Cooking From Every Angle

Thanksgiving 911

November 24, 2009 • 121 Comments

In order to help you get ready for what is arguably the most important meal of the year, we're dedicating this entire week to all things Thanksgiving. We'll post featured recipes that we think would be great on any Thanksgiving table, and we'll ask you to share some tricks of the trade as well. Today, to kick things off, we're opening up the lines to any and all questions you may have for us about cooking for Thanksgiving. Need to know the right proportions for brining a turkey? Always wondered what the difference is between sweet potatoes and yams? Just post your questions in the comments section below, and we'll answer each and every one. And if we don't know the answer ourselves, we'll find someone who does and report back!

Jump to Comments (121)

Comments (121)

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almost 3 years ago Sashinka

Please help me know the differences between sweet potatoes and yams; how best to cook each, What each is best for, and where they each come from. Once I thought I knew what sweet potatoes looked like and got exactly what I didn't want - mealy potatoes, blech. Please teach me A& M.

- Sashinka

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over 4 years ago LobsterBrieAvocadoBreath

Wish I were dreaming of food instead of reading about it at this hour, but what the heck! Two questions, one about brining the other about pie crusts. I have been wet brining for the last few T'givings with great results (though one year was too salty for me...I am watching my intake). Wet brine has many flavor infusions, which I enjoy. Is there a dry brine that has a multitude of flavor ingredients or is it just salt?

We made our pie crusts with butter last year and it went horribly wrong...the edges fell of onto the bottom of the oven. What did we do wrong? The taste was really yummy, and it texture was light to the bite. We make a lot of pies...a few fruit, always have a pumpkin contest, pecan and a wild card (always up for a suggestion).

Then one other odd question...I love cottage cheese, but am looking to reduce salt, prefer the large curd, and don't really mind fat free. Salt free cottage cheese may be the most disgusting taste and texture ever...any suggestions? Is it worth trying to make it at home? Thanks for a sleepless diversion. I will be ahead of the curve at T'giving!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

How about farmers cheese or fromage frais? (Sorry, just saw your note!)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Also, you can add herbs and spices to dry brines and they infuse well. Also, sounds like the pie crust might not have had enough flour. Next time, you could also do half butter/ half shortening, which holds up better.

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almost 5 years ago veronique

For dessert, I'm serving red-wine poached pears with a touch of black pepper, clove, and cinnamon. Would it be excessive to put a tablespoon or two of gorgonzola or blue cheese next to the pear?

Happy Thanksgiving. Love food 52!

My_catering_(2)

almost 5 years ago Aliwaks

If by excessive you mean freakin' awesome then I say yes yes to the cheese, but that's just my opinion because I LOVE a cheese & fruit course

Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I think that would be fantastic! I'd probably choose a less sweet blue cheese -- maybe a Danish blue or Stilton.

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almost 5 years ago katie22

Help, I accidentally just made five pie crusts with whole wheat pastry flour! I read an article recently about how pastry flour makes the best pie crusts, so when I saw pasty flour at the store this morning I excitedly bought it. I thought the flour looked a little funny, but never having used pastry flour before I just let it go. After I was completely finished and had tasted the dough I realized that something was wrong. Upon further examination of the bag, I found that there was a sticker over the words "whole grain"! Will my crusts be okay? Or would it be better for me to make them again? I have the ingredients on hand but I really don't want to throw the other ones away if it is not necessary... Thank you!

Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Bummer! The truth is that they won't taste the same as pie crusts made with white flour. If you don't mind a crust that's a bit heavier and sort of nutty-tasting, you could just go with it. But if you're someone who's very particular about your pie crust, it's probably best to start over. Sorry!

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almost 5 years ago katie22

Thanks so much. I did end up re-making them. The upside is that I got an excellent arm workout doing the whole process twice! Less damage to be done tomorrow. I appreciated your input!

Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

No problem! Think you made the right choice. Happy Thanksgiving!

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almost 5 years ago wallyeats

I am roasting a side of salmon for Thanksgiving. It is longer than I thought and the pan must be changed. Is there any problem with using an aluminum pan?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Does the salmon still have the head on? Ina Garten wrote in one of her books about having the same problem once when she was doing a catering job. She just cut off the fish head, cooked it separately and reassembled it before serving. However, if the aluminum pan is the only way to go, it should be fine as long as you aren't cooking the fish with acids like lemon juice or wine.

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almost 5 years ago wallyeats

Thank you.

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almost 5 years ago Noah_Arnow

Any suggestions for a completely non-dairy Thanksgiving dessert? Unfortunately, I will not be able to shlep my ice cream maker with me, so my normal go-to, sorbet, is not an option. Thanks so much!!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Can you use eggs? If so this apple cake could be a good option: http://www.food52.com/recipes...

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almost 5 years ago Noah_Arnow

So funny--I made that recipe twice around the Jewish holidays this year, and it was big hit (even better with pecans than without!), but I think there may be a little deep south apple cake fatigue... but eggs are fine!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Would you be interested in a granita? Then all you have to do is freeze and scrape with a fork. Let me know!

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almost 5 years ago Jestei

We are cooking our turkey at 5,000 feet and wonder if that will impact our cooking. We find our the cabin oven funky already.....

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almost 5 years ago Helen

According to this USDA fact sheet (http://www.fsis.usda.gov...) poultry is not affected by dry roasting at high altitudes. Braising and simmering, however, can require longer cooking times by up to a quarter.

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almost 5 years ago EmilyMarlow

We are having more than 20 guests for Thanksgiving this year--far more than we've ever had in the past! For the past few years, I always wind up taking the turkey out of the oven after everyone has been there for over an hour--it's hard to stay on schedule. This year, I am determined to have everything ready so that we can actually sit down and eat at 4 p.m. and I'm not running around crazy while everyone is hungry and the stuffing is hot but the turkey isn't done and I forgot the gravy. I have only one oven, and need to use it to cook about five side dishes, a 20-pound turkey, and a 6-pound bone-in pork leg. My question is: can I cook the turkey early , in the morning, and let it sit for a few hours and serve it room temperature? I'd like to do that so that I can cook the pork afterward and serve it hot. I figure if the sides, gravy, and pork are hot, no one will care that the turkey isn't piping hot--since it should rest anyway, right? Do you think that is a terrible idea? Thanks!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I don't think that's a terrible idea at all -- your plan sounds great! A whole turkey stays warm for a long time -- just don't carve it until the last minute.

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almost 5 years ago kkanarek

I am cooking a 21 lb turkey. What is the correct internal temperature and about how long will it take to get there in a 350 degree oven (or should I cook it at a different temperature?) Many books say 20 minutes per lb. That would mean I will have to cook it 7 hours approximately. Does that sound about right?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

USDA says to cook turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Unstuffed, the turkey should take 3 to 4 hours to cook. It's difficult to say how many minutes per pound because it depends on whether your turkey goes into the oven cold or closer to room temperature (I recommend the latter). The great thing with turkey is that if it finishes cooking early, you can take it out and let it sit -- it needs time to rest before slicing and will hold it's temperature for a while. Good luck!

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almost 5 years ago kkanarek

Thank you so much. I was thinking like 7 hours. I am going to take your advice though and make it 7 hours ahead and then take it out when internal temp reaches 165 and tent it after. I will make the gravy then. I will bring it to the table at room temp and carve it in front of everyone. That is fun! :-) Thank you for your help ladies.!!!!

Zester_003

almost 5 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

Once again I'm reminded of the Thanksgiving wisdom of my hero, Calvin Trillin; 'The Indians, having had some experience with Pilgrim cuisine during the year, took the precaution of taking along one dish of their own. They brought a dish that their ancestors had learned from none other than Christopher Columbus, who was known to the Indians as "the big Italian fellow." The dish was spaghetti carbonara--made with pancetta bacon and fontina and the best imported prosciutto. The Pilgrims hated it. They said it was "heretically tasty" and "the work of the devil" and "the sort of thing foreigners eat." The Indians were so disgusted that on the way back to their village after dinner one of them made a remark about the Pilgrims that was repeated down through the years and unfortunately caused confusion among historians about the first Thanksgiving meal. He said, "What a bunch of turkeys!"'

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almost 5 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

I love Calvin Trillin - thanks for sharing the quote!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks pierino!

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almost 5 years ago Veronica

Thanks so much--am still hoping Calvin Trillin's piece has been re-printed in the NYTimes? It SHOULD be, every year...haven't seen the Times in 3 days now--away and, yes, cooking a turkey tomorrow! Spag Carbonara on Saturday, perchance?

Birthday_2012

almost 5 years ago luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

Please comment on pies that can be frozen ahead and for how long, best way to freeze pie crusts, how far ahead can make pies that can't be frozen.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Fruit pies freeze best and can be frozen before baking or after, although if you defrost a pre-baked pie, you'll want to re-crisp the crust in a 325-degree oven for a few minutes before serving. If you haven't yet baked the pie, then I'd defrost it in the fridge for a day and then put it directly into the oven (no need to bring to room temp). I wouldn't freeze a custard, cream or chiffon pie. And if you do any freezing at all, one month is the max -- the freezer is tough on doughs. Lastly, pies that you want to make ahead but not freeze, make them a day ahead. You can get a way with two days ahead, but it's not ideal. Hope I've answered all your questions -- if not, let me know!

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almost 5 years ago Alison Dinerstein

I wanted to roast a leg of lamb for Thanksgiving and I thought that an apple cider marinade might be a good idea. Some people say to slow roast the lamb at 200 for 6 or 7 hours and some say it is better to cook it at 350 for a couple of hours. I like lamb that is pink inside and am afraid it will be overcooked. Suggestions?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I'd only slow roast lamb shoulder -- a fattier cut that I want to cook all the way through. With leg of lamb that you want rare or medium-rare, pull the lamb out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking, then roast it at 375 degrees and begin checking the internal temperature after 1 hour. You want an internal temp of 130 for medium rare. A 5- to 7-pound leg of lamb should be done in less than 1 1/2 hours.

Newliztoqueicon-2

almost 5 years ago Lizthechef

Can I freeze truffle butter? I was going to spread it under the turkey skin....Unfortunately, half our guests are down with flu. TG will be downsized considerably this year :(

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Sorry to hear about the flu-situation. Yes, you can freeze truffle butter, no problem.

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almost 5 years ago marshall

we're roasting and frying a turkey this year. i know the dry brine will work great for the roasted turkey, but I'm curious if it would have any adverse effect for the fried one?

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almost 5 years ago Helen

Not adverse effects, but very good ones! Go forth in your brining, and let us know how it all goes.

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almost 5 years ago Lowetown

Is it possible to make turkey too moist? I am thinking of rubbing butter on the skin and under the skin, in addition to covering the turkey with butter and wine-soaked cheesecloth (a Martha Stewart idea). Is this overkill?

Also, if I'm cooking the turkey with vegetables in the roasting pan, should I incorporate the veggies into the gravy? If so, how should I go about adding them? Should I puree them?

Thanks!

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almost 5 years ago Helen

The risk with overly moist meat is that the skin never crisps up. Presumably, you can roast the turkey with butter everywhere, covered with a moist cheesecloth, and remove it at the end and jack up the heat to crisp the skin. Roasting a turkey with veggies in the pan really amps up the flavor of the jus, but they burn very quickly (especially if you're raising the temperature to crisp the skin) The trick is to keep enough liquid in the bottom of the pan to offset the very long cooking time. Then, when making the gravy you can certainly puree them, or push them through a strainer with the back of a spoon, but most of the flavor of the vegetables will be in the liquid, so you can also just strain them out. If however, you want to serve the roasted vegetables, you can take them out when you see that they're done during the cooking process.

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almost 5 years ago marykate

can I possibly peel and slice potatoes (russet) and / or butternut squash early?? it's for a gratin. trying for as little prep as possible on actual Thanksgiving Day.

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almost 5 years ago Helen

If you peel and slice the potatoes early, you have to keep them in water until you're ready to use them, and then dry them out individually on towels before you cook with them. Honestly, it's probably less work to slice the potatoes than it is to dry them all out. The squash, though, you can definitely do a day or two before and just store in the fridge.

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almost 5 years ago harkfamily4

I just got a new convection oven, and I'm not sure how to make my turkey this year using the convection. Any ideas? I will have a large 22-24 lb fresh turkey. Thanks for your help!

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almost 5 years ago Helen

We'd approach the convection oven much as we'd approach a normal oven, just prepare yourself with better, crisper results in a shorter cooking time. So keep your eye on it, and be aware that it'll take less time than it would usually take.

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almost 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

If you have a Dacor convection oven, reduce the heat by 25 degrees as well, and use "Convection Roast." The Dacor is incredibly well insulated. You might want to check with the manufacturer of your oven, if it's not a Dacor, to see what they recommend. Convection ovens can be tricky, and you really don't want to dry out the breast with a heat that's too high, before the lower joint is fully cooked..

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almost 5 years ago slirpa

Help! I am an accomplished cook but shamefully have never made gravy. Can you give me an easy, delicious, foolproof recipe? I am cooking for 10 people.

Also, I want to make a celery root and potato puree. I have several pounds of white potatoes (not Russet). Will they work?

Thank you!!

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almost 5 years ago Helen

Merrill wrote some great notes on the art of gravy making -- see below! And for a fantastic celery root and potato puree, check out our recent winner for Autumn Celeriac Puree: http://www.food52.com/recipes...

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almost 5 years ago NYCNomNom

We have a marathon Thanksgiving with over 40 people and too much food for the fridge. How long is it safe to leave foods out? Specifically things made with cream cheese and baked goods.

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almost 5 years ago Helen

As a certified safe food handler in two states and three cities, I can confidently tell you this: you can leave food out for a while. A long while. The "danger zone" for food is 41-140 degrees F, and it's within these temperatures (ie, room temperature) that you have to worry. Technically speaking, the rule of thumb is 4 hours in the zone is safe for both cooked and raw foods. I'd be slightly more careful with raw eggs or poultry, but everything else can sit on the counter without any concern. Frankly, I've left foods out for up to 6 hours without thinking about it twice. Hope this helps!

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almost 5 years ago McMichael

I wish you would post the answers because I have the same question as Angela Cobrin Landis.... I want to make an apple pie and I'd love to bang it out early... how early can I prepare it and then bake it?

Caroline

Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You can bake your pie a day or two early, wrap it well and refrigerate it. Just reheat it at 350 for 15-20 minutes to crisp it up and warm it through.

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almost 5 years ago Helen

In my house, as soon as dinner goes on the table, we lower the oven to 250 and put the pies right in. By the time we're ready for dessert, they're perfectly warmed through.

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almost 5 years ago DomesticallyDetermined...

There will be 5 of us for T-day; I'm cooking for the first time. I have a 7 lb. bone-in turkey breast to cook. Should I use the slow cooker or a roasting pan in the oven? Also, I will probably want to do a basic rub, nothing fancy. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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almost 5 years ago Helen

We'd recommend roasting it in a pan in the oven. You'd probably want to start at 350 until the internal temperature of the breast reads at 145, then turn up the heat to 400 until the internal temperature reads 160 (this will crisp up the skin). For the rub, you have a couple of options. You can slather it with butter, salt, pepper, some fresh thyme and sage, or you can slather it with butter, and sprinkle with a mix of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. And if you're averse to using butter, you can drizzle with olive oil. Let us know how it works!

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almost 5 years ago eawnyc

Hi...First time making a turkey (I grew up -happily- eating Swanson Turkey TV dinners on Thanksgiving until I was 13 and stopped eating poultry) On Tuesday November 10, my husband and I decided to have Thanksgiving in our home. "My" 22 lb bird is being slaughtered Wednesday morning. What do I do with it? I have had SO many opinions..All I want is as juicy a bird as possible with as crispy a skin as possible with no drama. My roasting pan and rack are strong and new. The guests arrive at 6:15, dinner is at 7. Salt it, put butter under skin. tent it? My husband will carve. If this becomes "my" holiday, I will tweak the turkey recipe but this is not the time.

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almost 5 years ago Helen

It sounds like you have a solid plan (salt, butter, tenting) but if you're looking for more specific instructions, or a creative approach or two, let us know!

Susan_fox

almost 5 years ago Susan Fox

We have a lot of Romaine lettuce in the back yard this Thanksgiving (we live in Arizona). Do you have a salad recipe using Romaine lettuce we can try? Thank you. Susan Fox

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almost 5 years ago Helen

One of this week's finalists, the Arugula, Pear, and Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette (http://www.food52.com/recipes...) uses romaine. Enjoy!

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almost 5 years ago mynameispeaches

I always feel guilty about throwing away the giblets (or cooking them up for the doggies). Is there any recipe that would be suitable for a innards-skeptical crowd? Also, what's the best way to get a crisp skin on the bird? It's always a challenge for me to crisp the skin without coming too close to burning it.

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almost 5 years ago Helen

Amanda likes to add the neck and the heart to the bottom of the turkey pan, and roast them alongside the bird. Then, she picks the meat with the goal of serving it, but oftentimes eats it herself in the kitchen. You can also fry the liver in the turkey drippings, and then proceed to make the gravy with it! And the best way to crisp skin is to finish the turkey on a high heat (in the 400 degree range) and don't tent it when it comes out! When you tent the skin, it steams and loses all that hard earned crispness.

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almost 5 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I cook the heart, neck and giblets in the turkey stock, then pick the meat and mince the giblets & heart up very very small. It's amazing in the turkey gravy and no one needs to know what it is. (I hope my guests aren't reading this.) The liver is added to chicken livers for chopping w/eggs & onions.

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almost 5 years ago Angela Cobrin Landis

My question is...
I am traveling to my families on Tuesday night and I am bringing (hopefully, already prepared):
-3 home-made pies (pumpkin, lemon meringue and apple/cran)
-shredded brussel sprouts with pecans, maple syrup and bacon
-creamed onions
How soon can I assemble these, as I bring them already prepared, so that they will still be fresh tasting and crisp?

Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

The pumpkin and apple pies can be made a day or two before, although you might want to make the lemon meringue the day of if you can (meringue tends to bead and shrink if it's refrigerated for more than a few hours). Creamed onions will hold in the fridge for a day or two and reheat beautifully. The only dish that could present a bit of a problem is the brussels sprouts. Is there any way you can prep all of the ingredients beforehand, bring them with you, and throw them together right before the meal?

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almost 5 years ago barco27

How do I make a pie crust that is easy and tastes good?

Susan_fox

almost 5 years ago Susan Fox

Butter Crust is the best from the Mystery Chef Radio Show in the 1950s.
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Sift the dry ingredients together, mix and add the butter,
cut it with a knife to get it to blend, flour your hands first and then rub the butter with the flour mixture until blended completely. Add one teaspoon of water and form into a ball. Roll it out and put it in a pie pan. This crust is harded to handle than a regular crust, so I cut it in fourths and using a pastry paddle, I move a fourth of crust at a time, and then reassemble in the pie pan. Doesn't look so good, but it won't matter after it's cooked.
This will make one crust.
Double the recipe if you want two crusts.
If you are making a pie that requires a pre-cooked crust, then poke the crust with a fork and bake it at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes. If you are making a pie with a covered pie crust besure and use your knife to provide some exits for steam during the cooking process. Everytime someone gives me an incredible pie recipe their mother had, they are usually shocked that my version of it is better than their mother's and the secret is this pie crust. God bless you. Susan Fox
http://seasonitwithwatkins...

Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

We've had some more great comments on this very topic -- to see them, just scroll down a bit!

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almost 5 years ago fozziebayer

OK, my question is about Mark Bittman's stuffing recipe in How to Cook Everything. You can see it here: http://www.seriouseats...

I assume the recipe has no water or stock added because he assumes you will cook it in the bird, but that's not how I roll--I bake it in a baking dish for the crust you get on the bottom and sides. my question is, how much liquid should I add in to this recipe, since Bittman doesn't specify? Thanks!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

You basically just want to moisten the bread with the liquid -- so it's damp but not wet. It's usually 2 to 3 cups of liquid to a loaf of bread. It's better to be conservative with the amount you add because you can always add more as the stuffing bakes.

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almost 5 years ago Jody Samson

Just made my pie pastry with my 11-year-old daughter. Used the Cuisinart (so quick-done in 5 minutes). Used Ina Garten's basic recipe with all ingredients chilled: butter/Crisco combo. Works like a charm every year. My two discs of dough are in the freezer and I'll thaw them and create two yummy pies on Wednesday: pumpkin and pecan. Helps to have a metal pie ring to place over the pie crust so that it doesn't burn in the oven. Available at kitchen shops or even your grocery store. Also, check out today's Seattle Times Pacific Northwest Magazine for a great article on pie making - video and article on the web.

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

almost 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Glad to hear someone else uses the Cuisinart for pie crusts. Mine are foolproof. I use the James Beard recipe that came with my Cusinart eons ago. If you don't have the metal ring, you can make a frame very easily with aluminum fool. Fold into quarters a piece of foil which, when unfolded, will cover the whole pie. Cut a large quarter circle shape, leaving the two sides opposite the center folded corner, so that when you unfold it, you have cut a circle out of the middle of the square. Works like a charm!

Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Thank you both for your great contributions to the great pie crust debate! We're also big fans of using the food processor.

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almost 5 years ago Sugartoast

Does anyone know the difference between boiling onions and pearl onions? I am making creamed onions as a side dish and found both varieties at the store....

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

From what I've read, pearl onions and boiling onions are simply baby onions -- the pearl onion an infant, the boiling onion a toddler. I'd use them interchangeably, and just remember that the boiling onions will need to cook for slightly longer.

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almost 5 years ago goldexplorer

I want to prepare mashed potatoes early so I need to know how to keep them warm without drying out and losing their freshness?

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almost 5 years ago Sugartoast

there was a thread about this question on serious eats:
http://www.seriouseats...
hope this helps?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

You can hold them over a double boiler, but I think it's easier to make them in a heavy pot and keep them in it, covered, until a few minutes before serving. Then reheat them over low heat, blending in more of whatever liquid you've used (stock, cream or milk).

Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I always make mashed potatoes first to get them out of the way, and I find they hold really well using the method Amanda describes above. A little warm liquid whips them right back into shape!

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almost 5 years ago Undomesticated Me

I'm making a pie for the first time. I'd like to bake an apple pie. Do you know of any recipes that don't call for Crisco? I'd rather just stick to butter. Also, do you have any other tips for a first-time pie baker? Do I need a pastry blender? Wish me luck! Thanks.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Here is a funny story from the Awl -- in which Choire Sicha "debunks" the difficulty of making pie dough from scratch. http://bit.ly/5yyYFU I like the butter and cream cheese crusts in The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I learned a lot about pastry making from this book -- the key is chilling all your ingredients and not over-working the dough. If you don't have a pastry blender, you can do it in a food processor, or even quite easily by hand with your fingertips or a fork. Good luck!

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almost 5 years ago Undomesticated Me

Funny -- a friend just sent me that same link from the Awl. I guess I'm a wuss when it comes to crust! Or maybe people just make such a big deal out of it. Anyway, thanks for the tips. I'll report back.

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almost 5 years ago Janneke Verheij

Why do people use kosher salt? Why is it called kosher salt for I believe there is not such a thing as non kosher salt, salt it always kosher I think. It's not really a Thanksgiving question but I've seen this in so many recipes and it left me puzzled. Thanks.

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almost 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

It's different from table salt in that it isn't as fine grained, and it has no preservatives. I like using it in cooking because it's fresher and less aggressively salty. I also keep a flaky sea salt on hand for finishing, but Kosher salt is my go-to, all-purpose salt for cooking.

Also, not all Kosher salts are the same - there was a study in a magazine a while back (Saveur, perhaps?) that compared various salts and Diamond Crystal, my favorite Kosher salt, had a lower sodium content than Morton's and others.

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almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Glad you raised the saltiness factor, lastnightsdinner! Morton's does, indeed, taste saltier and should not be used in the same proportions as Diamond Crystal, which has a softer salinity.

Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Janneke, it's possible that kosher salt is an American product. I don't ever remember seeing it in markets when I lived in England -- do even they sell such a thing in the Netherlands?

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almost 5 years ago comestibles

I believe Kosher Salt is called that because it is required in the proper slaughtering of animals under Kosher rules. The blood must be extracted from the meat and large salt is the best way to do that.
I'm not Jewish, but I live in Brooklyn :).
Here's the Wikipedia article on Kosher Salt:
http://en.wikipedia.org...

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almost 5 years ago Janneke Verheij

Thanks for the answers, I did not know there is such a variety in salt; they keep it simple here, fine salt or coarse. I never saw it in the Netherlands but I will try to get my hands on it next time I'm in Antwerp. Thanx for the explanation of the name comestibles, it makes more sense now I read the link.

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almost 5 years ago MaryLynn

I have to cook a couple of additional turkey breasts to feed my Thanksgiving crowd and dry brining seems like a no-brainer for these but I've never done it. Any advice on how long to brine, how much salt and whether to rub it under or on top of the skin? Thanks!

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almost 5 years ago Helen

We would use the same guidelines outlined below for dry brining a whole turkey -- 3/4 teaspoon salt per pound of meat, on top of the skin, for 2 days. (Again, these suggestions come straight from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook) Good luck!

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almost 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Are yams and sweet potatoes interchangeable for the various side dishes that call for one or the other? I saw some "jewel yams"-- lovely deep red skinned beauties with bright orange flesh -- at my local market recently, and have also seen "garnet yams" (which look suspiciously similar . . . . . garnets are jewels, after all). Or do you have any rules of thumb for what to look for and what to buy this time of year? Thank you so much.

Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

As we know them in the U.S., yams and sweet potatoes are interchangeable. The name "yam" is often adopted to distinguish varieties of sweet potato with bright orange flesh and dark skin (garnet yams, jewel yams, etc.) from their lighter brethren. Basically, anything you come across in your local supermarket will work for a Thanksgiving side dish. Real yams, which are not native to North America, are completely unrelated to sweet potatoes. They are very long, with dark brown or black skin and a higher sugar content than sweet potatoes. Although you can find them in some Latin grocery stores, you wouldn't want to use these in typical American sweet potato or yam recipes.

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almost 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love the ones with the dark skins and bright flesh . . . . they are just gorgeous and so, well, inviting. And the fact that their names are beautiful doesn't hurt. ;o)

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almost 5 years ago shersue

hi - can i cook spinach in the same manner as pink greens? are they not "tough" enough" to be treated this way?

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almost 5 years ago Savorykitchen

Are pink greens beet greens? If so, yes I've had success cooking fresh spinach in recipes calling for beet greens. I do reduce the cooking time slightly. Baby spinach is much more tender and will wilt just about the second it hits a hot pan.

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almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

The "Pink Greens" recipe is made with beet greens but, yes, you can make it with spinach. Use mature spinach (large leaves as opposed to the baby stuff in bags) and, as Savorykitchen suggests, decrease the cooking time by a few minutes.

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almost 5 years ago Midge

Any advice on making good gravy? I know its a basic for many, but for some reason I've always suffered from gravy anxiety.

Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

We completely understand your anxiety, but the good news is that gravy is really a no-brainer once you know what to do. Once the turkey is cooked, carefully pour off all but a few tablespoons of the fat, reserving the juices (you can use a gravy separator for this if you have one). Put the pan right on the stove over medium-low heat and add a large splash of wine or cognac, or whatever dry booze you have lying around. Cook for a little bit, scraping the pan to release all of the brown bits. At this stage, you can whisk in a smidge of flour (about 1 tablespoon) if you'd like. Then whisk in chicken or turkey stock (about 1/4 cup per guest) and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the gravy reaches the consistency you want. Taste, season with salt and pepper, and you're done!

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almost 5 years ago Helen

and if you're averse to using booze to deglaze the pan, orange juice works well too.

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almost 5 years ago Midge

will give it a try. thanks so much ladies!

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almost 5 years ago Jasmine

I desperately need carving tips -- my reliable every year turkey carver won't be at Thanksgiving this year, so I need to learn. Videos/sketches/tips? Please bring them on.

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almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

The first thing I do is cut off the legs and slice them. Then I like to remove the entire breast from each side of the turkey so I can lay it on a cutting board and thinly slice it like a roast. This makes it much easier to handle -- no fighting with bones! Next my favorite part: picking the bones. Some of the most delicious meat is on the underside of the bird, around the backbone. Many people save these bits for soup but I like to serve them for the big meal. Here's a good video on YouTube from Cooking.com: http://www.youtube.com...

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almost 5 years ago Helen

I find someone else to do it.

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almost 5 years ago lauren

it also helps in slicing the breasts of if you remove the wishbone before roasting the turkey

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almost 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

MrsWheelbarrow's cornbread stuffing recipe has no wheat. I haven't tried it yet (though I plan to, as I cannot eat wheat and was thrilled to see that recipe), you should be able to substitute soy milk. Use the unsweetened kind (and check the ingredients to make sure), if you don't want the cornbread any sweeter than the recipe would otherwise make it. Speaking of which, Mark Twain is reported to have said that if God wanted cornbread to be sweet, he would have called it "cake." (I agree.) Anyway, another helpful resource for cooking with food restrictions in mind, despite its bleak, terribly sad name, is www.livingwithout.com. Of particular help to you and anyone else entertaining people with food allergies or other restrictions is an article called "Making Merry." Good luck!

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almost 5 years ago Helen

Thanks so much for reminding us! Amanda made that stuffing, and it is both delicious and indeed, gluten free. And thank you for weighing in, it sounds like you have more expertise in this area than we do, and we so appreciate your weighing in.

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almost 5 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

As a note, I've made the cornbread with unflavored soy milk (don't make it with the vanilla flavored one, as I did once. Really not what I wanted...) Also, while the dressing recipe calls for cream, I've made it without cream, too.

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almost 5 years ago TheCooksCook

Help! My son's girlfriend is vegetarian, and recently became dairy-free and wheat-free for health reasons. What's the best dairy-free substitute for heavy cream? And I'd love a great wheat-free recipe for cornbread...

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almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

For savory dishes, the best substitute for heavy cream is often olive oil, and for sweet dishes, we recommend coconut cream. Many cornbread recipes do not include flour, and you may want to try soy milk in place of the dairy. We're not experts in this area but here are two sites to consult: glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com and babycakesnyc.com. Babycakes sells gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free cornbread so they may be able to help you.

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almost 5 years ago rachel325

Hi ladies. I'm cooking a turkey for a small group (just four of us). It's my first foray into turkeydom. Would you do a small whole bird or breast? And fresh or frozen? We're on a budget but also want to create the nicest meal we can. Thanks!

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almost 5 years ago Helen

We recommend the smallest whole fresh turkey you can find. And remember, a turkey is a gift that keeps on giving -- the leftovers can be meals for a week, and the carcass can make a stock that can be frozen for months.

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almost 5 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

We will be with my in-laws at Thanksgiving and we'd like to bring my father-in-law one or two nice bottles of wine (he loves good wine). What do recommend that pairs well with a traditional Thanksgiving day meal? Or, do you recommend cocktails instead of wine? I guess this is more of a drinking than a cooking question, but I am sure we are not the only family who enjoys a good toast to Thanksgiving. MrsWheelbarrow already addressed my other question about brining! (helpful answer Helen, thanks!!)

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almost 5 years ago Helen

Stay tuned! In the next day or so our wine partner, Chambers Street Wines, will weigh in on this exact question!

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almost 5 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I'm wondering about dry brining (salt rub) vs. wet brining. Been reading everything I can find and still not sure how long to dry brine, unclear about rinsing the bird, and not sure it will make the heritage bird nice and juicy. I've been wet-brining for the last five years and it really is wonderful, but tough to find a place to keep the bird/brine combo when the refrigerator is all full.

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almost 5 years ago Helen

The dry brining/salt rub method has been perfectly honed by Judy Rodgers of the Zuni Cafe, and these notes are summed up from her book, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Salting poultry beforehand allows for the reabsorption of salted moisture into the bird's flesh. She recommends using 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt per pound of meat, and salting the turkey 2-3 days in advance. She says to wipe the bird off before roasting (but not rinse it), and to roast it at a high heat (450-500). Ultimately the argument for dry rub comes down to this: you use about 1/10 the salt (for a 14# bird, you use 10.5 teaspoons as opposed to 96 used in a 2 cups salt : 8 cups water standard brine), and it takes up less room in the fridge! I've done it with chickens for years, and had great success, and would love to hear if you go this route for your turkey.

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almost 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

This is so helpful - thanks, Helen!

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almost 5 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Helen, Thanks so much. I promise to report back.

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almost 5 years ago adashofbitters

Oooooooooooh. We've done the Zuni method with whole chickens before and love it. Excited to try it with turkey. Thanks, Helen!

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almost 5 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

Russ Parsons wrote this method up (for turkey) in today's Los Angeles Times: "An Even Better Bird"

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almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks Pierino for pointing us to Russ's story. Also, Kim Severson ran a recipe for dry-brined turkey in last week's NYT Dining Section. Here's a link: http://bit.ly/4qklWO

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almost 5 years ago kehsutton

My question is: Brine vs. Cooking to 150º (per http://www.nytimes.com...). What's a better method, produces a better bird. Where do you weigh in?


Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I think it's a good idea to combine these methods. By brining, you're basically taking out an insurance policy against dried-out meat, and you're adding flavor. But you should also do your best to avoid overcooking the turkey -- especially the white meat. As the NYT article points out, you can always return the dark meat to the oven to cook a little longer if you need to.

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almost 5 years ago Maggie53

I am roasting a Heritage turkey this year and have read several different opinions on the "best" way to do it (i.e. cook hot & fast, low & slow, cover, don't cover, remove legs & thighs when breast is done and return them to the oven...). What IS the best way to cook a Heritage turkey?

Merrill

almost 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I'm making a Heritage turkey this year too, and both Amanda and I agree that brining helps to offset the lower fat content of an HT. We also think that low heat (350 degrees) is best, since the meat is darker and more sinewy than on a standard turkey. We'd recommend covering the turkey initially, and then uncovering it towards the end and turning the oven to 375 to brown the skin a little.