In early October, November's food magazines started arriving, promising "the easiest feast ever!," "great food for the entire weekend" and "Thanksgiving at its best."
Honestly, it's a little nerve-wracking.
Now that we're writing The Bitten Word and hosting family this Thanksgiving, we're feeling the pressure to cook a nice meal that will fit a variety of palates. Mostly, though, we just want to outdo last year (more on that in a minute).
November's issues of food magazines are chock-full of tips, recipes and sage advice. We thought it might be useful to talk about some of that advice here, so over the next few days we'll be holding a little Thanksgiving-a-thon, starting today with the center of the meal, the turkey.
Over the next few days, we'll provide you with a complete index of what the magazines are recommending for Turkey, Starters & Sides, and Desserts, to help you plan your perfect Thanksgiving meal.
We spent last Thanksgiving at home in D.C. Our close friends had all left town and we decided that we'd like to spend the day cooking a nice meal to enjoy that evening.
And cook we did!
We went all-out, making an appetizer, a turkey that was far too large for two people, five sides and a kick-ass dessert. It was one time during that year that we truly put our food magazines to use, scouring through them for our ideal Thanksgiving recipes, and then pairing them with family recipes that we love.
Starting with turkey, last year we decided to dry-brine our bird. We had never heard of dry-brining prior to our research for last year's menu, and we have to admit we were very impressed by both the process and the results.
Dry-brining works like this: Spread salt all over the outside of the bird. Over the next several hours, the salt will leech moisture out of the meat and onto the surface. But THEN the meat re-absorbs the (now salty) water. It gives you all the moist, tender meat you get from traditional brining, but you don't have to deal with plunking your bird in a tub of water for a day and a half.
It was a technique that worked really nicely for us, and we recommend it. But there's a whole lot more advice on turkey from the food magazines. Here's what they're saying about the Big Day this year.
GOURMET (NOVEMBER 2008)
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Feature #1: "Over the Top" (aka Fancy Pants Thanksgiving)
Roast Turkey with Black-Truffle Butter and White-Wine Gravy
Feature #2: "Come Together" (aka Latin-Fusion Thanksgiving)
Adobo Turkey with Red-Chile Gravy
Feature #3: "Four Hour Feast" (aka the Thanksgiving meal that looks like you slaved all day even though you didn't)
Extra-Moist Roast Turkey with Pan Gravy
Feature #4: "Harvest's Home" (aka The Vegetarian Thanksgiving Zach and Clay Are Very Unlikely To Ever Have)
Do Roasted Chestnuts count?
BON APPÉTIT (NOVEMBER 2008)
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Roast Heritage Turkey with Bacon-Herb and Cider Gravy
Feature #2: "Salt It, Don't Brine It" (aka Do It Like Zach and Clay Did Last Year)
Salted Roast Turkey with Chipotle Glaze and Caramelized-Onion Gravy
Salted Roast Turkey with Orange, Fall Spices, and Sherry Gravy
Salted Roast Turkey with Herbs and Shallot-Dijon Gravy
SAVEUR (NOVEMBER 2008)
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Feature #1: "Open City" aka A Big Easy Thanksgiving in New Orleans
Leah Chase's Roast Turkey
Stuffed Turkey Breast
EVERYDAY FOOD (NOVEMBER 2008)
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Feature #1: "Kick It Up" (aka Thanksgiving with Emeril)
Roast Turkey with Brown-Sugar and Mustard Glaze
MARTHA STEWART LIVING (NOVEMBER 2008)
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FOOD & WINE (NOVEMBER 2008)
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Apricot-Glazed Turkey with Fresh Herb Gravy
Grilled Butterflied Turkey with Caraway-Ancho Gravy
Feature #2: “A Chef’s All American Thanksgiving” (aka A Spanish Take on Turkey)
COOK'S ILLUSTRATED (NOVEMBER 2008)
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