Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Another Thanksgiving Issue

The New York Times Food section  has put out a second Thanksgiving issue. It's different in the than the first, rethinking time-tested recipes and putting new spins on them. There  are traditional veggies done differently along with a new way to cook that bird. It's a refreshing rethink of how to cook and bake for the big day.

All the big guns of the Food section have weighed in and written informative articles.One of the most interesting is Melissa Clark's. Her A Good Appetite  features splaying and searing the turkey as opposed to the traditional roasting. She decided to try the technique she uses on chicken on a much larger bird. Both are similar with the same amount of white and dark meat so the splaying technique that works with the smaller can help the larger. Is it easier than roasting? Yes, and it creates an evenly roasted turkey with silky and juicy white meat and perfectly cooked dark meat.Unlike spatchcocking , which requires intricate deboning, splaying is cutting the skin and then pulling on the thighs until you hear them pop out of their sockets. It's then laying them flat. Ms. Clark also pours wine on  the turkey for braising, although she suggests using any liquid , from cider to beer, diced tomatoes to  even water. What completes this? A platter of vibrant, green Brussels sprouts. Newcomer Alison Roman, a contributor to Bon Appetit magazine gives us them cooked in three tasty recipes. One is sauted with sausage and pickled red onions along ith one for honey roasted ones made exotic by the addition of harissa and lemon relish. More traditional home chefs may like the Brussels sprouts gratin bathed in a lush heavy cream and Gruyere cheese.

 Of course, there is a stuffing recipe. Kim Severson writes about a traditional cornbread one. It's a controversial one, with professional chefs  polarized about what kind of cornmeal - white or yellow - to use. There is a debate - which is sweeter?  She settles on the yellow for color and intense flavor. The recipe also includes  sugar along with buttermilk and butter to give it richness. The stuffing isn't entirely cornbread. There is also white bread used too along with the usual stuffing ingredients like onions,,sage and eggs. She bakes the stuffing separately and gives it extra flavor by pouring the  turkey drippings on it about thirty minutes into the baking time. For extra crunch and taste, there is also the addition of toasted pecans for real Southern flavor. Pecans also figure in David Tanis' A City Kitchen. He makes pecan rolls that have the extra sweetness of golden raisins.Instead of the usually gooey cream cheese frosting, he just dusts them with a mix of sugar and cinnamon. Make these the night before for a Thanksgiving breakfast treat. His other pecan recipes offer savory (!) cookies laden with cheese and sage and a dessert bar . The first is a great side to the first course of soup or a salad. The second is a yummy mix of pecans, dates, spices and rum on top of a buttery shortbread base.These are a nice stand in to the gooier, ultra sweet pecan pie.

Thanksgiving is all about tradition and traditional dishes. Yet , it pays to think outside the box and try new cooking techniques and recipes. It makes for a  more delicious and more memorable holiday meal.

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