How to Cook a Turkey

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Fine Cooking magazine's editor Susie Middleton shares ideas on how to plan a tasty and manageable Thanksgiving feast in her book How to Cook a Turkey. She recommends having plenty of refrigerator space for leftovers, choosing dishes that suit your appliances and making side dishes ahead of time.

Brown-Butter Green Beans with Pine Nuts
by Susie Middleton from Fine Cooking 76, pp. 10
Serves 4-6

1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup pine nuts, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a 4- to 6-quart pot (like a Dutch oven) of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook until tender to the bite, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain the beans in a colander. Return the pot to the stove over low heat and melt the butter in the pot. Add the pine nuts and 1/4 teaspoon salt, turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter browns and the pine nuts turn mostly golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat (or remove the pot from the stove) and add the green beans and 1/2 tsp. salt to the pot. Toss to combine thoroughly, sprinkle with the lemon juice, and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve warm.

Make Ahead Tips: You can boil the green beans ahead of time, but you’ll need to rewarm them a bit longer in the brown butter, covered, over low heat.

Silky Pan Gravy with Cream, Cognac & Thyme
by Pamela Anderson from Fine Cooking 74, pp. 42-46
Yields about 3 cups

Drippings and vegetables from Dry-Brined Roasted Turkey
2 Tablespoons Cognac
1/2 cup dry vermouth
2-1/2 cups Rich Turkey Broth
2 tsp lightly chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Set the roasting pan with the turkey drippings and vegetables over two burners set on medium high. Add the Cognac, vermouth, and 1/2 cup of the turkey broth; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon or wooden spatula to loosen the browned bits in the pan, until the liquid comes to a simmer. Strain the contents of the roasting pan through a large sieve and into a large saucepan. Add the remaining 2 cups turkey broth and the thyme to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat and let simmer to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the cream in a small bowl and whisk the flour into the cream to make a smooth paste. Gradually whisk the cream mixture into the turkey broth mixture. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, and gently simmer to thicken the gravy and cook off the raw flour flavor, about 10 minutes. Keep hot until ready to serve.

Bourbon Pumpkin Tart with Walnut Streusel
by Rebecca Rather from Fine Cooking 74, pp. 52-53
Yields one 10-inch tart

For the tart crust:
9 oz (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/2 tsp table salt
5-1/2 oz (11 Tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream; more if needed

For the pumpkin filling:
1 15-oz can pure solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup bourbon

For the streusel topping:
3-1/2 oz (3/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 lb (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
Lightly sweetened whipped cream for garnish (optional)

Make the tart crust:
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, orange zest, and salt in a large bowl on low speed for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and combine on low speed until the mixture looks crumbly, with pieces of butter about the size of dried peas, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and cream, mixing on low speed until the dough is just combined. If the dough is too dry to come together, add more cream, a tablespoon at a time. Gently mold the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to a week; the dough can also be frozen for up to a month.

Make the pumpkin filling:
Spoon the pumpkin into a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. Add both sugars and the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Whisk about 30 seconds. Whisk in the heavy cream and bourbon.
Make the streusel topping:

Combine the flour, both sugars, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the butter has blended into the dry ingredients and the mixture is crumbly. Remove the blade and stir in the walnuts and crystallized ginger.

Assemble the tart:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Take the tart dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up until pliable, 5 to 15 minutes. Unwrap the dough and set it on a lightly floured work surface. With as few passes of the rolling pin as possible, roll the disk into a 13-inch round, about 3/16 inch thick. Drape the round into a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom gently fitting it into the contours of the pan. Fold the excess dough into the sides of the pan and press to create an edge that’s flush with the top of the pan and about 1/2 inch thick.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the unbaked tart crust. Scatter the streusel topping evenly over the pumpkin mixture.

Bake until the topping is evenly cooked and no longer looks wet in the center, 50 to 65 minutes. Let the tart cool on a rack for at least 2 hours before serving (or wrap it in plastic and refrigerate overnight; before serving, let it sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours). Serve warm, at room temperature, or slightly chilled, with lightly sweetened whipped cream, if you like.

Molasses Mashed Sweet Potatoes
by Ben Barker, Karen Barker from Fine Cooking 47, pp. 60
Serves four

2 medium sweet potatoes (1 lb total), peeled and cut-into 1-inch chunks
4 small carrots (1/2 lb total), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium parsnips (1/2 lb. total), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons sour cream
2 Tablespoons molasses
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup half-and-half
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, combine the sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips; cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, add a dash of salt, and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and return to the saucepan. Set the pan over low heat, uncovered, and let the vegetables dry in the pan for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally so they don’t stick. Pass the vegetables through a food mill or mash them by hand, if you prefer. (Hand mashing gives a rustic texture to the dish, while a food mill will give a smoother result.) Stir in the butter, sour cream, molasses, grated ginger, and half-and-half (if you're preparing the potatoes ahead, save 2 tablespoons of the half-and-half for reheating). Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste, adjust the seasonings, and serve.

Spicy Maple Walnuts
by Barbara Witt from Fine Cooking 48, pp. 62-63
Yields 4 cups

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
6 quarter-size slices fresh ginger, halved
1 Tablespoon water
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Tabasco, or to taste
1 lb (4 cups) shelled walnuts

In a conventional oven:
Heat the oven to 300ºF. Combine all the ingredients except the nuts in a small saucepan and slowly simmer over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Put the nuts in a bowl, pour the glaze over them, and stir and toss to coat them with the glaze. Line a jellyroll pan with foil and spread the nuts in a single layer on it. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring at 15- and then 10-minutes intervals. When the nuts look light and almost dry as you toss them, they're done. Don't touch them; the caramelized sugar is extremely hot. Slide the foil onto a rack and let the nuts cool completely.

In a microwave:
Put the butter in the largest shallow dish that fits in your microwave. Heat on high for 1 minute to melt the butter. Add the remaining ingredients except the nuts and heat for 3 minutes on high. Stir to combine. Add the nuts, stirring and tossing to coat them with the glaze. Microwave on high for up to 9 minutes, stirring at 2-minutes and then 1-minute intervals to redistribute the coating and prevent scorching. When all the liquid has caramelized, they're done. Don't touch them; the caramelized sugar is extremely hot. Carefully slide the nuts onto a foil-lined rack to cool.

Store in airtight containers or plastic freezer bags.

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