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Cookbook Preview: Thanksgiving: How To Cook It Well by Sam Sifton


That time of year is upon us once again. Just a few short weeks ago, it was iced teas and summer salads, enjoying the hot, sunny days of eating outdoors, and cooking light recipes for friends.  Now, it’s the time to come indoors and take on the daunting task of planning and preparing Thanksgiving dinner for our guests.

Will the turkey be frozen when I slice it at the table? Will the stuffing be dry? Who’s going to wash all these dishes? Thankfully, Sam Sifton, former New York Times restaurant critic, has come to our rescue by compiling a well thought-out holiday game plan with his new highly-anticipated book Thanksgiving: How To Cook It Well.

Sam Sifton has taken the panic attack out of preparing Thanksgiving dinner and has provided us with a step-by-step, easy-to-read 50 recipe guide covering everything from the proper knives and tools, to cleaning up as you cook to eliminate a pile up of dishes, to that awaited leftover turkey sandwich. Because, lets face it— you will need fuel for Black Friday shopping.

For many people, the turkey is the centerpiece—the pride and joy of the dinner table. Days (or maybe even months) before Thanksgiving, the fear of picking the wrong turkey comes over us.  According to Sifton, being able to distinguish between fresh, frozen, Kosher, free range, organic, and heritage is all you need to understand how to pick the perfect Thanksgiving bird. Knowing the basics will help everyone, from the cook hosting his or her first Thanksgiving to the experienced entertainer.

There are several things in the book that will help me in the next couple of weeks, and there are great recipes I plan on adding to my menu this year (the roasted cauliflower with anchovy bread crumbs, for one).

We’ve included a preview of one of Sam’s great recipes in Thanksgiving:How to Cook it Well. Take a look at this pear cobbler dessert recipe; it is sure to wow your holiday guests.

Pear Cobbler Recipe

  • 2 1⁄2 lbs. pears, peeled and cored, then cut into wedges (6–8 medium- sized pears will do it)
  • 1⁄2 cup plus 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. diced candied ginger (optional)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp. salt
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1⁄2 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter a 9- inch cast- iron skillet or 8- inch square baking dish. Place the fruit in a large bowl, and add 1⁄2 cup sugar and the lemon juice and zest. Gently mix until the sugar dissolves. Transfer to the skillet and top with candied ginger, if using.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Add the butter and, using a fork, work it together with the dry ingredients until the mixture is coarse. In a separate bowl, stir the egg and milk until combined. Pour over the flour and butter mixture and stir to combine into a smooth

3. Using your fingers, place clumps of dough the size of golf balls on top of the fruit mixture, pressing down slightly to create a rough- textured, cobbled crust. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

** Picture and recipe from Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well by Sam Sifton. Copyright © 2012 by Sam Sifton. Excerpted with permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. **

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