Rethinking Thanksgiving

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Dear Milk Streeter,
 
We just had our first Milk Street Session with Fuchsia Dunlop, author of multiple cookbooks, including her latest, “Land of Fish and Rice.” A 1992 backpacking trip in China set her on this path. Enamored with the country and its food, she later returned and took cooking classes in Chengdu (in the Sichuan dialect, no less). Here at Milk Street, Dunlop gave us a culinary tour of the lower Yangtze region of China—the basis for her latest book. She tried to teach me how to use a Chinese cleaver—a highly versatile vegetable knife—but my scallion brush didn’t look half as nice as hers! If you know someone in the Boston area who would enjoy coming to a Milk Street Session or cooking class, we now have gift certificates available for our cooking school. Email cookingschool@177milkstreet.com to purchase.
 
Yes, it’s time for Thanksgiving. For me, that means Antler Eve. That’s the Friday before the opening of deer season. Tom, Nate and I have a big breakfast at 4:30 a.m. opening day, pack our hot chocolate and coffee blend in a large thermos, then head into the woods until sunset. James Beard used to love eating al fresco lunches on the beach in Oregon (his autobiography “Delights and Prejudices” is well worth the read) and I admit that part of the fun of hunting is the snack breaks—sandwiches, cookies, apples, etc.
 
On a more domestic note, we have developed new recipes for Thanksgiving, including a roast turkey that is not brined! Why, you ask? Well, even though I have supported brining for years, I am done with placing a turkey in a brine in a beer cooler in the root cellar overnight. And, to paraphrase the words of a friend of mine about white turkey meat, “That’s why the Good Lord invented gravy!” So this year, we have developed a fabulous basting liquid with reduced brown ale (plus a secret ingredient) that becomes the base for gravy. Our other Thanksgiving recipes include a new take on sweet potato gratin with vanilla and bay leaves; charred Brussels sprouts; an easy-bake herbed stuffing; and an all-new pumpkin tart made with foolproof single-crust pie dough. Click here to get all our “Rethink Thanksgiving” recipes.
 
I recently held a Thanksgiving Q&A session on our Facebook page. If you missed it, you can still read a transcript of the chat and perhaps find something useful in time for the big feast.
 
And a reminder that we are up and running with our new public radio show and podcast, Milk Street Radio. It also is available on our website, as well as on iTunes, TuneIn and Stitcher, so be sure to subscribe. Upcoming segments include an interview with an intrepid reporter who visited the first naked pop-up restaurant in London; an interview with the author of “What A Fish Knows;” a great chat with Nigella Lawson; and a quick Tuesday night supper idea from Lidia Bastianich.
 
Let me end with my favorite Thanksgiving blessing, “The Selkirk Grace” that is attributed to Robert Burns.
 
Some have meat and cannot eat,
Some cannot eat that want it;
But we have meat and we can eat,
So let the Lord be thankit.
 
Happy Thanksgiving!
 
Cordially,

 
 

Christopher Kimball
Founder, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street