December 20, 2014
Sour Cream Cheddar Drop Biscuits. Photography by Richard Burkhart
A simple way to dress up and stretch a family meal for unexpected company during the holidays, or just make it seem a little more special for the home folks, is a bread basket filled with piping hot, freshly baked biscuits. They never fail to impress, and make everyone think you’ve gone to a lot more trouble than you really have. (more…)
December 16, 2014
Here, I'm shaving Parmigiano-Reggiano over the layer of Prosciutto di Parma that covers the flattened beef. It's then rolled up like a jelly roll, tightly trussed, and braised in wine and cognac until medium-rare.
In my family, the fat turkey of Dickens’ immortal tale, A Christmas Carol, was always the centerpiece of our Christmas dinner table, even though we’d just had turkey at Thanksgiving. Usually, my grandfather also baked a fresh ham (not the cured pink meat we think of as “ham” now, but an uncured fresh haunch of pork), an old family tradition that had been passed down for generations before him, and is carried on by my younger brother to this day. (more…)
December 1, 2014
A Quick Fix for Leftover Turkey and Dressing that I never tire of making or eating: Creamed Turkey on Toasted Dressing
Last night for supper we finished the last of the dressing and a big chunk of the leftover turkey with creamed turkey over pan-toasted slabs of dressing. For those with smaller households who said that most recipes for turkey leftovers just created another “leftover” problem because it made more than one person would eat, just make a smaller batch: it divides easily. (more…)
November 27, 2014
Madeira Pan Gravy
It isn’t my job to tell you what kind of gravy to serve with your turkey. Whether or not you add wine to it, and whether you include the giblets and add chopped boiled eggs is up to you. My job is to show you how to make gravy that’s silky-smooth and delicious. You will need a roasting pan with a heavy enough bottom to withstand direct heat, a degreasing pitcher (fat separator), and a flat whisk. (more…)
November 26, 2014
The cornbread, biscuits, and seasonings all tossed toghether for the dressing, awaiting its moistening dose of rich broth
If all has gone well and you’ve done enough basic prep by tomorrow, your only really big job will be the turkey and dressing. If you haven’t tried to roast a turkey in a year (or have never done it), relax: a turkey roasts just like a chicken – it just takes longer. Allow plenty of time and remember that it doesn’t have to look like those magazine covers. (more…)
November 26, 2014
The secret to perfect biscuits is just like getting to Carnegie Hall: Practice, practice, practice, and making them for dressing is the perfect time to do it.
The other key ingredient in my family’s cornbread dressing is actually another kind of bread altogether: biscuits. They give the dressing body and help bind it together without having to add eggs, which can sometimes make dressing a bit heavy.
Unfortunately, few home cooks seem to make biscuits very often, which is too bad. Because once one gets the knack, they’re drop-dead easy, and serving forth a basket of delicate, piping hot biscuits never fails to impress company. They always think you’ve gone to a lot more trouble than you actually have. (more…)
November 26, 2014
Skillet Cornbread for dressing: the hardest part will be restraining yourself from eating it all before you can make the dressing!
Before tackling the stuffing or dressing, a quick word about tradition, with a word (and recipe) for one of the ingredients from my own tradition.
The wonderful thing about what you put into that savory bread pudding that accompanies your turkey, no matter what you put in it and whether you bake it in the bird or out of it, is that it’s one time that sticking to tradition will win for you every time. You really don’t have to think about it, analyze it, or reinvent it—you just make it and sit back and bask in the praise. (more…)
November 26, 2014
If you're worried that your turkey will still look like this when the company's coming through the door, relax: it won't. But you need to get moving now!
Until now, this series has been about planning ahead, doing ahead, and keeping calm. This installment, however, is for those of you who have, until now, done none of that, either because cooking the dinner was not supposed to be your worry or because you’re a world-class procrastinator.
It doesn’t matter why you’re not prepared, and the purpose of this is not to shame or judge you. (more…)
November 25, 2014
Lucy-Mama's Oysters, finished as Ruth does them in individual scallop shells.
One of the lovely things about Thanksgiving dinner is the way family traditions are perpetuated from generation to generation as we gather around that common table. Even lovelier is the way other traditions get adopted and shared as people come into our family and as we get absorbed into theirs, sometimes through legal ties but more often just because we love one another. (more…)
November 24, 2014
All American Pumpkin Custard Pie
Now that we’ve established that I take an ecumenical approach to the traditional sweet potato and pumpkin custard pies on Thanksgiving’s dessert board, and have shared my grandmother’s recipe for the former, here’s how she made the latter.
It’s just a standard pumpkin custard without frills or “reinvention,” varying from most other American recipes only in detail. (more…)