All Hail the Sweet Potato

For more than 30 consecutive Thanksgivings — including this one — I’ve written about turkey in all of its guises. Occasionally I’ve protested, pleading with editors that although the bird in its wild form may be traditional and is indisputably indigenous, whether the one you buy is free-range, wild, natural, organic, pumped up with antibiotics or even injected with “butter,” it’s just about the worst piece of meat you can roast.

 At the hands of all but the most experienced, careful or lucky cooks, the more than 700 million pounds of turkey we’ll buy this week will wind up with breast meat that’s cottony-dry and leg meat that is underdone, tough, stringy or all three. And although a friend of mine claims that this is how people like it — “it’s exactly how our grandmothers did it, and it’s what we grew up with,” he says — I believe this explains why we waste an estimated $282 million worth of turkey each year, enough to feed each food-insecure American with 11 servings.

Read the rest of this column here.
Posted in American, Produce

The 2-D Thanksgiving

Screen_shot_2012-11-20_at_9

Believe it or not, there is more than one way to roast a turkey. First, you must ask yourself what you really want. I’ll offer you three options: A fast, crisp-skinned bird, moist and not overcooked, served with roasted vegetables; a leisurely braised bird, also with veggies; or the classic stand-up roast, presented beautifully in all its glory, prepared in a straightforward manner.

If you want speed and don’t mind a novel look, choose the flattened bird, which employs a method that goes by the quaint name of spatchcocking. It takes a little work at first, because it’s a little more physical than other techniques: you have to remove the backbone, flatten the breast and dislocate the thigh joints from their sockets. None of this is difficult, but it may be a bit much for some. The reward is a lovely roasted bird with a not-overcooked breast and perfectly done legs; it also cooks in about an hour — yes, you read that right: an hour. The downside, apart from the butchering, is that some might consider it weird-looking.

Read the rest of this article here, and get the recipes here (braised), here (split-roasted) and here (classic).

Posted in American, Recipes

What I’m Thankful For

There are days when it seems — both in and out of the food world — that Everything Is Going Wrong. That makes it easy enough to complain, and I’m not alone in doing so routinely. Nothing tastes the way it used to. Even pricey restaurants have lost their glow. Quality is shot. People die from eating melons. The dominance of hyper-processed, industrialized food (and, more to the point, food-like products) is spreading globally, and we’re all gaining weight faster than ever, while wrecking the planet.

Nevertheless, it’s nearly as easy to find signs of hope — lots of them — as well as people and organizations who’ve been prodding American food back on a natural, sustainable, beautiful track.

Then, of course, there are the things that just plain make you glad to be alive. Aside from the smell of garlic simmering in olive oil, what and whom am I thankful for? In no particular order:

Read the rest of this column here

Posted in Food Politics

Turkey Curry

Still have leftover turkey in the fridge? How about turkey curry?

Posted in American, Indian

Some Thanksgiving Advice: Chill Out

Picture_5

The following story ran in The Times’s Week in Review just before last Thanksgiving; I think it’s worth running here.

But first, another word. There has been a lot of talk, and a lot of press, about Thanksgivings that are “healthy,” or “sustainable,” or “vegetarian,” or all three. Leonard Lopate asked me questions about this during our chat on the Intrepid last night (which drew 1000+ people, a nice benefit for WNYC).

I think all of this misses the point somewhat. The idea – I believe – is to focus on the big picture. Are our diets sustainable in the long run? Are we eating wisely, intelligently, consistently? Because if we are, one meal, one day cannot possibly matter. Why would you want to do a “healthy” Thanksgiving if your normal routine was not consistent with that? Why, in fact, would you want to worry about anything on Thanksgiving other than putting a lovely meal on the table? This is a once-a-year day. If your diet is moving, has moved, in the right direction, Thanksgiving will follow; if it isn’t, or hasn’t, this is not the day to single out to make changes. Make the changes gradually, and let Thanksgiving take care of itself.

Continue reading

Posted in American

Mock Lattice Pie

How’s this for an easy Thanksgiving dessert? (Use apples or pears instead of berries.)

Posted in Baking