Thanksgiving can seem like a one-size-fits-all holiday. It can be the same whether you’re celebrating in Dallas or New York; whether you’re in your twenties or your sixties; with the same predictable turkey, stuffing, sides and pies. Well, we at F&W believe it can also be so much more than that! In this issue, we visit star chef Dean Fearing in Dallas for a meal full of Tex-Mex touches—from the tortillas in the stuffing to the spiced pecan cream in the soup. And for "Thanksgiving in Your 20s, 40s, 60s," our Test Kitchen cooks imagined a holiday appropriate for the different stages of life. Melissa Rubel’s Indian-inspired menu is for twentysomethings who want to experiment (turkey breast with turmeric and cumin, curried butternut squash). Grace Parisi made the perfect fortysomething family Thanksgiving, with plenty of make-ahead dishes full of simple, delicious flavors (turkey with Italian sausage stuffing, luscious creamed spinach with buttery crumbs). Marcia Kiesel took on the extravagant, elegant sixties (roasted capon with fig-prosciutto stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes with apple butter, chestnut-chocolate mousse).
Perhaps the most daring Thanksgiving move of all would be to mix and match recipes from the entire issue; page 22 will give you a start with menu suggestions. For the ideal hors d’oeuvre, I’d begin with Laura Werlin’s story on the great American cheese plate. If I weren’t going to serve a turkey, I’d opt for one of Bruce Aidells’s recipes in "A Meat Master Cooks in His Dream Kitchen." His Dr Pepper–glazed ham or stuffed pork roast would be sublime. Dessert would be from Nancy Olson. I kept hoping that her recipes in "Baking From the Heartland" would need lots of reworking in our Test Kitchen so I could try them again; alas, they were perfect from the very beginning. I’ll have to make them myself, for my own one-of-a-kind holiday.
Where I’m Coming From
Notes from my Recent Expeditions:
Had insanely crunchy, juicy and fiery fried chicken at this funky hole-in-the-wall. Even the "mild" version was hot hot hot! Details 123 Ewing Dr.; 615-226-9442.Blackberry Farm
Sat on a flagstone porch overlooking the Smoky Mountains and ate crisp beer-battered catfish and grits speckled with pickle and surrounded by a pond of delicious Bloody Mary sauce. Details 1471 W. Millers Cove Rd.; 800-648-4252.Franklin Fountain
Loved the historically correct, well-researched and thoroughly delectable all-American ice cream sodas and hot fudge sundaes. Details 116 Market St.; 215-627-1899.