Thanksgiving Primer; Turkey Tips; Unusual Side Dishes; Maya Angelou

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Poet Maya Angelou talks about food, family and why a meal is more than filling up your stomach. Bruce Aidells, the meat man, gives us the tips on turkey. Deep fried turkey is actually free of fat and it's delicious. Jonathan Burrowsof Mr. Cecil's BBQ Restaurant is frying them up for us. Why go conventional with side dishes on Thanksgiving? Listen as Gourmet Magazine's executive editor John Willoughby gives us some unique ideas. And then bacon can inspire frenzy among some of us. Jonathan Gold is a bacon lover who takes us through Kentucky bacon country.

Fruit detective David Karp spoke about the art of hoshigaki, or drying persimmons. You can find them in Japanese and Korean markets.

Maya Angelou is the author of the new book Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes, published by Random House.

Cracklin' Bread

  • 3/4 cup finely diced salt pork
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons salt pork drippings
Fry salt pork over low heat until nicely browned. Drain fat, saving both drippings and cracklings. Sift together cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Combine eggs, buttermilk and drippings. Stir into cornmeal mixture together with cracklings. Spread dough in a greased cast iron skillet and bake at 400F for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.

Bruce Aidells is the author most recently of Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork: A Guide to Buying, Storing, and Cooking the World's Favorite Meat. He spoke about turkey. He recommends brining the turkey overnight before roasting. The formula is 1/2 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt to 2 quarts water. Submerge your turkey in this brine solution. Use a large cooler, lined with a plastic bag. Use blue gel frozen ice to keep your brine cool.

Bruce is using a brine of salt, sugar, Earl Grey tea and lemon peel. He roasts the bird breast side up. No foil tenting is necessary unless you notice your turkey's legs beginning to brown faster than the breast. Cook turkey in 300F - 325F degree oven (if it's 20 lbs and larger. If it's less than that put oven at 375F). Cook until internal temperature of breast meat is 160 degrees or the thigh is 165-170 degrees.

Let the turkey rest from 1/2 hour to a few hours.

For all kinds of turkey help, go to for great advice.

Deep fried turkeys can be purchased in advance for take-home from Mr. Cecil's California Ribs in Sherman Oaks. Order anytime and pick-up between November 22 and 26. Please allow a 3-day advance notice on all orders. Whole Fried Turkeys ranging from 10 to 20 lbs, and Sweet Potatoes with Pecan-Cinnamon Crumble and Spicy Cornbread Stuffing. The cost is $4 per pound. Side dishes are included in the price. Call Mr. Cecil's at 818-905-8400 to place an order. Overnight shipping anywhere in the US is available for an extra charge.

Mr. Cecil's California Ribs
13625 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks You can eat in on Thanksgiving day as well.

Mr. Cecil's is giving out free beer and small samples of their turkey on Sunday, November 21 at 3:30pm.

John Willoughby is the executive editor of Gourmet magazine. The November issue is full of Thanksgiving meal ideas.

Spiced Carrots
Serves 6

  • 2 lb medium carrots (about 12)
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne, or to taste
Quarter carrots lengthwise, then cut into 2 1/2 inch pieces. Heat butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute carrots, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, abut 5 minutes. Add brown sugar, stirring until sugar is melted. Stir in water, lemon juice, salt cinnamon, and cayenne and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender and liquid is reduced to a glaze, 8 to 10 minutes.

Aloo Gobhi Stuffing
Serves 8 to 10 as a side dish
Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, plus additional for buttering pan
  • 1 24-inch baguette, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (8 cups)
  • 3 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 1/2 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 (2 lb) head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-wide florets and stem pieces
  • 2 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted roasted cashews
  1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a shallow (13" x 9") 3-quart baking dish. Spread bread cubes in 1 layer in 2 large shallow baking pans and bake, switching position of pans halfway through baking, until dry, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven.
  2. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
  3. Cut 1 stick butter into pieces, then heat in a deep 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Add onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring, until cauliflower is crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in curry powder, salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne and cook, stirring 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with bread cubes. Add broth and 1 cup cashews, then toss to coat.
  5. Spread stuffing in baking dish and cover tightly with buttered foil (buttered side down.) Bake in upper third of oven until heated through, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cashews over top, then bake until top is browned, about 10 minutes more. Stuffing can be assembled, but not baked, 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature, before baking.

Flatbread with Dukka
Makes 2 flatbreads
Active time: 25 minutes
Start to finish: 3 hours
Special equip: 2 large (17 x 11 inch) shallow baking pans

For dukka:

  • 2 tablespoons whole hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
For flatbread:
  • 3/4 cup warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
  • 1 Tablespoon mild honey
  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (from 1/4 oz package)
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional as necessary
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
Make dukka:
Pulse all dukka ingredients in a food processor r an electric coffee/spice grinder until very finely ground, about 3 minutes. Do not grind to a paste.
Make flatbread:
  1. Stir together warm water, honey and yeast in bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. If mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast. Add 2 cups flour, salt and oil and beat at medium speed until incorporated. Replace paddle with dough hook and, if necessary, add 2 to 3 tsp more flour, 1 tsp at a time, until dough begins to pull away from side of bowl and is smooth but still slightly sticky to the touch, about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
  3. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Punch down dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half and let stand, covered with plastic wrap, 10 minutes.
  5. Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining piece covered) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a roughly 17 x 11 inch rectangle. Dough will be very thin.
  6. Transfer dough to 1 of shallow baking pans. Repeat with second piece of dough, transferring it to second baking pan. Sprinkle half of dukka over each rectangle and bake, switching position of pans an rotating them 180 degrees halfway through baking, until golden, about 20 minutes total. Cool in pans on racks 5 minutes, then transfer flatbreads to a cutting board and cut each into pieces with a sharp heavy knife.

Jonathan Gold is a food writer for the LA Weekly and Gourmet magazine. Here are some sources for dry-rubbed Kentucky bacon:

Father's Bacon in Bremen, KY: The soul of bacon. The pepper bacon is great too, as are the country hams.

Broadbent's in Cadiz, KY: The pepper bacon won the grand prize at the New York Fancy Foods Show last year, and the deeply smoked country sausage is sublime.

Col. Newsom's Aged Country Hams in Princeton, KY: Slab bacon only - they specialize in the utterly spectacular extra-aged ``proscuitto'' hams that were a favorite of James Beard.

Scott Country Hams in Greeneville, KY: Very decent dry-rub bacon and country hams.

Happy Hollow Farms, near Springfield, KY, really may not be equpped to ship its natural, sustainably raised meat out of state (and the bacon isn't in the traditional Kentucky style), but listeners can always beg.