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The Best Spirits for Thanksgiving

The Best Spirits for Thanksgiving

Bourbon, rum, and turkey (the perfect Thanksgiving)

What to drink on Thanksgiving.

It’s not a proper Thanksgiving at my table until I raise a glass of fine spirits and begin a toast to the women in my family. While beverage pairings for the holiday meal tend to default to wine, there are terrific opportunities to pull the rabbit out of the hat and surprise your guests with hard liquor.

While I don’t recommend serving spirits with every course, they do offer a unique accent. If you’re game to start the meal with oysters, there is no better autumnal pairing than a smoky Scotch. I enjoy briny Fanny Bay oysters from near Vancouver Island with Laphroaig, one of the more peaty single malts. (The Scots splash a bit of whisky right onto the mollusk before slurping.) Highland malts, like Glenlivet, or Lowland malts, like Glenkinchie, also work well with tamer appetizers, like cheese and olives.

An often overlooked pairing comes with pie — whether it’s apple, pecan, or even lemon meringue (a staple in my family). For the sweet-toothed sophisticate, try a flight of aged rums like Flor de Cana 7-Year-Old ($23), Cruzan Single Barrel ($32), and Zacapa 23-Year-Old ($49). For the proud patriot, serve a selection of America’s great single barrel or small batch bourbons. A good flight is Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old ($30), Basil Hayden’s ($37), and Evan Williams Single Barrel ($26). They’re all sure to add a lively spirit to your Thanksgiving.

Allen Katz is the Director of Mixology & Spirits Education for Southern Wine & Spirits of New York.

This story was originally published at Bourbon, Rum, and Turkey - The Perfect Thanksgiving. For more stories like this, subscribe to for the best in all things cocktails and spirits.

The 3 Best Mocktail Recipes For Thanksgiving—According To A Non-Alcoholic Spirits Expert

It’s no secret that most people drink to reach some level of euphoria - and after a year like 2020, we could all certainly use it. Jen Batchelor has always been curious about the ritual and protocols of social drinking. After having grown up in Saudi Arabia where alcoholic beverages are illegal, she chose to further her curiosity by studying ayurvedic herbology and psychology. Pursuant to her original passions and studies, Batchelor founded a spirit-alternative called Kin Euphorics, offering all of the bliss with none of the booze. Euphoria, she assures, will still be obtained. Standing true to her passion for wellness, Batchelor promises consumers that Kin will spare you from the hangovers and lifelong health damage that alcohol does not. Utilizing adaptogens to strengthen the adrenal system and moderate stress, nootropics are combined in the formula to improve cognitive function. Kin’s formulas also feature botanicals in an effort to improve general health and wellbeing. While we can all anticipate (or dread) an interesting Thanksgiving this year, non-drinkers now have a beverage to lean on for support. Whether you are a drinker or not, try one of these delicious alcohol-free mocktail recipes Kin’s founder recommends for a festive holiday without the mess.

Recipe #1: Kin Pomme

Photo courtesy of Kin Euphorics

“High Rhode is the ultimate pick me up which, with a busy social schedule and loads to juggle before the year ends, is just what the doctor ordered to help you manage it all. It works by calming the body and focusing the mind so you can feel relaxed while present for every moment. Our Kin Pomme is the perfect seasonal solution to the winter blues, spiced and tart, ready for action.”

Traditional After-Dinner Drinks

Depending on your taste, traditional after-dinner drinks have a huge range from strong to sweet. Many can be mixed into cocktails that create classic drinks for the holidays. So, unbuckle that belt, sit back and sip on these digestifs.

  • Scotch
  • Whiskey
  • Bourbon
  • Amaretto
  • Coffee liqueur
  • Brandy
  • Grand Marnier
  • Cognac
  • Irish cream
  • Dessert wine

Our 50 Best Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving recipes bring the family together. Creamy vegetables, silky mashes, flaky biscuits, and of course, a big juicy Thanksgiving bird in the center. This holiday, make the dinner time truly special with our best Thanksgiving recipes. Make Thanksgiving easier with our complete guide to Thanksgiving recipes here »

Brined and Roasted Turkey

Brining turkeys has become de rigueur in many American households. Get the recipe for Brined and Roasted Turkey »

Whole Cranberry Sauce

Fresh orange and grapefruit juice add zest to this seasonal staple. Get the recipe for Whole Cranberry Sauce »

Sea Salt Ice Cream With Cornbread Financiers

These are an elegant, restaurant-style nod to the hunks of cornbread typically found on Thanksgiving tables. Get the recipe for Sea Salt Ice Cream With Cornbread Financiers »

Thanksgiving Roast Turkey

This recipe comes from a true Kentuckian, Rena McClure, who has lived there her whole life. Serve it with cornbread dressing cooked in a cast-iron skillet on the side.

Ciabatta and Sausage Stuffing

This rustic stuffing from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro is made with crusty Italian bread and laced with fresh herbs, aromatics, and sausage. Get the recipe for Ciabatta and Sausage Stuffing »

Cranberry Relish

This bracingly tart relish, from Matthew Jennings of Townsman in Boston is the perfect foil for a rich Thanksgiving spread. Whole pieces or orange flesh and peel add texture to balance the creamy smoothness of mashed potatoes and cornbread dressing. Get the recipe for Cranberry Relish »

Tamarind-Glazed Roast Turkey

The flavors of Senegal—sour tamarind, fiery scotch bonnets, and pungent fish sauce—add umami-rich depth to this unexpected Thanksgiving bird.

Turkey Pan Gravy

Make this gravy using the drippings that remain in the pan after you’ve cooked the roast turkey. For additional flavor, add to the finished pan gravy any juices that accumulate on the platter as the turkey rests. Get the recipe for Turkey Pan Gravy »

Grilled Oysters

Oysters are the perfect aphrodisiacs to have on Valentine’s day. Believed to increase fertility, these half shells evoke images of romance. Grill them for your lover and sprinkle some pecorino and bottarga before serving. Get the recipe for Grilled Oysters » Sweet Potato Purée

Spiced Honey-Glazed Spiral Ham

Although spiral-cut ham comes fully cooked, a low, slow roast will heat it through and caramelize its sticky, spiced glaze. At Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro, a ham is glazed with pan drippings, local honey, and fragrant cinnamon and clove for their annual Thanksgiving feast, which they serve to veterans and their families. Get the recipe for Spiced Honey-Glazed Spiral Ham »

Cornbread Dressing

This classic Southern-style Thanksgiving dressing is tossed with crumbled breakfast sausage and plenty of sage, then cooked in a casserole dish beside the browning bird. Get the recipe for Cornbread Dressing » Haricots Verts Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumble

This sweet potato casserole is an especially festive, over-the-top take on the Thanksgiving classic, topped with a crisp pecan crumble and dotted with marshmallows. Get the recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumble »

Macaroni au Gratin

The foundation of this creamy casserole is a classic mornay sauce, a béchamel sauce to which cheese has been added—in this case, comté, a French cheese with a complex, nutty flavor that melts beautifully. With lots of freshly grated nutmeg to season it and a golden, crunchy breadcrumb topping, it’s a luscious, satisfying side dish for the Thanksgiving table. The dish comes from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro, in the Napa Valley, where the staff makes it as part of their annual Thanksgiving dinner for veterans and their families.

Turkey Congee

Butternut Squash Pepe Soup

Chef Pierre Thiam‘s take on this classic autumn soup uses Scotch bonnet chiles for spice and nutmeg for warmth. In Senegal, a similar soup is said to prevent hangovers, so you’ll find hawkers selling it outside the bars late at night. Use your favorite type of pumpkin or other fall squashes to substitute for the butternut in this recipe, if you like. For a vegan soup, substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock. Get the recipe for Butternut Squash Pepe Soup »

Apple-Cranberry Relish

Sautéed garlic and onion, plus a little bit of salt, add a savory note to this sweet-tart relish, which gets its body from the natural pectin in the poached, puréed cranberries. A twist on Thanksgiving’s traditional cranberry sauce, the recipe was given to us by Michael Sandoval, executive chef of Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, California. His staff prepares it as part of the restaurant’s annual Thanksgiving meal for veterans and their families. Get the recipe for Apple-Cranberry Relish »

Pomme Purée

Passing cooked potatoes through the fine holes of a potato ricer ensures a silky consistency for this ultrarich side. Get the recipe for Pomme Purée »

Lard Bread Stuffing

Fonio Pilaf with Dates, Carrots, and Peanuts

Wok-Fried Brussels Sprouts and Bacon with Crispy Chestnuts

This spin on a popular Sichuan stir-fry—with bacon, ginger, and garlic garnished with sliced chestnuts—swaps traditional cauliflower for Brussels sprouts. Get the recipe for Wok-Fried Brussels Sprouts and Bacon with Crispy Chestnuts »

Julia Child’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Thirty cloves of garlic go into this creamy side dish, adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume 1 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961). The cloves are first blanched whole, which enhances their sweetness, then used to make a rich béchamel sauce that’s stirred into mashed potatoes with cream and parsley. Get the recipe for Julia Child’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes »

Shredded Collard Green Salad With Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Shredded Collard Green Salad With Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Birch Syrup and Soy Sauce-Glazed Roast Duck

Birch Syrup and Soy Sauce-Glazed Roast Duck

Wild Rice with Roasted Buttered Onions

Wild Rice with Roasted Buttered Onions

Apple and Kale Salad with Black-Sesame–Maple Cashews

Apple and Kale Salad with Black-Sesame–Maple Cashews

Maitake Mushrooms with Red Chiles and Cilantro

Get the recipe for Maitake Mushrooms with Red Chiles and Cilantro »

Turkey Tetrazzini

Van Valkenberg Hot Slaw

Coleslaw gets a makeover as a filling and hearty casserole that test kitchen assistant Sarah Ruth Maier grew up eating at family functions. Get the recipe for Van Valkenberg Hot Slaw »

Honey and Herb Biscuits

Instead of plain dinner rolls, we like to serve these fluffy biscuits, fragrant with rosemary and thyme. This recipe first appeared in our November 2011 issue along with Linda Monastra’s story True Harvest. Get the recipe for Honey and Herb Biscuits »

Braised Red Cabbage

Adding a grated russet potato to this braise helps to temper the sour sweetness of the cabbage. Get the recipe for Braised Red Cabbage »

Braised Paprika Kraut

This hearty, chicken stock—braised kraut is smoky, spicy, and well balanced, with sweet onions, garlic, and bacon fat nicely contrasting the brightness and brininess of jarred sauerkraut. If you prefer the end result even more sour, feel free to add a splash more brine from the jar. Get the recipe for Braised Paprika Kraut »

Redfish on the Half Shell with Creamy Grits

Chef Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery learned this popular Louisiana fish camp technique—cooking “on the half shell”—after moving to New Orleans from California. Grilling fish skin-side-down with its scales still attached protects the tender meat from ripping and insulates it slightly from the heat, resulting in perfectly tender flesh. Get the recipe for Redfish on the Half Shell with Creamy Grits »

Roasted Turnips and Greens with Bacon Vinaigrette

Pleasantly bitter turnips are roasted until sweet and then slicked with bacon fat and tossed with sherry vinegar and their own wilted green leaves in this warming side dish. Get the recipe for Roasted Turnips and Greens with Bacon Vinaigrette »

Fried Brussels Sprouts

Get your sprouts crispy all over with a quick trip through a deep fryer, then dress them in a sweet-and-sour sauce of honey and balsamic. Fried shallots, walnuts, and Parmesan bring texture and flavor, and a dose of lemon zest ties it all together. Get the recipe for Fried Brussels Sprouts »

Fingerling Potatoes with Bacon

The secret to this simple dish is to use the best quality bacon available. Delicious and straightforward, you can whip this dish together quickly while keeping the oven available for other jobs.

Gluten-Free Gravy

Potato starch replaces flour as the thickener in a rich brown gravy that’s great with roasted turkey. Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Gravy »

Spiced Apple Cocktail (Pomme Épicée)

Easily made in big batched, this autumnal bourbon and apple brandy cocktail from Andrew Carmellini is just as easy to drink. Get the recipe for Spiced Apple Cocktail (Pomme Épicée) » Black coffee spike

Roasted Squash and Pork Dumplings

This delicate seasonal dumpling is stuffed with squash, spiced pork, ginger, and scallion. Get the recipe for Roasted Squash and Pork Dumplings »

Turn Your Oven into a Smoker

Inspired by the flavors of Peking duck, this turkey is infused with a Sichuan peppercorns, fennel seeds, and fresh ginger brine, then lightly smoked over oak.

Oyster Pie with Buttermilk Biscuits

This classic oyster stew from Justin Devillier, the chef of La Petite Grocery in New Orleans, is packed full of Swiss chard and flavored with smoky ham and absinthe, which perfumes each steaming bite with an enticing note of licorice. The buttermilk biscuits on top are just as delicious cooked separately and slathered with butter and honey. Get the recipe for Oyster Pie with Buttermilk Biscuits »

Mango and Pumpkin Spice Cake

Fresh mango, mixed into the base and fanned on top of this warmly spiced pumpkin dessert—chef Pierre Thiam‘s version of his wife’s classic pumpkin cake—adds a tropical brightness and dramatic presentation to his Thanksgiving table. Get the recipe for Mango and Pumpkin Spice Cake »

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

This autumnal dessert is a lighter and more refined version of plain old pumpkin pie, thanks to egg whites folded into the filling. Get the recipe for Pumpkin Chiffon Pie »

Green Bean Casserole

With a creamy mushroom sauce and topped with flash fried onions, this holiday classic is the epitome of a crowd-pleasing casserole. Get the recipe for Green Bean Casserole »

Autumn Panzanella Salad

Crispy pancetta, peppery arugula, and sweet sautéed shallots give a fall spin to panzanella. Get the recipe for Autumn Panzanella Salad »

Apple, Sage, and Sausage Stuffing

A combination of apples and sausage lends a nice sweet-savory balance to this simple stuffing enhanced with sage. Get the recipe for Apple, Sage, and Sausage Stuffing »

Blue Ribbon Pecan Pie

The toffee-like interior and beautiful bronze top layer of halved pecans won Rubyane Surritte first place in the pie contest at Oklahoma’s Drummond Ranch. Get the recipe for Blue Ribbon Pecan Pie »

Todd’s Turkey Hash


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1 1⁄2 oz. Crystal Head Vodka

Topped with Sparkling Wine

In a cocktail shaker, muddle two cucumber slices, 3-4 mint leaves, and 4-5 cranberries.
Add Crystal Head Vodka, cranberry syrup, lime juice, and plenty of ice.
Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds.
Double strain into a chilled coupe glass,
Top with sparkling wine.
Garnish with a mint and cranberry skewer.

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Martha Stewart Has Amazing Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes, But These 6 Are Especially Delicious

The turkey may get all of the attention on Thanksgiving, but if you were to ask everyone at the dinner table about their favorite Thanksgiving food, we’re willing to bet they’d say they really get excited about the sides. I mean is there anything more comforting and delicious than a big serving of masked potatoes loaded with butter and cheese?! While we all have our go-to Thanksgiving side dish recipes, sometimes it’s nice to mix things up and try something new. When we’re looking for new recipe inspo, we turn to the food queen herself, Martha Stewart.

From new spins on old classics like mashed potatoes to dishes you probably haven’t tried before, Martha Stewart has all of the Thanksgiving recipes you’ll need this year. Here are our top picks for her most delicious Thanksgiving side dishes.

Salt and Vinegar Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are usually topped with mounds of marshmallows but this salt and vinegar version will have you saying goodbye to those store-bought marshmallows for good.

Potatoes Gratin

If you want potatoes that aren’t mashed this year, Martha’s ultra-creamy golden potatoes gratin is your answer.

Apple and Kale Salad

Every Thanksgiving table needs some kind of salad to balance out the heaviness of the other dishes. We love this one because it features one of our favorite fall fruits &mdash apples.

Roasted Rainbow Carrots

As delicious as potatoes and stuffing are, they’re definitely lacking in the color department. These gorgeous roasted rainbow carrots will add some much-needed brightness (and tons of flavor) to your table.

Mixed Grain Stuffing in Acorn Squash

Don’t put your stuffing inside the turkey &mdash seriously, it’s gross. Instead, try this delicious (and totally safe!) new take on stuffing.

Mashed Potatoes

We saved the best for last. The real star of any Thanksgiving meal is the mashed potatoes and Martha Stewart’s are the creamiest, most decadent mashed potatoes you’ll ever have. The secret ingredient? Lots of cream cheese.

For more Thanksgiving recipes from Martha Stewart, check out the November issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Our mission at SheKnows is to empower and inspire women, and we only feature products we think you&rsquoll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.

Before you go, check out Martha Stewart’s best dinner recipes in the gallery below:

30 Best Thanksgiving Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Anyone who plans out their Thanksgiving menu weeks in advance knows how important it is to have their Thanksgiving desserts prepped too. Ree Drummond likes to spread her Thanksgiving game plan out over the course of the week, designating each day to prepping a different part of the meal. The Monday before the big day is dedicated to making all her pie dough, after doing a big shopping trip. She then sticks the homemade dough in the freezer until she's ready to use it. And here's another sweet hack: Learn how to make your own pumpkin puree! You can store it in the freezer as well, and thaw before you start baking.

If you're looking for delicious desserts to fill up your family, you've come to the right place. Here, you'll find pumpkin desserts, different takes on apple pie (here are best apples to use for apple pie!), and pecan recipes. Check out the pumpkin cream pie, mini turtle cheesecakes, and caramel apple pie, to name a few. And don't forget to bookmark the caramel pumpkin gingersnap cheesecake&mdashit's Ree's favorite!

15 Best Thanksgiving Wines to Enjoy During Your Feast

There are so many details to consider when you're getting ready to host friends and family for Thanksgiving: What Thanksgiving side dishes should you make? How are you going to choose your Thanksgiving table décor? Who's bringing the pumpkin pie? And&mdashperhaps most important of all&mdashwhat wines will you serve during the meal? Picking the best Thanksgiving wines can be tricky for a number of reasons. Not only are there hundreds of bottles to choose from, but sometimes it seems everyone at the table has different preferences&mdashred, white, or rosé? Flat or sparkling? When you start trying to balance those preferences with choosing wines that will go well with your Thanksgiving menu, things can get really confusing.

To take the guesswork out of shopping, here are five wine varietals (with a few options for each) that will go great with whatever food you serve for Thanksgiving dinner, recommended by the manager at Tulsa Hills Wine Cellar, Andrea Gardner, and Amy Tesconi, director of marketing and public relations for Sonoma County Winegrowers. These best wines for Thanksgiving are all guaranteed crowd-pleasers, no matter how picky your guests are. Carefully picking out a bottle for the table will become your new favorite Thanksgiving tradition!

"Sparkling wine provides such a sense of celebration to the day," says Tesconi. California sparkling varieties, like this Roederer Estate Brut, pair well with appetizers including salami, raw veggies, deviled eggs, and seafood bites.

The Chronicle's Best Way Thanksgiving recipes

1 of 3 TURKEYCAMP14_698_cl.JPG Photo of the San Francisco Chronicle's Food section Turkey Training Camp. Photo of "Best Way Brined Turkey." on 11/4/07 in San Francisco. photo by Craig Lee / The Chronicle Ran on: 11-11-2007 Ran on: 11-11-2007 Ran on: 11-11-2007 MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/NO SALES-MAGS OUT photo by Craig Lee Show More Show Less

2 of 3 TURKEYCAMP15_512_cl.JPG Turkey training camp at the San Francisco Chronicle Food kitchen. Olivia Wu and Tara Duggan teach five people how to make a Thanksgiving dinner. Photo of making gravy. photo by Craig Lee / The Chronicle Ran on: 11-15-2006 MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/NO SALES-MAGS OUT photo by Craig Lee Show More Show Less

There's something about Thanksgiving that strikes fear into the hearts of even the most experienced cooks. There are so many uncertainties: To stuff or not to stuff? Shortening or butter in the pie crust? And when is that turkey really done, but not overdone? What's the best way to cook it, anyway?

We're here to help. This page is filled with our basic "Best Way" recipes and tips, perfected over many years of testing and re-testing in The Chronicle's test kitchen. Stick to what's on this page and you'll survive the holiday.

If you're looking for more, check out our Thanksgiving page at It's a compilation of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes broken down by course, along with a video of how to carve the turkey, this year's Turkey Training video, and other tips.

But if you haven't gotten started yet and turkey is just too much, turn to today's cover story and recipes. They'll guide you in creating a memorable feast in no time at all.

Tips on storing and stuffing a turkey

Sometimes it seems as though our perennial questions about Thanksgiving turkeys are nearly as old as the holiday itself. Here's a short overview of what cooks - experienced as well as novice - usually want to know about getting ready for the big meal.


Store a fresh turkey in its original wrapping in the refrigerator. After handling any poultry, be sure to wash all cutting boards, preparation surfaces, utensils and especially hands with hot soapy water this will prevent potentially contaminating other foods with salmonella bacteria, which can cause illness.

If you bought a frozen turkey, remember: Never thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature, which creates ideal conditions for food poisoning bacteria to grow.

The best way to thaw the bird is in the refrigerator on a tray, allowing 24 hours for each 5 pounds a 16-pound bird, therefore, will take a little more than three days to defrost.

If you've just bought a frozen bird, use the cold-water method - in your bathtub or kitchen sink - changing the water every 30 minutes. It's a lot of work, but you'll get the job done safely. Figure on 30 minutes per pound of turkey: A 16-pound bird will take eight hours.


To stuff the turkey, plan on 3/4 to 1 cup of prepared stuffing per pound of bird. Prepare the stuffing separately, and do not stuff ahead of time, which risks bacterial growth. Don't pack the stuffing into the cavity too tightly. The stuffing will absorb juices from the roasting bird, so it needs room to expand. You can bake stuffing separately in a casserole dish - many cooks prefer it - but remember that it will not take as long to cook as the turkey.

The brined bird: You can stuff a brined bird, but we don't recommend it because the drippings from the roasting bird are salty, and they soak into the dressing. So if you must stuff a brined bird, do not season the stuffing with salt.

Plan on preparing twice as much stuffing, but bake all that doesn't go into the turkey in a buttered casserole dish. You should have at least the same amount of dressing baked separately as will go in the turkey.

Be sure that the temperature of the stuffing in the turkey reaches 165 degrees before serving. The turkey may be done (also 165 degrees) before the stuffing is ready, so remove the stuffing from the turkey and place it in an oven-proof dish, then return it to the oven.

While the turkey is resting, the stuffing will have time to reach the recommended temperature. Before serving, mix together the two batches of stuffing. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Best Way Gravy for Brined Turkey

Serves 16 makes about 4 cups gravy

The amount of pan drippings will vary, depending on the size of the turkey, how much water or stock you use to baste it, and how much liquid evaporates during cooking. However, because the bird has been brined, you won't need to season the gravy as much. Streamline the gravy-making process - make the roux ahead of time, transfer it to a bowl, cool, then cover and refrigerate.

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • -- Pan drippings to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry unoaked white wine (optional)
  • 4 cups low-salt canned chicken broth or homemade turkey broth/stock
  • -- Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • -- Kosher salt to taste

For the roux: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the flour all at once, whisking until incorporated on medium heat. Cook on medium, whisking occasionally, for 3 or 4 minutes, until it begins to look grainy. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

For the broth and drippings: When the turkey is done, pour the pan drippings into a bowl.

Deglaze the roasting pan with the wine by boiling and scraping the pan with a wooden spoon, adding a little water as needed to incorporate the browned bits. Add to the drippings in the bowl.

Skim off the fat with a spoon, or refrigerate, then remove and discard the fat that congeals on top.

Putting the gravy together: Put the roux in a skillet. Bring the broth to a simmer in a covered saucepan, then slowly add 3 cups of broth to the cold or room temperature roux, whisking constantly.

Add the reserved drippings slowly, starting with a few tablespoons taste, then whisk in more, a little at a time, until the gravy tastes right to you. Season with pepper and additional salt if needed.

To adjust the consistency, add more broth or simmer for a few minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Per tablespoon: 15 calories, 0 protein, 1 g carbohydrate, 1 g fat (1 g saturated), 2 cholesterol, 7 mg sodium, 0 fiber.

Chronicle Classic: Best Way Mashed Potatoes

Active time: 20 minutes -- Total time: 35 minutes

  • 4 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt + salt to taste
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 8 tablespoons butter, sliced
  • -- Freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions: Peel the potatoes and cut into eighths. Place in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add the tablespoon of salt and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. Drain potatoes in a large colander and shake to remove excess moisture.

Meanwhile, warm the cream in a saucepan over low heat, or pour the cream into a microwave-safe container and microwave for 30 seconds.

Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and mash with a handheld potato masher until they reach the texture you like. Fold in the butter and cream and season with pepper and more salt, if desired.

Note: To reheat mashed potatoes, place in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2 minutes until heated through.

Per serving: 340 calories, 4 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 23 g fat (14 g saturated), 72 mg cholesterol, 23 mg sodium, 3 g fiber

Best Way Piecrust

Makes one 9-inch pie shell

From Chronicle Food & Wine staffer Lynne Char Bennett, adapted from the "Fannie Farmer Baking Book," by Marion Cunningham (Alfred A. Knopf, 1984). Use trans fat-free shortening, substitute lard for the shortening or use all butter. An all-butter crust will have great flavor, but may not be quite as flaky.

Active time: 15 minute -- Total time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
  • -- Additional flour for rolling

Instructions: Mix together the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the shortening and butter, and work it into the flour with your fingertips or a pastry blender or pulse in a food processor until the mixture resembles fresh breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring lightly with a fork or pulsing after each addition. Use enough water so the dough holds together.

Form the dough into a ball and flatten the top to form a disk. Wrap the dough completely in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface or between 2 sheets of waxed paper until it is about 1/8-inch thick and 2 inches larger than your inverted pie pan.

Transfer the dough to the pan, then trim edges to make about a 1-inch overhang. Roll the edge under and crimp decoratively.

If your filling recipe calls for a pre-baked shell, line the pastry with a piece of aluminum foil shiny-side down. Fill with dried beans, rice or pie weights. Bake in a preheated 425 oven for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and beans. Return the pie shell to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes longer, rotating the pan a couple of times, until evenly browned.

Chronicle Classic: Pumpkin Pie

This comes from former Chronicle recipe editor Fran Irwin, who says her mother made it every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Active time: 15 minutes -- Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (freshly cooked
  • or canned), see Note
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk (one 6-ounce can)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • -- A 9- or 10-inch unbaked piecrust (see Best Way Recipe)
  • -- Whipped cream (optional)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 450°. Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices in a large bowl blend well. Add eggs, both milks and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

Pour into piecrust. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325° and bake for 50-60 minutes longer, until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Serve at room temperature. If desired, garnish each wedge with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Note: 1 1/2 cups pumpkin equals about three-quarters of a 1 pound can of pumpkin puree.

Per serving: 290 calories, 6 g protein, 36 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat (6 g saturated), 86 mg cholesterol, 275 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.

Chronicle Classic: Best Way Brined Turkey

Serves 6-8, with leftovers

Several years ago, we roasted nearly 40 turkeys in our test kitchen and found a brined turkey to be the best. Every year since, we've retested the recipe. It's still our favorite.

Note: Do not use a self-basting or kosher turkey these turkeys already contain salt, and will be way oversalted if they're brined. Also, do not stuff a brined bird - the stuffing will also be too salty.

Brine time: 12-24 hours -- Active time: 40 minutes -- Cook time: 2-2 3/4 hours

  • 1 turkey, about 12 pounds (not a self-basted or kosher turkey)
  • The brine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 gallons cold water
  • 2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 5 whole allspice berries, crushed
  • 4 juniper berries, smashed (see Note)
  • For roasting
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter + butter for basting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock plus more as needed

Instructions: Remove giblet bag from turkey, along with any extra internal fat and pin feathers. Rinse well under cold tap water. Combine sugar, salt and 3-4 quarts of water in a large bowl. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Add remaining brine ingredients except for the remaining 1 1/2-1 3/4 gallons water.

Use a special brining bag (such as Ziploc's 20-gallon Big Bag) or double-bag two heavy-duty, unscented trash bags (not made of recycled materials), then put them in an ice chest that is large enough to hold the turkey. Place turkey in bags, pour in brine and remaining 1 1/2-1 3/4 gallons water - there should be enough liquid to completely cover the bird. Press out air in bags tightly close each bag separately. Keep turkey cold by piling bags of ice over and around the closed bags which will also help keep the turkey submerged. Brine for 12-24 hours.

Alternative method: Place turkey and brine in a large pot. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours. If turkey floats to top, weight it down with a plate and cans to keep it submerged in brine.

Roasting: Preheat oven to 400°. Remove turkey from brine, rinse and dry well. Spread 2 tablespoons softened butter over skin. Sprinkle pepper over skin and in cavity. Tuck wing tips under, loosely truss legs and place turkey on a V-shaped rack in a roasting pan. Tent breast with foil.

Put turkey in oven. To assure that the bird cooks evenly, rotate roasting pan 180° every 30 minutes while turkey is roasting. Roast for about 1 hour, remove foil and baste turkey with 1/2 cup stock. Return to oven and roast, basting with pan drippings every 20 minutes, using more stock as needed. Start checking internal temperature after about 1 hour of roasting time. If legs begin to get too brown, cover loosely with foil. Roast turkey until internal thigh temperature reaches 165°. Total roasting time should be about 2-2 3/4 hours. Let bird rest for at least 20-30 minutes before carving.

Note: Juniper berries are available in the spice section of some supermarkets and specialty grocers.

The calories and other nutrients absorbed from brines vary and are difficult to estimate. Therefore, this recipe contains no analysis.

Brining and roasting a big bird

Bigger birds can be brined following the same recipe, and for the same amount of time (12 to 24 hours). When it comes to cooking, the recipe will work with a turkey that weighs up to 16 pounds.

Birds over 16 pounds should be roasted at a lower oven temperature, 350 degrees. Cover the breast tightly with foil for the first half of the cooking time, then remove the foil and baste with stock and pan drippings every 30 or 40 minutes for the remainder of the time. A 22-pound bird should be done in about 3 1/2 hours.

Best Way Unbrined Turkey

Spread 2 tablespoons of softened butter over the skin and sprinkle 4 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground pepper over the skin and in the cavity.

Tuck the wing tips under, truss the legs and place the turkey on a V-shaped rack in a roasting pan.

Tent the breast with foil and place the turkey in the oven.

After about 1 hour, remove the foil and baste the turkey with 1/2 cup stock.

Baste the turkey with pan drippings and any remaining stock every 20 minutes.

Roast the turkey until the internal thigh temperature reaches 165 degrees, 1 3/4-2 1/4 hours.

How to make the best charcuterie and cheese platter for the holidays – Tips & Tricks

1. Find out exactly how large your party is

The first thing you must do is to find out exactly how many people will attend your party. You don’t want to make the cheese platter too light and have everybody begging for more, but you also don’t want to stuff them up because they also need to have turkey, right?

Also, you don’t want to break the bank, do you? Because some of the most delicious cheeses and charcuterie don’t exactly sell for pennies.

Knowing the exact number of people is extremely helpful when buying the ingredients and making the right serving size.

As a general rule of thumb, you need about 2.5 oz (70g) of cheese per person. Same thing for the meats.

The amount of accompaniments is up to you and it depends on whether you want to serve the charcuterie and cheese board as an appetizer or as a main.

2. Get a nice cheese board

You could assemble the cheese and charcuterie on a simple platter and it will taste the same, but let’s face it. If it’s a special occasion, the setup matters just as much as the taste.

So if you want to make a cheese platter look great, then you need to pick a nice cheese board . And there are plenty of models to choose from, for all types of budgets.

Here are some of the most popular:

And here’s a piece of advice that will save you a few bucks. If you have some really nice cutting boards in your kitchen, you can use those.

If your budget allows, get a large cheese board on which you can assemble everything and a few marble slabs which people can use to serve themselves.

Whatever you do, please don’t just throw a few pieces of cheese on a simple platter and serve it for the holidays.

After all, you only need to put just a little thought and creativity to make the best charcuterie and cheese board and impress everybody.

Now that we’ve decided on which board to use, it’s time to see which kind of cheese to go for.

3. What are the best cheeses for a cheese platter

The cheese on the platter is as important as the setup. Usually, your taste and budget make the decision for you but when you make a cheese platter for a party, you need to keep in mind that tastes can vary.

So you’ll need to have a bit of everything and what I mean is that you need to think about texture, the type of milk it’s made of and the aging process.

You’ll need some mild, medium and strong cheese to create a perfect balance of flavors and keep everybody happy. Here’s a classification based on different types of flavor:

  • Brie (Soft & Creamy texture)
  • Cheddar (Soft and smooth texture) – this type ranges from mild to strong depending on how long it was aged
  • Cottage Cheese (Creamy texture)
  • Feta (Creamy to crumbly)
  • Gouda – from mild to strong depending on how long it was aged
  • Gruyère – from mild to strong depending on how long it was aged
  • Mascarpone (soft & Creamy)
  • Mozzarella (Soft & Chewy)
  • Wensleydale (Moist & Crumbly)
  • Camembert (soft, creamy texture)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) – Hard and crumbly texture, it can vary from medium to strong depending on age
  • Cheddar that was aged for at least 18 months – Sharp and powerful flavor (semi-hard texture)
  • Gouda aged for at least 7 months (semi-hard texture)
  • Aged Gruyère (hard and firm)
  • Parmesan (semi-hard to hard, depending on age)
  • Pecorino Romano (hard)
  • Roquefort (semi-hard, crumbly)
  • Gorgonzola (creamy to crumbly)
  • Gouda if it’s aged between 10 weeks and 8 months

I could speak for hours about cheese as this is one of my favorite ingredients. Actually, I love it so much that I am putting together an ebook just with cheese recipes.

But I can’t wait to show you how to make a cheese platter for the holidays, so if you want to know more about the cheeses outlined above, you should read this article from Nutrition Advance . They speak about the nutritional content of each type, its origins and the aging process.

Now it’s time to move on and see which kind of charcuterie goes on a cheese platter.

4. What charcuterie goes on a cheese board

There are many types of charcuterie that go with cheese, but ultimately it all depends on which one is more accessible to you (and your budget of course).

Sure, we would all love to make our charcuterie platter with Jamon Iberico De Bellota or maybe with French pistachio Saucisson.

But that’s not always accessible, isn’t it?

So the best alternative is to head over to your nearest grocery store or deli and see what their selection of cured meats is.

Some of the most popular are:

  • Prosciutto
  • Parma ham
  • Different kinds of deli meats (like turkey or ham)
  • Smoked meats
  • Jamon Serrano
  • Chorizo
  • Saucisson

Again, you’ll want to cater to all tastes if you’re having a party, so it’s best to get a varied selection instead of just your favorite.

If you’re lucky enough to have a French deli nearby, I recommend pistachio and figs saucisson. If you know a Spanish deli then you must try their Jamon Iberico.

Make sure you know the most popular cured meats before making a decision.

But remember to keep a balance between cheese and charcuterie. After all, taste balance means perfection when it comes to food.

Now let’s see what else to include on a cheese board.

5. Accompaniments for charcuterie and cheese platter

The extra nibbles will bring tons of flavor and texture to our charcuterie and cheese platter. The possibilities are vast here but there are a few basics you need to be aware of.

First of all, you need something a little acid to go with all that fat from the cheese and meat. Think about pickles, marinated olives and chutneys.

Pickles: cornichons, capers, cabbage

Olives: Kalamata, Spanish olives, Noccelara, Picholine

Chutneys made of mint, onion, apples, pears, tomatoes.

Second, you need freshness, like fruits or veggies: apples, pears, grapes, carrots, celery

Third, you need some crunchy texture to create the perfect balance, like crackers, roasted nuts or slices of crusty baguette.

And last, but not least, you need some sweetness. So if you want to make the best charcuterie and cheese platter, you need to add some dried fruits as well. They are flavorful, textured and have just the right amount of sweetness.

Furthermore, you can add honey, fig jam or other sweet preserves.

We’re almost there now, I just have one more point to touch.

6. What cheese knives to use

Using cheese knives is optional but helpful. I am aware that not everybody has cheese knives in their cutlery set, and in this case, you can use any thin knife you have available.

But if you are going to buy a new cheese board make sure it’s one with a knife set.

They come in particularly handy when cutting hard and semi-hard cheese and you can also use them to spread the soft cheese on crackers.

They are useful accessories for any charcuterie and cheese platter, not to mention they look super cool.

Here is a list of all types of cheese knives and how to choose one according to your needs.

And the last tip for today is make sure your charcuterie and cheese platter is full and diversified. There’s nothing worse than seeing a plate with just a few slices of cheese and 3 crackers on it.

But what am I saying, if you’re reading this it means you are foodies who pay attention to detail and there’s no need to worry about that.

And if you’ve got to this part of the page, you now know how to make the best charcuterie and cheese board for the holidays.

So put what you’ve learned into practice, make it and then snap a shot and post it on Instagram using the tag @theblondelish and hashtag #blondelish.

And if you like this recipe video and want to see more, please Subscribe to my YouTube Channel .

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