My Imaginary Thanksgiving Menu
Hey Thursday friends,
I was so excited yesterday to get to talk to Melissa Clark for my Thursday podcast (available now!) all about Thanksgiving, including how she does her turkey (lots of herbs and garlic), her cranberry sauce (she keeps it simple), her mashed potatoes (Yukon golds, butter, no cream), and, most fascinatingly, her apple pie, for which she cooks the apples first. (I’m actually going to try that today: follow along on Instagram.)
Things got a little awkward, though, when she asked me how I planned to cook my turkey this year and I confessed that I haven’t cooked Thanksgiving dinner since 2007, when I invaded my parents kitchen in Florida and went a little nuts. I made cornbread from scratch to use in cornbread stuffing with sausage, I made butternut squash soup and a roasted beet salad and brined my turkey in apple cider and made gingerbread chocolate truffles with my mother and sister-in-law, Tali.
I made such a to-do about everything, and was so stressed about it all, I think I permanently traumatized my family. Trying to get this turkey into the brining bag was a family saga worthy of the great American novel.
Which is all to say, I haven’t cooked Thanksgiving dinner since. Instead, we go to my parents’ golf club in Boca where there’s a buffet and we eat shrimp with cocktail sauce, squash soup that tastes like melted ice cream (in a good way), freshly carved turkey, and an assortment of desserts spread out on a large table.
Here’s a picture from my last Thanksgiving there, pre-Covid.
And here’s Craig loading up his plate at the buffet:
It’s become such a tradition not to cook Thanksgiving dinner that the idea of doing it again feels wrong, somehow. Maybe somewhere down the line I’ll cook a Thanksgiving dinner here and the family will get on a plane and come to me, but with a young niece and nephew, that seems unlikely. So Thanksgiving may be the one night a year that I just don’t cook.
But! If I were cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I think I’d have a new approach to the menu. Instead of dazzling with everything (gingerbread truffles, Adam? Are you kidding?) I would take it much easier, remembering the cardinal rule that the more relaxed the chef, the more relaxed the guests.