Thanksgiving, For the Host
Let’s talk turkey. Seriously. Thanksgiving―gateway to the holiday season―is just under two weeks away, so it’s time to nail down your plan of attack for the feast. If you’re playing host this year, below you’ll find recipes and resources we’ve gathered so you don’t have to. From invites to insights, planning your Thanksgiving celebration starts at pingg.
You should begin with choosing the right bird, and go fresh―not frozen―if you can. Different breeds of turkey each have their own unique flavor and ratio of white to dark meat and, by choosing fresh, you also support a local farmer and get a much better tasting bird. Need help finding that local farmer? Try Local Dirt, a fantastic site that connects you to a local farm or grocer that sells locally grown food. Its scope is nationwide and, depending on where you are, you could likely gather all or nearly all of your ingredients from local sources.
Now, people are fierce about their Thanksgiving traditions. Suggesting something other than turkey for the main fare will get you the hairy eyeball nine times out of ten. However, you don’t have to abandon the bird altogether to shake it up a little. New York Magazine’s Thanksgiving Three Ways has three unique and delicious sounding preparations using classic ingredients―turkey, oysters, stuffing, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin―as conceived by chefs Daniel Boulud, Wylie Dufresne, and David Shea, all within a $150 budget. If you find these ideas are a little too far out for you or your guests, chef Marco Canora has a put together a Thanksgiving menu with an Italian flare that is well within the range of traditional. Trust me, nobody is going to cry about roast turkey with garlic, sage and orange accompanied by caramelized leek and sage stuffing.
Speaking of stuffing, epicurious.com staff writer Sarah Kagan has written an excellent article on the two camps of stuffing―cooked inside the bird vs. baked in a casserole dish. It’s worth thinking about, not only for the sake of flavor but also, as Sarah explains, for mere safety. For the turkey/culinary novice, be sure to also check out the complete turkey primer.
The kitchen, as anyone who’s ever cooked anything should know, is a workshop. A feature of all great workshops, apart from being clean and organized, is having the right tools at hand. And while there is no end of gadgets that purport to make life easier in the kitchen most of these are, well, junk. The Juicy Cutting Board from chef Curtis Stone, though, is one of the best looking and useful kitchen tools I’ve come across in a long while. Made from bamboo, it’s set at a 2 degree angle and has a stainless steel channel at the low end for collecting all that lovely, savoury jus that flows as you carve the meat. And when it’s not in use, it’s still a good lookin’ accessory for your kitchen counter.
Remember, Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks for what you have. So let’s not forget those who have less, or none at all. You can give thanks by giving back, and by doing what you love in the process, via The Official Squidoo Thanksgiving Cookoff for Charity. It goes like this: go to Squidoo.com and create a foody lens, which is essentially a free and easy-to-create web page. Every day up to Thanksgiving Day the folks at Squidoo HQ will pick the best lens for the day and donate $1000 to your charity of choice. The lens can be about anything food related: great recipes, your Thanksgiving spread, tips, tricks, whatever, so long as it’s food or kitchen related. It’s free to enter, and, on Thanksgiving Day, Squidoo will choose the top 25 lenses submitted and subject them to a vote off until Nov. 30. The winning lens will be awarded $5000 to the charity selected. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Thanks for reading, and come back soon. Next time I’ll be talking Thanksgiving, For the Guest. . .