchen to the equivalent of a turkey stock facial for hours of stove top simmering.  Speaking of  Mr. Ruhlman, he stopped by The Post last week to cook a Dinner in Minutes with us. It'll run Nov. 30.

I know brining the turkey is the Thing People Do Now, but I can't get my mother (the primary turkey roaster) to agree to do it -- and I don't know that we have a big enough container for it anyway. So I guess my question is, short of brining, do you have any tips for a moist bird? Typically I think we do cheese cloth soaked in butter/margerine on top while roasting. Or, any tips I can use to convince mom to try the brine?

What's your mom's objection? There are plenty of fans of the  dry brining technique, which I tested and wrote about a few years ago.  Roasting the bird upside down (for 1/2 to  2/3 of the whole roasting time)  so its juices flow into the breast meat is a good way to go, as is massaging a flavored butter just under the skin, on the breast meat. The cheesecloth thing tends to make for a beautifully and evenly bronzed bird, but I'm not sure how well it adds to overall moistness of the meat -- you know, that ol' Does Basing Really Do Anything? debate. I think they covered that at last night's GOP session in DAR Constitution Hall. And yes, I was there! That's a whole other chat.

Hi - in addition to a turkey, I'm also cooking a standing rib roast for Thanksgiving, but I'd like to cook it on the grill (gas, no charcoal). I understand having to use indirect heat, but do you all have any helpful hints or recipes?

Lots of salt and cracked black pepper all over the roast, a remote thermometer set to 125 degrees and a drip pan underneath with a crushed garlic clove, a rosemary sprig and some beef stock. Bam! Roast Beef au Jus. (Let the roast rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.) PS: You can even leave the drip pan part out of it.

I bought a small (10 lb) smoked turkey from the agriculture dept of a nearby University. What is the best way to reheat the bird, and am I out of luck for pan drippings?

Funny you should ask. This year, I ordered a smoked turkey from a place in Texas. I'm serving it at room temp (as they recommend). I've done it before and, lemme tell ya, it's great! And it's no fuss-no muss. 

But if you want to warm through, you can put it in the oven at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes, covered. You will get a litltle pan juice, not much. For that, I purchase turkey parts and use them to make gravy. 

So we're stuffed after a great Thanksgiving Dinner. Rather than retreating to football and naps on the couch, what are some fun activities we can do as a family?

My family is fond of humiliating each other with embarrassing stories from the past. 

My wife's family is fond of playing board games. It helps you figure out who the really competitive people are in your family.

We humiliate each other with embarrassing stories from our past -- while walking through the woods. Nice, right?

Help! Jim Shahin, how does one smoke a duck or goose? I've been assigned this task, and am clueless!

I am crazy about smoked goose. Me, I prefer it for Christmas, but, hey, anytime's good. Here's my recipe from last year: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/21/AR2010122103353.html

My Kentucky bred MIL calls sweet cornbread DESSERT. (no self respecting southerner uses sugar in their cornbread when baking.)

Word.

I'd like to make turkey stock for the stuffing I am bringing to a potluck. I plan to simmer turkey wings, necks, carrots, celery, onion. Am I missing something?

Sounds good to me, but I'd add peppercorns and some salt, not too much, you can always salt later.

I'm trying out this Rosemary Gin Fizz recipe - haven't made it before, but it sounds fabulous! http://www.sassyradish.com/2009/12/rosemary-gin-fizz/

What's the best way to keep them warm and not let them dry out?

If were going to make my mashed potatoes travel, I'd cook them,  put them through a ricer so they were dry and fluffy, then cool and place in a container. Wouldn't take long to combine and heat them with your favorite fixings  once you arrive at your potato destination. They will be fresh.

Can I mix in some butternut squash with regular yellow squash and zucchini in my squash casserole? If so, should the butternut be par cooked a bit before baking? Thanks and happy T-day!

Yellow and zukes have high water content and cook much faster. If you want to combine all three, then yep, I'd cook the butternut till it was fairly tender before adding to the mix. Back atcha, T-Daywise.

I bought a whole lot of butter on sale for my upcoming holiday baking. I froze it. I've done this for years, and my mother did before me. Then I read in a Lisa Yockelson book that it's a big nono. Are my cookies and pastries doomed?

No, not doomed. It's one of those percentage things, fresh butter is best, but frozen butter that's been kept well wrapped should be fine.

We asked Lisa, and she said this:

    For cake-baking, I am particular about using butter that has not been previously frozen and defrosted because the various elements present in butter that's been defrosted tend to lose their suspension, and creamed cake batters made with defrosted butter tend to bake up denser than usual. However, if you are using the butter for cookie doughs or cookie dough batters (especially in the melted form), there should be no problem using frozen, defrosted butter. Ditto with pie/tart crusts--using butter stored this was would be fine. My best piece of advise is not to automatically freeze all that butter, and refrigerate amounts of butter destined to be used in cake batters--though this might require a little pre-planning. No, your cookies and pastries are not doomed, but a cake may be a little heavy--and some people I know love very heavy, dense cakes, rather than cakes with a light and downy "crumb."

People don't usually realize that the National Zoo is open and empty (except for the non-human animals). It's a fun way to walk off dinner (or prepare for dinner!)

Hi - thanks for the chat, I've picked up a lot of great tips! I wanted to share our plans for Thanksgiving. Several months ago my surfer son shared this recipe with me - http://www.korduroy.tv/2010/tropical-turkey-health-nuts - for a tropical turkey. My 82 year old father told me we should mix things up this year and try it out. He passed away unexpectedly in September, so we're doing it in his honor - the tropical turkey, the relish, pineapples on the grill, everything (he was a beach bum himself). Hope everyone here has a great holiday - there is no holiday that comes close to Thanksgiving for bringing family together to share and give thanks.

Sounds like a great way to pay tribute to your father!

A few years back, my boss and his rather ditzy wife invited my son & me to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. His wife refused to let me bring anything because she wanted to do it all herself, and asked me if there was anything special either of us like. I stated that my son loves pumpkin bread. We went for dinner and were served in shifts because she hadn't figured out her timing properly but, by the end of the meal, I was wondering what happened to the pumpkin bread. Just before we left, she turned to my son and stated, "Your mom told me you like pumpkin bread!" My son replied that he did and she said, "Here. Take this home with you!" She proceeded to hand him a bag of flour, a can of pumpkin and a recipe!

Fabulous.

Do you have a recipe for and instructions for making a pate sucree. Thought it might be fun for my pumpkin pie this year. I just can't recall the order of ingredients.

We don't have a recipe in our database, but here's one from Martha Stewart, who presumably ordered someone to test it.

We use our portable ice chest/cooler the turkey is in a large brown clean trash bag...no mess or cross contamination. Ice the bird down while brining by using ice around the bag with the bird inside (we do a 24 lb turkey every year and us this method with success...also we live in Minnesota and can put the cooler on the deck sans ice unless we hit a warm spell).

A tried-and-true method.  With brining bags widely available, all you need is enough shelf space in your fridge for a large bowl, really. My turkey's brining breast side down right now (in bag, in bowl). When I get home, I might flip it over. Then again, I might not.

They will be boiled, mashed and baked in a casserole. I don't think the discoloration will matter.

Then you're all set.

I found a recipe for a roasted sweet potato soup that says to roast potato for 1 hour at 400. I think serving the soup while the bird is resting would be optimal thus the oven may still be too busy for my poor potatoes. I am thinking I should roast them on the grill, in a pan. Gas grill, no thermometer. How long over med or medium high heat would you guess?

You could/should do them in advance! Roast them now. And you can speed them up if you microwave them first for a minute or two. I'll let Jim weigh in on the grilling specs...

No squash/pumpkin...something with corn?

Thanks for the info, you all rock! Happy Thanksgiving, Free Rangers!

You're welcome! Happy holidays...

I have a nice daikon radish from the farmers' market. Would this be good as part of a slaw, say with carrots? If so, would scallions be good in it? BTW, a slaw with pineapple dressed with rice vinegar and oil was the hit of the Passover meal. I don't want to repeat, but some really sweet pineapple is showing up...

You could riff on a number of carrot salads/slaws we have in the Recipe Finder database, and add your daikon to the mix. Some of them do include it already, I think. Scallions would be good.

BTW, was the slaw you tried this one? It's got great color and flavor. I don't understand why slaws aren't more popular for Thanksgiving. Let's start a movement. Occupy!

Whatever you do, if you are serving smoked turkey, do not bother to try to make gravy from the pan drippings. I did that once and it was awful (and I love smoky foods). A whole smoked turkey does make a really nice stock though. My favorite recipe is a wild rice/smoked turkey/sunflower seed stew.

Thanks for the tip.

If I don't need to blind bike for my pumpkin and pecan pies, then the filling holds down the dough so that it doesn't shrink??

Exactly, it also helps if you chilled the crust in the pan for 30 minutes before filling.

Hey Smoke Signals, I'm smoking a turkey this year, what wood should I use?

I'd recommend a mix of pecan and oak. I like the latter for its moothness, the former for its depth. 

David, I like your idea of the cran-jello, but I only have one fresh orange and one small box of strawberry jello at home and I can't face the stores. Should I try it or would it be a disaster?

Do it. Use a bag of cranberries still and as much juice as there is in the orange plus the zest. Reduce the water the Jello calls for by 1/4. Fold in the segments at the end. Use the cardamom. I love using whatever is on hand. In fact, I just found a box of strawberry Jello and was mad that I hadn't noticed it sooner.

Do they pair well together?

Well, Rachael Ray has a recipe for butternut squash mac and cheese, which, I must admit, makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

But this Epicurious recipe for butternut squash gratin with goat cheese sounds pretty tasty to me.

So I think the short answer to your question is:  It depends. On the recipe and the cheese.

Play Trivial Pursuit. This is more fun with alcohol.

The finale of Top Chef Just Desserts inspired me to make an entremet for Thanksgiving dessert. I'm doing a variation on a recipe I found on the internet, and my layers, bottom to top, are--sponge cake, pumpkin gelee, vanilla-scented pumpkin (sort of like pie filling), mascarpone mousse with pumpkin pie spice, white chocolate glaze. Aside from the fact I am nuts to even try this, I'm not sure how to divide the time. I need to have this ready by 10 a.m. tomorrow. I know I'll need to bake the cake and make the gelee and pumpkin filling tonight. The mousse needs about 4 hours to set up once it's piped on the cake. Can I do it all tonight, or will the assembled cake get gross in the fridge for 18 hours versus four?

I'm tired out just reading your question. Sounds more like a weekend project or a recipe for disaster if it doesn't work out. Why not save this experiment for a less-stressed time frame?

Saw this somewhere -- maybe The Chew -- People rub their turkeys with mayonnaise before roasting, and swear it makes the turkey really moist. Our turkey tends to come out dry and brining requires too much salt for us. so wondering if this is a good idea or bad idea. Not clear to me if the mayo is rubbed under the skin or on top. What do you think?

Bryan Voltaggio slathered his bird on a Cooking Channel special with bro Michael. Seems like an okay idea; according to his recipe, he uses the mayo (herbed) just on the outside of the bird. With lots of basting.

Whew. I need to rest now. I know I can let some long-looking recipes into our section, but chef V's turkey recipe has 51 ingredients. Of course, that includes the brine and gravy. (I kid because I love, chef.)

At a restaurant in Providence, RI., we had the most delicious, but misnamed, "Lemoncello" cake. It was actually more like a Tiramisu with lady fingers, lemon curd in the middle, and mascarpone topping. Once we've finished all the holiday pie, this might be a nice change-up dessert to try next week. Do you have the link to a recipe for such a dish? Or should I just improvise based on a regular tiramisu recipe, omitting the coffee and coffee-powder?

At Al Forno, by chance? Sounds like something they'd be into... I've never made it, but Mr. Google has plenty of options.

Play Apples to Apples -- with alcohol is always a plus.

I am planning to do some prep work tonight - i.e., chopping vegetables, etc. Can I cut up my butternut squash tonight? It will be roasted tomorrow. If so, how should I store it overnight?

What's the final dish you're doing? I find it much easier to roast the squash whole and then cut it in half, scoop out seeds and pull flesh off the skin...

Is it ok to make pie filling ahead then refridgerate, and then fill and bake in a few hours, when i have time.... have to run out for a school pick up. I ask bc. my pecan pie calls for 8 egg yolks.

Yes.

A few weeks ago we roasted chicken leg quarters and got tons of great drippings. After chilling, we scooped off the fat and were left with a puck of gel, from all the collagen, which we then froze for later. How can I turn this gel into a stock for gravy? It sounds like a great idea, but I don't know how to execute...

Melt it.

That's the best kind of stock. You've got it made. After you melt it, take a taste and you'll see what I mean.

I made oven stock when I first read about it several years ago. It was the most amazing tasting stock I have ever made. HOWEVER: I had a really huge roasting pan, so I more than doubled or tripled the ingredients. The exhaust fan over the stove was certainly not designed for the oven stock project. Everything in the kitchen and near the kitchen, including my beloved oil paintings nearby were wet after I was done. I believe I was following instructions of one of the two California female chefs whose recipes are always perfect.

Ah, the stock facial!

Sounds like a great name for a band

It is a good name for a band. I also like the Pumpkin Pie Ramblers.

I rub mayo on the turkey - it's weird, but it works. Usually with sage, salt and pepper.

Hi, guys--20 lb non-stuffed turkey on deck for tomorrow. I plan to roast it breast-side-down at 425 for 45 mins, then flip it, reduce the heat to 325, and roast it for ??? 4 hours? I have a meat thermometer, but ballpark, what am I looking at here in terms of roasting time?

Circling back to our favorite chefs at the USDA, they recommend roasting that bird for 4¾ to 5¼ hours at 325. Obviously, you'll want to reconfigure the cooking time somewhat based your 45 minute roast at 425. I'd check on that bird after four hours and see where you're at.

I guess I was too cute to post a correction comment to yesterday's blog, but as of this morning, Joe's suggested T'day recipes still had one listed for "permission" salad!

What makes you think that's a typo? ;-)

Play Settlers of Catan. With alcohol, of course. Or watch a movie. Then have dessert... take a walk... call the rest of your family... the list is endless.

I made cornbread earlier in an 8" x 8" pan, needing 3 cups crumbled from it, and that took just over 1/3 of the pan, so I'd say that estimate of getting 8 cups from that size pan is about right.

See? Trust your WaPo recipes, people!

Howdy! Thanks for the two hours, and Happy Thanksgiving. I've got a 14 pound bird I'm thinking of butterflying. What kind of a pan should it roast on? I've got a cookie sheet with sides, but I'm not sure it would be enough to contain juices. How much liquid will this sucker give off anyway?

It ought to fit in a regular, large roasting pan.  You need either a rack that fits inside the pan, or firm vegetables like carrots, celery, turnips to put under the turkey -- you want to lift that "sucker" off the floor of the pan.  It may yield more juices than a rimmed baking sheet could hold ....or you could siphon off juices as the bird cooks to keep from making an oven mess.

Hey Jim, Just wondering if you had any reccomendations for smoked and/or BBQ style dishes to give my thanksgiving dinner a little flare. Mains, sides, and anything else would be helpful. Thanks!

Check out this recipe for a bourbon-brined smoked turkey: http://projects.washingtonpost.com/recipes/2010/11/17/bourbon-brined-smoked-turkey/

These sides ran in Sunday's paper: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/thanksgiving-on-the-grill-add-some-smoke-to-your-side-dishes/2011/11/09/gIQABI95YN_story.html

Hi, Rangers, Is there a way to make pie without pie crust -- or is that called pudding?

According to the "Food Lover's Companion," pies can have "bottom crusts only, or top and bottom crusts or, as with deep-dish pies, only a top crust."

Let it be written...

Different person same issues...my family prefers dark meat so we roast a whole bird and extra parts. How do I time the parts? Is it 20 mins per pound at 350 per total weight or or per individual thigh weight? I have 4 thighs weighing about a pound each. Thank you!

Got it. I'd go by an instant-read thermometer instead of the 20-min rule. 170 for the dark meat, take the temp away from the bone.

We take a group walk, then watch a movie. The real competitive fun is agreeing on the movie. Midway through the movie, about two hours after the main meal we put out some light non-turkey-ish snacks. People always want something about that time unless theyve really pigged out earlier.

Help! The family baker and Thanksgiving hostess, whose Thanksgiving pies are dreamed of all year, just told me she has developed gluten intolerance and won't be making anything with flour this year -- no pumpkin pie, no bread, no stuffing. Dessert will be some cookies she can make entirely with nut flour. "Betty" told me it would make her too sad to prepare her usual pies, etc but not be able to taste them. And she said she doesn't want to experiment with gluten-free flour at Thanksgiving and end up with something mediocre. So my questions to you: Can gluten-free flours be substituted for regular flour with no discernible loss, or would the result be like having instant coffee instead of fresh-brewed? Should we, especially her daughter, try to bake the pies, etc in her stead with regular flour and hope that will make her feel better because the family tradition is being carried on, and not worse because she can smell them and see them but not eat them? (I also could tip off her nearby sister-in-law to bake a pie and bring it over along with her cranberry relish.) Or should we forget about pies and be graciously enthusiastic about the nut cookies while emphasizing that we're here because of "Betty," not because of her baking? Any other suggestions you might have also are welcome. I have the feeling there must be some additional happy ending in here that I'm failing to see. Whatever the outcome, of course what's most important is that we're all together for Thanksgiving and will have plenty of food to eat -- delicious food -- nd much else to be thankful for. And maybe it's good that we all be less "glutinous" (gluttonous) than we usually are on Thanksgiving.

Why can't you make a nut crust and do a pumpkin mousse-type filling? Check out some gluten-free recipe blogs, such as Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. Doesn't have to be a limiting experience, no matter what holiday you're celebrating.

Even if it's going in the oven? Can it then be re-configured to look like the usual roast turkey, for carrying to the table? Thanks.

Yes!

I think the pilgrims served eel. Anyone going for it this year?

The History Channel tells us there was no official record of the first "Thanksgiving" but that deer and fowl were likely served. No mention of eel or turducken. 

Hi Rangers - thanks for the last-minute Thanksgiving help! Soy-allergic vegetarian here. I'm doing a cornbread dressing for dinner tomorrow (traditional, cornbread, celery/onions/veggie stock/lots of sage) but I'm wondering if there is anything else I can add to it? In the past I would have done Morningstar sausage (which is fantastic in dressing) but with a newly-diagnosed soy allergy that's now out of the question. Any thoughts?

Mushrooms can add flavor fast, especially if you saute them until lightly browned before adding.

I need to replace my coffee maker today (great timing, right?). My former machine ground fresh beans, but we didn't love it due to having to clean all the pieces/parts every day, so we just want a regular old drip one this go-round. Any models you like? Just looking for a basic 10 or 12-cup model. The broken one did have a carafe that kept coffee warm (rather than a heated plate), which was nice, but not mandatory. Thanks!

I vote for a French press and a burr grinder and a good electric tea kettle.

Is Thanksgiving the time to experiment wih the convection feature on my oven. From everything I read, it will help cook multiple items more evenly. I do not currently use my oven very much, and when I do, I'm unimpressed with the cook times and the consistency of the food coming out. All signs point to using the convection feature, at a slightly lower temperature, for a closely monitored length of time. I just don't want all my food to blow up.

Hmm...you know the answer to that already, I'll bet. :)

Do you still have the original book that came with your oven? The information you need lies within.  Convection's especially nice for baking, and once you get the hang of it I bet you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

Well, fine, it's stressful, I know, but that doesn't answer my question. Assuming I'm going to bring this somewhere for, say, a Sunday brunch on a nondescript boring weekend--would it survive in the fridge overnight, or is it best assembled in the early a.m.?

I haven't done it in a long time but I think you'd be fine. Sorry for the lecture. I'm for low-stress desserts at big holiday meals. Brunch would be perfect.:)

Well, you've roasted us until we measure 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's today, and thanks to Stephanie, David, Jim and Jason for helping us answer them.

And now for the giveaway books: They go to: 1) the chatter who asked what the family should do after the meal; and 2) the chatter who said, "what's the best way to make delicious gravy?" which sparked a treatise from David. Send your mailing info to Becky Krystal at krystalb@washpost.com, and she'll get you your books.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! See you next week.

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