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Nov 16, 1999 02:07 PM

What are you making for Thanksgiving?

  • r

I don't know about you all, but Thanksgiving with our family is a traditional affair. No contemporary new recipes are acceptable. My dad is obstinate about preferring canned whole-berry cranberry sauce (it took years to switch him to that from the jellied, shaped-like-the-can kind) to any fancy molds or chutneys. And, frankly, I'm looking forward to the sweet potatoes with crushed pineapple, topped with marshmallows (is there even a real recipe for this or does everyone just sort of throw this together?)!

However, I do try to sneak in some new quality recipes with just a twist on the old. I've been searching for recipes on the web, and have only a few I've been seeking. Does anyone have a recipe for really good, garlic mashed potatoes? I wanted to get Alton Brown's from his "Good Eats" show, where he simmered the garlic in half&half, but it's not on the TVFN site anymore. (Why can't they archive their recipes?)

Anyway, I thought it would be nice for people to post some family recipes, or post links to copyrighted material if they like the particular recipe. Below is a link to David Rosengarten's favorite pecan pie recipe, which we'll be making this year.

I'm looking forward to seeing others' ideas. Rachel


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  1. Rachel: I have started using Yukon Golds for my mashies.
    Cut in hunks and cook in salted water until just tender. While that's going on, you are roasting garlic.

    I use whole milk which is brought to the simmer with a lump of butter in it.

    When potatoes are done (peel after cooked but still hot) and garlic is roasted to a creamy consistency, put through the ricer or foodmill together. Add as much hot milk as you like and fold together. Taste and season again if necessary with more salt and pepper. You may use white pepper, but I prefer the flavor of black.

    Mound into a heated bowl and top with a bit more butter if you like.

    7 Replies
    1. re: pat hammond

      Just wondering... Is there anyone out there besides me who prefers mashed potatoes to include skins and the occasional lump? I would never use a food mill or a ricer; I stick with a fork or a heavy whisk. (And I try to avoid mashed at restaurants because they're always so darn creamy!)

      1. re: Jeremy
        Rachel Perlow

        I agree with you about the lumps, you need a little texture. But I have a quibble with the skins. I don't like too many. The amount left over after "not too carefully" peeling the potatoes adds just the right amount of earthy flavor and texture.

        1. re: Rachel Perlow

          Yeah ok, I could see taking some of the skins out. (And I'm not totally consistent on this one; just now I ate creamy mashed potatoes and enjoyed them. But they had herbs and different stuff in them to provide some variety.)

          1. re: Jeremy

            Here's my menu-in-progress:

            Turkey (was going to do the brining thing suggested in the earlier posting, buth in the new Gourmet, they say a kosher turkey gives you all the benefits of brining without the bother, so I might do that.)

            Stuffing with carmelized onions and chestnuts
            Mashed potatoes
            Gravy with madeira
            Brussels sprouts with maple-mustard sauce
            Cranberry-orange sauce w/dried cherries
            Pickled grapes (recipe from NY Times last year - GREAT)
            Sweet potato casserole with ginger
            Green salad with pears & gorgonzola
            Apple-cranberry pie

            1. re: Cathy

              I learned a nice trick from my Italian-American wife: baste the turkey with beer (not sure if this is an old Italian secret or not, but it works). Here in Portland we have lots to choose from, but the best results come from using a nice dark winter beer from one of the local microbreweries. After the bird's been in the oven for a bit, pour a bottle over it (I also add butter to the roasting pan so the baste is actually beer-butter). I usually end up adding another bottle later, but I like to make several quarts of gravy so I like lots of juice in the pan.

              Other every-year dishes include "creamed" onions (pearl onions baked with cheddar-gorgonzola-bourbon cream sauce) and everything-from-a-can green bean casserole (it may be hideous, but it's traditional and the kids love it).

              In the lumpy-smooth debate, I like lumps. I still use my grandmother's hand masher, adding milk and little butter to the cooked (and peeled spuds). I prefer russets for mashed to be smothered in gravy, but for a non-gravy mix, try this:

              Peel, cube, and steam a celery root (aka celeriac) until tender. Either steam with the celeriac or boil in their jackets separately about 4-5 medium Yukon Gold, yellow Finn, or similar waxy flesh potatoes. Mash together coarsely (smash) with about a cup of creme fraiche. Season with salt and pepper....really good!

            2. re: Jeremy

              Yeah, take some (maybe half) of the peels out. Mash lightly. Throw in (along with the butter and milk) a handful of coarsely chopped dill: mashed potatoes with soul.

          2. re: Jeremy

            Absolutely. I love them that way. But I call this dish smashed potatoes and the more lumps the better. But for my taste, traditional mashed anything, from turnips, to potatoes, please me most when riced. I have seen them gluey. That's no good. But billowing clouds of perfectly lumpless potatoes is a dish fit for kings (IMHO!). pat

        2. I am brining my bird (per cooks mag articles) for the 4th or 5th year after many years of tinkering with high heat and other approaches. No stuffing in the bird with this method which appears virtually foolproof, with edible and even juicy white meat (we are dark meat people so our enjoyment of the white has to count as real success). A version of this method appears in the excellent baker/boulanger website at Highly recommended.

          As for cranberry sauce, at least dont eat the stuff out of the can yourselves! It really is insipid compared to freshly made. Post-cooking additions I like are orange concentrate (undiluted, it doesnt water the stuff down) or orange flesh and grated rind rind) and ginger. Those traditional concoctions where you grind the raw berries with oranges and their rind and mix with walnuts and celery-and sugar, of course- are pretty darn good too.

          Everyone does have their own traditional approach to the goo. We like our sweet potatoes fried with apples in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Maybe we'll try some other spices this year too, since Ive recently had some west indian versions with nutmeg, allspice and pineapple chunks which had a delicious flavor.

          Good eating, everyone!

          1. My family is absolutely wacko about things being traditional. We always have stuffed mushrooms, which my uncle makes, then turkey consumme with little alphabets and bits of carrot and celery. My dad makes the cranberry jelly fresh, and I agree that fresh is the only way to go (then the leftover goes into the fridge to get confused with the fresh strawberry and raspberry jams for the rest of the year). We have mashed rutabega (not turnip) with maple syrup and butter, which is my favorite. Mashed potatoes with butter, a little milk, and sour cream - very rich and tasty.

            Turkey gets stuffed with half bread stuffing, which my mom makes with lots of sage and livers, and half chestnut, for which we all burn our fingers peeling the hot roasted chestnuts the night before. The chestnuts are then boiled in cream and mashed up with other stuff which I can't recall. It's a pretty amazing dish. And, of course, gravy, gravy, gravy.

            Pie: pumpkin and apple. The pumpkin can only be made with cheese pumpkins, which are increasingly difficult to find, but they really do make the best pie. Apple gets made with a combination of Crispin and Cortland, each piece of which is compulsively stacked by my apple-pie crazed mother for maximum apple density. I have never seen anyone else do this, and I think it really does make the pie better.

            With dessert, we always have a late harvest Gerwertztraminer (sp?) from one of a rotating bunch of upstate New York wineries. Yum! Unfortunately, the Sauterne doesn't come out until Christmas...but that's a different thread.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Tara

              Have you tried making your pumpkin pie with the little fist-sized baby pumpkins that you see in stores this time of year? (I don't know what they're called.) I tried that last year and the result was really delicious.

              1. re: Jeremy Osner

                When I lived in the Seattle area, the farmers at the Pike Place Market sold a small pumpkin called a "sugar pumpkin," that made good pumpkin pie. I don't know whether that is a local name or not.

                1. re: Tom Armitage

                  I could believe that's the name; they are very sweet. I started seeing them about 3 years ago, and assumed they were just a decorative gourd. But last year I decided to find out if they're edible (they look so darn pumpkin-y). And yes indeed, they make excellent pie and are also very good at dinner, roasted.

                  1. re: Jeremy

                    We call them sugar pumpkins in St. Louis. I've also heard "sugar babies"; aptly named in both cases. pat

                    1. re: Jeremy

                      I dont think the tiny pumpkins (jack-be-littles) are what is referred to as "sugar pumpKins"; the latter are smallish pumpkins (but probably 1# and up in weight) also sold as pie pumpkins. I never thought of the little ones as being more than decorative in potential; when you cook with them, how do you deal with the skin?

                      ps anyone who has mastered successfully processing their own pumpkin rather than using the canned has my admiration; I never felt that my end product was nearly as good as Libby's solid pack. Maybe if Id bought the right pumpkin...

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Right, Jen. About 1 lb. and up seems about right. I guess that's a pretty big fist. I was thinking "small" in relation to the big Halloween pumpkins.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Use a cheese pumpkin - they're kinda tan colored, very squat, but round, like a pumpkin that has been smushed from the top and gotten very wide as a result. Cut it into quarters and roast it in the oven with a little water in the pan. Scrape all the pumpkin out, and tie it up in cheesecloth. Squeeze all the liquid out, then allow it to hang, I hang it from the faucet over the sink, overnight. Cheese pumpkin really rocks for pie.

                          1. re: Tara
                            Frank Language

                            Cheese pumpkin is good - and Ted Blew at Union Square has it: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday - but having made pies out of every conceivable kind of squash, I have to say my favorite is butternut squash. Sort of - actually, almost any kind of winter squash will do, as long as you grate fresh ginger into it.

                          2. re: jen kalb

                            Yeah, that's it! Jack-be-little, someone told me the name a while back and I had forgotten it. I haven't had a problem with the skin, I guess it's a little thicker than a big pumpkin's, but there's a lot of flesh. I just cut them in half, scoop the seeds out and roast, then spoon the flesh out -- each of them yields about a good-size sweet potato's worth of flesh. I think I used 3 to make a pie and had a little more than I needed. Do you think I should have a problem with the skin?

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              I second that sentiment -- when I once made a pie out of a real pumpkin, it didn't seem any better than the ones I made out of a can, and it was a whole lot more work.

                    2. Persimmon pudding was always a traditional Thanksgiving desert in my family. The recipe in Joy of Cooking does just fine (although I have an old edition, and don't know if there's a recipe in the new Joy of Cooking). Hold back on the nutmeg and cinnamon, as too much spice will overpower the delicate flavor of the persimmons. Make sure you buy the Hachiya variety of persimmon, not the Fuji, and let the persimmons ripen until they're soft and mushy. My Mom (and my Grandma before her) put some crushed walnuts in the pudding, as do I. The pudding was served either with melted butter or hard sauce.

                      1. p
                        Patrick Thompson

                        The November '97 Saveur has a recipe for marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, pineapple and all. If I didn't do the bourbon-pecan sweet potatoes from Gourmet, I'd probably do something like this. As for garlic mashed potatoes, I just throw a handful of cloves in with the potatoes as they boil (and I prefer buttermilk to milk). Stuffing varies from year to year; this year it's a simple cornbread/onion/celery/corn/sage concoction. I'm working on cabbage and onions with beer and thyme as another side.