Free Range on Food: A special two-hour, pre-Thanksgiving chat with guests Stella Parks, Angela Davis, Kathy Gunst, Andrea Nguyen and Sheri Castle.

Nov 21, 2018

Every Wednesday at noon, Food section staff members and guests answer your burning culinary questions.
Past Free Range on Food chats

Greetings, all, and welcome to your T-MINUS-24-HOUR COUNTDOWN CHAT!

So, which are you: planner, or last-minute scrambler? Or something in between? Have you been following a punch list like I have since Monday, knocking elements of the meal off every night because you're taking no time off until tomorrow? Or are you waiting until tomorrow to do everything, confidently (or maybe not)? Or are you somewhere in the middle, enjoying a little time and flexibility to see how things go?

Whichever it is, we've got the experts here today to help you figure everything out: Stella "BraveTart" Parks, Andrea "Viet World Kitchen" Nguyen, Angela "Kitchenista" Davis, Kathy "Soup Swap" Gunst, and Sheri "Instantly Southern" Castle! Along with us regulars, of course.

And, as a bonus, we are here for TWO HOURS today, all the better to help you with any and everything related to tomorrow's feast. 

For our favorite chatter today, we'll have a giveaway copy of the good old "Washington Post Cookbook"! 

And for you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR8945 . Remember, you'll record and enter it at the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

All right, let's do this!

I'm sure everyone is asking about romaine and salads. Including me! I've already got kale, pomegranate, and pine nuts on hand. Is that a salad in itself or is there something I can add/change?

That threesome looks like a fine combo. I'd make sure to cut the ribs (stems) from the kale so it's soft. If  you're serving a large group, consider cutting the kale into ribbons so it's easier to serve. It'll also commingle better with the pom seeds and pine nuts. Dress with lemon juice and olive oil, S&P then shower with Parm for umami bling.

I'm also a fan of giving the kale a nice "massage" to turn it silky without cooking...

Thank you- I've been looking forward to this! Kicked the kids off the computer for two hours just to have it at my fingertips faster =)


I'm 22, first year out of college, and heading home for the holidays. What's something scrumptious that I can make for Thanksgiving dinner without a lot of kitchen experience that will still warm my cold Chinese mother's heart?

What if you brought a homemade cranberry sauce with ginger, pineapple and toasted pecans. Sounds super sohpisticated but is truly super simple. And you can eat it with turkey, but also ice cream, cake, butter cookies, squash, etc. And it lasts over a week making it perfect for leftovers. 

Yes, sauce is a great way to go! Kathy's looks delish: I also have to put a plug in here for Jessica Koslow's Bourbon Cranberry Sauce. I made it Monday, and it came together super quickly -- just four ingredients, and tastes fantastic.

RECIPE: Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

Quick question: do sweet potatoes oxidize like regular potatoes do? Or can they be peeled/cut in advance without sticking them in water?

Some varieties will. It seems to depend on how starchy they are. It won't hurt to submerge them in water, but be sure to blot them dry if you are roasting them so that they don't steam. 

I thought you wrote about this but it's not coming up in search. My first-time Thanksgiving hostess just confided that she forgot to defrost her turkey and can't get it thawed by tomorrow. Isn't it possible to roast it from frozen, or at least from partly thawed if she puts it in the 'fridge now? She doesn't have any quick-cook equipment tho perhaps we could borrow if you suggest what could help. (The somewhat quick-thaw method I found online of soaking the bird and changing the water every half hour may not be the best for someone who forgot to move the bird out of the freezer, is going out tonight and wants to be with guests tomorrow.) Appreciate your suggestions! Have a great Thanksgiving!

Here's the article, which I wrote last year. 

There's no need to do all that change of water/ thawing stuff, although it works -- and at this point you are correct, it won't help all that much. The important things to remember are to allow for more oven time, place it on a rack in a low-walled pan, and to remove any plastic bag of gizzards etc if that is a feature of your bird (check both cavities -- large and where the neck was). Also, get the pop-up timer outta there, if there is one.  It is not to be relied upon! 

I'm excited to make this non-pie for Thanksgiving this year but want to bake it in a 9-inch tart pan (the fluted kind with the removable sides) instead of a springform. Will I have a ton of filling left over, since the tart pan isn't as deep? I couldn't really tell from the photo just how tall the tart is. (I'll also be substituting a press-in speculoos cookie crust for the hazelnut one in the recipe, but I think that should work just fine. Unless I'm missing something?)

Pumpkin-Caramel Tart With Toasted Hazelnut Crust

RECIPE: Pumpkin-Caramel Tart With Toasted Hazelnut Crust

I'm exciting that you're making it, too! Love the direction you're going with this. I think your crust sounds great. In the springform pan, you do really push the crust up 1 1/2 to 2 inches, which is higher than a tart pan. I do think you'll have some filling leftover, although I'm not sure how much. I say go with it, and whatever extra you have, bake off in ramekins or a little dish and enjoy it separately later.

I wish I'd been more ahead of the game to ask this last week, but this is a recipe I clipped when it came out and after 3 years of wimping out in favor of known-quantity pies am finally making for Thanksgiving. I'm confused by the directions... It's unclear what the steps after assembly are if I want to bake it ASAP. Does it still need 8hrs of freezer time (I'd skip wrapping & labeling) or can it be baked from a less-frozen state? 

Re the Pecangipan Pear and Cranberry Tart, Cathy says:

I recommend chilling the tart, freezer or refrigerator, for at least 30 minutes before baking. This timing usually coincides (more or less) with the time it takes me to heat the oven. This will chill the butter again, making for a flakier pastry.


I just realized I forgot to get rolls or bread to have with Thanksgiving dinner. I do not want to go back to the store so am wondering what I can make in time. I've got white flour, white whole wheat flour, and yeast. What kind of rolls would you recommend that I can squeeze in the oven after the turkey is done and along with the stuffing? I'd prefer something other than soft dinner type rolls. Happy Thanksgiving!

I've got a recipe for crusty dinner rolls that you can make today, refrigerate overnight, and boil sometime during the day (this creates a crusty exterior like French bread). After that, they can sit at room temp to bake when you're ready. Recipe and tutorial on Serious Eats

And does it have to be carrots? (First vegetable is roasted green beans)

How about a slaw or salad? 

Autumn ‘Coleslaw’

RECIPE: Autumn ‘Coleslaw’

All-Red Radicchio, Radish + Pomegranate Salad

RECIPE: All-Red Radicchio, Radish + Pomegranate Salad

Hello! I'm making a rosemary sourdough bread for Thanksgiving, but I'm wanting to convert the two loaves to rolls. Any suggestions for the number of rolls I should shoot for (22 ounces of flour, 14 ounces of starter), and adjustments I need to make to the bake time (450 for 40 min is the original for two round loaves)? Thank you!

I like to budget about 2 ounces of dough per roll, which should give you about 18 rolls. If you need to massage that for an even two dozen, drop it down to 1.5 ounces each. The timing can vary depending on baking vessel (sheet pan vs brownie pan vs cast iron skillet), but they'll probably move about 25% faster. 

Hi Stella! Is there a basic fruit curd recipe into which you can substitute different citrus or fruit flavors? I have some frozen passion fruit puree, and I want to make a meringue-topped passion fruit tart instead of a lemon one. Can I just use that instead? In what proportion? Thanks!

Howdy! I have a lemon curd recipe on my old blog that does great with passion fruit, or any similarly tart juice. I've made it with passion fruit many times, hope you enjoy! 

I have a ton of sweet potatoes, and I want to try something new other than the standard fare of pies and casseroles. Any ideas?

This year I'm making a sweet potato gratin with maple syrup and a pistachio nut crumble. It's so good! Check it out here.

Make twice-baked sweet potatoes. Roast the potatoes at 375 until tender, then split open and scoop out the flesh, leaving a shell.  Mash the warm potato flesh with a fork and stir in your choice of ingredients. Stuff it back into the shells and warm through.  My favorite additions are wilted kale, shredded Gruyere, and crisp bacon, but you can take the filling in many directions. Another great combo is black beans, ground chile, and Monterrey Jack, topped with a squeeze of lime before serving. 

Another quick reicpe is to peel the potatoes and cut them into bite-sized chunks. Moisten with oil and roast at 375 until tender. Immediately drizzle with honey and sprinkle with coarse salt and chopped fresh rosemary. They are good warm or at room temperature. 

And yet another is to prepare your favorite potato salad recipe, substituting sweet potatoes for your usual potato, or using equal amounts of sweet and white potato.

Pureed roasted sweet potatoes can also be added to biscuit dough. Here's a recipe to try.

My mom and I were planning a "just us" Thanksgiving this year, but we were just invited to her friends'. They are diabetic, so my idea for dessert is no longer viable (my mother, who usually hates sweets, loves my Snicker's refrigerator pie). My mother is bringing stuffing and cranberry sauce; do you have any ideas for a dessert I could bring? I was thinking about Roasted Gingery Pears (November 17, 2016) but I'd appreciate any other low-carb, no-specialty-ingredient recipe suggestions.

These might not skew Thanksgiving, but they fit yer bill: Coffee Gelatins

i also recommend Ellie Krieger's Pear Crumble, whose leftovers would make a fine post-holiday breakfast!



I’m cooking a turkey and the Wellington. Can I partially bake the Wellington in the morning and finish it off as the turkey rests?

Instead, I'd bake the Wellington all the way, timing it to come out right before the turkey goes in, and then either serve it at room temperature (fine), or put it in the oven just long enough to warm it up, as the turkey rests.

RECIPE: Roasted Portobello Mushroom, Pecan and Chestnut Wellington

Any tips for the perfect mashed potatoe texture? I can’t get away from the super denser & too decadent consistency. I would like something lighter and fluffier

Don't mash or puree them with anything that must be plugged in. Use a food mill (one of my all-time favorite tools) or a potato ricer, or mash them as smooth as possible with a hand-held masher. No matter your approach, be sure to mash and season them while the potatoes are freshly cooked and hot. 

Completely agree with Sheri Castle above! Also make sure your milk/cream is warm and not cold when you add it to the hot cooked potatoes. 

I second the suggestion for getting a ricer! Also use the right variety of potatoes. Russets will be the fluffiest and Yukon golds are much denser. I use a blend of both, but you may want to stick to all Russets.

Agreed on all of the above! Here's a video that shows all!

Is there a specific kind of brie or puff pastry that works best for baked brie? thanks!!

I'm a fan of all-butter recipes, so read your label. If you purchase a brand that shows fold lines when unfolded, be sure to roll them closed or press them with your fingertips to make one smooth sheet that's less likely to burst or leak when shaped around the cheese. No matter the brand, be sure to refrigerate the wrapped brie until deeply chilled before baking. Cold, buttery pastry going into a hot oven is what makes for a good, flaky puff. 

If you're new to Le Puff, use Pepperidge Farm brand sold near the refrigerated biscuit dough at the grocery store. It's practically bulletproof and bakes up perfectly. For buttery goodness, step up to DuFour brand. If you have a Trader Joe's near you, I just spied their frozen all butter Puff dough for about $4. Seriously. Use the dough cold when it's easier to manipulate. 

Are there really noticeable differences in tenderness and taste between the famous brand turkeys and store or obscure brand turkeys, other than their prices per pound?

Re tenderness, heritage breed birds are noticeably leaner and need special attention/care in cooking. I prefer store-bought birds that are not pumped full of extra moisture, so check the labels for that. In the past few years I have tested with Wegmans brand turkeys (from frozen) -- no complaints. In the DC area, I like ordering from stores that carry Maple Lawn Farms birds, which are local and taste like ... turkey! 

I'm hosting a Vegetarian luncheon on Sunday and would like some suggestions on make ahead sides. I will be preparing an Egg Casserole.

What about a gorgeous platter of various roasted fall vegetables with a pomegranate vinaigrette? So pretty. Almost a main course. 

What is the best pasta brand for thanksgiving Mac and cheese?

I like Barilla's elbows or cavatappi. But more important than the brand, the best type of elbows have ridges to catch more of the sauce. 

Endorse cavatappi!

I'm pretty sure I can make stuffing today and bake tomorrow except I have some bulk Stachowski breakfast sausage I was going to use, and I don't think sausage reheats well. Should I make the rest and fold freshly cooked sausage in tomorrow? Also, if somebody is bringing a dish to your house, is it rude if another person makes the same dish? My feeling is everybody gets what they want on Thanksgiving, and if you end up with two variations on sweet potatoes or green beans, it's okay. But would it normally hurt someone's feelings? I'm asking because one of my guests wants to bring a dish with green beans and nuts, and another wants to bring a nut-free-I've just noticed the nut bringer to be a little territorial on this matter before. LIke she might interpret it as being shown up. Any way to handle this? Unfortunately the other guest is equally committed to her own dish with no nuts.

People have strong preferences and taste expectations for certain dishes, especially during food-centric holidays such as Thanksgiving. I try to take an "all are welcome" approach to the dishes and put them all on the table in a spirit of generosity and sharing -- and hope that attitude is contagious. 

I'm thankful for the Food section staff and these weekly chats. You've taken me out of my (food) comfort zone with your recipes and recommendations. My palate thanks you. My waistline is a different story! ;-)

Aw, so nice. You're welcome!

PS: YOUR waistline? Don't get me started... ;-)

A relative tried a recipe one year that called for putting the turkey in a hot oven, turning the oven off and letting the turkey sit for a certain number of hours. The cardinal rule was that you could not open the oven door during the process. Concerned that her meddling husband would open the oven to check on the bird, she used the self-cleaning lock to lock the door. What she did not know was that the lock is temperature controlled and will not unlock until the oven has cooled down. The door finally unlocked hours after the bird was supposed to come out, They ordered Chinese.


Two years ago, I bought a new gas range right before Thanksgiving, to replace a 20-year-old stove. The old one had knobs to turn on the burners and oven, the new stove has electronic controls. With the turkey in the oven, I went to turn off the timer and turned off the oven instead. Two hours later, we had a severely undercooked turkey. I turned the oven back on, and we ate all the side dishes and dessert. Later in the evening, I sent all the guests home with plenty of turkey.

Ouch! This is pretty awful/great. You inadvertently proved two oft-repeated points about the T-Day meal: People are more interested in sides and desserts than turkey; and, a corollary, people are most interested in turkey for leftover sandwiches. Win-win!

Last week's posting about Thanksgiving debacles led to an email chain discussing similar holiday disasters. Two of the standouts were 1) my stepsister thinking she needed to add a new stick of butter every time she basted the turkey, and 2) my college roommate making a pumpkin pie with salt instead of sugar. Thanks for the laughs (and of course, food wisdom). Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow, and wow. Thank you!

Its just 2 of us for TG so we're going a bit non-traditional and dong a Steakgiving (steaks instead of turkey). But we're doing the traditional sides. Wanted to ask best way to make gravy when there are no pan drippings from the bird. I bought turkey necks, and I have homemade chicken stock in the freezer, was hoping I could make a mock turkey stock from that and then hope for the best.

Sure you can pull that off! Add the turkey necks to the chicken stock and simmer. Then make a roux: melt butter in a separate saucepan until sizzling. Add equal amount of flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the color deepens. Then slowly whisk in your stock and let simmer for about 15 minutes until thickened. Season to taste. You could add any bits of juice you have leftover from cooking your steak as well. 

Tips for preparing mac and cheese and dressing the day before Thanksgiving?

Here are a few, and I hope our other special expert guests weigh in as well.


Re the dressing: Reheating tends to dry out an already-baked dressing, so either add more liquid (stock, etc) and keep it tightly covered till the last 10 mins or so of oven time, so the top can crisp up. 


I liked this Roasted Red Pepper Mac as a make-ahead dish, because a) it is a stove top preparation and b) the sauce is looser than usual, so on reheating  you don't need to add more moisture. 

What is the best way to prep mac & cheese the day before if you cannot make the day of.

See previous answer!

The key is to make the mac and cheese extra saucy so that the pasta doesn't absorb all the sauce while it sits overnight. I have also made the mac and cheese, (with a little sauce leftover) covered and refrigerated overnight, then bring it to room temp and fold in the extra sauce and then bake!

What's the secret to getting crispy skin on the turkey, without overcooking it? High heat at the beginning, high heat at the end, or what?

I have roasted eight turkeys using eight different techniques over the past two weeks. The experience taught me that the key to crisp skin (whether the bird is wet brined, dry brined, or not brined at all) is to let it air dry uncovered in the refrigerator for 24 to 48  hours before roasting. The skin will turn taut and look a little shiny. 

Hi! My teenage daughter is hooked on roasted cauliflower (yay!) and I'd like to fix it with some brussels for Thanksgiving. Is there anything I can add to make it extra festive? I was thinking about adding some chopped roasted nuts, maybe some hazelnuts, and would love any guidance/suggestions. Thanks and happy thanksgiving!

My Roasted Vegetable Platter with Pomegranate Vinaigrette would be perfect. Just use cauliflower and Brussels sprouts or add a whole bunch of fresh fall vegetables. 

For the millennial (and don't call yourself incompetent). It's cheating because I don't even try to bake a pie crust, but the recipe on the back of the can of Libby's pumpkin is a no-fail. I'm called upon to make it every year.

Please help if you can. I remember seeing a sorghum syrup cake recipe a while back and for whatever reason I associate it with Joe Yonan and the WaPo food section. However I can't find it in the recipe finder. Does anyone on staff or a chatter have suggestion? By the time I decided to make the recipe and then tracked down the syrup, I don't remember where I saw it. Tho if it's not WaPo, it wouldn't be on-line, but rather in a cookbook.... It might be kind of late for Thanksgiving, but I can run to the library and check out the cookbook again. TIA

By chance, did you read the anthology "Edna Lewis: At the Table With an American Original," edited by Sara Franklin? I have an essay in there, along with some recipes I adapted from Edna's "Taste of Country Cooking," and one of them was my interpretation of her gingerbread. Here it is:

Rye Gingerbread Cake With Coconut Cream

8 servings

For the cake:

Solid coconut oil (chilled, if need be), for preparing the pan

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for preparing the pan

1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

3/4 cup safflower, canola or another neutral vegetable oil

1 cup warm water

1 cup light rye flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 1/2 cups sorghum syrup


For the coconut cream:

2 cans whole (not low-fat) coconut milk, chilled overnight in their cans

1 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking pan with the coconut oil, and dust with some of the flour. Use the coconut oil to lightly oil a cooling rack.


Combine the crystallized ginger and vegetable oil in the bowl of a food processor. Puree until blended, then drizzle in the water until smooth.


In a large mixing bowl, sift together the all-purpose and rye flours, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt. Pour in the ginger-oil mixture, and stir well to thoroughly combine. Add the sorghum and stir to combine until smooth.


Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a plate, then invert again onto the cooling rack (so the bottom of the cake is on the bottom).


While the cake is cooling, make the coconut cream: Open the chilled cans of coconut milk, scoop off the solidified cream from the top, and add to a mixing bowl along with the sugar and vanilla. (Reserve the thin milk for another use.) Use a handheld mixer to whip the coconut cream until smooth and fluffy.


Serve the cake warm, with dollops of the coconut cream.

When I was a kid, we would always go to Pierce Mill to get the stone ground cormeal for Thanksgiving cornbread, and my mom still thinks all other cornmeal lacks that authentic texture. And now my brother is allergic to dairy. Do you have any suggestions for a cornbread recipe that is course enough to please Mom and dairy-free for Bro?

Yes! Make a version of Sean Brock's Cracklin' Cornbread. I love it -- it's got that coarse texture. Now, this uses buttermilk and bacon, and I have taken to swapping out the latter for butter since I don't eat meat. And instead of the buttermilk, use a really good almond milk, like Elmhurst Dairy's, perhaps whisked with a little lemon juice for tang.

RECIPE: Cracklin' Cornbread

I love Trader Joe's macaroni - it has those ridges. It is also a bit larger than standard elbow macaroni, I think that makes it a bit lighter - less dense, which I prefer.

YES, I DID read that anthology- and it just must have not registered as a cookbook- starting to assemble the ingredients now...

Great! Yeah, there are a handful of recipes in there, but it's not really a cookbook. So glad you thought to ask!! It's honestly the best gingerbread I've ever had, IIDSSM.

Do y'all think I can do the mashed potatoes tonight and reheat tomorrow? Starting to get a bit panicky at all the tasks looming for tomorrow! I'm doing russets with milk, butter, and sour cream. They're everyone's favorite so I *can't* risk messing them up... Thank you and happy thanksgiving to all!

Sure you can do it ahead. Make sure you have the potatoes in a heatproof casserole or pot. Leave time to slowly reheat in oven (after turkey comes out) or stove top. I always add a bit more butter and milk/cream on the day I'm serving just to give them a touch more moisture. 

4 (of 9) just cancelled for tomorrow due to illness. While I appreciate the notice, I am now wondering how to downsize the meal. Any thoughts? Just cut some dishes? Freeze half of everything before serving dinner?

Give us a few specifics re your menu....and would you consider sending guests home with a lot of leftovers?

Last week there was a question of baking pan size for cakes etc. I cook a lot of British cakes and they are often 8". It pays to check the recipe. It can be difficult to find 8" pans here - I have two ancient from the old country but I also found 8" ones at sur la table.

I use 8-inch pans exclusively, Amazon is a great resource too. My favorite brand (Fat Daddios) goes for just $12 a pop! They have 3-inch tall sides, which helps cake rise more and dome less. Game changer for cake! 

If the nutty one huff, just say 'oh Jane wanted to make sure were was nut free one'. You don't have to say whether she can or can't eat nuts ... .

I worked on a dessert for two days. I triumphantly carried it in to my mother's house when the base suddenly broke from the cover of the carrier and my cake landed on the floor and partially slid off the base. I just stood there gaping at it while my brother laughed. He recovered and then helped me slide the cake back on the base. Now I always carry my desserts by the base, not the handle. Lesson learned.

Oh, no. That's definitely a moment you won't forget.

If you have a food processor, this might also work for those whose Romaine lettuce salad has been eliminated from the menu due to the recall. Grate as many radishes as necessary for your crowd, form into balls with an ice cream scoop, serve each atop a leaf of (non-Romaine) lettuce, top with blue cheese dressing and cracked black pepper. Only question is how long grated radishes will hold without turning brownish.

We are going to Fogo de Chao (brazilian steakhouse, do you have one in DC?) tomorrow. Child likes sweet potato casserole so he will make one Friday for the family. And tonight we will have our annual fondue night (1/2 of us don't eat dairy, so one dairy one non dairy cheese and then of course, Chocolate). Less stress for dinner tomorrow!

Making a last minute mac & cheese for tomorrow and I'm not sure if I should melt the cheese into hot milk first or just layer everything and bake it all together. Help!

I generally do both. Half gets melted in the cheese sauce (hot milk) and the other half is scattered over the top to create a cheesy top layer. Also sometimes sprinkle on Panko breadcrumbs. 

Do you think it'll be cold enough tomorrow in DC for ice cream to stay frozen on the porch? I'm thinking of buying it in the morning.

I'm seeing a high of 34F tomorrow, and ice cream melts around 32F, so you'll be cutting it close! Placing it a shady spot will help, though.

is turning into the best chat ever! lots of great thanksgiving fails! You should have done this for years. And can keep the tradition alive. Kind of like the Hax chat about family disasters. You guys are so much fun!

Back in the min-nineties I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner in Oxford. You might or might not know that British cookers and ovens are much smaller than American. I ordered the turkey from the butcher and even remembered to ask him if it would fit in the oven. He squinted for a moment and then said - it will, but only with an inch or two to spare. Thank goodness he knew what he was talking about!!

I've been trying for the past several Thanksgivings to make a pimento mac and cheese but it never turns out quite right--too grainy or too dry. Please help me figure out the right ratios. I'm using 8oz of premade pimento cheese from Whole Foods, how much butter, flour, milk, pasta would you use? Should I add extra shredded cheddar? I'd also prefer to bake it rather than stovetop style. Thank you so much!

Pre-made pimento cheese adds quite a bit of moisture, so you might prefer preparing your recipe with cheddar and adding a spoonful of drained, jarred pimento to mimic the flavor of pimento cheese without using actual pimento cheese.  A spoonful of mayonnaise helps the creamy texture as well.  Cheddar tends to separate and turn grainy when melted, so toss it with a big pinch of  cornstarch before adding it to the warm base. Another option for creamy, melty goodness is to add a little Velveeta to the mix. 

I have 1 oz bittersweet, 5 oz 70% dark, and 2 oz German chocolate left over from various recipes (including the chocolate skillet cake from Serious Eats, which I highly recommend). Is there a forgiving/flexible recipe for brownies or something where I could throw all this in and use it up?

Well, I would probably throw it in any brownie or chocolate chip cookie recipe you like. 

These Alex Levin brownies are fantastic (stay tuned for a new chocolate chip recipe from him on Voraciously next week -- my new fave).

Guanaja Brownies

RECIPE: Guanaja Brownies

Or I bet you could use it up in this chocolate chip cookie recipe from Stella!

Are there any "new" methods of roasting duck to render as much fat as possible without unduly drying the meat? Have you tried the microwave for half the time and conventional oven the other half? Or something like that? I want it all: a lean bird, tender meat and deliciously brown skin. Thanks, Muriel

I'm a homemade Peking Duck person, but I've also tried other methods such as steaming and deep-frying duck. Peking/Beijing duck is all about the prep at the front end, then you let it dry out in the fridge and roast it. I stand it on one of those Eiffel Tower type roasting racks to let the fat drip out. There are many steps and this blog post I wrote a while back about your crispy duck options. Note that there are links that detail other steps to blow up the duck and give its skin a nice tan. ;-)

I’m planning to make the squash roast as almost half our guests are vegetarian or vegan. I’ve not been able to find packaged chestnuts (we live abroad). Most of the stores carry actual chestnuts for roasting and street vendors carry roasted chestnuts here. Can I substitute those for the packaged chestnuts in the recipe?

I think they would be delicious, perhaps with even better flavor because they are actually roasted instead of steamed. Be sure to double-check the texture to ensure they are tender enough for your recipe.

Your local fresh chestnuts that you have to peel will be BETTER than the packaged ones. I know for a fact because I grew up on chestnuts that my parents roasted and peeled. They're a bit of work but well worth it. 

You are so lucky to have street vendors with roasted chestnuts! Where is this magic land, and when can I visit? #jealous

Is it hard to make a red wine reduction? How would I go about doing so? I have a bottle of Apothic red blend open for cooking but I don't drink.

Several ways to go about it, but here's an easy way: Saute 1/4 cup minced shallot in a tablespoon of olive oil over med heat. Season lightly with S&P. Soon as the shallot has softened but not browned, pour in 2 cups of your wine. Cook down/reduce over med-HIGH heat for about 20 mins, watching closely near the end to make sure it doesn't boil over or become too syrupy. You'll have a generous 1/2 to 3/4 cup, which you can use as is or stretch by adding broth and a slurry of cornstarch or flour and cool water, if you want to make more sauce. 

I love Joe's recipe for Mushroom Chickpea burgers.  I'd like to make them into sliders or meatballs for a T-day appetizer. What is the best way to do this? Lower the heat, just cook for a shorter time, or something else? I was thinking of a tahini lemon dipping sauce, but am open to other ideas. Thanks!

Love this idea! I think if you're doing sliders, just cook for a shorter time, until they meet the criteria of firm to the touch and barely browning. Then fry as directed. If you're doing meatballs, and they're small but just as thick as the patties, you might not need to cut down the oven time much if at all. Please let me know how it goes! 

If you have a cooler, put that outside and the ice cream in the cooler - it should work.

Thanks for the laugh at the memory of the first time I cooked a chicken. I assumed the bag of gizzards etc was supposed to stay in the cavity and that the plastic was oven-proof. Bridget Jones' blue soup had nothin' on my melted plastic, liver-scented chicken :)

In France, they gave us the option of the day off for Tday (we were in a program with just Americans). It was silly to have the day off when it was just us and everything was still happening, so we had classes. And that evening we went out to a very French dinner to celebrate Thanksgiving day!

Andrea, huge fan here. I am looking forward to making your turkey pho on Friday. Any other thanksgiving favorites, especially sides, that you'll be making or eating this year?

Hooray for post-Thanksgiving Pho Friday!!!

We often have sticky rice stuffing with shiitake and a hit of cognac (even though my mom doesn't drink alcohol), and lots of vegetable sides. I've been looking for a pomelo to make a Viet grapefruit salad -- which can be prepped in advance and then dressed at the last minute. Kids can get into the action of prepping the citrus. I have a couple versions of that salad on my website: version 1 with regular pomelo and version 2 with an Oro Blanco grapefruit. Use canned fried onions to dress those salads! 

Happy Thanksgiving WAPO, may your Thursday be filled with many volunteer dish washers and cleaner uppers. I am going to braise a turkey breast with stock, herbs, Marsala, and white wine. So far I'm thinking about polenta and baby onions in a balsamic vinegar and brown sugar glaze as sides. What about vegetables? This is the year without the usual constraints. I thought about spinach (maybe with garlic, maybe with a béchamel) but I bet you have better ideas. Thanks

Our tradition is creamed spinach with plenty of freshly grated nutmeg. Use baby spinach. Heat a tablespoon or two of good olive oil with a few cloves chopped garlic. Saute spinach until tender. Then add about a cup (!!!) of heavy cream and a generous dusting of nutmeg, salt and pepper and cook down until thickened. Can be made ahead of time and reheated just before serving. 

I love the idea of breaking tradition with braised turkey. Roasted greens might be a good fit, plus if you are going to braise in the oven they can cook at the same time! I make this recipe with Tuscan kale or collard greens, and it's really easy to make in advance too.

I'm one of those anti-sugar people. I only use maybe a T in my cornbread but then I eat it with honey poured on it. Yeah, I know I'm strange.

I picked up a recipe from Mount Vernon when I visited so its lineage goes back to George and Martha Washington. I've tweaked it over the years and you can totally lower the sugar content. I like an equal amount of cornmeal to flour for a rustic finish, but you can use 3/4 cup cornmeal and 1 cup flour for a lighter finish. If you're GF, use Bob's Red Mill 1:1 flour for the AP flour.

What I do for the batter:

Whisk together: 1 cup cornmeal, 2 Tbsp sugar, 3/4 salt,  3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 Tbsp baking powder

Whisk together then stir into the dry ingredients: 2 Tbsp melted butter or oil or shortening, 1 egg, 1 cup milk

Pour into an 8x8 pan then bake in a preheated 425F oven for about 20 minutes. 

Well, at least you sound like a polite anti-sugar person, unlike some of the commenters on my piece...

Buttermilk Corn Bread

ARTICLE: Corn bread is a divisive topic. This recipe just might bring us a little closer together.

But seriously, everyone can make -- eat! -- their cornbread however they want. If only everyone could live by that.

I have a trove of stories about making Thanksgiving in countries that don't celebrate. The one I'm thinking of now is the time I ordered a turkey from the Edinburgh butcher for the day, and he showed me a fully cooked bird! I got a raw one instead--but I still think he thought I was over my head at 21. That's the year I learned I couldn't make our family cornbread dressing and dedicated every opportunity afterwards to observing my mother make it. I now make one every bit as good as I remember. Oh, the turkey turned out fine and my flatmates picked it clean.

My preparation for three big meals in a row was going great, until a stretch of minor disasters hit; the largest was that in a moment of distraction I set my (high quality) empty pan back on my induction burner still on high-ish heat. Heard a pop, the beep of the burner auto-shut-off, and removed the pan. When I went to inspect the damage there is some warping, and what appears to be a bubble (inside is raised, bottom is flat). Pan was replaced - the show must go on- but I’m wondering if it is salvageable, possibly useful to someone without an induction top who won’t rely on good contact? It’s was a good pan, I’d hate for it to go to waste if there’s still life in it.

All pans benefit from an even bottom surface so they'll receive heat and distribute it well. Sounds like your pan was a roasting pan? I'd try to reuse that with a rack placed inside so I could roast something in it. If it's a saucepan, frying pan or the like, it's probably not going to function well on a gas burner, even with the grate pulled off for direct live heat contact. 

The eggs are quite rich - how about something to cut it a bit and a different flavor / texture - somehow some sort fennel salad came to mind. Also, there tend to be the same old favorites for vegetarians, which while nice, it's fun to have something different.

I like wilted greens with egg dishes, served as a warm or room temperature salad. Warm a big glug of olive oil in a large skillet, add a handful of thinly sliced red onion, a little chopped garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes, and perhaps pine (or other) nuts for crunch. When it all sizzles, add the greens one big handful at a time,  tossing with tongs until they wilt. Work in batches if necessary. Transfer to a serving platter and season with salt and pepper. If you want a sweet and sour touch, put about 1/4 cup of golden raisins in a small bowl, cover with with sherry vinegar and microwave for 30 seconds to encourage the raisins to absorb the vinegar, and then set aside while you prepare the greens. Add the raisins to the greens before serving. If you don't have raisins, use another dried fruit such as cranberries, chopped apricots, cherries, or currants.  

I’m making your mac & cheese the morning of, but how do you think it’s best to heat it up for dinner?

if you are referring to this one,  just like the recipe says: On the stove top, over low heat. Top with the Cheez-Its just before serving.

I slice very thin and saute with leeks and garlic. It comes out part soft and part crispy. YUM. How do I do this method and then drive the dish to a party where it won't be eaten for 4 hours? THank you!

I would cook them half way at home and travel to your dinner with the skillet. Heat them up when you arrive and finish them off. They'll be hot and no chance of overcooking. 

Do any of the panel members have ideas for offering a smoked treat for Thanksgiving? I know Turkey is an obvious submission, but any other Smoke em if you Got em ideas? Thanks -@jteisele

Looks amazing. But my husband hates pumpkin. Can I just leave it out? or substitute something (he hates anything red, except grapes or apples).

You definitely don't want to just leave it out, because then you basically have no filling.

As far as a substitute, your best bets would probably be butternut squash or sweet potato.

If those don't work, then I think you should probably just find a different recipe! ... Good luck.

Hi! Can I update your regular collard greens to be made in the crockpot for Thanksgiving? If so, how would I adjust? Thanks!

I'm not sure who this question was intended for, but here is a great recipe for collards and potlikker in a slow cooker. 



You can make my recipe in a slow cooker by starting the broth in a pot first - to saute the onions/garlic etc, add your stock and scrape up the bottom of the pot. Then transfer that liquid to the slow cooker and drop your smoked meats. Let the meat simmer until it's falling off the bone before adding greens. So you can do that part as slowly as you want on low. Personally I would turn it up to high to cook the greens in the very last hour or so (vs cooking them all day) and just monitor progress so the greens aren't getting mushy. My recipe for southern greens is on my blog!

Question is for Angela Davis. If you don’t have time to make homemade turkey stock for gravy, what store brand of broth do you recommend? Thanks Janeen

Hi! I try to find an organic or free-range chicken broth, unsalted or low sodium, whenever possible. There are some jarred brands of "bone broths" and I think the flavor is slightly better than stocks from a carton. I'm not loyal to any specific brands, and store brands like Wegmans, Whole Foods or TJ's are often better. One thing you can do if you have time which improves flavor and consistency for any storebought stock is to simmer it with the turkey drippings (even better, the backbone if you spatchcocked) and also try adding some unflavored gelatin. There's a tip about that in my ebook!

I'm sending this straight to Stella Parks, not out of disregard for anyone else, but because she's my cousin and I've been wanting to say "hi" everytime one of these chats pops up and I keep forgetting. (Though I doubt if she remembers her old Cousin Kathy, as the last time we met it was at a family reunion in Kentucky and she was five years old and I was about 20 years older.


Everyone who met her at the reunion, at least the adults, would throw themselves on their knees and call out, "Stellllllah!" a la Stanley Kowalski, because we're That Kind of Family, and she was rather delightfully annoyed with it all before it was all over. One reason I liked her.)


Anyway.... I do actually have a food-related question. For the past several years I've made a maple pecan pie that's been praised because it's not too sweet, and that I like because it doesn't have corn syrup...and is easy. I'd like to mix things up ever-so-slightly this year. I looked for chocolate pecan pie recipes without corn syrup and nothing seemed to tick all my boxes.


So I wonder: Is there any reason I can't simply toss some of the copious amount of semi-sweet/bittersweet chocolate chips I have in my freezer into this recipe? I wouldn't mind if they don't melt and blend smoothly; in fact, I think I'd rather like the "chip" effect. Thanks, and letting you know the whole family  (I'm Katharine's, Jennie's older sister, granddaughter) is proud of you and exchange news stories, etc. when we find them. And it's always nice to see Aunt Jennie's china, etc. featured in the photo displays, etc.

Hello cousin Kathy!!! I 100% recall that particular reunion, and just got back from a trip to Green Turtle Bay with the fam. anyhow! To answer the question at hand: if what folks love about the pie is that it's not too sweet, chips may push it over the edge because they're relatively high in sugar compared to bars of baking chocolate. But if you wanna give it a shot, I'd start off conservatively! Shoot me an email sometime, I'd love to catch up!

I'm going to make a pumpkin cheesecake from a recipe I found from a reliable source on the internet. Do you have any tips for getting the graham cracker crust mixture nicely in the pan?

I press the crust into the pan first with my fingers and then use a wide flat metal spatula to press it down evenly. 

It's easy to let crumb crusts get too thick in the corners, more like a 45 degree angle instead of 90 degrees. I do what I can with my fingertips and then firmly press the corners with a straight-sided metal measuring cup.

When I was in grad school I hosted all sorts of people because I coudln't afford to go home. I had no idea how to cook a turkey, was on the phone with my mom all morning and she was giving me advice. And then it was cooking and I was checking and basting and -- wow, the gizzard bag just came out of the turkey...I had no idea there was even anything IN there to remove! (my friend was from India and commented that while he was Indian, there was something from Turkey -- we had all the bases covered!)

I have had my frozen turkey sitting in the refrigerator to thaw since Saturday morning. We’re now one day from Thanksgiving - I pulled it out to get the dry brine going on it and it’s still FROZEN SOLID!!! What do I do?? How is it still frozen??

Sounds like something we've experienced at our house, lol. I suspect your fridge is running cold, and if it's really packed it may be keeping things even more efficiently chilly.

But don't panic, Bonnie has you covered

frozen turkey

ARTICLE: Yes, you really can roast a turkey from frozen — and it’s delicious. Here’s how to save the day.

You can also just do the thaw in the sink strategy, changing the cold water every 30 minutes.

I know you are focused on cooking today, but that turducken article was a bit of a turkey. The recipe in the Prudhomme Family Cookbook utilizes three different stuffings and creates a dish that people will talk about for years. Having your butcher make a bastardization of the same and then claiming it's terrible doesn't make any sense,

I happened to see Chef Paul and TWO other professional chefs show how to make that recipe on food tv last weekend. Not for most of us...the amount of leftover parts to deal with filled two baking sheets! So that is why folks turn to butchers to prepare turduckens. And I have to politely disagree w you on the turkeyness of Greg's essay, because I thought it was interesting to hear from that side of the table/issue.  Happy Thanksgiving! 


ARTICLE Take it from a butcher: A turducken isn't worth the trouble

We NEVER had it growing up always stuffing that no one ate. My grandmother was not born here, so she didn't grow up with traditional thanksgiving (even if they could have afforded it). So my mom did a very traditional thanksgiving but we *never* ever had corn bread. Then I moved down south and wow, it's everywhere. So I make it when I do the dinner for my husband... But we have no sugar in the house and a celiac over sometimes dairy it gets complicated! (no egg too, but I don't remember if it uses egg).

A traditional cornbread like the one I posted from Sean Brock earlier in the chat is gluten-free because it's ALL cornmeal, no flour. And as I mentioned, you could use non-dairy milk and extra lemon instead of the buttermilk. But the egg gets a little complicated. The flax-egg trick probably works fine there.

For folks in the DC area, I prefer the taste of Giant's puff pastry to Pepperidge Farms. It's vegan, which is irrelevant for wrapping brie, but useful for other dishes for vegan or dairy free eaters. I can't comment on taste compared to the butter options provided.

Thanks for taking questions today! If anyone has a moment to answer a personal question, I'd love to read the answers. Are there any Thanksgiving foods that were part of your family's traditions you may have enjoyed as a child but have no interest in eating as an adult? As a fellow vegetarian and Texan I am particularly interested in Joe's answer.

I''ll pass on any version of green bean casserole LOL. I prefer my green beans fresh and not covered in a heavy sauce!

Well, I've written before about my mom's "Texas Salad," which I loved as a child but can't really stomach now -- so I updated it!

I am bringing this side dish. The sprouts are sauteed with leeks, garlic and tamari. What is the best way to bring this as it won't be served for several hours after it is prepared? Thank you!

Without knowing all the details, I'd prep the sprouts -- trim and maybe parboil them to a just tenderness. Saute the leek and keep separate. Before serving, saute the garlic, add the leek and sprouts to warm through, then zap it all with tamari to glaze and caramelize. (Try Kikkoman GF soy sauce, which has a great flavor.)  Hope that helps but it depends if you can get stove time where your feast is happening. 

"make sure your milk/cream is warm and not cold when you add it to the hot cooked potatoes. " Why? Same or different when using non-dairy milk? I think I've got an almond-mac-cashew in the fridge.

Absorbs better, and keeps the potatoes hot!

I'm intrigued by this. Any experience with it?

I've made them and didn't see any advantage to stove top, in either time commitment or outcome. I think the wisest use for a slow cooker when it comes to mashed potatoes is to use it as a warmer. Make your potatoes, transfer them to a buttered slow cooker set to low, and keep covered. They'll stay perfect for hours. 

If I'm making mashed potatoes the day before, I throw in a good chunk of cream cheese along with the butter, milk and sour cream when I'm mashing them (and make them slightly looser than normal). Then I bake in the oven to heat them up.

Stella, I'm a huge fan! So... do you recommend blind baking both pumpkin and pecan pies? I know they are both technically custard pies which I've seen you reference. I typically don't blind bake fruit pies.

Howdy! Yes, I like to fully blind bake the dough for all single-crusted pies. I use a foil liner to shield the edges of the dough so it doesn't over brown. Check out my guide to blind baking here.

I dream about food all the time. Yesterday morning I dreamed I was buying some gorgonzola licorice. I had to try it. The vendor was just handing it over when my husband woke me up. Phooey.

I think you should be glad you woke up!

I am bringing your Curried Chickpea Salad (which I ADORE) served in wonton cups for an appetizer; I have to travel about two hours. Any recommendations for a complementary filling I can serve alongside?

You mean more like a condiment? I think a nice mango chutney would work well.

Curried Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

RECIPE: Curried Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

Weber Smokey Mountain or 22-inch Weber kettle? Which one is better? And why?

I've smoked a spatchcocked turkey on the Weber kettle successfully but my dad prefers the Smokey Mountain usually because we've needed to smoke 2 turkeys at the same time, or something else on the second rack. Also with cold weather it is just easier to maintain temperatures in the smoker vs the kettle for a longer period of time. 

Hi Stella - I feel like I've read every recipe and watched every video about making pie crust, but I'm still terrified of messing it up. I'm great at making cobblers, crumbles, bread & biscuits, but I've never actually tried making pie crust. Do you have any advice on how to get over that fear?

Don't be scared, fear is the mind killer! The biggest thing to keep in mind for pie crust is that you want to use a low protein flour, like Gold Medal's blue label, and a basic American style butter. 


The reason pie doughs turn out tough, or shrink, or leak, or act up, is most often because the flour itself is too strong, and made from 100% hard red wheat, which is more suitable for bread making.


Meanwhile, Euro style butter is higher in fat and a bit softer, so it can make doughs tricky to handle. But when bakers see that shiny gold wrapper at the store, they feel like it's something special and buy it to use "the best" ingredient. But best is subjective, and American pie doughs do best with American butter. The other trick is to leave the pieces big and chunky!


I have a pie primer up on Serious Eats, which should hopefully demystify the process, and you can watch me make a dough in the video. 

You know what? Even a "messed up" pie crust tastes pretty good, and most people might not even know. The crust I made for this piece was weirdly dry and crumbly and I literally thought I was going to cry during the photo shoot, but we soldiered on. Still turned out tasty.


ARTICLE: 6 simple tips for Thanksgiving pie crust success

I would roast the turkey necks first, so you get dripping, before you add them to the chicken stock, and make the roux out of the turkey neck dripping (add some oil or butter to the roasting pan if they aren't fatty enough).

I missed the original question so this might not be what you seek, but I wrote a long story on make-ahead gravy that isn't dependent on drippings from a roasted turkey.  

I've been hearing a lot about food prep services like Blue Apron and Gobble. Are they all by subscription, or are there any you can use to send a few meal preparations as a gift?

Blue Apron offers gift cards - I'm sure at least some of the others do, too.

Since we're always asking how to make this or what do you recommend for that etc. 1. What is your favorite dish to make on Thanksgiving 2. What is your favorite dish to eat (whether you make it or not) 3. What is your funniest Thanksgiving memory Most importantly have a wonderful holiday and thanks for all you do!!

Wow, so many ways to answer this great question. I guess making the cranberry sauce and the stuffing are my favorite traditions. In terms of my favorite dish? Well it's definitely not the turkey. I love the variety of colors and textures and flavors on the plate at Thanksgiving. A feast! And Thanksgiving memory? Well it's not funny but I have found that as a I have lost people I love I have started including their favorite dish at the table as a way of honoring them and remembering them. Like my Dad would only eat cranberry sauce that came out of a can and would inspect the plate for the tell-tale ridges! Also I always make my mother in law's jello casserole (yup, that's real love) with orange sherbet, pineapple and orange jello. And also for my Dad there's always creamed spinach on the holiday table. It's a nice way of having them here even when they are not here any more. 

I love to make my mom's sticky rice stuffing, then baking till it gets a little crisp; ditto for chestnuts simmered in a little broth with butter and cilantro.

Funny stories? Oh boy.. so many to choose from!!! I live in Northern California where our local farmers grow a lot of brussels sprouts for the rest of the country. They're fabulous tasting and sweet. The first year I brought the sprouts to my parents' house, people recoiled. My oldest sister recounted how we had our first once at the refugee resettlement camp when we arrived in 1975. They were overcooked, sickly, and gassy. I plowed ahead anyway and cooked my beautiful orbs up and dressed them in caramelized butter. They took skeptical bites and then ate them all up. My family. 

I am all about the gravy, both making and eating it. My friends actually call me The Gravy Whisperer. My funniest memory was the first year that I was old enough to cook all day with my grandmother. We accidentally dropped the roasted turkey, which rolled across the kitchen into the laundry room, flinging stuffing out both ends. When we finally stopped laughing, she fetched the turkey and I gleaned dressing clumps from the floor and put them back in the turkey. (Yes, her floor was clean enough to eat off.) We didn't tell a soul what we'd done, but we giggled all day. 

Tiny Tim Cranberry Tarts, no question. I pried the recipe from the hands of the first food editor I ever worked for, who was determined to keep it secret. It is a perfect bite. 


Re the memory/funny, one year I had to test a Tom Fitzmorris  root beer-glazed ham, at home before we had our lovely Food Lab. The thing smelled so out loud that my cat -- who had never been exposed to such a thing  in my Jewish kitchen -- parked himself in front of the oven during the last half hour of glazing and just HOWELED and meowed, demanding to eat some. A few cooled bits in his bowl and we created a monster. A feline ham monster. 

I really love making sweet potato rolls on Thanksgiving. And pie! And lots of vegetables.

As for eating, my favorite is ... pie!

Let's see: The best Thanksgiving memories for me are the ones I've spent at my sister and BIL's in southern Maine, especially as it relates to using their wood-fired brick oven outside. Always a blast!

microwaved turkeys have been in the news this week. do you think it is a good idea to microwave your turkey, have you ever done it, and if you have, what pointers can you give me for making it delicious (length of time, etc.). By the way, I absolutely love Free Range on Food!

Never have done it. Seems like steaming parts would be the way to go, maybe crisping the skin under the broiler afterward? Now that Instant Pot turkey, I can get behind.

I have a few good cake recipes in my repetoire (although I’m always looking for more), but I struggle with frosting. I’d love to find a few relatively foolproof recipes, chocolate and vanilla at a minimum. I find recipes that involve dumping in a ton of confectioners sugar to be overly sweet, and I’m looking for options that will last a day or two. Any thoughts? Thank you!

Do you prefer fluffy icing? If not, perhaps a glaze (such as chocolate ganache) would do the trick. 

So many great frosting options out there! My fave for vanilla is probably German buttercream, which starts out with an ultra thick vanilla pudding that's whipped with cream (the pudding takes the place of powdered sugar, thickening and sweetening the butter, but without the grit or excess sweetness). The milk content of the pudding really plays up the creamy vanilla flavor.


Swiss buttercream is another great option, starts off with a fully cooked meringue that's whipped with butter. It's safe, stable, easy to spread, and none too sweet. I like to make it with brown sugar instead of white, when going the chocolate frosting route.


If you'd prefer an eggless style, I also have a chocolate frosting that's based on homemade condensed milk. It's really thick and creamy and deep, although not the speediest option, it's great when you've got time to plan.

I'm planning to make Cathy Barrow's PEAR AND FRANGIPANE SLAB PIE tomorrow (already have my store-bought puff-pastry thawing in the fridge, and purchased a tube of almond paste). However, what I don't have is pears (and I'm not going to the store today to get them). So I was thinking the same recipe should work equally well with apples, which I do have. Are there any adjustments to the recipe that you'd recommend, in order to accommodate apples? 

Cathy says:

That should work well as long as the apples are very firm and crisp.

Turns out that somewhere along the line, our turkey breast spatchcocked itself-- just took it out of the butcher paper to season it for the slow roasting you recommended and discovered that it lies completely flat -- not the inverted U of a regular breast. The sternum cracked through the membrane. WIll that affect slow-roasting time?

If it's laying flat, it could roast faster. Best thing to do is monitor internal temperature either way, instead of watching the clock. Use a probe thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the breast (make sure it's not touching bone), and that way you'll know when it's done. Safety guidelines call for cooking poultry to 165°F - due to residual heat you can pull it out as it's climbing past 155 or so, for best results. Otherwise it can overcook way past 165.

30yo single malt scotch

Thanksgiving just got lots better. ;-)

Beloved, traditional Thanksgiving dish. Not beloved nutritionally are the canned crispy onions that go over the beans. Do you have a recipe to make them at home so they're less greasy, or should I indulge everyone once a year with the "traditional" packaged junk?

I've tried. It's hard to get them crisp enough. The  good news is that there now are store-bought versions available in some specialty grocery stores that are less greasy and more onion-y.  I'm a fan.

I've made slow cooked onions that I thinly slice and cook in olive oil for about an hour over lowest heat. Then I add a dash of balsamic vinegar and cook it another 15 minutes. I add them to the top of the beans and then place under the broiler for 5 minutes to crisp up. Not the same crispy crunchy but way tastier!

Here's a fried shallot recipe you could try.

Fried or Caramelized Shallots

RECIPE: Fried or Caramelized Shallots

But yeah, I'm also a fan of the feel free to please your family this one time. Less work for you anyway.

I asked Alexandra Petri's chat the same question, but I figure you're the real experts! Instead of reheating ALL the thanksgiving leftovers (and drying the turkey out), I plan on assembling a plate and microwaving it all. The question is, is it better to put everything on the plate and microwave all at once, or should one stagger the reheating (like, when I do things all at once, the potatoes are cool and the stuffing is too hot). What should go in the first heat? Where do turkey and green beans fit into the equation? Happy Thanksgiving!

Think of how things were served during the Thanksgiving meal. What was room temp, warm, or hot? If you're microwaving for a crowd, you can set things individually and keep them refreshed in an oven set to Warm. Maybe microwave things in smaller quantities and repeat as people want to eat more. Or, reheat certain things in the oven and others in the microwave oven. Use your appliances to multitask!

Warming your ceramic/pottery type serving bowls and such in the oven (if there's room) or keeping them filled with very hot water till just before you need them will go a long way toward keeping your warm foods warm.

I've been given a bottle of aquavit -- any ideas for a punch or anything I could make to serve with Thanksgiving dinner? Thank you!

Not a punch, but easy to make several of these sparkling drinks. You could drop a cranberry in each glass to make a little more festive, too!

Swedish 60

RECIPE: Swedish 60

Or I bet this would be nice with aquavit, and it's easy to batch up and turn into a punch:

Gin Apple Cider

RECIPE: Gin Apple Cider

OR if you're the bitter type, you could use your aquavit in a Negroni (I'd serve these before dinner, so the bitterness preps your stomach for the feast.)


A classic holiday use for aquavit is in gløgg -- great for celebrations. See how this one serves you! I find good aquavit makes for a really nice martini, and this Scandinavian daiquiri might do nicely too.

I'd love to get a sense of whether this custom endures. It was a big deal in my family until my parents passed on, but no-one I know has kept it up or even told their children or grandchildren about it. Some readers may not even know what I'm talking about! Do you?

We do it! I feel like I'd have to fight some little kids to be able to do it now.

I haven't thought of this in ages! Thanks for the reminder. It was a big deal when I was growing up. 


Oy, I remove the wishbone before roasting so the bird is easier to carve at the breast area. 

We made this a few times and loved it. For Thanksgiving, I am considering putting it in at about 200 - 225 degrees -- still very low and slow but a bit higher than 175, in hopes of getting similar results in slightly less time. Theoretically possible, yes? Or am I better off letting it go several hours at 175 then checking the bird temp (we have a remote-monitoring thermometer) and bumping the oven for the last hour or two. Thoughts? Thank you for a year's worth of great ideas -- happy Thanksgiving to all. Here's hoping for no more food safety warnings before we get through tomorrow....

I believe in years past I tried the bumping up at the end, and it did not greatly speed up the internal temp result. I haven't tried it at 200 -225 and therefore hesitant to endorse! Happy holiday to you, too. #loveourchatters #byeromaine

So, if the gingery roasted pears seem too simple for Thanksgiving, one way I love to serve them is by topping them with roasted cranberries and apples BUT I but the sugar down to only 1/4 cup. They don't come out as gelled, but they certainly are tasty and festive! You can also sub cinnamon for the ginger. I LOVE how versatile those pears are! 

My long-deceased Polish aunt used to make a gingerbread that was very thick and dense, and a little dry -- somewhat like pumpernickel, but gingerbread. It was also fairly flat, like a ciabata. It was sweet but not like dessert more like challa bread. We would eat it with butter and ham or other salty meats. Any ideas on where to find a recipe for something similar? Thank you!!

I think that style of gingerbread is called piernik, which might help you locate a recipe online.

I made these last night and we weren't crazy about them. I thought I was doing the right thing by using a Cabot Sharp Cheddar I got at Costco but maybe not. It didn't taste very "cheesy." What kind of cheese would you recommend?

Extra sharp, long aged cheese. Try the Tillamook at Costco. At a regular market where the plastic wrap is less thick, I try to sniff through the wrapper. If possible, I ask for a taste of the cheese.  You could combine cheeses for the recipe if you still have that Cabot around. 

Try extra-sharp cheese, but also make sure you are seasoning the dough generously. I use big pinches of salt, dry mustard, and cayenne, and a big dash of Worcestershire sauce. 

When i would do it well, we keep a kosher home, so none of the sides were dairy. I had to figure out how to make green bean casserole (and I hate mushrooms anyway, so It was fine). And the mashed potatoes... But since I don't eat meat (!) my husband would always do *that* part. :)

Early one spring long ago my husband rescued a young feral calico cat, who turned to be pregnant. By late autumn of that year, she and her kittens were all quite tame (and we'd had them all neutered, BTW), and enjoyed hanging around in the kitchen while we cooked. Come Thanksgiving day (we were still omnivores then), we roasted a turkey for the first time since the previous Thanksgiving, so none of the cats had ever smelled it before. By the last hour or so, they parked themselves in front of the oven, gazing through the oven door's window as though it were some kind of TV screen. And when we fed them tiny scraps of turkey later, they loved it, even though they'd never had it before.

Validating! Vince loved the turkey testing, too...I think he misses it, now that I can cook at the office. But I  have brought home for him lots of assorted bits and crisped skin over the past couple months. 

Whenever I cook ANYTHING, I have to close up our cat Nelson in the basement, cause he's known to just hop up on whatever counter he likes, and I'm not always fast enough with the squirt gun. This year, I'm buying a smoked turkey (from Rockland's BBQ, which I recommend), and I'm sure he'll be VERY INTERESTED IN THAT.

So charming. I see a series of holiday kitchen cat videos in our future. <3 <3 <3 

Whether making pimiento cheese or adding to mac and cheese, my mom taught me to always include, not drain, the juice. It enhances the flavor and there is so little that adjusting the recipe accordingly for the added liquid is not an issue.

I'm reformed from this day forward. No more draining the pimentos. 

Brilliant. I am so borrowing your mom's tip. Those little jars of pimento are expensive!

I'm very new to the whole Keto way of eating. If you've done keto what are some really good recipes I can incorporate into Thanksgiving?

Low carb, high fat, moderate protein, yes? Seems like collard greens, Brussels sprouts, other brassicas and greens are your friend here. With lots of creamy/oily (but not sweet) drizzles!

We will be visiting my brother in laws tomorrow, and everything will be great, except the butter. They only server this terrible fake butter that comes in a plastic tub. Is it OK if I bring my own real butter?

Only if you also bring the bread, and maybe even fold some herbs/spices/salt into the butter, so you can pass it off as your special combination contribution!

Recipes often suggest the height between the heat and the pan when broiling, but my broiler is a drawer under the oven with a height set to "burns everything quickly". Advice?

Keep the door open, and WATCH LIKE A HAWK.

If I want to make my biscuit dough a few days ahead of time, is it safe to leave in the fridge after its cut? Or should I freeze it?

Biscuits tend to lose volume when frozen in advance, so you can make and freeze, but expect them to come out a little denser than normal. OR, if you're feeling brave, give angel biscuits a shot. They're leavened with yeast and include an overnight rise, so you won't have to sacrifice texture for the convenience of make-ahead. If you give them a shot and have any questions along the way, hit me up on Twitter.

What are your thoughts about making mashed potatoes in the slow cooker? I would love to free up some burner space, but not if the potatoes won't be as good.

I believe the best use of your slow cooker is to use it as a warmer for mashed potatoes you make early in the day on the stove top. Transfer the finished potatoes to a buttered slow cooker, cover, and keep on low. They'll be great for hours. 

Can you tell me what I did wrong last year? The instructions said use a 14 oz package of puff pastry, but my 17 oz package had two sheets. So I used both sheets, and the result looked like the staypuft marshmallow man. But was absolutely delicious!

Did you follow this instruction? I bet you didn't! "Roll out the puff pastry dough on it to form a 10-by-14-inch rectangle that's about 1/8 inch thick. Trim the edges of the dough to make it tidy; reserve the excess for decorating the top of the Wellington."

RECIPE: Roasted Portobello Mushroom, Pecan and Chestnut Wellington

I made these last year and we loved them but boy, did they stick. I didn't have a non-stick tin so just sprayed it. Think it would work better to use the little, paper liners?

If the filling hasn't escaped and the tartlet edges are intact, there's an optimal window of opportunity for getting them out of the pan while they are warm -- about 10 mins in. Or just wait until they have cooled completely. If you can wedge a very thin knife just under any tartlet rim/edge to loosen it, that will help too.  In a pan of 12, one might not be so perfect. This is a gift for the cook or whomsoever happens to be passing by the kitchen. EAT THE CRUMBLES. 

I am going to a friend's for dinner. She is making a ham and salmon. What is the best idea for me to bring as a side dish. Thank you and I love you guys and I am thankful for all that you have given me in 2018.

Mashed sweet potatoes would be delicious with both ham and salmon. Try seasoning them with browned butter and a bit of aged balsamic to keep them from being too sugary. If that doesn't sound sweet enough to be festive, season them with butter and a big spoonful of peach preserves. of these vegetable side dishes. How about mashed potatoes with a whole head of roasted garlic mashed into the potatoes? 

How about doing the Peking Duck thing of using a blow-dryer?

This is reminding of the firestorm Helen Rosner started when she ran a recipe using a hair dryer for her roast chicken.

I'd love to make some crispy, not hard, cookies instead of buying packaged. Baker's ammonia seems to be key, but I've never tried it. Have any of you used this? How bad are the fumes? Will they kill my cats? Is it worth the expense (about $10 for 2 oz. from KA)? Are there recipes using this in your database?

Baker's ammonia is not uniquely equipped to make crispy cookies; texture has more to do with recipe ratios and technique. Baker's ammonia is fun (and truly very stinky) but just one of many tools for chemically leavening a dough.


If the recipes you've tried have all come out hard, rather than crisp, I'd investigate your go-to all purpose flour. If it's too hard (high in protein), it may be toughening the dough, making the cookies bake up hard.

They make excellent home fries with onions and peppers. Different but really good.

These. You need these.

Sumac Sweet Potato Fries

RECIPE: Sumac Sweet Potato Fries

What is everyone's favorite part of Thanksgiving meal, please? I'm partial to the stuffing, especially the part that we stuff into the bird. I also love the rolls!

Do I have to pick one? :)

Rolls would be toward the top, along with my family's cranberry Jell-O mold and my husband's family's chocolate peanut butter pie.

The mom-in-law's Ritz cracker, pizza-like appetizers and the aunt-in-law's homemade pickles.

And also turkey and cranberry sauce. 

We're hosting Thanksgiving for about 10 people, including 3 pregnant women and one more person who abstains from alcohol. Any suggestions on a fun, festive non-alcoholic punch or cocktail I can make for all of the non-drinkers (myself included) this holiday?

I love hibiscus tea mixed with ginger beer and lime juice. It's a gorgeous magenta color, not too sweet, and a little bubbly.

We're doing some sort of easy pomegranate spritzer this year using sparkling cider and pomegranate juice! You can even garnish with fresh cranberries or pomegranate seeds.

Hi! I just harvested some ginger and would like to do honey infused with ginger. Most recipes require heating the honey which I really would like to avoid. I think korean style recipes dont do the heating process but I'm unsure. Can you suggest a recipe? Also, do you know if by combining the honey and ginger and leaving at room temperature for sometime will result in a nice ferment?

You're successfully growing ginger???? I bow to you! Wow. If you don't want to heat the honey, how about making a super intensely flavored ginger-infused simple syrup from some other unrefined sugar (or refined sugar)? Try palm sugar or jaggery, for example, if you want an unrefined sweetener.  Then combine the simple syrup with the honey. 

How can I prep Mac n cheese but bake on a different day?

If you're doing a mac & cheese with the bechamel sauce, here's the two best options in my experience:

1) Make the cheese sauce and refrigerate it. The next day, boil your noodles, combine with the prepped sauce (no need to reheat it) top with remaining shredded cheese and bake.

2) Assemble the mac & cheese completely, adding a little extra cream or whole milk to your sauce to account for the noodles absorbing extra as it sits. Bake the next day. May take slightly longer since you're starting with a cold pan, so you can keep it covered with foil for the first 20 minutes or so and then uncover towards the end when things are ready to brown a bit on top.

I like to make it extra saucy so the pasta doesn't soak up all the sauce while it sits overnight. You can make it a day ahead and leave a little sauce out. Then when you're ready to bake fold in the remaining sauce and bake. Or simply dot the top with  some butter to keep it moist while it bakes. 

My two got a bit of turkey breast, and didn't think it was edible. I suppose I should be grateful.

Our dishwasher died after the first load of dishes on Thanksgiving one year. Unfortunately, because I'm a stack the dishes and worry about it later host, all 25 guests already had gone home.

UGH. This is bad. Although it could be worse -- your garbage disposal could break right when folks are about to arrive. Friend of WaPoFood David Hagedorn tweeted a warning just today that you should NOT USE YOUR GARBAGE DISPOSAL leading up to the holiday just to prevent such from happening.

I'm going to start like a shill for Mori-Nu, but this without the bananas in a graham cracker crust with or without vegan whip cream is fab.

The texture of silken tofu is great for treats like this one! Thanks for the tip.

Tofu varies from brand to brand so try Mori-Nu's recipe with silken tofu by Wildwood, Whole Foods, or Nasoya. They have a lovely, elegant freshness. 

Ugh - I was just diagnosed with diabetes and having had the gestational kind, I know what it means for diet changes going forward. So my question concerns mashed cauliflower. In your opinion, what's the best brand (frozen, microwavable I'm talking about) and is there any way to make it more delicious? I.e. putting it under the broiler, etc.

Here are a few suggestions: Whether you create your own "riced" bits by pulsing raw cauliflower florets in a food processor or use frozen, be sure to drain them well after they're cooked.  Even when cooked and tender, the bits will still be a bit rough, but you can get a more mashed-potato-like texture if you puree them (while still warm) in a food processor. In addition to your usual potato seasoning, add a couple of ounces of softened cream cheese, which also improves the texture.

Try them with turkey skin (that's what our crew loved best; of course, so did I). Or dark meat.

What about those recipes claiming we could cook foiled-roast fish in the dishwasher while it ran? I never believed it.

Huh, never heard about that one.

Haven't tried this recipe, but since a simple pecan stuffed in a date is already so reminiscent of pecan pie, might be a winner!

. . . is amazing with a gingersnap crust. Just putting it out there.

This happened to me-my husband inadvertently locked my mom's oven because the door wasn't shutting on its own. He solved it be cutting off power to the oven, which allowed us to open the door and get the meatloaf out.

... was one that included whole corn niblets. I've never been able to replicate the utter deliciousness and the combo of graininess and moisture. Do you have a recipe that might do the trick?

If you have a favorite cornbread recipe, add well-drained corn niblets to the recipe; excess moisture may throw off the batter. This recipe looks promising. 

Hi Stella! A Lexingtonian here. I’ve prepped the apples and pie crust to make your pie. I LOVE a crumb and caramel topping on apple pie rather than a crust. Do you see a reason why I couldn’t do that with your Apple pie recipe?

Oh, hey #KentuckyProud! Because the top crust plays a huuuuuge role in wranglin' all those apples into the pan, you  may have an apple landside if you skip it. If you've got my cookbook, there's an apple crisp variation on that recipe that's baked off in a 9x13-inch casserole dish with a crumb topping, so I'd recommend going that route instead. 

I recently bought a pudding steamer (think English Christmas pudding) on a whim at a rummage sale for 75 cents. I can find some interesting recipes online, including a cranberry one I'd like to try for tomorrow. They all say mix and put in the mold, close lid, and put in steamer basket. Does this mean I shouldn't have the water around the sides of the mold? I don't want to run out of liquid when I have to steam it for an hour and half! Any other known pitfalls?

Ooh, I remember this from an episode of "The Great British Baking Show!" You want the mold over, but not surrounded by, water. So that it steams rather than boils. Here's a primer from BBC to get you started.

How about Duchess Potatoes? How much of the prep can be done early in the day, or even the day before? Obviously boiling the spuds. But what about ricing them? Mixing the riced potatoes with yolks, butter, cream and seasonings? Even piping them onto the baking sheet ahead of time?

I'd take them all the way through to the piping on the baking sheet -- if you have space in your refrigerator for the baking sheet! That's what my friend Elise Bauer recommends here.

Hi all (and Stella!) I'm living in England with no easy access to Corn Syrup. How can I make a pecan pie?

Lyle's Golden Syrup will work like a charm, and upgrade the recipe as a whole since it has more depth of flavor than corn syrup. It's so good in pecan pie! 

Stella's recipes got me to buy Lyle's and it is sooooo good. I put it in tea and oatmeal sometimes, and have been known to eat it by the (small) spoonful.

I'm a HUGE LYLE'S FAN. Incredible.

Should read "foil-covered fish in the dishwasher."

For after the turkey to sip while watching football?

Wow, this is very specific! :) I like Macallan and Glenfiddich's 15 yr olds. Bowmore's, of which I like some younger ones a lot, is too woody for me at this age. But that's just, like, my opinion, man.

I remember using a recipe for make ahead mashed potatoes that starts with baking the potatoes and putting them through a ricer. I have the potatoes in the oven now but can't find my recipe! Can you help me figure out how to finish making the mashed potatoes? While googling (unsuccessfully) to find that recipe, I see a number of recipes that have you mix the potatoes, butter, etc. in a standing mixer. I always thought using a mixer would make the potatoes gluey. Am I wrong? Thanks.

Don't use anything that you plug in, or you risk gluey potatoes and great sadness. Instead, use a rice, food mill fitted with the medium-size disc, or mash them as best you can with a hand-held masher or heavy wooden spoon. Work quickly, making sure you mash and season while the potatoes are still warm. In that same vein, make sure that your butter is at room temp and any milk (or cream or what have you) is warmed. 


I saw at the Dupont market this week a piece of pumpkin pie that had baklava sort of baked into the bottom. The flavor combo is genius, but having phyllo inside your pie seems like a high degree of difficulty and a recipe for sogginess. Any ideas how to combine these treats? The easiest might be to just sprinkle baklava on edges of baked pie but curious if you have other inspiration!

Seems like you could parbake the baklava crust, glaze it with honey and let that cool before adding the filling and continuing to bake. 

Last night I made the Asian-fusion meatballs with ginger-scallion sauce from Voraciously’s “staying grounded” week (I know, I’m behind) and I was surprised that the recipe did not call for the ginger or garlic to be cooked. The sauce tasted fine but the garlic flavor stayed in my mouth for the rest of the night. What was the reason for not cooking it? Is there a way to avoid that in the future or would frying the ginger and garlic make the sauce taste too different?

Forgive me for not seeing the recipe but I do know what you mean by that raw garlic sting in a meatball. I'd use less of it or cut it from the recipe. Also consider making the meatballs smallish so there's greater chance for the garlic to get a bit more cooked. As for the ginger, if it doesn't pop out at you, then it's good as is in the recipe. 

Meatball recipes often call for raw garlic -- its pungency is a great source of umami. The garlic is often added in raw form. But if it's a lot, then it can be problematic -- especially on date night. 

I have to chime in on this topic: Don't put sauerkraut down your garbage disposal. Ever. We found this out the hard way. When we were newlyweds we put a jar of sauerkraut down the disposal and found out the kitchen sink was somehow connected to a wet bar sink in the basement. I went downstairs and the carpet was squishy. The kraut had exploded out of the sink and was everywhere. We were scooping handfuls from the drawers. My brother in law came over to help clean and said later, "I very nearly hurled." So, don't do it.

This is the most important PSA to come out of this chat in years. Thank you.

I was watching Blue Peter (iconic BBC children's show) with my children when one of the presenters had a mashed potato demonstration. He drained the boiled potatoes then returned them to the pan with milk and butter to mash over the residual heat in the electric burner (or very low flame gas). It dries the potatoes out and makes the final product floury. Gets me compliments still.

Yes, that's been our go-to method, to dry the potatoes out -- but I suggest you do that before you dd the milk and butter. 

Do you have a bread recipe where I can sub in teff flour for part of the flour? Or better yet, a teff bread recipe?

This bread recipe from a teff flour company may be something to work off of. 

You guys rock at the Wash Post Food Section! Loved your recipes for Thanksgiving. Cheers!

Thank you! Bonnie did a fabulous job with that main menu, didn't she?

Today's expert panel will now offer their favorite ways to use holiday leftovers. . . . 

Drain the syrupy goodness out of the cranberry sauce; use it with a bit of gin or curaçao (or both) to spike champagne.

I'm cliche -- sandwich all the way. Stuffing, turkey, cranberry, gravy, roll. Done.

The BEST part of Thanksgiving. For me it's soup.When we're all done with the turkey I use the carcass to make a turkey stock (there's still a ton of flavor in there) and then make a Greek-Style Turkey-Lemon-Rice or Orzo Soup. The recipe is in Soup Swap my newest book. I also love the midnight sandwich: toasted white bread with leftover turkey, cranberry sauce and hot gravy. Open face, please. 

I love to reheat mashed potatoes in a hot, buttered, cast-iron skillet to make them crisp on the bottom. 

I also make turkey soup and sometimes toast bits of leftover stuffing to use as croutons on top. 

Oh and don't forget the leftover mashed potatoes made into mashed potato pancakes in a hot cast iron skillet. Just shape them into pancakes and cook over moderately high heat. 

Ditto on soup, my fave last year was a curry turkey soup because it took things in a completely different direction than the holiday flavors we'd been eating all week!

But if I can still handle something heavy nothing beats a pot pie!

I'm with Kathy and Sheri on the potato pancakes! Love that one!

I would love to know what basic dishes other cooks and bakers find challenging because they didn't eat them growing up. I am a pretty experienced cook and baker and have learned to make all sorts of things I initially thought would be challenging--pie crusts, breads, pastries. But mashed potatoes--which my family never ate--make me nervous (hence my panicky question submitted earlier in the chat). I'm sure I'm not alone (well, maybe I'm the only one made nervous by mashed potatoes...) and it would be fun to learn what others see as similar challenges.

For me, that was pork chops!

I guess what's challenging are iconic dishes that we fear we may be judged on. I didn't grow up on meatloaf and my Viet mom made them from Family Circle and Better Homes and Garden magazine recipes. It was exotic to us but not something from our gut. So when I go to make something like that or, say a tuna casserole, half of the process is about cross-referencing recipes. But that's actually also the fun part of cooking. 

One year, I decided to wet brine the turkey. I put it in a jumbo zip-loc bag with the brine. When I was removing the turkey from the bag on Thanksgiving morning, I spilled a gallon of salty brine (plus turkey juices) all over my kitchen floor. I've been dry-brining ever since.

Smart response.

Art Buchwald wrote in the Washington Post of Thanksgiving that “the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes and, for the only time during the year, eat better than the French do.” If you know, did he originate that line? I feel like I heard it in the 1970s and his column seems to be from the 1990s. Regardless, it almost always is a glorious meal, and I thank you for helping to make it so!

I don't know if that's a Buchwald original or not, but it sure sounds like it, doesn't it? Thank YOU.

Tried to veganize the chocolate cream pie of my youth with nondairy milk. Unfortunately, the pudding doesn't thicken as with regular milk, a fact I now see has now been added to some of the pudding boxes. So it was more like pudding soup. Lesson learned that in the future I would buy one of the vegan puddings in containers from Whole Foods and just pour it into a graham cracker crust and add vegan whipped cream (making from RichFood is my favorite). Easier and more reliable.

Can I just say my husband's are the best. Just russets and butter and they taste like, Tada!, potatoes. Cream cheese, sour cream, etc. just masks potato flavor. (I know I'm an outlier)

I love potatoes like that!

...for the vegan chocolate pie recipe, for today's chat and for all the wonderful (veg-friendly) work the team does all year round. Enjoy!

We order a fresh, free-range turkey from MOM's. Usually Maple Farms but someone diff this year (we were late in ordering). We grill the bird on our BGE and find that these minimally processed birds cook MUCH faster and really do taste better. I rub some butter up under the skin (breast and thighs), lay some sage leaves in there (looks pretty when sliced as well as adds a mild sage flavor), and salt/pepper generously. No fuss no muss and The Best turkey you'll ever eat.

On a "Friends" episode, Ross goes ballistic after he discovers that his boss not only stole his (Ross's) post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich -- Monica's supposedly legendary "Moisture Maker" -- out of the office refrigerator, but after taking a few bites the boss decided he didn't like it, so threw it in the garbage. According to the show's script, the sandwich had a middle slice of bread that had been covered with turkey gravy. Is that a real recipe?

No idea, but why not try it and see?

Well, you've set the table and called everyone to dinner, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the q's, and many thanks to Stella, Kathy, Andrea, Sheri and Angela for help with the a's! 

Now for the giveaway book: The chatter who warned us about sauerkraut in the garbage disposal will get a copy of "The Washington Post Cookbook"! Send your mailing info to, and she'll see that it gets to you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick is Deputy Food Editor and recipe editor at The Post. Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Kara Elder
Kara Elder is the Food section editorial aide.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is the lead writer for Voraciously.
Stella Parks
Stella Parks is a chef and the pastry “wizard” at She is the author of “BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts” (W.W. Norton and Co., 2017).
Angela Davis
Angela Davis is a digital cookbook author. She writes at
Andrea Nguyen
Andrea Nguyen is a blogger, cookbook author and Asian food expert. Find more from Andrea at
Kathy Gunst
Kathy Gunst, who lives in southern Maine, is the author of 15 cookbooks, including “Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share” (Chronicle, 2016), and is Resident Chef on NPR’s “Here and Now.”
Sheri Castle
Sheri Castle is a an award-winning food writer and recipe developer. Her newest book is "Instantly Southern: 85 Southern Favorites for Your Pressure Cooker, Multicooker, and Instant Pot™." Find more at
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