A selection of Ruth Reichl’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes, including several submitted by listeners.
Sweet Potato Pie
2 large sweet potatoes, boiled and mashed
3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon flour
chopped nuts (optional)
1 tablespoon rum (optional)
Pastry for a 1-crust pie
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out the dough and fit into a 9 inch pie pan; crimp the edges. Put into the freezer for 15 minutes.
Remove pie shell from freezer, prick the bottom and sides all over with a fork, line with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove foil and weights and bake 10 minutes more. Remove from oven and turn heat up to 400 degrees.
In a bowl beat the sugar into the mashed sweet potatoes. Beat in the eggs, then the butter. Add remaining ingredients and pour into the pie shell (it will be quite liquid).
Bake about 3/4 hour.
This isn’t a soup, actually, it’s more like a gratin baked right inside the pumpkin. I was 21, and I didn’t care that it was incredibly rich. Today I mix the cream with chicken broth (about a cup and a half of cream to about a cup of broth. It’s STILL pretty much of a heart-stopper but it’s irresistible.
Another helpful hint: If you brush the outside of the pumpkin with oil, it will look better.
Go out and buy a fairly small pumpkin with a flat bottom. Cut off the top, as if you were going to carve a jack-o-lantern, and hollow it out. Spread the seeds out and dry them to eat later.
Now get a good loaf of French bread, slice it and toast it lightly. Grate a goodly amount of one of the Swiss cheeses (Emmenthaler, Gruyere or Appenzeller). Layer the toast and cheese inside the pumpkin until it’s almost fill. Then fill the pumpkin up with cream. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg, replace the top of the pumpkin and bake in a 300 degree oven for about 2 hours.
Bring the whole pumpkin to the table. When you serve it be sure to scoop out the pumpkin flesh with the cheese and the cream. Serve with a light second course.
Dried Fruit Stuffing
1 cup apricot halves, measured and then cut in half
1 cup putted prunes
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup bourbon
1 stick butter
3 large onions, diced
3 Mutsu or Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
3 ribs celery, diced
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup pecan pieces
3/4 cups cashews
1/2 cups whole almonds1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Put the dried fruit in a small bowl and cover with bourbon. Let sit overnight – or at least a few hours until the liquor is absorbed.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and apples, and cook for about 8 minutes, until everything has gotten soft. Add the parsley, nuts and spices and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn out into a large bowl. Add the dried fruit and eggs and mix carefully.
Enough to stuff a 16 to 18 pound turkey.
I love making this white, unpopular vegetable into something really good. And as much as I appreciate turkey on Thanksgiving, it is truly nothing without the vegetable on its side. So forget about the butter, eggs, and cheese that make this recipe really good.
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup good quality cheddar cheese (reserve 2 tbsp.)
1 cup cauliflower steamed and coarsely chopped
3 egg whites, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the butter and flower in a large sauce pan to form a roux. Add the milk, salt and pepper until smooth. Add the egg yolks and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Add the cauliflower, then fold in the egg whites.
Pour the mixture into a buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with an additional bit of cheese.
Set the casserole in a hot water bath and bake for 50 minutes.
Aunt Mabel's Cranberry Pie Cake
1 c. raw cranberries
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
Batter: 1 egg
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. melted butter
2 Tb. oil
1/2 c. flour
Grease a pie pan, spread cranberries in pan, sprinkle with sugar & nuts.
Beat egg, add sugar gradually, add melted butter & oil. Mix.
Add flour and mix well. Pour over cranberries and bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Aunt Mabel said "serve warm or cold with "cool whip." We prefer whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. This has been a BIG family favorite for at least 50 years. Tart and sweet at the same time.!!
My mom always gave us a large pumpkin from her garden, and for many years I was challenged as to how to cook it. It didn't seem to have any appeal. Eventually I tried a pumpkin tian, and it turned out great. The top was crusty, and the pieces kept their shapes but were meltingly soft. Here it is, adapted from John Thorne's Simple Cooking.
1 pumpkin (6 lb.)
1/2 cup flour
1 head garlic (skinned, heads minced)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup grated Parmigiana cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Peel, seed and clean pumpkin, then cut into 3/4" cubes. Set the cubes in a colander and toss with the flour until the cubes are coated and the excess has dropped off.
Toss again with the garlic, thyme, cheese.
Season with salt (a lot) and pepper.
Oil a Dutch oven and add the cubes, dribbling the remaining oil over them.
Cook in the oven until done and crusty, 2+ hours. The timing varies because I will cook a pie or the turkey alongside the tian. If I have to adjust the oven temperature to accommodate them, the tian doesn't mind. Contrary to what I expected, this dish tastes best using a jack o'lantern pumpkin. More cooking-friendly squashes are denser and for our meal the lightness (or lack of substance, if you will) seemed to taste better.
Gaunza (for stuffing turkey)
This is an Italian family recipe from my mother's Sicilian family. This is a family that would first eat lasagna on Thanksgiving Day and then later have turkey! The quantities are never really measured, but intuited. We break it down to primary and secondary ingredients. I give rough measurements.
4 cups cooked white rice
1-2lbs Ground Beef
1lb Ground Pork sausage
1lb Genoa Salami, sliced thin, cut into 1/2 inch squares
1 lb Sliced mushrooms
1-2 cups bread crumbs
1 Chopped onion
Some Chopped parsley
Some tomato sauce
Boiled eggs, cut in half
In a saute pan, cook ground beef, ground sausage, salami. Drain fat and set aside. In saute pan, place olive oil. Heat oil and then sauté chopped onions until golden. Add mushrooms and saute a few minutes. Then add bread crumbs, parsley, tomato sauce and saute for a few more minutes.
Add the two mixtures and heat for a few more minutes. Add halved boiled eggs. The Gaunza is intended as a turkey stuffing. We stuff the turkey before it enters the oven, then remove it from the turkey when the turkey is done. We enjoy it with turkey gravy poured on top. We make enough that there is some not put in the turkey, because everyone wants two servings! Enjoy!
Marinate Turkey pieces in yoghurt: 24 hours in the FRIDGE.
In a deep wok or really deep pan or casserole, cook slowly the Turkey pieces in butter, in ghee, or in olive oil, GOOD olive oil. And the oil does not quite cover the pieces. Canola OK too. Not peanut corn or soy.
Pieces must be cooking close together and turned frequently. No scorching. And the juices flow. Cook until done, touch of crispy outside, and the juices have stopped flowing and have been incorporated into the oil.
Some of the oil after cooking can be used to saute mushrooms until they the reabsorbed oil is expelled and the mushroom juices are flowing. Then, mix the mushrooms and yoghurt and heat.
Use the oil to make a light bechemel and mix in with the warmed up yoghurt and mushrooms.
Serve as side dish or as sauce. Kavurma is done with mutton as a festive dish for the high holy days: sacrificed sheep are cooked in large cauldrons in their own mutton fat. This is an adaptation for Thanksgiving using turkey.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh pomegranate juice (see cooks' note, below)
Pan juices (and roasting pan) from turkey
About 3 cups hot turkey giblet stock
1 cup water
6 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Cook sugar in a dry 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar is melted into a deep golden caramel. Add 1/2 cup pomegranate juice (use caution; mixture will bubble and steam vigorously) and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel is dissolved. Remove syrup from heat.
Pour pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a 1-quart glass measure or bowl, then skim off fat and reserve 1/4 cup of it. Add enough turkey stock to pan juices to total 3 1/2 cups liquid. Straddle roasting pan across 2 burners, then add water and deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Pour through fine-mesh sieve into glass measure with stock.
Whisk together reserved fat and flour in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and cook roux over moderately low heat, whisking, until pale golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Add hot stock mixture in a stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil, whisking, and add pomegranate syrup, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in any turkey juices accumulated on platter and simmer gravy 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and stir in remaining tablespoon pomegranate juice.
Roberta's Mother's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
My mother-in-law made this every Thanksgiving and gave me the recipe, which is easy and works every time.
1 package unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
1&1/4 cup mashed cooked pumpkin (use from can directly)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (or less)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 cup milk
1 backed pie shell (can be bought frozen)
Soften gelatin in water 5 minutes. Beat egg yolks adding 1/2 cup of sugar, pumpkin, salt, spices and milk.
Cook over low heat stirring constantly till mixture begins to thicken. Add gelatin and stir till it dissolves and is well mixed. Allow to cool.
When cool and thicker, beat egg whites in a separate bowl till almost stiff, adding the remainder 1/2 cup of sugar while beating. Gently fold egg white into pumpkin mixture and pour into pie shell, chill till firm.
Cover top with whipped cream (made with sugar and vanilla).
Nana Clark's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
A favorite (the Only) dessert at my family's Thanksgiving is my Mother's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. It is a cold, non-baked pumpkin pie which she has made since I was little. On the occasion of her 90th Birthday, she is making the recipe available.
1/3 C melted butter
1 1/4 C graham cracker crumbs
2-4 T sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Combine all and press into a large pie plate. Refrigerate until cool.
1 T gelatin
1/4 C cold water
1 1/2 C canned pumpkinv 1 C brown sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
2 T granulated sugar
1 T grated orange rind
1/2 C heavy cream
Soften gelatin in cold water. Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, egg yolks, spices and salt in top of a double boiler; cook over hot not boiling water till thickened, stirring constantly. Add softened gelatin to hot pumpkin and stir till dissolved.
Remove from hot water and chill till thickened.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Beat in sugar. Fold into cooled pumpkin and add orange rind.
Whip cream and fold into pumpkin. Pour into shell, chill.
Top with whipped cream.
Meg's Creamed Onions
For each jar of onions, (a 15 oz jar will serve 4) drain off lliquid and saute over medium heat in 2 T butter till they begin to brown. This could take 15 minutes or more. When they begin to brown, sprinkle a full tsp of sugar for each jar over to help carmelize them. You can decide how dark brown you'd like them to get, remove from the heat and add heavy cream, about 1/2 cup for each jar. Heat through and sprinkle with chopped parsley just befor serving.
This can be made even a few days ahead and heated again- do not boil- before serving.