Posts tagged with “Thanksgiving”

Chestnut-apple stuffing

The recipe card for this stuffing has been in my box for at least twenty years, and I have made it enough times that I cannot recall the last time I actually followed the recipe. You should therefore take the quantities as rough suggestions, although you should probably do that with stuffing in any case. Stuffing ought to be a highly personal endeavor, and that’s not even considering it from the turkey’s perspective. (more…)

Sweet potato cornbread dressing

This was inspired several years ago by a trip to Sweet Potatoes restaurant in Winston-Salem, where I had catfish stuffed with sweet potato cornbread dressing. Making this is a multi-step process as you have to bake the cornbread first, but you can do that a day ahead. (more…)

Sweet potato cornbread

I use this primarily for sweet potato cornbread dressing. See Basic Southern Conrbread for more about cornbread. (more…)

Ginger-orange cranberry sauce

Given that cranberries are available fresh and cheap all fall and into early winter when all the other berries are gone, and given that they freeze beautifully, I don’t see why they’re relegated to Thanksgiving and the occasional loaf of cranberry-nut bread. Cranberry sauce goes well with all sorts of foods besides turkey. Pork and sauerkraut, for example, even lentil soup — anything rich and hearty that needs something tart to cut it. (more…)

The Thanksgiving issue: Gratitude and craft

Time to get serious, now. Thanksgiving is only a day away, and if you haven’t started your preparations yet, you’d best get cracking. I don’t mean brining the turkey or kneading bread dough: I mean being thankful. The point of setting this day aside isn’t just to eat. And yet, of course, to show our gratitude, we hold a feast. How, exactly, is a feast supposed to make us thankful?

I was thinking about this question after reading my local newspaper last week, which wants me to breathe easier about Thanksgiving. (more…)

The Thanksgiving issue: Cranberry sauce

You have, no doubt, come here hoping to learn of some radical old-fashioned method for preparing cranberry sauce, some cabalistic ritual of autumn berrying well known to the ancients but lost to our rational age, the merest taste of which will produce shivers of delight claimed in one long-lost poem (once decoded and translated from the Coptic) to last three full days and create breezes that resonate in the distant tropics. Some search for wisdom, others truth or beauty: you, my friend, seek cranberry sauce. (more…)

The Thanksgiving issue: Stuffing

Plumping up dead birds with bread crumbs is a bit of culinary foolery that dates at least to medieval Europe, as is combining bread crumbs with meat, fat, and spices and stuffing, or forcing, this “forcemeat” into nearly any available receptacle. Stuffing a turkey is therefore not at all an American idea in origin, and it seems not to be an American idea in style, either, because in our perfectionist age we’ve decided that it’s not only detrimental to the quality of the meat but actually dangerous. In the old days, half the point of roasting a turkey was to bring the stuffing to fulfillment by soaking it through with juice and rendered fat and unidentifiable squishy bits of the inside of the bird. The meat was an afterthought, a requirement of the holiday, a vehicle for the stuffing and building block for sandwiches the next day, and if it were a little stringy, well, that’s why God made mayonnaise and gravy. The problem, of course, is that by the time the stuffing is heated through, the turkey has overcooked, and if you don’t heat it through, you will surely die before Christmas of salmonella. Baked on the side, though, the stuffing is dull, sterile, unloved, all wasted potential like an unfreshened heifer. Then the turkey was dry and the stuffing was moist; now we’ve reversed the equation. It’s certainly more precise, but I’m not sure it’s an improvement.

Let’s pretend, though, that stuffing is a word we mean literally, as opposed to dressing, which is wont feel like leftovers before it’s even been served. It’ll be more fun this way. (more…)

The Thanksgiving issue: Roast turkey

Roast turkey didn’t become de rigeur at Thanksgiving dinner until the nineteenth century. Before Thanksgiving became an institutionalized celebration of Americanness it, and its menus, were a more ad hoc affair, featuring whatever any family thought appropriate. By the 1850s New Englanders had more or less standardized the holiday in an attempt to recapture something that had been lost since colonial days, some simplicity or integrity or je ne sais quoi. Turkey, being identifiably American, fit the bill, and we’ve been stuck with it ever since.

I am not, however, going to give you a recipe for roasting a turkey. Roasting a turkey is a simple affair if you are not inclined to be perfectionist about it, which you ought not be on Thanksgiving, for the simple reason that with all that family around, you are going to need to be too drunk to follow through on your perfectionism anyway, and will therefore inevitably be disappointed. You are, moreover, almost certainly not going to roast a turkey next Thursday. You are far more likely going to bake the thing, which is an altogether different matter. (more…)

The Thanksgiving issue

Under Title 36 of the U.S. Code, “Patriotic and National Observances, Ceremonies, and Organizations,” it is of course mandatory that all serial publications whose primary subject matter pertains to food, cooking, or other domestic affairs and which reach interstate audiences publish a Thanksgiving issue. Probably as a result of my admittedly somewhat whimsical application for an ISSN for my blog, I received a notice last week from the Department of State Office of Patriotic Education, Thanksgiving Section, advising me that as of November 1st I was not in compliance. And so, beginning tonight, I will do my duty as a Good American and publish, in four parts (or possibly five), the First Annual Walbert’s Compendium Thanksgiving Issue. (more…)

A modest Thanksgiving dinner

So what are y’all having for Thanksgiving dinner? I’m taking my cue from “Aunt Babette’s” Cook Book: Foreign and domestic receipts for the household, a Gilded Age Jewish-American cookbook. The key to Thanksgiving is, you want to enjoy yourself — it’s a feast, after all — but you don’t want to overdo it and have guests stuck in the doorway like Winnie-the-Pooh until St. Lucia’s Day, and besides, you still have Christmas to go into debt over. (more…)