Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

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These recipes are from local cook Amelia Saltsman.

Long-cooked Market Greens

This recipe can be made with a variety of winter greens found at the farmers' market this time of year: kales, spigarello, mustard, escarole, or chard, alone or in combination. It's also great made with sprouting (heirloom) broccoli. The quantity of greens you need to start with depends on whether it's a sturdy green or like Tuscan kale, cooks down quite a bit. Ask your farmer and adjust accordingly. This can be made a day ahead and reheated.

    2 pounds winter greens
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    2 chiles d'arbol
    3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Trim greens-remove stems if using something like chard or kale, trim broccoli into florets if using hybrid type, or cut sprouting broccoli into 2-3 pieces. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, generously salt it, cook the greens for 3 minutes, and drain them.

Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat. Add onion and chiles and saut- until onion is soft, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic slices and cook another 2 minutes. Add greens and 1 teaspoon of salt, cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently, and lower heat to low. Cook greens until they are limp to your satisfaction, 30 minutes to 2 hours, stirring to keep them from sticking. As the greens cook, you may want to cover the pan occasionally to build up some moisture in the pan, or add a little water if the greens seem dry. Towards the end of the cooking time, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed, and a little more olive oil if you'd like. Discard chiles before serving. Makes 6-8 servings.

Persimmon, Celery and Pomegranate Salad

    1 ripe pomegranate
    4 ribs celery
    2 small or 1 large fuyu persimmon
    1/2-cup pecan or walnut pieces, toasted
    1/2 -pound mixed baby salad greens
    1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled, optional
    Extra virgin olive oil
    Juice of--1/2 lemon
    Kosher or sea salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
Take out the pomegranate seeds: cut or split open the pomegranate and put the pieces in a bowl of water and use your fingers to loosen all the seeds. Drain and reserve. Use a peeler to pare off strings from celery. Slice celery thinly on the diagonal and place in salad bowl. Cut away stem from persimmon. Cut persimmon vertically in quarters and cut quarters crosswise into thin slices. Add to bowl along with nuts, greens, as many pomegranate seeds as you'd like, and cheese, if desired. Drizzle olive oil over salad, squeeze lemon juice on to taste, add salt and pepper and toss. Makes 8 servings.

Evan spoke about this recipe which comes from Sarah Perry's book, "Everything Tastes Better with Bacon" published by Chronicle.

Pear-Apple Crisp with Brown Sugar-Bacon Topping

Crisps are such easy, flavorful desserts, and this sophisticated version is no exception. With its apple brandy-plumped raisins and brown sugar-bacon topping, it's simply out of this world. When you are ready to serve, pass a pitcher of heavy cream or top each portion with a scoop of softened French vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6

    1 cup golden raisins
    3 tablespoons apple or pear brandy
    1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (optional)
    4 medium apples, such as Braeburn, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    6 tablespoons granulated sugar
    3 small pears, such as Comice, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices

    11 to 12 thick bacon slices (11 to 12 ounces uncooked), cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
    3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    4 tablespoons granulated sugar
    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    3/4 cup (about 3 ounces) toasted hazelnuts or pecans (see Note)

Heavy (whipping) cream or softened French vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 350-F. Butter an 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking pan.

To make the filling: In a small bowl, combine the raisins, brandy, and Grand Marnier. Let stand for 30 minutes, or microwave for 30 seconds and let stand for 15 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, combine the apples, cinnamon, and sugar over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add the pears and raisins with their soaking liquid and stir gently. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.

To make the topping: In a medium heavy skillet, cook the bacon pieces over low to medium-low heat, turning as needed to achieve uniform crispness. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel to drain. Pour off the bacon drippings, but don't wipe or clean the skillet. Return bacon to the pan. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the brown sugar over the bacon and cook over medium-low heat until the sugar is no longer granular and has coated the bacon pieces, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel. Chop the bacon into bits.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, granulated sugar, and the remaining 4 tablespoons brown sugar. Add the butter and mix together with a fork until crumbly. Stir in the hazelnuts and half of the bacon bits. Sprinkle the topping over the apple mixture. Sprinkle the remaining bacon bits over the topping.

Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. Serve warm, and pass a pitcher of cream or serve with softened French vanilla ice cream.

Note: To toast hazelnuts, preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until the skins crack and the nuts brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap the nuts in a kitchen towel and let "steam" for 5 minutes. Rub the towel briskly between your hands, which will cause most of the skins to flake off.

To toast pecans, preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Abby Dodge is a contributing editor and former Test Kitchen Director of Fine Cooking Magazine. You can find more recipes online at their website at

How to Roast a Turkey, from Fine Cooking #47

Brine the bird overnight
(optional but recommended, unless your turkey is kosher)
An overnight soak in brine gives the turkey a chance to absorb both moisture and seasoning. To brine your turkey, find a container large enough to submerge the turkey in brine, such as a large stockpot or a clean bucket. Estimate how much brine you'll need to fill the container and subtract about a gallon to allow for the turkey's volume. For every gallon of brine, you need 1 cup kosher (coarse) salt (or 3/4 cup table salt) and 1 gallon cool water.

Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and save them for making gravy. Rinse the turkey and put it in the brine container. Rub the salt over the turkey and then add the cool water. Stir until the salt is mostly dissolved. Store in the refrigerator or a cool place (33- to 40-F) for 8 to 12 hours, turning the turkey once or twice during brining. When you're ready to roast, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it well to remove any clinging salt.

Pick the proper pan
The best pan for cooking a turkey is a heavy-duty roasting pan with about 1 1/2- to 2-inch-high sides. Higher sides prevent the lower part of the bird from browning and can make basting difficult. Heavy-gauge metal helps keep the drippings from burning, so you'll get better results when you deglaze the pan to make gravy. Make sure the handles are sturdy. The pan should be big enough so that the bird doesn't touch the sides. A rack isn't absolutely necessary, but it makes removing the bird a little easier and improves air circulation.

Stuff, tie, and season
Remove the neck and giblets (if still inside) and rinse the turkey if you haven't already done so. Pat it dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the cavity with a little salt and pepper and stuff the bird if that's your plan (see over).

Fold the wings back to secure the neck flap (use a skewer or a toothpick if the flap isn't long enough). Some turkeys come with a metal clasp or a slit in the tail skin to let you simply tuck the legs together; otherwise, use kitchen string to loosely tie the drumsticks. Tying them too tightly can prevent the thighs from cooking evenly.

Rub softened butter or oil all over the surface of the turkey to get a beautifully browned, crisp skin (an alternative is to rub herb butter or other flavored butter under and over the skin). Sprinkle the turkey with ample coarse salt and pepper, as well as dried sage or thyme and a little nutmeg, if you like.

Roast the turkey
Position the rack in the lowest part of the oven and heat the oven to 325-F. Some cooks like to blast the turkey with high heat (425-F) for 30 minutes and then reduce the temperature, but roasting at an even 325-F from start to finish is a simple, carefree method. The high-heat method may shave 30 to 90 minutes off the cooking time, but it's one more thing to remember on a very busy kitchen day.

Put the bird in the oven with the legs pointing toward the back of the oven, since it's usually the hottest spot. Roast the turkey until it's done (see "Is it done?" at right). During roasting, baste the bird every 30 to 45 minutes with the pan juices. If the turkey doesn't yield much juice at first, baste it with a little melted butter or oil until you get enough juices for basting. If one part of the bird is browning too quickly, rotate the pan. If necessary, tent the turkey with foil about two-thirds of the way through cooking to keep it from overbrowning.

When the turkey is done, transfer it to a platter or a cutting board, tent it with foil, and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes while you prepare the gravy.

Turkey Math
For birds under 16 pounds, figure at least 1 pound of turkey per person. For birds 16 pounds and heavier, figure a bit less since there's more meat in proportion to bone. If you want substantial seconds and leftovers, allow another 1/2 pound per person.

    turkey weightaverageample servings
    (in pounds)servingswith leftovers

How to make stuffing
Tear the bread into small pieces or cut it into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes. Dry the bread by spreading it out on a baking sheet and leaving it out uncovered overnight or heat it in a low (275-F) oven until it feels dry, 15 to 20 minutes. (Cornbread doesn't need to be dried; just let it cool completely before breaking it into large crumbs.)

Bring out the aromatic flavor of your vegetables by "sweating" them in a little fat. The idea is to soften the vegetables just enough to release their flavors; you want to leave them, especially the celery, a little crunchy to counter the softness of the bread. Covering them with foil or a lid as they cook traps moisture and keeps them from browning.

Combine the bread, vegetables, and remaining ingredients with enough liquid to moisten; it should just hold together. It will absorb more juices as it cooks inside the turkey.

Taste the stuffing to make sure it's seasoned properly (don't add any egg until you're finished tasting). Stir in the egg, if using.

Stuffing Components
Mix and match to create your own signature stuffing, or use one of our combinations. The suggested amounts will yield 12 to 16 cups of stuffing.

    (10 to 12 cups diced or torn)
    white sandwich

    Add Ins
    (total of 3 to 5 cups sliced or chopped; choose four to six)
    onions (2-3 cups)
    leeks (1-1 1/2 cups)
    celery (1 1/2-2 1/2 cups)
    carrots (1-2 cups)
    garlic (1-2 Tbs.)
    fennel (1-2 cups)
    shallots (1/4-1/2 cup)
    dried fruit (1/2 cup)
    bell pepper (1/2-1 cup)
    apple (1-1 1/2 cups)
    nuts (1/2-1 cup toasted)
    oysters (1 cup, lightly cooked)
    mushrooms (1-2 cups)
    greens (1-1 1/2 cups
    sausage (1/2-1 lb. cooked)

    (as needed; see Tips below)
    melted butter
    soaking liquid from dried mushrooms
    beaten egg (firms the stuffing)

    (to taste)
    sage (dried or fresh)
    thyme (dried or fresh)
    flat-leaf parsley (fresh)
    rosemary (use sparingly)
    ground cloves, allspice, nutmeg, mace (pinch)
    chives (fresh)
    salt and pepper

Stuffing Tips
  • Regardless of the other ingredients, most stuffings benefit from the flavors of sweated onions, celery, and garlic.
  • A stuffing destined for inside the bird should have just enough moisture to barely cling together when mounded on a spoon. If it's too wet, it can't soak up the juices from the turkey. A stuffing baked in a casserole dish needs a cup or two of broth poured over it to keep it moist during baking.
  • Stuff the turkey just before roasting. You can make the stuffing ahead and refrigerate it for up to two days, but bring it to room temperature before stuffing the turkey because a cold stuffing will slow the cooking. If you like to add egg to your stuffing, don't add it until just before stuffing the turkey.
  • Don't overstuff the turkey. The stuffing expands as it absorbs juices, and if it's too tightly packed, it won't cook through. Leave enough room to fit your whole extended hand into the top of the bird's cavity. Cook any extra stuffing alongside the bird in a casserole dish.
  • Cook the stuffing to at least 160-F. Check it with an instant-read thermometer inserted all the way into the center of the stuffing. If the turkey is done before the stuffing is, take the turkey out of the oven but spoon the stuffing into a casserole dish and continue to bake it while the turkey rests before carving.
Sample stuffing combinations
  • Classic bread stuffing: white bread, onion, celery, garlic, fresh sage and thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Fennel and escarole: sourdough bread, chopped fennel, chopped escarole, onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, fennel seed, pine nuts, lemon zest, black pepper.
  • Sweet fruit stuffing: wheat bread, apples, dried cherries, and parsley.
  • Cornbread and sausage stuffing: cornbread, cooked sweet Italian sausage, onion, celery, garlic, bell pepper, thyme, parsley, scallion, chives.

Jackie Keller is the owner of NutriFit, a service provided healthy homecooked meals.

Pineapple-Cranberry Salsa
Yields: 6 (1/4 cup) servings

    1/2 cup cranberries, finely chopped
    1/4 cup dried dates, finely chopped
    1 tsp. ginger, peeled and grated
    1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
    1/2 tsp. ground coriander
    1/8 tsp. ground ginger
    1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
    1/4 tsp. white pepper
    1 tbsp. honey
    1 tsp. lemon juice
    3/4 cup pineapple, finely chopped
    1/4 tsp. salt
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; stir well. Cover and chill one hour, or until ready to serve. Great as a relish or side dish for roasted or barbecued poultry or fish.
Calories: 54

Tequila Lime Squash and Sweet Potatoes
Yields: 8 (3/4 cup) servings

    1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled and shredded
    4 tbsp. diet margarine
    1 tbsp. lime juice
    2 tbsp. sugar
    2 lbs. sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and shredded
    2 tbsp. tequila
Place a 12 to 14" frying pan over medium heat; add the margarine and stir until melted. Set it aside.
Peel the sweet potatoes and butternut squash, then shred, using a food processor or coarse holes of a grater. Immediately mix the vegetables with the margarine in the pan, and then sprinkle with sugar.
Cook over medium heat until potatoes begin to caramelize and look slightly translucent (about 15 minutes); turn occasionally with a wide spatula.

Stir in the tequila and lime juice. Cook, stirring, for 3 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If made ahead, cover and refrigerate until the next day. To serve, warm for about 15 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
Calories: 149

Winter Squash with Apples
Yields: 8 (3/4 cup) servings

    1 oz. almonds, slivered and toasted
    1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
    1 tbsp. diet margarine
    1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
    2 tsp. lemon juice
    1 large Red Delicious apple, cored and cut into 1/2" cubes
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. water
    1 lb. winter squash (acorn, butternut, or banana) cut into 1/2" cubes
Melt the margarine and add the squash, apple, water and lemon juice. Cover the pan and cook until the squash is tender and the liquid is absorbed.

Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Cook and stir for 5 minutes more, or until brown sugar has melted.

Garnish the top with the almonds. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy Thanksgiving!