Free Range on Food: Last-minute Thanksgiving tips

The Food Section
of the Washington Post
Wednesday, November 25, 2009; 1:00 PM

Free Range on Food is a forum for discussion of all things culinary. You can share your thoughts on the latest Washington Post Food section, get suggestions from fellow cooks and food lovers, or swap old-fashioned recipes the new-fashioned way. The Food section staff goes Free Range on Food every Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.

A transcript of this week's chat follows.

Archive of past discussions


Joe Yonan: Welcome, all to Free Range, the chat that gives you -- oh, forget all that windup, it's Thanksgiving panic day! So here we are, with the fullest house of helpers ever assembled in one chat room, ready to put your minds at ease and help you get everything done, smoothly and gorgeously, for the feast tomorrow. In addition to our regular group of staffers, we've got wine guru Dave McIntyre, entertaining guru David Hagedorn, food-science (and mashed potato) guru Andreas Viestad, nourishing all-around cooking guru Stephanie Sedgwick and and and ... I think that's it for the gurus.

Tell us what's in your fridge, on your front, back, side and middle burners, in the stove, on the countertop and what you're hoping to do with it all, and we'll help you figure it out.

In recognition of the crucial nature of today's chat, we'll have three -- count them, THREE -- giveaways. Two books and one DVD: "Eating History: 30 Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine," by Andrew Smith; "New American Table" by Marcus Samuelsson, fresh from the White House state dinner; and, in honor of our recent Jacques/Julia turkey, the just-out DVD of "Julie & Julia." (Looks like they didn't take my suggestion for a special feature: a way to watch JUST the Meryl/Julia parts of the movie, with no Amy/Julie.)

Anyway, let's do this thing. Times a'wastin.


HELP! Turkey cook & reheating: cooking turkey now (long story) to transport 1 hr by car tomorrow.


1. How to store best tonight? was thinking in the pan so we can use the drippings for gravy tomorrow

2. How best to reheat tomorrow?

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: You're not going this answer but here it goes. If you HAVE to cook the turkey today, break it down into parts and roast them separately. This way you decrease the chance of the white meat drying out and you'll have pieces small enough to cool down quickly in a home fridge. If you don't feel comfortable cutting the turkey into parts (breast, drumstick, wings) before cooking, do it after cooking. When you're ready to reheat, slice the turkey and reheat in hot broth. It's an old restaurant trick and it works.

Andreas Viestad: I agree with Stephanie. But if it is not too late, how about cooking it at home before you leave, and then transport it to where you are going. A turkey needs resting, and even though an hour in the car is not ideal, it is much, much better than reheating.

If you need to reheat it, though, and you want it whole, cook it today, save all the cooking juices, reheat at low temperature and inject with the cooking juices. It is a little cumbersome - but it is one of the best ways to solve your (serious) problem.


Burke, Va.: I am charged with making the stuffing, while the Thanksgiving hostess will make the turkey. She didn't want to bother with it, and there is no way to be at her house early in the morning when she puts the turkey in the oven. How do I make the stuffing taste like it baked inside a turkey?

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: There's a trick. Run out and buy some turkey parts, a big drumstick will do. Make a broth by cooking the turkey parts with an onion, carrot, celery stick, pepper ,salt and water to cover at a slow, low barely boil for 2 hours. You only need a couple cups. Strain and use the broth in the stuffing. If you get some fat off the broth, all the better-use it to moisten the top of the stuffing before baking.


Bend, Oregon: Brining sounds like a lot of fun but with some guests on a low sodium diet, would adding a liquid stock (low to no sodium) to the bottom of a roasting pan help keep the turkey moist during the cooking process? Thank you!

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: The most important thing is not to overcook. For a little insurance, I like to slather the turkey with butter, under and over the skin. It seems to do the trick.


Annandale, Va.: Hi there--we opened a nice bottle of VA zin last night and it was corked. As it was a fairly young wine, it seems to have developed an undrinkable sweetness, but the sugar content makes me think it could be used for something else, maybe for holiday gift giving in pretty bottles. But I'm just terrible at that sort of thing. Is there anything simple and fun one can do with an entire bottle of sadly ruined wine?

Thanks much!

Dave McIntyre: Virginia Zin? You got me with that one. It was probably made with California fruit.

If the wine is ruined, why would you want to give it as a gift?

Slight corkiness can actually be cooked out, as I discovered when my Taiwanese mother-in-law took a corked bottle of white and made her famous wine-marinated, silken steamed chicken.


Cambridge, Mass.: I want to make a very classic, traditional apple pie. I think "Josh Short's High Apple Pie" in the Post archives fits the bill. I noticed that the apples are sauteed before going into the crust. I've always put raw apples into the crust to make my apple pies. What is the difference? Is the crust crisper because the apples lose their moisture before going into the crust? Thanks!

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: Pre-cooking the apples gives you a better tasting apple filling. The flavor is intensified (because you cook out some of the moisture) and you get some caramelization, always a good thing. I know it's extra work. One Thanksgiving I had to make two dozen pies this way for a restaurant, but it's worth it.

Joe Yonan: Here's a link to that Josh Short pie. Rose Levy Beranbaum has you cook down the apple juices to a syrup and then recombine with the apples before baking. As with Josh's method, it does help to keep the pie from getting soggy.


Falls Church, Va.: How much of mashed potato prep can I do ahead?

Jane Black: I usually trust Cooks Illustrated for questions like this. When I checked in with them, they had this long explanation about how microwaving the potatoes first, then roasting them, then mixing them with cream, refrigerating and reheating in a microwave apparently, makes perfectly smooth, non-grainy reheatable mashed potatoes.

OK. If they say so:

Serves 8 to 10. Published March 12, 2007.

Be sure to bake the potatoes until they are completely tender; err on the side of over- rather than undercooking. You can use a hand-held mixer instead of a standing mixer, but the potatoes will be lumpier.


5 pounds russet potatoes (about 9 medium), scrubbed and poked several times with a fork

3 cups heavy cream , hot

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted


1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Microwave the potatoes on high power for 16 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time. Transfer the potatoes to the oven and place them directly on the hot oven rack. Bake until a skewer glides easily through the flesh, about 30 minutes, flipping them over halfway through the baking time (do not undercook).

3. Remove the potatoes from the oven, and cut each potato in half lengthwise. Using an oven mitt or a folded kitchen towel to hold the hot potatoes, scoop out all of the flesh from each potato half into a medium bowl. Break the cooked potato flesh down into small pieces using a fork, potato masher, or rubber spatula.

4. Transfer half of the potatoes to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the potatoes on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds, gradually adding the rest of the potatoes to incorporate, until completely smooth and no lumps remain, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in 2 cups of the cream, followed by the butter and 2 teaspoons salt. Gently fold in up to 1/2 cup more of the cream as needed to reach your desired serving consistency. Once the desired serving consistency is reached, gently fold in an additional 1/2 cup cream.

6. To Store: Transfer the mashed potatoes to a large microwave-safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 2 days.

7. To Reheat: Poke lots of holes in the plastic wrap with the tip of a knife, and microwave at medium-high (75 percent) power until the potatoes are hot, about 14 minutes, stirring gently halfway through the reheating time.

David Hagedorn: I just made my mashed potatoes this morning. The key, as The Gastronomer confirmed on Sunday, is to use a ricer.

I will zap the taters, covered, for a few minutes, stir, and zap for a couple more minutes, adding more cream if necessary and putting a glob of butter on top before serving.


Arlington, Va.: I am currently on day 2 of brining my turkey. I noticed when I went to turn it over this morning that there seems to be a bruise on the back (non-breast) side of the turkey. There is nothing in the brine that would have caused the red discoloration. Is this safe? Should I get a new turkey or just go with it? Will the turkey taste bad because of the bruise?

Andreas Viestad: Bruising sometimes occurs and it shouldn't be a problem - particularly if you are within the 5 per cent range, that means five per cent of salt (by weight).


Washington, D.C.: Hello! It's usually recommended that Butterball turkeys (which I have already been purchased for Turkey Day) are better cooked as is, and typically shouldn't be brined lest they become too salty. However, I'm really interested in trying a brined turkey...I didn't realize this when I bought the turkey.

Is there any sort of middle ground or alternative that can be tried, like cutting the amount of salt put into the brine? I can't get too experimental; I'm feeding 5 others!

Joe Yonan: The Butterball people say that you can still brine it -- just cut back the salt to 1/2 cup per gallon of water.


Washington, DC: Good day good friends of the Food section! I wonder if today will be busy with last-minute questions or not because everyone is already busy cooking and away from their computers. My question is about wine for cooking. My stuffing recipe calls for white wine as does my turkey gravy. Is there a particular varietal you would recommend? I have a chardonnay, which would be more assertive I would think, and a white bordeaux (I believe a sauv blanc and semillon blend) that is pretty clean tasting and not as bold. Which do you think would work better for these cooking tasks? (Can I gripe a bit about recipes that call for something as broad as "white wine" or "red wine" without being more specific? There are so many different flavors. No recipe would dare call for "leafy herbs" without specifying.)

Dave McIntyre: I would suggest the cleaner, simpler wine. Something unoaked, in other words - and most chardonnay comes with oak aging or flavoring. Bright, acidic flavors are best for cooking. With reds, something young and fruity usually does the trick.

Just be sure the wine is drinkable, and avoid anything labeled "cooking wine."


Minneapolis: I'm a vegetarian dining solo this Thanksgiving. Any suggestions for an easy-to-prepare main dish to go with the potatoes and stuffing?

I'm not a picky eater (other than the dead animal thing).

Joe Yonan: How bout this Stuffed Portobello Mushroom With Cashew "Cream" Sauce? I recommended it in my blog post about veggie T-day entrees. It serves six, but you could easily just make one or two of the portobellos but all of the stuffing and sauce, and then later in the week use the stuffing (roasted onion/chard) in other ways, like in pasta, fried rice, as a sweet-potato topper.


Dungeon, Miss: Celebrating Thanksgiving with in-laws and I am supposed to cook. I really hate turkey. Can I substitute catfish?

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: You can do whatever you want if you're willing to suffer the consequences.


Arlington, Va.: Last night I made the sweet potato pie recipe from last week's section- yay! But I went a little crazy at the farmer's market and have a bunch of extra, now-cooked, sweet potatoes left over that I didn't need for pie. What do you think I should do with them now? Would an extra sweet potato dish at Thanksgiving dinner be too much? I don't feel like making another pie.

Jane Black: Never too many sweet potato dishes! This might be a little too involved at the last minute but Joe is always raving about the sweet potato spoon bread. It uses mashed sweet potatoes and mixes it with grits and eggs for something really special. Otherwise, check out our list of Thanksgiving sweet potato dishes for one that suits you.


Rockville, Md.: Doing a brined turkey for the 2nd year in a row, but my husband insists we cook the turkey in a roasting bag, which tends to get a poor color on the skin. Is it completely necessary to cook the turkey outside of a bag and baste it with oil or another mixture in order to get the turkey a golden brown, or should we settle for the more yellow color that we get with the bag? Thanks!

Andreas Viestad: I am afraid roasting bag will leave you with a pale bird. You need intense heat in order to get the browning processes started. One option, if your husband allows such interventions, is either to brown the bird before placing it in the roasting bag (in which case the skin will be brown but not crisp and the juices will be very flavorful), or cooking it in the bag and finishing it off without bag at high temperature (around 400 degrees).


Springfield, Va.: Hi Free Rangers,

Thanks for having a pre-Thanksgiving session. You all are awesome!

I'm planning to do a roasted vegetable side and was wondering what your thoughts are regarding timing. The plan is to do carrots, parsnips, brussel sprouts, shallots, garlic cloves, and kale.

I found several roasted vegetable recipes in the Recipe Finder, but there weren't any I saw that mixed root vegetables with ones that probably wouldn't need as much oven time.

I'm pretty sure the kale should go in towards the end, but would the brussel sprouts go in later too? Should I parboil the carrots and parsnips to reduce oven time? Should I just do the root vegetables and the brussel sprouts and kale separately?

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: You can just stagger the starting time. Start with the root vegetables, add the Brussels sprouts about 30 minutes later. I won't roast the kale, just an opinion....


Upper Marlboro, Md.: I may have jumped in over my head. but I'm not willing to back down. I'm working a full day today and I plan on spending the evening prepping and/or making a slew of dishes: corn pudding, green bean casserole, salad, sweet potato gratin (parboiling and assembling, but not baking), stuffing (prepping but not combining until tomorrow), brussels sprouts (prepping only), pumpkin apple butter pie, apple pie (prepping) as well as a bunch of Korean vegetable side dishes and Korean braised beef short ribs. (We ethnic people must always combine the traditional American dishes with our traditional motherland dishes at these feasts.) The only thing I have ready to go is my mashed potatoes in the freezer. I am assuming making most of these things today and reheating them tomorrow morning will be OK. Am I off? Is there anything I should avoid making tonight?

It's going to be a long night.

David Hagedorn: Sounds to me like you're right on track. I say do everything ahead, if possible. Good for you.

I would prepare the pie tonight and freeze it; to me fruit pies bake better from frozen.

Blanch the brussels sprouts tonight; then either roast them or sauté them tomorrow. With bacon.

One last thing. Don't kill yourself doing too much tonight. It's no use starting the day exhausted tomorrow.


Middletown, N.Y.: What do I do if my pre-roasted frozen bird is not fully thawed by Thanksgiving morning?

Andreas Viestad: The best way to defrost a turkey is to place it in cold water. It is a speedy, gentle way. If you are brining the bird, just place it right in the brine.

Joe Yonan: But this one is ... pre-roasted. Middletown, did you roast it yourself, or buy it that way?


Raleigh, N.C.: I am a little worried my turkey will not be completely defrosted when I take it out of the refrigerator tomorrow. What can I do Thursday morning to help it thaw out? Thanks.

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: You and about a million other people. If it's still frozen give it a cold water bath and I mean a bath. Fill the tub with cold water, the more the better. It'll do the trick.


the RIC:: Hello Food staff, and thanks for sticking around today. I had been planning all week to make my famous frosted pecans as a hostess gift, but just realized there is a new nut issue that wouldn't make this a welcome idea. I already have a pretty glass container to put it in, and cookies wouldn't fit... Any other thoughts for a homemade hostess gift (nut free) that could either be enjoyed by guests tomorrow or would last for a few days?

Andreas Viestad: Remember that almonds are not nuts and many of the same things that can be made with nuts can also be made with almonds.


Aix-en-Provence, France: I am preparing Thanksgiving dinner for French friends and want to make a traditional pecan pie. A friend brought pecans for me from the U.S. but I forgot to ask for corn syrup as well and can't find it anywhere here. I can however find Lyle's Golden Syrup, a product from the UK. Do you think that would be an acceptable substitute or is there a way to make a very good pecan pie without corn syrup? I do have brown sugar. In general, I find that French friends do not like things as sweet as Americans and thus I always cut the sugar back in my recipes. I don't want to make a bad pie however! Thanks very much for any help you can offer.

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: I'm having trouble answering your question because I'm daydreaming about Aix. Wish I could join you....

Okay, I'm back. I'd try it. I bet it will work.

Joe Yonan: I love Lyle's. Gives everything a more complex, caramely flavor.


vegetarian : I am making a pumpkin lasagna. I plan on freezing any leftovers.

Jane Black: An excellent vegetarian idea. Thanks.


Chestnut update: A couple of weeks ago, you posted my question about how to reduce the pain and aggravation of chestnut peeling. I discovered this past weekend that soaking the chestnuts for an hour or so before scoring and roasting softens the inner skin so that it is more easily removed, even as the chestnuts cool. Also, after slicing my thumb on a peel, I noticed that band-aids provide a nice layer of protection against the heat and sharp edges; I put one on my uninjured thumb, too. Maybe these ideas can help someone else.

Jane Black: Awesome tips. Thanks.


Dave McIntyre: Hey - did everyone see that a Virginia sparkling wine was featured at last night's White House state dinner? You may have read about the Thibaut-Janisson, from near Charlottesville, in the pages of your favorite Food section, as early as last November and as recently as last week. It's a terrific sparkling wine and a great expression of what Virginia can do with chardonnay and methode champenoise. If you want to experience some of that Obamagic, the wine may be hard to find. Winemaker Claude Thibaut tells me he has plenty on hand but has had trouble convincing DC-area retailers to stock it. But Cleveland Park Wine & Spirits will have some by Friday, and you may be able to find a few bottles at Potomac Wines on M St in Georgetown, Rick's Wine and Gourmet and Daily Planet Wine in Alexandria, and Best Cellars in Arlington. It's about $30 and stands tall in more prestigious company in that price range.

Joe Yonan: Here's Dave's blog post about last night's wines.


McLean, Va.: We're grilling our turkey again this year. It's delicious, but we won't have any pan drippings. Any suggestions for a gravy that doesn't need pan drippings? Thanks - Eileen

Joe Yonan: You can (and should) catch some pan drippings even when you grill the turkey. Just put the turkey on a V-shaped rack and then set it in one of those fab foil pans filled with just 1/4 cup of water (this keeps the drippings from burning). You can take the turkey/rack out of the pan for the last hour or so of grilling time and remove the pan -- and put the turkey on its rack back on the grill.

But if for some reason you don't want to do that, here are a couple of dripping-free options. There's a vegetarian Mushroom-Miso-Mustard Gravy that's packed with umami. And there's our Fig Gravy, in which you can sub butter and turkey stock for any drippings.

David Hagedorn: Here's a trick I like: buy some turkey parts, like wings, and roast them in a hot oven (with onions, carrots, and celery, and the neck from your bird.) Make stock with the parts and make gravy in the roasting pan like you'd normally do with an oven-roasted bird. It's a great way to get the mess of making the gravy out of the way ahead of time.

In other words, make your own drippings in the kitchen while your bird is on the grill over a drip pan. (PS: Make your gravy extra thick; then you can add the dripping for the grill to it.)


Washington, DC: I am asking early as I am leaving the office today at 1 PM. I am making a boneless turkey breast with a dry fruit stuffing. Would it make the turkey more flavorful if I wrapped it in cheesecloth that has been brushed with butter? I am trying to keep it as moist and flavorful as possible and I have lots of fresh herbs. Thanks and to everyone a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving and remember to relax, take a deep breath and it doesn't have to be perfect.

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: I haven't tried the cheesecloth method but I know Martha Stewart is a fan. It certainly couldn't hurt. The key seems to be to remove the cheesecloth an hour before the turkey's done(for a whole bird). For a breast, 30 minutes should do it.

Joe Yonan: I've done this, but with a whole bird, not a breast. Works well...


spice wine reduction?: We received two bottles of a local spice wine as a gift. The wine is a not quite what we'd drink and I can't figure out how to pair it with food... but thought perhaps it could be reduced to use in a dessert concoction of some sort. Any ideas? we're open to anything (reduction was just my thought b/c of Joe's earlier comments on the subject)

Dave McIntyre: You might try poaching some fruit in it, then cooking down the wine as a syrup. Or add fruit and ice and sparkling water (or even - gasp - Sprite!?) to make a sangria or sorts.


Columbia, Md.: I'm brining a 20 lb. turkey to roast tomorrow. I know that brined turkeys cook more quickly, but how is the timing adjusted? Is the oven temperature changed at all?

Andreas Viestad: The timing depends on the salt content. But if you keep the brine at between 4 and 6 per cent salt (by weight) it will not shorten the cooking time. (In fact it can do magic, by increasing the cooking time for the breast and reducing it slightly for the legs.) In short, if the brine is right, there are no worries.

Using Salt and Science, We Can Roast a (Nearly) Perfect Bird


No. Va.: I am planning to make a vegetable pot pie but substitute a crust from a mushroom pie recipe that I've made many times (the crust has sour cream and butter and some sort of leavening, and it is heavenly).

This got me thinking. My family is not a huge fan of traditional pie crust but does like the sour cream version. I was wondering if there is any reason I couldn't (or wouldn't want to) use it for a fruit pie?

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: Not a reason in the world. It's your pie, make it the way you want.


Md.: This might be a little late, but it is something that has always helped me (I cook for about 20 people).

Write down your menu. You don't have to show it to anyone, but this ultimately prevents you from sitting down to the table and realizing that your green beans are still in a the fridge, unwashed, uncooked, and unavailable (I speak from experience). It also helps you to identify that you may be planning 3 dishes that require oven time, when a little tweaking can transform one into a stovetop or grill item. The time the turkey may take in the oven can throw off others items.

Plan a timetable. This also can be for your eyes only, but it will reduce your stress and avoid having 6 things that have to go into the oven RIGHT now when it will only fit three. Keep in mind many things can and should be done prior to T-day. For example: Wash and iron linens, clean seldom used china or glassware or silverware, clean house - this is stuff for the weekend before. I do a big shop on the Sat before the holiday, and plan for a small run on Wednesday to get items that need to be as fresh as possible. Bake desserts - most are good to go even if you bake the day or two days before. Personally, I even make my dressing the day before(it goes into the fridge, and baking time takes the temp into account).

Print out all of your recipes (or photocopy ones from your books) and put them together in a central location for easy access. Yes, you likely can make half of the items blindfolded, but printing them out also makes assembling a shopping list much easier. Keep a pen handy and mark the items as you add them or cross off the steps as you complete them. So when you get interrupted by a guest - and you will - you won't turn around and struggle to remember if you just added salt or not.

Make a staging area, if you have the room. Pull out everything you need for your tasks or recipes, and group them together. Put items away as you use them, wash dishes as you dirty them.

Joe Yonan: Very wise.


Rockville, Md.: Quick question: how to perk up my succotash without using cream sauce? I love the traditional combination of corn, lima beans, and red pepper, but I'm not sure which spice or sauce to use to give it that little something more: ancho chili? thyme maybe? Please help.

David Hagedorn: Hi, Rockville. I never use cream in succotash; I rely instead on really excellent, reduced chicken stock for flavor.

Ancho pepper is a good idea. Roast it over an open flame (or quickly on the eye of an electric burner), remove the seeds and stem, and julienne it, then cook it in the stock for several minutes so the flavor blooms. (You could also use some chipotle in adobo, but be careful--a little goes a long way.) I'd also use plenty of garlic and chopped cilantro. Thyme works nicely in just about anything, in my opinion.

Also, bacon!


Anonymous: A few last minute questions:

1) Could cranberry sauce be used in a trifle, say, instead of jam?

2) I bought a jar of mincemeat (fruit mixture) but don't want to make mincemeat pies. Could I use it in fruitcake in place of dried fruit?

3) What could I use in brussel sprouts dish to replace bacon to have good flavor, but keep it veggie (no tofu). Could I just omit it all together?

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: Okay, you've got a range of questions there...

1) You can use cranberry sauce but make sure it's sweet enough.

2)Careful with that mincemeat. It's way moister than dried fruit. You may end with a very heavy, very dense cake that seems underbaked.

3) I'm a big fan of Brussels sprouts and yes you can omit the bacon. Slivered garlic, dried fruits, orange zest and even just cooking with a good homemade broth can be enough.


Slow Roasted Beef Question: I submitted this question late in last week's chat so I'm giving it another try.

Are the cooking times for the Slow Roasted Beef correct at 2.5 hours per pound? Assuming a 4 pound roast, would it really be 10 hours cooking time? I've wanted to try this recipe for a while but can't commit to running the oven for 10 hours.

Joe Yonan: Yep, they're right -- so if you want that fab roast, you have to commit!


turkey help!!!: I am dry-brining my turkey for the first time this year (per the recipe from the LA Times). I can't figure out if I am supposed to wash the salt off before I cook the bird or not. Help??

Andreas Viestad: Let me, in all modesty, suggest a brining article from this paper. But yes, if there is any salt left on the surface, rinse it off. But there shouldn't be.

Using Salt and Science, We Can Roast a (Nearly) Perfect Bird


Sacramento, Calif.: Due to fewer around this year I purchased a "half turkey". It's split right down the middle (wing, leg, breast etc) and weighs about five and a half pounds. I know how to cook a turkey breast or dark meat parts or a whole turkey. Any suggestions for time/temperature for a "half turkey"? Still use the roaster? Thanks.

Joe Yonan: At 5.5 pounds, you'll probably be done in an hour to an hour and a half, if you follow the general principles in our Butterflied Turkey recipe from Tony Rosenfeld of a couple years back. Start at 425 for about 30 minutes, then reduce temp to 375. Sure, you can still do it in a roaster -- and make sure to take the temp in the thickest part of the thigh, and pull the bird at 165.


Santa Fe: Stuffing: Any gluten free solutions?

Joe Yonan: Check out the gorgeous turkey/stuffing Virginia Willis concocted for us last year. It featured a bread-free "stuffing": mushrooms and chestnuts that are cooked separately but can be stuffed in the bird's cavity for a beautiful presentation.


Was this too snarky?: A relative wanted to make candied sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving and asked if I would eat them (presumably to assess level of interest). I replied that I would, provided they were properly done and not made with marshmallows. I think this sent her into a bit of a tailspin, and the reply was to suggest an alternate option, for example green bean casserole. Ick! I'd rather have yam s'mores!

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: Hey, let's get a little spirit of the holiday spirit here! If she wants to make the sweet potatoes her way just say yes. Part of having the perfect holiday meal is having happy holiday guests, whether her dish fits in or not.

Jane Black: Or check in with our advice columnist Carolyn Hax. She knows everything about holiday stress. :)


vegetarian gravy: I seem to recall your having a recipe for a mushroom or shallot gravy, or something of that veggie nature. Could you post it please?

Bonnie Benwick: Here you go -- Mushroom-Miso-Mustard Gravy.


Florida chick: please folks, if you are roasting a turkey (or anything else) in a toss-away roaster that looks like reinforced foil, support it with a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan underneath. I had an oven fire once when one of those flimsy pans leaked a bit. Luckily I was standing next to the range. Be safe, be cautious.

Joe Yonan: Word.


Wanted Fresh, Got Frozen: Help! Our turkey came today, but it turns out that it's frozen, not fresh (we're in South America, so you never know what you're getting). What's the fastest way to defrost it? I'm hoping to brine the turkey, if there's time. We're not eating until about 8 or 9pm tomorrow. Thank you!

Andreas Viestad: What I suggest is that you make the brine and place the bird directly in the brine. That is both fast and gentle.

As you are in South America it might be warm, so if you have space, place the bird (in the brine) in the fridge.


Arlington, Va.: I ordered and purchased a free range turkey breast from my local butcher. However, when I got it home, I saw that the bay indicated that it has been enhanced with a solution. The solution seems to have salt as a main ingredient. Can I still brine the breast, or will it be too salty? Should I cut the salt back to a half cup like you suggested to the Butterball poster?

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: I wouldn't add any more salt to that bird without talking to the butcher. He/she should know if the bird's been brined enough already.


Tippling cranberries: Want to use some dried cranberries in my dressing (b/c I have dried on hand, not fresh). Should I reconstitute in water, red wine or brandy (those are my choices, if you exclude vodka, vermouth, Jack Daniels and Jameson...). If it matters, we are doing a Madeira gravy (no, I don't have enough Madeira for the crans. That would have been too easy.)

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: I'm way into dried cranberries. They are soooooo much better than the fresh. They are naturally moist, especially this time of year when the stores are filled with newly arrived stock. I don't think you need to do anything if your stuffing's got enough moisture.


Northern Virginia burbs: Can you give any tips on making frozen corn seem more like corn off the cob? This is for a corn pudding recipe from Ina Garten. The "fresh" corn at the market just didn't look great, though, so I went with frozen. I swear in the past I've seen recipes where you thaw the corn and then maybe whirl it in the food processor like ONE second, because frozen corn can be a bit tough. What would you do?

David Hagedorn: I use frozen shoepeg corn. It's sweeter and works well in these recipes. I find that you get what you pay for; the Brand X frozen corn, to me, is inferior. I dunk the corn in hot water a few times to thaw it barely. Good quality frozen corn tastes better than bad fresh corn, right?

Leave the food processor out of it.


Canned cranberries: I want to make a last-minute cranberry bake with canned cranberries and apples, but all the recipes I see call for frozen or fresh cranberries. If I use canned cranberry sauce and simply withhold the sugar from the filling ingredients, will I get a close approximation to dessert or an abomination topped with streusel?

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: Without examining the ingredient list, I can't say. Best guess is you'll get a mess. The canned cranberries will probably have a gelling agent that will change things. Also, the canned product will be low in whole berries and high in jelly. Fresh cranberries are so easy to find, save the sauce for the turkey.


Washington, DC: I'm making pie. Directions say to chill the dough for 30 minutes once its in the pie plate. Do I really need to? It had already chilled for 45 minutes before I rolled it out (which didn't take long). The filling is mixed, the oven is hot, and I'd rather not wait if it doesn't really matter.

Bonnie Benwick: There's a good chance the lovely edged crust you pinched your way 'round will slide down into the sides of the pie plate as it bakes. Yes, chill. You'll be glad you did.


cranberry-fig sauce: I was totally inspired by your cranberry fig sauce, but I like to keep it sweet. So I have a bag of cranberries, chopped up figs, water, orange zest, and half a cup of sugar on the stove boiling away. Am I missing anything, or is this good to go? Cranberry and fig sauce

Bonnie Benwick: Once it has cooked down/cranberries have popped, you might want to add a little seasoning/spice/heat. Consider it counterprogramming for the sweet stuff, the way salt added to cookie doughs helps heighten the flavor (the accompanying recipe has powdered mustard, mustard seeds and crushed red pepper flakes).


Bend, Oregon: Our turkey wrapping says 'may contain up to 6% retained water'. What does this mean in layman terms?

Jane Black: It means that it has been "plumped" with salt water. A lot of consumer advocates complain that this is sneaky and bad because it adds sodium to the meat and increases the weight of the bird, which means you are also paying $X per pound for salt water. But the industry says it helps cooking; the bird is less likely to dry out with extra water and salt. So in short, you probably have less less risk of dry meat and you may have paid a little extra.

Bonnie Benwick: Trader Joe's is selling packaged turkeys labeled as "brined." Maybe you could think of it as a getting a brined bird.


Pine Plains, N.Y.: I'm bringing the gravy (necks and a wing are browning in the oven now). How much should I make for 15-20 people?

Our hostess likes bland food and never seasons it. Now she no longer puts salt on the table. Would it be too, too rude to bring a few picnic shakers?

Finally, special thanks to David and Andreas for all their interesting columns.

Joe Yonan: Maybe you could attach little open packets of salt to the inside of your shirt sleeves! Just be careful when you point at somebody across the table. Or, maybe you should just heavily salt the inside of your mouth before you go. That might do the trick. OR maybe you should buy one of those Himalyan salt blocks and wear it as a pendant. It might be suspicious when you run it across a Microplane or lick it between courses, but could be worth it.

OK, enough fun here. I love the question, obviously -- but think yes, it would be too rude to bring your own shakers. But maybe you could bring her a hostess gift of some really fancy fleur de sel, and suggest that she might open it at the table because it gives such a lovely "finish" to all her fabulous dishes. Or, maybe not.

On your first question, I think you should plan on 1/4 to 1/2 cup of gravy per person, depending on their appetites.


Stuffing Do Ahead? Help!: The one item I can't determine if I can prepare ahead of time (today!) is my stuffing/dressing. Not stuffing the bird and will be making a sausage, apple and nut (walnut of chestnut) stuffing. Is the best made the day of or can it be made today and reheated tomorrow? I really want to retain that hot, fresh oven roasted flavor and avoid a soggy reheated mess. Your advice will make or break my day! Thanks.

Jane Black: No pressure or anything. Your day is on the line!

OK, here's my advice. Put the stuffing together now. Prep the sausage, apple, nuts etc and mix with the dry bread. Then, tomorrow right before baking, mix with egg or whatever you are using to moisten the stuffing and cook. If there's no space in your oven tomorrow, then bake it tonight, covered, cool and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and reheat, uncovered, before serving.


Reheating turkey follow up: Well, turkey is almost cooked; about 30-60 min left.

We really would like to bring the bird whole tomorrow so all can partake in the oohs and ahs of turkey carving.

I can save all the juices from the pan.


1. How/where to inject with them when we reheat?

2. What temp should we reheat on?

3. For how long?

4. Will we have pan juices for gravy if we're injecting them back into the turkey?

Andreas Viestad: You need a large syringe, or a turkey baster with a needle. (A large syringe is better but harder to find.)

If you have all the time in the world it is best to reheat at a relatively low temperature (250 to 300 degrees), or in a roasting bag at higher temperatures.

I would use a meat thermometer. You need a core temperature of at least 120 degrees.

You will have juices left for the gravy. Much of what you inject will run out again.


Washington, DC: I accidentally bought a turkey without a popup timer. In the past I have been quite unsuccessful relying on meat thermometers. Any advice on other ways of knowing when the bird is properly cooked?

Jane Black: There are a couple of tricks. Move the leg away from the body of the turkey, if it moves easily and separates from the body, the turkey is done, if it snaps back it is undercooked. You can also pierce the skin of the thigh and check to see if the juices run clear.

Bonnie Benwick: You know, those pop-up timers really have nothing to do with the bird's doneness. They contain a bit of solder that melts at 180 or 185 degrees. Chances are, if you rely solely on that, you'll have a turkey that's partially overdone!


Silver Spring, Md.: Will pulling out the wishbone make it easier to carve the turkey breast? Should it be pulled before or after roasting....and how best to do it?

David Hagedorn: Oh, yes. Removing the wishbone from turkeys and chickens makes carving easier. Remove it before roasting.

You can feel it at the bottom of the neck cavity. Use a sharp paring knife to dislodge the bottom of the bone from each side and follow those bones up to the center. You may have to dig around a little at the top of the bone. Grasp the dislodged parts of the bone and pull on them while you're cutting around the top part. It's really pretty easy and you'll be glad you took the extra step when carving time rolls around.


Alice in Towson, Md.: My mother used to cook the giblets with celery and onion, then cut them up and include them and their liquor in the turkey gravy. What giblets should we use and not use for this? Anything else to add to the simmering water?

Bonnie Benwick: Sometimes the bits have connective tissue that will go rubbery, so cut that out. And sometimes a turkey heart will give a slightly bitter flavor.


gluten free stuffing: My mother and now I have tweaked the family cornbread dressing recipe to be gluten, yeast, and dairy free. It involved making cornbread with only white cornmeal (no wheat flour) and soy milk, then turning this into dressing with celery, onion, eggs (lots of eggs), giblet stock, salt and pepper. The original recipe was half cornbread made with cornmeal and wheat flour and half stale white bread. It tastes awesome, but it took me 15 years of practice to match hers!!

Bonnie Benwick: That's news worth sharing for our GF pals.


Redwood City, Calif.: Does a pie crust for a pecan pie always need to be pre-baked? Last year, I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's pie crust and pecan pie filling recipes, and she did call for pre-baking. The pie was absolutely delicious! However, this year I am using a different crust (all-butter, in the interest of saving time) for her pecan filling. Should I still pre-bake the crust? Thanks for your advice, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Joe Yonan: No, plenty pecan pie recipes, including my favorite Mama's Pecan Pie (higher pecan-to-goo ratio), don't call for blind baking the crust.


Baking an apple pie: Its been a few years since I baked my last apple pie. Do I bake the bottom crust first or can I bake the crust with the filling all at once? If I bake it tonight will it still be fresh/good for dinner at 3pm tomorrow?

Thanks for the help!

Bonnie Benwick: You generally don't have to prebake the bottom crust for an apple pie. Bake today, good for tomorrow, yes -- if the filling's made with sour cream, maybe you'd have to refrigerate.


sweet potatoes- do ahead?: Posting a question a day early about making things a day early.

Planning to roast peeled sweet potato chunks with some oil, S&P and rosemary. Can I do this on Wednesday and reheat on Thursday? If so, how? Slow cooker?

What about: make ahead gravy? Dressing? (to be baked separately, not stuffed into Tom)

Thanks, and happy feasting to all.

Jane Black: You can absolutely roast sweet potatoes ahead and reheat. Just be sure not to cook them all the way through, otherwise they'll be overcooked when you serve. I'm not a slow cooker gal but I think not. The oven works best. Roast at 375.

As for gravy, I make this make-ahead cider-herb dressing every year. Indeed, I made the base last night.


Washington, DC: Re: frozen corn - I recently bought some frozen white corn at Trader Joe's for use in a casserole, and it was so much better than the regular frozen corn out there. The flavor was lovely and sweet, and the crunch was still there. It's definitely worth a try.

Jane Black: I'm pro-frozen. Anti-canned.


Arlington, Va.: I actually did call the butcher. The turkeys were ordered from a local farm and came that way to him. He was just the middle man, and is therefore unsure about salt content in the solution. I asked him if he thought I should cut the salt in half when I brine it, and he seemed to think that was a good idea. But, because he was so unsure, I'm worried I'll either end up with a super salty turkey or just giving it a long bath in bland water without enough salt.

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: Holiday meals are NOT a good time for experimentation. My bet is that the farmer already did the work for you.


yes, that was snarky: I guess it's just that I grew up with canned sweet potatoes and marshmallows . . . and green bean casserole, mashed potatoes from a box, etc.

And my in-laws always had Stove Top and plain baked sweet potatoes in the skins - neither of which is my thing but which we end up eating every year.

But sheesh, pour yourself a generous glass of wine and chill. They are relatives, what can you do??!

Jane Black: Fair enough but I feel the pain of Mr/Ms Snarky. When you are food obsessed it's hard not to want everything to be perfect! One of the first articles I ever wrote for the Post was about the guilt of getting rid of some of Grandma's traditional dishes that didn't quite make my snooty cut. (In the end, some stayed; some went.)


Washington, DC: Thank you so much for all your suggestions and advice. I enjoy chatting with you each week and always appreciate your advice--especially for Thanksgiving.

Jane Black: Aw shucks.


Fairfax, Va.: Almonds are not nuts??? Explain, please!

Jane Black: Courtesy of Whole Foods Web site:

The almond that we think of as a nut is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree, a medium-size tree that bears fragrant pink and white flowers. Like its cousins, the peach, cherry and apricot trees, the almond tree bears fruits with stone-like seeds (or pits) within. The seed of the almond fruit is what we refer to as the almond nut.


D. C.: Although almonds are not technically a nut that does not mean that people that are allergic to nuts may not be allergic - my husband is allergic to peanuts, nuts, and almonds.

Joe Yonan: Good point. Thanks.


Catonsville, Md.: Birthday dinner party - For my husband's 51st birthday I decided to invite 3 other couples over for a fancy sit-down dinner party in a few weeks. I wanted to make "standing rib roast," something my husband's mother used to make for Christmas. Last Wed on this chat I saw the recipe for the slow roast beef. Wow, that's slow. But I'm willing to give it a whirl if it will help me not have a big grey blob of meat, which incidentally is how my MIL made it... But if I want to have dinner at 7 p.m, I would have to put this thing in the oven at 3 a.m.?? Really?? Would 6 lbs feed 8 adults? Any other tips/recommendations? You said it was amazing, I'm willing to take your word for it! Thanks in advance!

Bonnie Benwick: Slow-Roasted Beef has got to be one of the top 10 recipes the Food section has ever run, IMHO. The meat is never gray. It goes from red, to dark red, to a nice dark brown crust thanks to the searing beforehand. (My dear departed mother made a hell of a gray brisket.) But I've even done it without the searing step and the hunk o' beef still gets browned. The 6 lbs. would definitely be enough for 8 adults, and it's perfectly, evenly cooked throughout. I usually put the thing in at midnight and take it out 7 or 8 in the morning -- but then again, my oven does not go as low as 170 and so I slow-roast at a slightly faster 180.


Washington, DC: What's something ridiculously easy yet very crowd pleasing that I could throw together for a Thanksgiving appetizer? I was so focused on the main menu, I totally forgot to think about this.

David Hagedorn: In fact, this was the subject of my column this month: Retro Nibbles, with Upgrades.

There you'll find the links for deviled-eggy crab spread, Indian meatballs, plum sauce cocktail franks, and veggie buffalo spread. Oh, and party mix!

Guess what my family will be starting off with tomorrow?


Northeast Kingdom, Vermont: Please help me determine how long to cook my whopper of a 53 lb turkey. Yes, 53, that was not a typo. (Raised by my wonderful farmer neighbor...long story.) I have gotten recommendations of roasting it for 7 1/2 hours to 13 hours. It will not be stuffed.

Andreas Viestad: Place it in your 11' oven, rub with 7 lb of butter and leave to rest for 5 hours before serving your 34 children.

Seriously, this is going to be a problem, and it will not only be difficult for you to fit it in a normal oven but also to find the best way to cook it.

I would cook it in a roasting bag, and I would also use a meat thermometer. When the core temperature is around 150 degrees, turn off the oven and open the door. The temperature will rise significantly. It not easy to estimate time, but as steaming (in the roasting bag) is quite efficient, I wouldn't think it would be more than 6 to 7 hours.

Joe Yonan: How old is this turkey, or on what drugs? My goodness. I'd break that puppy down into its parts rather than roasting whole. Or maybe you should just make Turkey in the Hole!


springy greens: If I can pull it off, I am going to make a traditional, no-Turkey menu (in-laws are veggies and I figured if I have enough sides, no one will be hungry). So the dishes I'm planning are cauliflower with pears, butternut squash, apple, and leek casserole, twice baked potatoes, brussel sprouts, green beans, and cranberry sauce. My two questions are, 1) why do the fresh herbs sitting out at Whole Foods yesterday look happy, and by today, sitting on my counter over night, they look so sad? 2) I omitted the sweet potato casserole from the menu and made sweet potato fries for breakfast this morning. However, they burned a bit. What temp and for how long should I be baking them?

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: Those fresh herbs are suffering from heat exhaustion. They do not like sitting out in your warm house. They like to be cool and damp.

As for the fries, I won't pick them for Thanksgiving anyway. They take up too much room in the oven and need to be watched carefully to avoid burning. There's enough to do making rest of the meal. Have the fries the next night.


stuffing: All the best looking stuffings/dressing have sausage in them. Can I just omit it and keep the bread, apple, cranberries, brother, etc? Should the other extras keep it tasty?

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: Of course you can leave out the sausage. Herbs, roasted vegetables, mushrooms, dried fruit and nuts can all add flavor to your stuffing.


Bowie, Md.: One thing that has helped me immensely is to store an all-inclusive shopping list on my computer. I put everything on there, including salted and unsalted butter, milk, pie crust, etc. Then when I'm ready to do the shopping, I just cross off any of the staples I already have and go with the updated list. Saves lots of time and the aggravation of forgetting something. It morphs slightly over the years. For instance, we no longer feed the relative who liked sauerkraut with the meal).

Joe Yonan: So organized. Impressive.


Portland, Oregon: What do I cook for the vegan coming to dinner?

Joe Yonan: Try one of these dishes that Nicole Spiridakis wrote about for NPR last year. I particularly like the look of the veggie-stew-stuffed pumpkin, which you could downscale and make in the little 1-pound pumpkins that are at the market now. The vegan would love it.


Oakton, Va.: Can someone please give me a simple, good Mac & Cheese recipe?

Bonnie Benwick: Simple and good -- Baked Macaroni With Cheese.


HELP-Turkey day postponed...: Hey gang--due to an emergency hospitalization, we won't be having thanksgiving this year (at least not for another few weeks!) My mom is doing better (thankfully) but she started to defrost the turkey prior to the unforeseen circumstances. The turkey will be fully defrosted by this evening or tomorrow--should we cook it and then refreeze? Just roast regularly, or spatchcock? Any suggestions would be very welcomed.

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: Cook that bird, make into sandwiches, buy a new turkey-big turkey fire sale starts on Friday. I hope emergency illness recedes and you can all enjoy a good meal in a couple of weeks with a nice, newly-defrosted turkey!


Seattle: I have a great pum-pie recipe that I'd like to tweak in the smallest way: the recipe bakes with raw pie dough, and I'm thinking of blind-baking the crust before filling it. I have a couple questions: One, how do I make sure that the custard gets sufficiently done (how do I change the bake time appropriately); and two, how do I make sure that the fluted crust edges don't burn?

Current recipe is 15 minutes at 450, then 45 minutes at 350

Bonnie Benwick: You should cover the crust's edges completely with foil. You have to bake the pie for the same amount of time and watch for the visual cues such as "until the filling is set" or whatever your recipe says. Just cook at the 350 temp for 45 minutes, then check the doneness of the filling for next 15 minutes at 5 minute intervals, until it's done.

Remind me again why you're doing this?


Boulder, Colo.: So what was your biggest Thanksgiving disaster?

I can't remember one of mine (because I'm perfect - ha) but I do remember one year a sister used a frozen pie shell to make her pumpkin pie...but forgot to take off the paper lining the shell!

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I am thankful for this forum - I learn so much every time I read it, including today...I didn't know almonds aren't nuts!

Jane Black: This is a good question. I can't remember a major disaster. One year I made this crazy fancy pumpkin pie, which took 5 times as long as a regular one and tasted no better. Just this morning, I just realized that this year's turkey is way too big for my roasting pan so I sent the boyfriend out for a disposable pan. That might have been trouble!

Anyone else got good stories?


lists?: Thought you had posted a few weeks ago a link to a "mix and match" for dressing/stuffing... you could indicate how many people and choose the type of breads, seasonings etc. But now I can't find the link.

Also, any good resources for lists of what can and cannot be made ahead effectively?


Bonnie Benwick: Just about all our Thanksgiving recipes come with Make Ahead directions. Here's a link to our recent picks of fave stuffing recipes.


Arlington, Mass.: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Bonnie Benwick: Back atcha.


Baltimore: I bought a turkey from Trader Joes already brined. Should I take it out a day early to dry it out? I read that I should; and dress it (Sage butter under the skin, etc.)? This is my first time making a turkey. Who knew there was so much to know???

Bonnie Benwick: No need to dry it out way in advance. Rinse and dry with paper towels. If you want to do sage butter under the skin, just inch your hand under a little at a time to create space to place the butter. Not so hard.


Reston, Va.: I never know where to put the thermometer to check for doneness. Sounds stupid but what's the thickest part of the thigh? (or does it even go there in turkeys?)

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick: The last part of the turkey to cook is right next to the bone on the thigh. Think about it-that's where the meat looks undone when you've pulled the bird out to soon. Get the thermometer there for a true read.


Chicago, IL: I'm making roast duck instead of turkey because I'm only feeding a few people, but all the recipes and glazes I can find have chinese or Japanese flavors. I guess for Thanksgiving I want something more American -- have any ideas?

Bonnie Benwick: Pomegranate glaze! check out Recipe Finder database.


Minneapolis: Do you have a better recipe for the standard holiday green bean casserole? One without the use of don't like them, no matter how chopped up the mushrooms are. Getting tired of the standard canned cream of mushroom soup variety. Thanks, enjoy the column...Happy Thanksgiving!

Bonnie Benwick: We're running out of time, but I'd say if you can find a bechamel sauce recipe, maybe steep some garlic cloves in the milk while it's heating up or add some powdered/pulverized mushrooms to it, you'll be upping the ante sufficiently.


Bowie, Md: My turkey disaster: I guess it wasn't really that horrible but I left the giblets, in their little bag, in the turkey cavity while roasting. I was so afraid that doing that would have caused the turkey to be raw in the middle when done on the outside and kill everyone. And it was the first time I'd had my new in-laws over for dinner! What is really embarrassing is that a couple of years later I did it again!

Joe Yonan: You're neither the first nor the last.


Silver Spring, Md.: Hi - I want to make roasted veggies (brussels sprouts, yams, onions, potatoes) for T-day. I'm cooking a 16 lb. turkey. Can I put all the veggies into the pan with the (brined) turkey and then remove the turkey and turn up the high heat, or will they be overcooked? I once cooked a turkey breast like that and the veggies were perfect, but obviously, the cooking time was much shorter. Thanks!!!

David Hagedorn: I think you should cook the veggies separately. Why take the chance that they will either be underdone or burnt when the turkey is ready? Do you really want to maneuver around a big bird with the oven door open, trying to gets those veggies out of the pan? (Plus, there's a lot of fat in that roasting pan.) Also, those veggies don't cook at the same rate of speed.


Joe Yonan: Well, you've crushed us with a wooden spatula or fork, then you've gradually added milk, making sure that we still have some structure (and are still a little lumpy). So you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great questions today -- and thanks to our group of gurus for helping us handle them all. Hope your turkey day goes swimmingly.

Now, for the giveaways. The chatter self-named "Was this too snarky" will get "Eating History." (That should de-snark you for awhile.) The McLean chatter who asked about grilling will get "New American Table." And the Silver Spring chatter who asked about taking out the wishbone, something Julia and Jacques suggested, will get the DVD of "Julie and Julia." Send your mailing info to, and we'll get you your stuff.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating (a lot, probably), and reading. And happy Thanksgiving!


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