Thanksgiving Q&A, homemade stock, a dinner I make so often it's in two cookbooks
Good morning readers and eaters! It’s 11 in the morning and there’s a cubed butternut squash simmering on the stovetop right now, ready to be pureed with apples into yet another batch of soup for lunch. I feel like all fall long, I’ve been making this recipe with the ease and comfort usually reserved for, like, a pot of coffee. I like knowing it’s waiting for me, I like smelling the onions cooking away while I “work.” In other news, last week, I did two things that brought me tremendous joy: 1) I hit hands-down my most favorite local pizza place (above) and 2) I finally did what I’ve been meaning to do for the 17 years I’ve lived in my house: planted a few dozen daffodil bulbs in the front yard — something bright and beautiful to look forward to in the spring. Here are your weekly Three Things.
1. All Things Thanksgiving
What are some un-fussy ways to set a Thanksgiving table? Can you prep mashed potatoes the day before? What should you serve vegetarians? Is there a way to make pumpkin pie less…boring? Answers to all of these questions and more over at Cup of Jo today in a Thanksgiving edition of my Burning Questions advice column. A few other holiday-related links you might find helpful:
Turkey Pot Pie Either for the main event or for a more laid-back, small-scale approach or a leftover strategy
Chocolate Pudding Pie It’s not Thanksgiving in our house without it!
Interview Your Family If Thanksgiving is one of the few times a year everyone gets together (or one of the few times a year you have access to a specific family member) consider interviewing them about their lives. It makes an amazing keepsake.
Muffin Tin Stuffing Kids love them — they’re like savory cupcakes! — and you can make in the toaster oven.
Our Thanksgiving Secretary My mom takes meticulous notes on the feast every year, which I appreciate as much for the sentimentality as I do for the learning.
Reminder that you can find the basic framework for my family’s Thanksgiving menu (My mom’s Herb-Roated Turkey and Gravy, Confetti Brussels with Bacon and Raisins, Sausage and Apple Stuffing, Potato Gratin with Gruyère, Cranberry Relish, etc) in How to Celebrate Everything.
2. Prepping Ahead
The perennial question: What to make ahead of time? Here’s something from the archives:
“If you know me, you know my philosophy for entertaining any day of the year boils down to If it can be made ahead of time, make it ahead of time. This is triply the case on Thanksgiving when you don’t want to have one eye on the kitchen timer the whole time you’re catching up with Aunt Lynn. Pies can be made ahead of time, so can cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes and homemade stock. You can also go ahead and set the mise en place to end all mise en places. But think beyond the actual cooking, too. Water pitchers can be filled, fancy barware and gravy boats removed from their year-long hiding places, tables set, extra forks and dishes procured for dessert (I always forget about them!). If it can be done ahead of time, do it ahead of time.”
I wanted to drill down on the homemade stock a bit: Having a pot of it warming on the stovetop during Thanksgiving cooking is the best kind of insurance plan. Use it to baste the turkey, thin the gravy, simmer the sprouts, brighten the stuffing. It upgrades everything.
Vegetable Stock: Page 232, The Weekday Vegetarians. The key here is to roast your vegetables before you simmer them.
Chicken (or Turkey) Stock: Cover chicken bones, carrots, onions, herbs (thyme, parsley), and a Parm rind with water, add bay leaf, salt, and pepper, simmer for a few hours, and minimum 2 hours, strain and freeze.
3. Crispy Chickpeas with Yogurt and Tamarind Sauce
Looking for something no-brainer amidst all this Big Production Cooking? Reminder that we make this veg dinner so often in our house that it has appeared in two of my books. You can absolutely make it with canned chickpeas, but last week, we had some soaked-and-simmered Rancho Gordo chickpeas ready to go (leftover from this surefire move earlier in the week) and I have to say, it kinda took the meal to a whole new level. Also contributing to that upgrade: A dollop of full-fat Greek yogurt and a splash of Maggi-brand tamarind sauce. We threw in some baby spinach at the last minute and served with basmati rice. The ultimate Keeper.
See you next week.
P.S. The supply chain disruption is affecting products far and wide, including books! If you plan to order The Weekday Vegetarians (or any book) for a holiday gift, do it sooner rather than later. Writers the world over thank you very much.