May We Help?
Before we begin: the latest Hot Water Cornbread podcast contains a good bit of turkey talk, including a lively session with Mac Stone, chief turkey grower at Elmwood Stock Farm and a member of the National Organic Standards Board. 56 minutes of fun for you while you chop celery and cuddle babies.
If you're starting to think about Thanksgiving, just about now, instead of planning for it since August, it's all going to be fine. You're going to be happy and hospitable. The food is going to support a beautiful day.
A few aids:
- Turkey (other than pre-seasoned or kosher birds) thrive on the simplest seasoning. Pre-salt, or "dry brine" with salt only, and relax. Here's one guide. Or see an excellent excerpt from the Serious Eats brining guide at the bottom of this post.
- Cooking for two? See Fake Food Free for ideas and recipes.
- Best (and easiest) yeast rolls? Mrs. Moore's.
- Yeast roll dough that will yield additional breakfasts of cinnamon rolls and homemade doughnuts throughout the weekend? Mother and Dad's Saturday Night Rolls.
- Best version of that once-a-year green jelled salad? Catherine Hill's Holiday Green Jelled Salad (or it can be not green...)
- A fast, excellent cornbread recipe, if you need some for dressing: New York Times Best Cornbread.
- Best spoonbread recipe? Maria Polushkin Robbins's Spoon Bread
- Best wine? Sparkling, any price range, not too sweet. Trust us: sparkling wine and heavy food always make magic together. J. Roget Extra Brut lights up food for pennies per glass. Or go with a light-bodied red. (If unsure about the lightness of the body, look for reds with less than 13 percent alcohol.) New release Beaujolais, Beaujolais Village or Cru Beaujolais pair beautifully with Thanksgiving food, as do inexpensive, not too sweet Rieslings. Or splurge! But any wine that has more than 13-14 percent alcohol is likely to overwhelm food and make people a bit more....what shall we say? Lit up/fussy/effusive/sullen/messy/weepy/argumentative than they may intend to be at your table.
- Best light pumpkin pie? Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
- In case it's your favorite: Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish
- Best list of amazing options for vegetarian Thanksgiving centerpiece dishes? Here.
- In Lexington, Michler's has your floral Thanksgiving centerpiece. See the beauty.
- Still want to indulge in some recipe and menu dreams? The Bitten Word wrapped up a 2015 Thanksgiving recipe review and live testing here. (And the Bourbon-Mint Cranberry Sauce they liked does sound fine.)
- Really good source for all manner of helpful recipes, if we do say so? Classic Kentucky Meals. So pull it off the shelf and look for recipes like these:
- Roast Winter Vegetable Salad With Chef Ouita Michel's Sorghum-Bourbon Vinaigrette
- Wilted Dark Green Salad
- Dark and Bright Green Salad
- Quick Kentucky Greens with Garlic
- Slow Cooked Kentucky Greens
- Fresh and Tangy Slaw
- Sweet Sorghum Hot Pepper Relish
Buy what you can from local growers. Enjoy this wonderful day.
Here's that excerpt on dry brining.
How to Dry Brine
Combine half a cup of Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 6 tablespoons Morton's kosher salt) with two tablespoons of baking powder in a bowl. Carefully pat your turkey dry with paper towels. Generously sprinkle it on all surfaces with the salt mixture by picking up the mixture between your thumb and fingers, holding it six to ten inches above the bird and letting the mixture shower down over the surface of the turkey for even coverage. The turkey should be well-coated with salt, though not completely encrusted.
Warning: You will most likely not need all of the salt, in some cases less than half will be ok depending on the size of your bird and your salt preference.
Transfer the turkey to a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered for 12 to 24 hours. Without rinsing, roast using one of our recipes, omitting any additional salting steps called for in those recipes.
Dry-brining for more than 24 hours will produce even more juicy and well-seasoned meat. To brine longer than 24 hours, loosely cover turkey with plastic wrap or cheesecloth before refrigerating to prevent excess moisture loss through evaporation. Let rest for up to 3 days.