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Thanksgiving menu

PH2009111704171.jpgIn the comments beneath my column applying behavioral economics to Thanksgiving, a couple of folks accuse me of trying to pretty much ban eating during the holiday, which is pretty obviously not the point of the column. In any case, it's a good excuse to post my Thanksgiving menu, and invite you all to do the same.

  • The turkey is probably the least interesting part. I got a good, 15-pound bird, and I'm brining it in accordance with Alton Brown's instructions. I'll throw some aromatics in the cavity, rub the thing down with butter, and stick it in the oven. I'm thinking about cooking the legs separately, but I haven't decided yet. Anyone have experience with that?
  • Wild rice, sausage and fennel stuffing, for the carnivores. I'm using sweet Italian sausage, against my better instincts. Why doesn't everyone prefer the hot stuff? Recipe here.
  • Mushroom, fennel, and parmesan stuffing for vegetarians. The consensus seems to be that olive bread works best here, so that's what I got. That whimpering sound you hear is tradition, who's crying quietly in the corner. Recipe here.
  • Mashed potatoes.
  • Alton Brown's green bean casserole, though I'm using French's fried onions rather than making the onions myself. I love French's fried onions.
  • Corn pudding.
  • Sweet potatoes baked in a mixture of sour cream and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Recipe here.

Desserts I'm leaving to other people. So what's on your menu? If some particularly good ones come in, I may post them on the front page.

Photo credit: The Washington Post

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 3:35 PM ET
Categories:  Food  
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Well, our family tradition has become the buffet at Caesar's Palace. They do Thanksgiving up nice! I will be stuffed like a flounder, I'm afraid.

I used to do it all myself but times change. Anyway...

Best wishes to all. Will catch up some time next week.

Posted by: luko | November 25, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Here's one for those who feel cranberries are played out: Persimmon Relish. Just combine persimmons, minced onions, finely chopped parsley. Add honey, vinegar, and salt to taste.

Posted by: wagster | November 25, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm only making a fig & olive tapenade this year (served with a blend of fresh ricotta & chevre on crostini).

I'd suggest using bacon sage butter to rub down your turkey (under the skin). It's been one of my favorite steps of preparing turkey in past years.

Posted by: northquirk | November 25, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me Ezra Klein's thanksgiving dinner menu is entirely too conventional. My sense is you should have made Wylie Dufresne-inspired deconstructed stuffing or something with a foaming agent sprayed on the plate that seems to be food but isnt.

As for us, my family will surely have a turkey deep fried in peanut oil, oyster and crawfish stuffing, steamed mixed greens, baked mac and cheese, and several variants of sweet potato and pecan pie from my aunts, one of whom makes a wonderful dessert the others not so much.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | November 25, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

N.B. -- I brined a turkey per Alton Brown's recipe a few months back, but used vegetable broth instead of stock. It wasn't bad, but the flavor was much too strong.

I'm interested to hear if AB's green bean casserole is worth the effort. Looked good on the show, but also entirely too much work for what, at the end of the day, is still just green bean casserole.

Posted by: JEinATL | November 25, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

For the last three years, turkey has gone from the least interesting part of our meal to the star.

We get a heritage bird from a local farm – red bourbon, I think. About 10 pounds. We use a Weber Grill recipe, of all things – we brine the turkey overnight in apple juice, salt, thyme and sage. Then we roast it on the grill over applewood, breast down in seasoned chicken broth for an hour so that the breast essentially braises, then right side up for an hour. It keeps the white meat amazingly juicy and the broth makes the best gravy I have ever had in my life – rich and appley (I add some cider and mushrooms), with a slight hint of smokiness. It’s sensational.

Along with it we have the usual – stuffing (this year we are catering to a newly gluten-intolerant person – me --with cornbread stuffing, but still rich with butter, herbs, onion, and mushrooms) mashed potatoes, loaded with butter and whole milk and the right amount of salt and pepper (why are mashed potatoes chronically underseasoned??), braised endives in broth with prosciutto, and finished it with cream; cranberry confit (pearl onions, sugar, balsamic vinegar, red wine, garlic, thyme and cranberries cooked til they pop), and candied sweets –simple and old fashioned (farmers market sweet potatoes boiled, peeled and bathed in caramelized brown sugar and butter.)

No dessert – it would be redundant (and hardly fair to the dessert.)

Bon appétit, all, and happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: Barbour | November 25, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't help sharing what we're having here in Cambridge tomorrow.

--Spinach, Candied Pecan and Persimmon Salad
--Butternut & Acorn Squash Soup

--Tandoori Turkey
--Cranberry/Lime/Ginger Chutney
--Chickpeas and Tamarind Sauce
--Saffron Mashed Potatoes
--Roasted Yams and Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary

--Pumpkin Cheesecake
--Apple Pie

Posted by: tristanreed | November 25, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm making:

-Turkey: 23 pounds (ugh). Brining for ~24 hours with salt, black peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, and brown sugar. Stuffing butter under the skin, and rubbing melted butter all over.

Cooking on 400 breast-side down for ~1:30 hours, and then breast-side up until breast hits 160 degrees (I have one of those thermometers that you can stick in the bird, leave it it while cooking, and have the alarm go off when it reached desired temp).

-Turkey Gravy ("Best Turkey Gravy") from Cooks Illustrated

-Buttermilk Mash Potatoes from CI

-Bacon and Apple Dressing from CI

-Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake (No sugar added!) from I made this once and it was great. I changed the recipe slightly this time, adding a little more pumpkin and cooking it in a water bath to have more even cooking and therefore no cracks.

Posted by: NicholasWarino | November 25, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Stuffing (with cheese) for the vegetarians? Nice. Make seitan, or at least get a Field Roast Celebration Roast!

Posted by: AZProgressive | November 25, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

My green bean casserole is similar to Mr. Brown's, but I add chopped pecans, sliced water chestnuts, and lite sour cream. Delicious!

My turkey brine is salt, pepper, honey, sage, thyme, and garlic. Then I stuff the cavity with some more thyme, sage, garlic, salt, and some apple slices. I cook the bird upside down until the last hour, then flip it to keep the juices in the breast.

I don't know how you make mashed potatoes, but I recommend using sour cream over milk. Makes 'em creamier.

I'm making this cornbread stuffing recipe:

But instead of sausage and chicken broth I'm subbing in Morningstar meat and veggie broth so my veggie fiancee can eat it.

Posted by: MosBen | November 25, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Here's the green bean casserole that I use. It's so good that people actually eat it, rather than skipping it on the pass...

Posted by: MosBen | November 25, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

We're bringing the soup!

We're smoking acorn squash, and using it to make a squash soup with chicken stock, sausage, and a little bit of cream.

Posted by: theorajones1 | November 25, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

the time comes in a thanksgiving~givers life, when she has paid it forward!
after forty years of making thanksgiving feasts, this year, i am only making the cranberry sauce, and my chldren are doing the rest!
traditionally, i wake up at two in the morning, and thanksgiving begins with the muffled clattering of pots and pans, but this year, i shall be sleeping soundly and counting my blessings....of which there are so many.
have a joyful and blessed thanksgiving!

Posted by: jkaren | November 25, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanksgiving dinner isn't at our house this year (a group of friends, neighbors, and occasional in-laws have been rotating for maybe 15 years.) I did roast a straight-up brined turkey over a couple of pounds of coarsely chopped onion, celery, carrots, and sage this morning for delivery to a local homeless shelter.

The request was to have it already sliced, which left me with the carcass for heavily reduced stock and (even better) pan drippings. Those will go into my dishes for tomorrow -- pan stuffing and braised brussels sprouts. For lighter fare there are a bunch of people in my kitchen right now making cherry pies and pumpkin-cranberry upside-down cake with pecans.

There'll be a smoked turkey and a traditional stuffed one plus various other pies, candied roots, rolls, and cranberry relishes.

I think somebody's going to bring a salad.


As for your hot vs. sweet Italian sausage stuffing question, I guess if you're having fennel stuffing either one is good. I'm a huge fan of sage with poultry though so this is one of the few times a year where I think southern-style sage sausage is a better choice.

Happy Thanksgiving, Ezra,


Posted by: figleaf | November 26, 2009 1:01 AM | Report abuse

We had: a fantastically delicious turkey that was brined outdoors overnight (40-degree weather); sausage stuffing; mashed potatoes; steamed broccoli; sauteed carrots; yr basic dinner rolls; orange & cranberry relish; pumpkin pie.


Though i missed having green beans. I love green beans.

Posted by: ajw_93 | November 30, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

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