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Cranberry Apple Chutney

Cranberry Apple Chutney

Thanksgiving dinner is delicious, but it can be very, very sweet. Cornbread in the stuffing (and sometimes fruit), waldorf (or jello!) salad, sweet potatoes (maybe even with marshmallows) and of course, pie. By the time you get to cranberry sauce, palate fatigue may be an understatement.

Enter the savory answer to cranberry sauce — cranberry chutney. Still red, still beautiful, and still, frankly, sweet (it does complement poultry!) but vinegar, salt and spices give it a savory edge that is a welcome counterpoint to a sweet Thanksgiving table. Chutney is one of those underappreciated condiments — it livens up everything from hot roast turkey to cold ham to a cheese sandwich. It’s far easier to make than jam – no worry about setting, and it’s an excellent gift to have handy for the holidays (if your Thanksgiving menu is already set). This makes quite a bit — about 8 half pint jars, and can be used right away, refrigerated for a few weeks, or processed in a water bath for 10 minutes and given a shelf life.
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Spiced Cocoa Buttermilk Pie

Spiced Cocoa Pie
Let me tell you a tale – a tale of four five six pies.

My family’s Thanksgiving philosophy is that you can never have too many pies. We often have 3 or 4 types of pie, which is a lot when you realize that we only have about 12 people. Last Thanksgiving, I decided to make a recipe for a spice pie I found in one of my cookbooks. The flavor was good, but the pie was too sweet and didn’t set. That was pie 1. Undaunted and not a little crazy, I remade the recipe with the rest of the pie dough I had stuck in the freezer. I upped the eggs which helped the set and replaced the milk with buttermilk. The result was a dream – a layered pie with a crust on top of an almost translucent custard, all deeply flavored with spices. I thought it was a hit. That was pie 2. (my family preferred the chocolate pie I made, which we will call pie number 3.)

Fast forward to this year, when I decided to share pie 2 with you, my lovely and deserving readers. I checked my favorite dessert cookbook, and made the buttermilk pie contained therein. It was pale, tangy with a hint of lemon. Good, but not the pie I remembered. That was pie number 4.

I looked in my journal, where I had helpfully noted not only the pie recipe I used, But also the modifications I made (like adding buttermilk.). “AHa!” I thought. And made that one. What I got was a firm, custard like pie, not unlike a good pumpkin pie. It was good, but I wanted that layered effect. This was not what I remembered. That was pie number five.
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Cornbread, Leek and Bacon Stuffing in the Crock Pot

Crockpot Cornbread Stuffing with Bacon And Leeks #Thanksgiving

If there’s one dish that I must have on Thanksgiving, it’s stuffing. I like sweet potatoes, but don’t need them. Mashed potatoes always seem a bit superfluous to me. Even turkey is negotiable. But stuffing, with its play of textures and flavors — is the heart of Thanksgiving dinner.

Last year I told you about the sacred sage stuffing that my family makes every Thanksgiving. I stand by that recipe. But if, for some reason, you need another stuffing recipe — like you’re going to two Thanksgivings, or your aunt Patricia is already making that stuffing and you need to bring a second one, or you’re having an all-stuffing Thanksgiving meal (what? It could happen!) — I came up with this one for you.

I have heard that some people prefer cornbread stuffing, so I thought I’d offer that as an alternative to the sacred stuffing. If you make it yourself, you can vary the sweetness – I took the lazy sane way out and bought some from the bakery section of the local market. Since cornbread is often on the sweet side (don’t shoot, southerners!) I thought it would be nice to balance out the sweetness with leeks (probably my favorite member of the onion family) and bacon (because, really, why not?) And then, just to get all crazy on you, I cooked it in the crock pot. Why the crock pot? Because I don’t know about you, but my oven is often full on Thanksgiving day of things that cannot be cooked in the slow cooker, like pie and the aforementioned turkey. And the slow cooker is a wonderful invention for keeping things moist, which stuffing must be (to get a crisp top, run the cooked stuffing under the broiler for a minute or two.
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Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola Cream and Toasted Walnuts

Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola Cream and Toasted Walnuts #Thanksgiving

I know that there are large factions of people in America who think a sweet potato isn’t worth eating if it doesn’t have marshmallows on top. I’ve tried to see that point of view. I like marshmallows. I have nothing against sweet things. Last year I even bought those canned sweet potatoes in syrup and baked them up, topped with marshmallows. My reaction was decidedly meh. No texture, no flavor – its like someone is trying to get kids to eat their vegetables.

For me, sweet potatoes sing when they are paired with something savory. Not maple syrup, butter. Not brown sugar, smoked paprika. Instead of the ubiquitous marshmallows, a salty sharp Gorgonzola. My signature sweet potato dish is the gratin with smoked paprika and cayenne I posted 2 years ago (an aside: where does time go?), but this one might just give it a run for its money.
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Top 25 Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Dry Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

Halloween is over, and we’ve all recovered from our sugar highs (theoretically). Now is the home stretch for home cooks – less than three weeks until Thanksgiving, and then the sprint through the December holidays into New Year, when we all collapse in a faint of exhaustion. I know you’re already planning your Thanksgiving menu, so to make it easy, I collected the The Domestic Front Thanksgiving recipes into one easy place. The best, most foolproof, most delicious, juicy, crisp-skinned roast turkey? We’ve got that. Instructions on making your own pie crust (with a bonus recipe for silky smooth, perfectly spiced pumpkin pie)? You’ll find that here. In the next few weeks I’ve got a few exciting new recipes coming up — another savory sweet potato dish, a refreshing fall salad, and new twists on old favorites like stuffing and cranberry sauce, but in the meantime, here’s the roundup of Thanksgiving recipes for your inspiration:

Turkey:
Easy, Dry-Brined Roast Turkey

You’re serving vegetarians?
Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Kale and Cabbage Gratin
Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Gratin
Onion Tarte Tatin

Your favorite thing is, of course, stuffing:
Old School Sage Stuffing

What vegetable side should you make this year? (see also, cooking for vegetarians, above)
Bacon Braised Brussels Sprouts with Cream
Creamed Kale
Creamed Spinach with Jalapenos
Slow Cooked Green Beans
Creamy, Spicy Sweet Potato Gratin

It’s not Thanksgiving without pie:
Maple Walnut Pie
Vegetarian Mincemeat Pie
Nesselrode Pie
Perfect Pumpkin Pie, and a tutorial on homemade pie crust
Rice Pudding Pie

You don’t like Pie:
Cranberry Pecan Upside Down Cake

You’re stuck with the cranberry sauce but you still want a chance to shine:
Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Oranges and Pecans

You’re on Salad Duty:
Arugula Salad with Persimmons and Gouda
Homemade Salad Dressing

You’re keeping the relatives happy (aka mixing drinks):
The Perfect Manhattan
Champagne Cocktail

Aunt Helen won’t let you set foot in the kitchen, but you still want to help:
Polishing Silver
Five Easy DIY Holiday Centerpieces

You’re panicking:
Last Minute Tips on Hosting Thanksgiving