Talking Turkey
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Turkey, stuffing…you know your family’s Thanksgiving menu well by now. We asked some of our regulars to share some of their favorite recipes. Here are a few–enjoy. (Have a recipe you’d love to share with your fellow NRO readers? Send them to [email protected] and check in The Corner throughout Thanksgiving weekend to read some of them.

JONATHAN ADLER: Sprouts on the Vine
I’m never the chef at Thanksgiving, so I consulted Mom for some ideas. She insists brussel sprouts with white grapes is an under-rated dish. Braise halved brussel sprouts olive oil and white wine, adding white grapes and black pepper at the end. For a twist on a more traditional Turkey Day dish, try cranberry sauce with Kumquats. Cook a 12 ounce bag of cranberries in 1/2 cup water with sugar to taste until the cranberries begin to pop. Add a few kumquats. Cool, and refrigerate. Remove from the fridge an hour before serving to remove the chill.

Jonathan Adler is a professor at Case Western Reserve University’s law school and an NRO contributing editor.

KEVIN CHERRY: One-Upping an Old Standby
Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

One ready made graham cracker crust
One 1/2 gallon Edy’s Pumpkin Ice Cream (or another brand, as Edy’s Web site claims it is only sold through October; the stores near me still have some)
One 1/2 gallon Edy’s Cinnamon Swirl
Cool Whip
Caramel syrup

Scoop out approximately 1/3-1/2 of the Edy’s pumpkin ice cream. Allow it to soften. While waiting, have a few spoonfuls of the remainder. Once the ice cream has softened–NOT melted–spread it inside the crust. Try to even it out smoothly. Put in freezer.

While re-freezing the pumpkin ice cream, take out some of the cinnamon ice cream, about a cup and a half. Allow it to soften. While waiting, have a few spoonfuls of the remainder of this flavor, too. Go ahead, have another one. When the cinnamon ice cream is sufficiently soft, take out the pumpkin pie. Spread the cinnamon ice cream on top of the pumpkin, as evenly as possible. Return to freezer till ice cream solidifies. While waiting, eat spoonfuls of Cool Whip.

To serve: Remove pie from freezer. Spread Cool Whip over top of pie. Drizzle with caramel syrup (optional). Slice and serve. (Makes between 6-8 servings.)

Kevin Cherry is currently a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame and is an NRO contributor.

Sweet Potato Praline Casserole–Alex Patout’s

Alex Patout’s cookbook gets a regular workout at the Graham Compound, and his Sweet Potato Praline Casserole is now a staple at all of my family’s gatherings. I am expected to make it for holiday gatherings, and your family may make the same demand.

However, the ideal Thanksgiving meal is to fly to New Orleans and eat at Patout’s in the Quarter. Alex is almost always there, and he’ll be glad to give you a true Cajun (not Creole!) welcome. Food: Awesome. And in one of those classic New Orleans’ twists, he shares the building with Gennifer Flowers’ piano bar.

Laissez-le bon temps roullez!

Michael Graham is a talk-show host and writer in the Washignton, D.C.-South Carolina region.

Every year, my paternal grandmother supplemented her conservative Thanksgiving menu of roast turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and creamed onions, etc, with an alarming gelatinous “salad” that glowed unnaturally on her New England table like a meteorite from the Midwest.

The adults rolled their eyes when this dish arrived, and we cousins didn’t quite know what to make of it. But since my grandparents died back in the ’80s, our whole extended family has developed a peculiar seasonal craving for this dish. As a result it will be glowing on the Gurdon family table this Thanksgiving–and perhaps on yours? NRO Readers, I give you:

Barbara Baker Cox’s Weird-but-Good Thanksgiving Jell-O Salad

2 packages lime Jell-O
1 cup large curd cottage cheese
1 can of fruit cocktail, drained
1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped

Prepare the Jell-O according to package instructions, reducing the water by half. Allow the gelatine to set slightly, then fold in the other ingredients and chill thoroughly.


J. D. HAYWORTH: Consulting Uncle Bruce
Mary Hayworth’s “Uncle Bruce’s Cornbread”

Thanksgiving at the Hayworth household would not be complete without some of “Uncle Bruce’s Cornbread.” This is a traditional recipe my wife Mary got from her Uncle Bruce of Tennessee, i.e. it is not sweet. The key to this cornbread is using a cast iron skillet and making sure it has been heated before adding the cornbread mixture to it. Here is the recipe:

1-2 eggs, depending on their size
1 1/2 cups of self-rising cornmeal
2 cups of buttermilk
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Put some lard or bacon grease (recommended) or shortening in a cast iron skillet and stick it in the oven to melt. You want to use enough fat to coat the pan evenly and have just a little (maybe a couple of tablespoons) left over to add to the batter.

In a bowl, combine the above ingredients. After the lard/bacon fat/shortening has melted, pour any remaining that is not needed to coat the skillet into the batter and mix. Sprinkle a little cornmeal in the pan. Pour the mixture into the still-hot skillet and put in the oven to cook until done, approximately 30 minutes or so. Well done it will have a crispy crust and soft middle that is wonderful. Serve hot with butter.

J. D. Hayworth is a Republican congressman from Arizona.

CHRIS MCEVOY: Be a Turkey Deconstructionist
The turkey doesn’t speak to us like the chicken. The chicken says cut me into sections, batter me, and fry me; or remove my breast, filet, pound, grill, and salad me. The chicken often says roast me whole, but the bird tempts us with its wings just as lasciviously. In France le poulet demands to be quartered, browned, veggied, and wined atop the stove for a good long while. In Morocco the bird is chopped, spiced, and baked succulent in a tagine. Around the globe the chicken wants to be known as much for its parts as its entirety.

But the turkey speaks of wholeness; it has largely remained intact in our culinary imaginations. We debag it, butter it, and stick it in the oven–perhaps so we can fret over the side dishes. It’s only after we carve the bird that we get creative with the parts. (As they say, it’s not Thanksgiving without the leftovers.) But it needn’t be this way.

For a change you may want to try approaching your turkey like a chicken: Stand ready to carve it before cooking it.

Because of its large size, a standard holiday turkey can fill a lot of recipes. Picture, in one afternoon, turning out cornbread-stuffed turkey legs, turkey tetrazzini, porterhouse turkey chops, and turkey-bone soup. With freezer bags at the ready, you can coax a number of meals from one gobbler and not waste a gizzard.

It all starts with knives and nerve–and more perhaps of the former. The great Julia Child, a proponent of turkey deconstruction, writes, “I just go at it with knife, cleaver, and mallet and do whatever it takes to get the pieces apart.”

The entire leg-thigh joint, with the thigh bone removed, can be stuffed and tied. (Julia’s cornbread stuffing with sausage and sage is a perfect fit.) Saveur Cooks Authentic American contains a high-end recipe for turkey tetrazzini (sherry, nutmeg, parmigiano-reggiano), and you’ll want to use half the breast section of a large bird for this (just pan-fry in butter and cut into strips). Jack McDavid (of Grillin’ & Chillin’ fame) makes a porterhouse turkey chop that is a stunt double for veal chop. Prolific cookbook author James Peterson has the soup-starter for your carcass, wings, and neck.

Or just deconstruct and go your own way. If you’re not chicken, the turkey will yield exceptional cuisine–part by part.

Chris McEvoy is NRO managing editor.

Well, in Britain we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (although some wicked souls have suggested that the Brits should give thanks for the departure of all those dull Puritans), but bread sauce is always delicious with turkey. Store bought is (of course) best, but for those who insist on making their own, pour 3/4 of a pint of milk into a saucepan and add one peeled onion (recipe books also recommend adding two cloves and a bayleaf, but life is too short for that sort of effort). Bring slowly to the boil, then remove from the heat. Leave standing to infuse. Spend the next ten minutes with a glass or two of red wine, and then wander back to that saucepan. Take out the onion (and, if you’ve got them, the cloves and the bayleaf). Add breadcrumbs (three ounces), and heat up the pan once more. Leave to simmer, stirring sporadically at a languid pace while, naturally, enjoying another glass of wine. After 15 minutes throw in 1/2 an ounce of butter and two (or three–who’s counting?) tablespoonfuls of single cream. Once that’s done, it’s ready to go. Enjoy–and good luck!

Andrew Stuttaford is an NRO contributing editor.