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Delicious Things for Thanksgiving

November 16, 2012

This year Thanksgiving is different all around. Black Friday has moved to Black Thursday. And my family isn’t even going to have Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving, but rather a couple days later on Saturday.

I’m not complaining one little bit about my delayed dinner. Especially because that means I’ll get to have Pepe’s in New Haven on Friday night with the family. I was just saying last night that there is only one clam pizza. And it just so happens to come from that storied coal fired oven.

The only dangerous thing is that the holiday meal may have a hard time living up to such a strong opening act.

But your family’s traditional feast may not be overshadowed by some of the best pizza in America. And for you, I’ve got a few things to consider. I’m not going to tell you how to cook the perfect turkey. I’m hoping that by now if you are responsible for making a big bird, you’ve figured out what you are doing. However I do have some add-ons, and maybe just one precaution.

The FLB now has over 1,100 posts and it’s even hard for me to find things on here. So I thought I would plumb the depths to bring you the most relevant nuggets for the upcoming festival.

I’ll lead with the precaution.

If you are getting a HoneyBaked Ham DO NOT HEAT IT. EVER.
What? And serve your guests cold ham? No. Heavens no. But you let it sit out at room temperature, to take the chill of the joint of meat.

“But it should be warm!” No. No it shouldn’t. If you want a warm ham, you should not have gotten a HoneyBaked. If you put this thing in the oven, the perfect balance that you paid a premium to receive will be lost forever. The ham will sweat out some of its water. This will make the meat both saltier and less juicy. More importantly that magical crackling honey-based crust will melt into the spiral slices and you’ll lose that magnificent textural contrast.

You can read more about it here.

Stuffing is the best part, and this is the best stuffing I’ve ever had.
No joke. I know holidays are full of family traditions. And nobody wants to screw with Aunt Jenny’s famous stuffing. But just for kicks, you should make this. Don’t even make it as a replacement. Make it in addition to whatever stuffing you normally serve.

The recipe says that you could just eat this on its own, accompanied by a glass of sparkling wine. And that is totally true. Not only is it a meal unto itself, it’s a better meal than most people ever get to experience.

Learn more about it (including the recipe) here.

My friend chef Cory makes Brussels into flavor bombs. That’s a good thing.
I’ve made this. It’s fantastic. If I could get my wife and kids to eat Brussels, I’d cook this all week. And it’s a perfect side dish for a turkey dinner. You know, if you might be looking for such a thing at this point in time.

Maybe you should at least check it out here.

Racy white wines from the Finger Lakes are a fantastic food pairing.
Seriously. Pairing wines with Thanksgiving dinner isn’t rocket science. But fruit-forward wines with good acidity are particularly food friendly. And the Rieslings and Gewurztraminers from the Finger Lakes totally qualify.

The trick is to look for vintage dates. Things like tannin and acidity diminish as the wine ages in the bottle, so look for the wines with the most current vintage dates. Unless someone is selling a nouveau as a gimmick, you won’t see anything from NY labeled 2012. But there could be some from 2011. Don’t buy anything older than 2010.

More on the Thanksgiving whites from last year, in case you want the full story.

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And that’s that. But you could always simply pick up some of the most delicious meats and cheeses on earth from The Cheese Traveler at their grand opening on Sunday. Also please don’t forget I’m in need of a cheering section for the cook off at Different Drummers Kitchen tomorrow. It would be great to see you.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Burt permalink
    November 16, 2012 1:21 pm

    OK about white wines…but…this time of year at least try one bottle of nouveau. This year there will be a shortage as I understand the weather hurt the grapes. The Japanese are purchasing enough to fill spa tubes up to bathe!? I managed an early case and found it very much like other years: fruity, lite and tart…each mouthful awaking. It is just the way I like it. uh huh, uh huh, uh huh..

  2. Chris VanDoren permalink
    November 23, 2012 4:20 pm

    OK, After reading those rave reviews I had to make the stuffing and bring it to the shindig It was really good. It was what everyone was talking about at the table (although there was a low bar at this dinner). I was so excited about it after reading all the great things that I think I expected some sort of ethereal concoction that would have me ready for the second coming, and it didn’t reach that level. Probably the second bast stuffing after my grandfathers’ cheese stuffing. I found it pretty easy to make. I would definitely make it again and probably will do so each year.
    A few notes for future stuffing cooks: I couldn’t find jarred chestnuts, I used the ones in foil bags. Not sure if these are better or worse… There was a note at the end about the author usually making a half batch – it would be helpful to notice this before buying all the ingredients and cooking to that point in the recipe as the recipe fills two 9×13 pans. I baked it uncovered which was the right move as it crisped the top somewhat.

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