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November 22, 2014


Last year we made this stuffing, in deference to a guest who was phobic about soggy bread. (Weird story, but can't blame him.) Being mostly not bread, he didn't have a problem with it. I'd make it again just because it was delish:

• 4 cups water
• 1 cup wild rice
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 pound crusty white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (6 cups)
• 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter or reserved fat from turkey
• 2 cups diced (1/3 inch) onion
• 2 cups diced (1/3 inch) celery
• 2 cups diced (1/3 inch) apple
• 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried, crumbled
• 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh marjoram or 1/2 teaspoon dried, crumbled
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 cup dried cranberries (5 ounces)
• 1 cup turkey stock or chicken broth

Bring water to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then add rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender and most grains are split open, 1 to 1 1/4 hours (not all liquid will be absorbed). Drain well in a colander and spread out in a baking pan to cool completely.
Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
Spread bread cubes in a shallow baking pan and bake in upper third of oven until dry, about 20 minutes.
Melt 1 stick butter in a large nonstick skillet over moderate heat, then cook onion and celery, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add apple and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in herbs, pepper, and remaining teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with rice, bread, and dried cranberries.

Make stuffing day before.

This year we've been invited to a potluck party, and will be bringing ham. Still looking for the right recipe.

we always use Alton Brown's brined turkey recipe - already bought my new 5-gal bucket from Lowes! and this year i used Michael Ruhlman's turkey stock recipe, which is similar to what you posted except instead of doing it on the stovetop, he puts the stock in a very low oven (200 deg) overnight. that gets every last bit of goodness out of the legs and wings. the stock came out an awesome dark brown.

i'll make an apple pie and i'm considering sweet potato gnocchi, just for fun.

the day before, i'll make my grandmothers's sauerkraut & pork, so i can have something to snack on while i cook on T-bird day.

In our numerically diminished household we don't hold big Thanksgiving feasts, but whenever we have turkey, or are invited somewhere they're serving it (as on Thursday next!) my wife can be counted on to supply this basic cranberry-orange relish, which now (she says) even appears on cranberry packages:

2 bags fresh cranberries
2 oranges
2 cups of sugar

Rinse and drain cranberries in colander. Cut off both stem ends of the oranges, but do not peel. Cut each orange in half, and each half into four pieces. Remove all the seeds.

Put cranberries and oranges through a coarse grinder into Tupperwear bowl. Add sugar, mix well. Put lid on bowl and refrigerate for at least a few hours - overnight is best.


There are much fancier recipes for the rest of the big fancy meal that we now rarely serve up. But this tasty relish is, to me, the indispensable sign that it is the holiday season.

Yeah, you can't go far wrong with Alton Brown, in my experience.

Have made that relish myself. It can also be converted into a nice frozen desert, too.

Beverages: I've got a batch of "Joe's Ancient Orange Mead" in my fermenter, but I'd be lucky to have a taste of it by Christmas, that's for NEXT Thanksgiving.


Doing turkey stock in the oven sounds like a good idea, I think I'll try it this time.

Also, cleek, plz report back on sweet potato gnochi experiment. The last couple pickups from the CSA included about 15 lbs sweet potatoes. Someone at the farm mentioned sweet potato gnochi with sage butter, and we have a lot of sage, so it sparked my interest. But restaurants have such trouble making good gnochi, I figured it was one of those things where you have to either have an Italian grandmother or be a pro.

also too, cleek, I'm passing that kraut recipe along to the friends we split our CSA share with. They took the cabbages, you see, and a sauerkraut-making experiment just started in their basement. If it works, we may need extra kraut recipes.


Doing turkey stock in the oven sounds like a good idea, I think I'll try it this time.

Never tried it either....so I checked it out, and does it ever look good. The wings/thighs are in the oven today. It had better work, or your liberal ass is in trouble.

Is there an accepted/regular vegetarian Thanksgiving alternative to turkey ?

I'm curious.

The OP cranberry recipe is very similar to mine, down to the Grand Marnier, but excepting the allspice.

Nigel, the cliche alternative is tofurkey. If you're into tofu, that'll probably be keen, but even at my most vegetarianest, I was never a tofu fan. My veg Thanksgivings were "graze on the innumerable side dishes" affairs.

When I used to celebrate Thanksgiving with a bunch of hippie friends, the vegetarian ones always made some fancy stuffed squash dish. It always looked good (but not as good as turkey).

My general thanksgiving assignment these days is rover, beyond the brussel sprouts recipe I always make:


It is a painful task, what with peeling leaves off brussels sprouts, but worth it. I usually go the local Pizza Antica and just consume it there when it's in season, unless it's a holiday.

As I understand it, the Thanksgiving turkey is supposed to be a dramatic centerpiece to the meal, as well as providing Lots of Food for everybody. It's good to have that centerpiece effect if the idea is to anchor Thanksgiving dinner for a bunch of vegetarians, rather than make sure one vegetarian gets enough to eat in a roomful of meat-eaters.

I know a family that does lasagna every year. It has become their tradition, and I'm sure their kids think of it as Thanksgiving food.

I've seen an enormous stuffed pumpkin, which looked seasonal and festive and really impressive.

FWIW Huffington Post just had an article on vegetarian Thanksgiving food. YMMV. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/19/vegetarian-thanksgiving_n_1028523.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000044&ir=Green

That's handy (HuffPo).

The Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf looks worth trying with a few tweaks.
Though not vegetarian myself, I cook quite a lot of vegetarian food for others - which has the health benefit of reducing my own meat intake...

They took the cabbages, you see, and a sauerkraut-making experiment just started in their basement.

i've always wanted to try that, but the accidental fermentation of cabbage in our fridge last year makes me worry about what could go wrong.


It's supposed to help that they're starting with organically-grown cabbages, which are more likely to have the correct bacteria hanging around. But it is definitely an *experiment*.

"but the accidental fermentation of cabbage in our fridge last year makes me worry about what could go wrong."

You need to have enough salt present, it has a strong influence on what sort of bacteria can grow. I've made both sauerkraut and naturally fermeted pickles, as well as kimchi, and it's all in the salt content. Too little salt, the veggies will rot instead of fermenting.

ah yeah, salt.

my next step into the world of fermentation will be levian bread (a.k.a. sourdough). though keeping a culture alive forever sounds like a bit of a responsibility - "sorry Mrs., we can't stay over tonight, i have to get back to feed my yeast!"

There are much fancier recipes for the rest of the big fancy meal that we now rarely serve up. But this tasty relish is, to me, the indispensable sign that it is the holiday season.

I have a relish recipe that is similar, but includes a Granny Smith apple cut up in chunks.

"my next step into the world of fermentation will be levian bread (a.k.a. sourdough)."

There are an awful lot of different ways to create starters, but I think I've had the best luck using a mix of flour and unpasturized apple cider. You can always count on that having some decent wild yeast in it.

sweet potato gnocchi


sweet potato gnocchi

here's the recipe i was considering.

last time i made gnocchi Mrs and i got very ill, but i'm pretty sure it was the fish that did it. still, i've been unable to eat prosciutto (which was wrapped around the asparagus) since.

Oh, here's the recipe for the cranberry relish we've been making for at least 15 years:

Ingredients: 1/2 orange 2 cups water 1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, pippin or McIntosh 3 cups fresh cranberries 1 1/4 cups sugar 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp. ground cloves Directions: Squeeze the juice from the orange and set the juice aside. Remove and discard the membrane from inside the orange rind and cut the rind into small dice. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the rind and the water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Peel, core and quarter the apple. Cut into 1/2-inch dice and place in a saucepan. Sort the cranberries, discarding any soft ones. Add to the apples along with the orange juice, orange rind, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan partially. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, the apple is tender and the cranberries have burst, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the cranberry sauce to a heatproof bowl and let cool for 1 hour before serving. Or cover and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before serving. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a sauceboat and pass at the table.
Makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups.

This is dinner, tonight.

The pickle meat is a long-lead item. Some things you have to start working on in advance. I have plans to make my own tasso, at some point, which will help eliminate one hard-to-find item.

red beans & rice....mmmmmmm.

Cleek: Sourdough's pretty durable. I store mine in the fridge, where it can go a week [two is pushing it, but I've done it] between dividing it and adding fresh flour and water.

It's nice to decide, "I want a loaf of sourdough tomorrow,"--from there, it's less than five minutes to pour the starter in a bowl with fresh flour and water. Then you're committed... and a tasty loaf results.

i've always wanted to try that, but the accidental fermentation of cabbage in our fridge last year makes me worry about what could go wrong.

I haven't tried sauerkraut, but kimchi works wonderfully. I tried miso pickles this past summer too, and they were interesting. Has anyone tried them?

My vegetarian friend serves
hard squash cut in halves, stuffed with herb/bread/onion/celery stuffing, baked under cover, served with fried mushroom gravy.
Egg and butter or oil provides the richness;
the deep browning of the stuffing is much of the flavor.

If I were experimenting with that (practicing on self before inflicting on guests) I'd think about some parmesan sprinkled before baking. Or maybe a thin stripe of brie to bake in.

The tasso, I should add, is a vital ingredient in the successful execution of this recipe:

Magnolia's Spicy Shrimp, Sausage, and Tasso Gravy Over Creamy White Grits

It is the best-tasting thing I have ever made, and it's in pretty decent company. I have in a pinch attempted a substitute for tasso (google-search that and you'll find various things involving ham) that although good were well off the global peak of goodness that using tasso would have achieved.

I am making that for some of my family this weekend, because too many turkey-centered meals in a row gets boring.

I've made exactly that Tyler Florence recipe in the past, Slart. Thanks for the reminder to try it again.

I'm by myself this Thagsgribins, well, just the day, but I'm going to stuff a turkey breast with italian sausage, scallions, raisins and fennel seed and roast it in a cast-iron skillet in the oven with plenty of baste.

Then an orzo dish with caramalized onions and raisins (again) and some cranberry get up or another which changes every year, but if I remember to shop for it, I'm going to buy some ruby port and splash it in.

Then on Saturday, my son and maybe his girlfriend and I will hit an upscale Ramen joint for a post-THKG repast.

By the way, if you Google chef David Chang's chicken noodle soup (chinese flavor profile), you won't be sorry.

Might try it with the leftover turkey.

Hi gang! We're up at my parents' place a day early, thanks to an epic night of travel -- because we realized only a crazy person would want to travel in New England today. But by the time we got our ducks in a row, every bus and train in NE was sold out. So after getting here (almost midnight), we got straight back in the car and drove 1 1/2 hours each way to Sprog the Younger's Boston Area Liberal Arts College.

But now we're here, the turkey's here, all's right with the world, and we can hang out *not* traveling.

The traffic all last night was extremely heavy in all directions, especially truck traffic -- because of course all the big box stores are re-stocking on Thursday for Black Friday. ugh. Maybe we'll go to a movie -- or just hang out and eat stuffing.

Mmmm . . . stuffing. Mix it into beaten eggs and it makes excellent little fritters!

No wine comments yet. We're guesting at a friend's house tomorrow, and I've promised to bring along a couple of bottles (probably one red, one white). Any general suggestions? (Not necessarily over-specific; I'm less likely to rush out and buy anew than to choose from what I find in our cellar.) (Not a wine cellar; an actual house cellar that happens to contain a case or two of actual wine, amid boxes of books, memorabilia, broken furniture, etc.)

Not so much a recipe. But I would like to wish each of you a warm and caring Thanksgiving, I hope you get to spend it with the family and friends that you cherish most. I am thankful for each person who posts and comments here. I miss the times I had these conversations with my friends in my younger days, when vastly differing views were considered acceptable. It let us all learn a little, strong opinions not to strongly held are a blessing. Thanks to all, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Back at ya, Marty.

My best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

Dry Riesling is the canonical Thanksgiving wine; Pinot Grigio also can work well. For reds, a friendly Malbec can be all right (I have one I plan to serve), although generally speaking a Pinot Noir is the best bet. I generally would stay away from heavier reds like Cabernet or Syrah unless that's one hell of a meaty turkey.

As far as I'm concerned, Champagne goes with everything.

the hip thing about thanksgiving is that it's a holiday for everybody.

so, hope everybody has a great thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

As to wines, I'd go with a Petit Sirah or a Shiraz, or failing that some oaky or peppery vinting of Cab or Pinot Noir. Not because they'd be an ideal pairing (as JakeB notes, the meat'd have to be pretty strong to match well), but because I'm an uncultured swine who can't stand anything white or particularly sweet.

As we lift our goblets to our gobs let us today appreciate all we have or hope to reach in the pursuit of sappiness, and let us remember in our little hamlet here in the shoutasphere that our differences are meager in their largeness, for all the severity in their smallicity, and nothing is personal.

Things never really change, and the familiar players have strutted upon the stage from the beginning of the play in their familiar ideological motley, perchance to ream, every chance they got:


via Sullivan

Have a great holiday (some of you probably celebrate it, still, next week) and be back here Monday, bright and early, to hit your marks.

And that means you, McKinneyTexas.

Hey, JakeB, thanks for the Malbec tip. We looked upon the wine when it was red - and it was good!

As to wines....

I prefer the Franzia line, and have a complete boxed set.

You all have a merry Thanksgiving...and no drinking and driving!

All the best.

When it comes to wine, we see the truely enormous range of opinion of the people here. Let us be clear, pretty much the best thing that has been done with juice from grapes is . . . Welch's. And the drier the wine is, the less drinkable it is.

As for champaigne, it is just like Sprite or Coke or any of the rest: No sensible person would drink something that spits in your face when you drink it!

There there we have a true minority view, laid out for all to see. ;-)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and thank you for all the informative and witty discussions.

dr ngo--

my pleasure. Glad it worked for you. I was very happy with our malbec too, although by time we were done cooking I probably could have drunk Thunderbird happily.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!

"Let us be clear, pretty much the best thing that has been done with juice from grapes is . . . Welch's. And the drier the wine is, the less drinkable it is."

Got that right. My sister left us a bottle of wine after her recent visit. Right on the label, 2 freaking grams of residual sugar per 100ml.

I don't use VINEGAR if it's that 'dry'. Maybe with some added sugar I could use it for deglazing some time, it certainly isn't worth drinking.

Thanksgiving was excellent, went to a friend's house for a potluck meal. A deep fried turkey, a bacon wrapped turkey, our brown sugar glazed ham, somebody else's honeybaked ham, humba, (Lean for a change, it was excellent.) and too many deserts to count.

friends came over and brought two liters of homemade mead. one bottle was absolutely dry (17% alcohol) and was flavored with 'Michigan Four Berry'. went surprisingly well with turkey.

Yeah, mead, like any alcoholic beverage, can be made "dry". I don't much like it that way, though. I plan to ferment my orange mead to the limit, and then back sweeten it to taste. Maybe I'll rack it onto more orange zest, it smelled really nice through the airlock at first, but the orange smell eventually became very subdued.

That's a decision which will wait until I've sampled it later today.

"pretty much the best thing that has been done with juice from grapes is . . . Welch's. And the drier the wine is, the less drinkable it is."

I commend to your attention the late-pick Riesling-grape wines of the Mosel Valley, which have low alcohol content, considerable residual sugar, and taste like you sort of imagined that wine would taste before you ever tasted wine.

A nice Mosel Spatlese is really delicious, and the Ausleses are sweeter yet. If your wine dealer has a selection, and you have no idea which to buy, a Piesporter is a good place to start, even better if it's a Michelsberg.

My mead did turn out rather dry, so I topped off with additional honey when I racked it. Somewhat bitter from the orange zest, too, though that should improve with aging. This IS intended for use at next year's Thanksgiving, after all.

To join in on the "yay Malbec!" chorus above, I had a Trapiche Malbec Oak Cask with dinner tonight, and adored its sharp, spicy goodness, so thanks for the rec, JakeB.

Got that right. My sister left us a bottle of wine after her recent visit. Right on the label, 2 freaking grams of residual sugar per 100ml.

That's a whole 2 grams of sugar not converted to ethanol! That's wasted sugar!

By the way, I made the Magnolia's recipe, above, for about 14 people on Saturday. I had begun to suspect that I had over-rated the goodness of it, but after the fact it was unanimous: out of this world.

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