Classic Thanksgiving recipes from James Beard, Meta Given, Fannie Farmer, et al.

I'm looking for well-loved, old-fashioned Thanksgiving recipes from iconic American cookbook authors like James Beard and Meta Given, and less well-known authors, too. This will be for an upcoming feature (and maybe some Genius Recipes, too!). I figured you all would be excellent resources—thank you in advance.

Kristen Miglore


AntoniaJames October 22, 2015
James Beard published a recipe for a rich, custard-y pumpkin pie in a women's magazine in the early 1960's; the recipe eventually made it (in substantially the same form) into his superb "American Cookery." I believe it's also on, though I have not done a side by side comparison.

Beard replaces a substantial portion of the pumpkin or butternut squash (which you roast first) with 2+ cups of cream. This pie offers a luscious, decadent alternative when you feature butternut squash on your dinner menu. ;o)
Stephanie October 21, 2015
Parker House Rolls. Here's James Beard's recipe:

And, just as a fun bonus, the most googled Thanksgiving recipes (by state):
fitzie October 22, 2015
Food & Wine's website, look up the Thanksgiving feast prepared by Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock. Every recipe is a treasure especially the cranberry sauce and the sweet potato casserole. The potato rolls are to die for.
nutcakes October 20, 2015
Kathleen Claiborne's Pecan Pie - a classic and the only one I really like. Everyone asks the recipe. Chock full of nuts, chopped nuts with the filling and decorative rings of halves on top. From a older NY Times Cookbook edited by Craig Claiborne, it is his mother's southern recipe, he was from Mississippi.
amysarah October 20, 2015
This discussion reminded me - in the 'An American Place' cookbook - from the eponymous restaurant (long gone, but still relevant,) Larry Forgione includes their signature bread. Very buttery, highly spiced with cracked black pepper, and fairly easy to make. Though not specifically intended as such, I've done it in roll form for a few Thanksgivings - really perfect for that. His name doesn't pop up much in chef-y talk these days, but I'd say he's pretty iconic - in the '80's, he was a pioneer in embracing traditional American dishes/ingredients in the "serious" food hierarchy. Very appropriate for T-giving, and I'd love to see him mentioned to a generation of cooks that may not be familiar.
ChefJune October 22, 2015
For the younger readers: Larry Forgione is the father and mentor of Iron Chef Marc Forgione.
avimom October 20, 2015
Faye Levy is a beloved Jewish American cookbook author. She has amazing veggie dishes that are simple to prepare and hold up well, such as Wild Rice with Leeks and Carrots; Rice Salad with Green Beans, Cranberries, and Walnuts; and Creamy Turnip Soup.
Droplet October 22, 2015
Avimom, do you happen to recall exactly in which one of Faye Levy's books is the recipe for Rice Salad with Green Beans, Cranberries, and Walnuts. I would like to make a version of this, and would like to refer to the original. Thank you :)
SilverSage October 20, 2015
One more - mashed rutabagas (yellow turnip) are a very traditional accompaniment to turkey in several European cultures, especially the Irish. Most cookbooks don't address them, but James Beard does in The James Beard Cookbook. They are perfect with turkey gravy!
Kristen M. October 20, 2015
Love these—thank you, SilverSage!
amysarah October 20, 2015
My mother mashed rutabagas and potatoes together. Beautiful subtle gold color, plus that slight rutabaga sharpness is a good foil for rich gravy, and all that buttery, sweet Tgiving food. (Sorry, no written recipe - she was only a famous cook in our minds.)
SilverSage October 20, 2015
In the mid-1980's Julia Child was the food editor for Parade Magazine. She published a weekly pull-out in the centerfold with 3-4 recipes & instructions. A few years later, most of those made it into her book, 'The Way to Cook'.

One of my favorite holiday sides from the series & book is Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts, page 274 in The Way to Cook. The chestnuts are a bit of work, so it's definitely a holiday dish, not a weeknight dish. They are the perfect accompaniment to the bird.
jeinde October 21, 2015
You can find already prepared chestnuts in the Kosher section of many supermarkets, especially at this time of year. Makes it a lot easier.
AntoniaJames October 19, 2015
Kristen, I'll send you a note with a great idea when time permits later this evening or sometime this week . . . . ;o)
702551 October 19, 2015
Some of the most iconic Thanksgiving recipes are commercial ones, don't know if you want to include those too.

The pumpkin pie recipe from the back of the condensed milk can or pumpkin puree can. The roast turkey recipe from the turkey bag. Stuff like that.

You can find many of these on the corporate sites:,,
Nancy October 20, 2015
As Amanda says in PRIVATE LIVES, there's no such thing as cheap music. If memory serves, the conversation continues, remarking that the feelings in response to that so-called cheap music is genuine and strong. So with some of the less-fancy, manufacturer-sourced Thanksgiving recipes that families have enjoyed for years.
And you (food52) even have a column about great recipes from back of the package.
So please tell us: is it classic recipes you want or classic by American cookbook writers or both?
Nancy October 20, 2015
Kristen, I guess it's the cookbook author recipes you want, and I liked CV suggestion of package recipes. Still, I shouldn't have put you on the spot....
Kristen M. October 20, 2015
Great points about the back-of-the-package recipes—they're on the package for good reason! For this feature, we're hoping to unearth recipes from other voices, and beloved American cookbook authors seemed like a good place to look, but we're open to other ideas.
Nancy October 20, 2015
Kristen -
Your thread, your focus on beloved American cookbook authors. And you're already getting good responses.
Let's leave the back-label recipes for another time.
Ali S. October 19, 2015
He wasn't a cookbook author, but it's been said that Morton Thompson invented "the world's greatest turkey by everyone who ever ate the result":
Greenstuff October 20, 2015
What memories! I made the Morton Thompson recipe throughout my college years. It called for long cooking and basting every 15 minutes, so it was always a social occasion. It's interesting that your reference to the Richard Gehman article is 1978, as my transcription of it dates from earlier. And Morton Thompson wrote about it first in book, Joe, the Wounded Tennis Player, 1945.
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