It’s Thursday as I write this, a week before Thanksgiving. This year we’re driving to the Hudson Valley to celebrate with Donna’s big and growing family—something like 21 adults, a few teenagers, and a few youngsters. Donna volunteered me for the gravy because, well, let’s face it, gravy is a no-brainer and will travel well. (Recipes for stock and Friday Cocktail below.) A no-brainer if you make excellent turkey stock now! I’ll be doubling or tripling the below recipe this year. Today, I’ll be roasting drumsticks, wings, and necks. (I read on Wednesday in the Times that the venerable Jacques Pépin picks the meat off the neck of the turkey and adds it to the gravy. I might try that this year.) Roasting them will give your stock a nice flavor. All that golden brown Read On »

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  The two great turkey conundrums: 1) how to have juicy breast meat and tender dark meat and 2) how to serve it all hot to a lot of people. Answer: the roast/braise method. Last year, chatting with my neighbor, the excellent chef Doug Katz (Fire Food and Drink), described how he cooks the turkey in stock up to the drumstick so that the legs braise while the breast and skin cook in dry heat. Last year I tried it and it works brilliantly. Thank you, Doug. Doug posted his version on the restaurant’s blog. I’ve simplified and added a couple steps to make it easier for perfect doneness. (Step-by-step pix below.) The basic idea is this: cook the turkey half submerged in flavorful liquid and lots of aromatic vegetables. When the breast is barely Read On »

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In preparation for Thanksgiving, America’s biggest home-cooking day, I’ll be addressing a few of the most common issues and frequently asked questions about the basics: roasting turkey and making gravy. Friday, I’ll be introducing an innovate and  in my opinion the best possible way to roast a whole turkey (it involves a dual method and resulted last year in Donna’s saying, “This is the best roasted turkey we’ve ever had.”) But first things first: make turkey stock now so that you have it on hand to make gravy. I don’t know where we got the idea that a roasting turkey results enough juices to make gravy. It doesn’t. And you certainly want to have way too much gravy on Thanksgiving so that you have leftovers. My favorite day-after meal is hot turkey sandwiches, smothered in Read On »

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Last April, I wrote a post about leaving stock out on the stove top claiming that it would be safe to eat provided that you brought it to a simmer before eating. Indeed I’ve been doing this for a decade with no ill effects. On twitter and on the post itself, I received voluminous responses. One response, from a large-animal veterinarian, noted that it was entirely possible for heat-stable toxins, not bacteria, to persist, making the stock unsafe. I revised the post with the vet’s valid warnings with links to the CDC’s warnings on the particular bacteria. But the response was so strong, I suggested in an email to NYTimes food section editor Pete Wells, that this would be a great story.  I’ve left stock out on the stove top for up to three days Read On »

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Regular readers know I’m a veal stock evangelist. Veal stock is one of those magical ingredients that can transform a mediocre cook into an ohmyfuckinggodthisfoodisamazing cook. Really, it’s that powerful. My first piece for Gourmet magazine was about veal stock. My veal stock recipe is in the Gourmet cookbook. In Elements of Cooking, a 242-page book about food and cooking, there is but a single recipe: veal stock. I once asked Jacques Pepin about veal stock and he said he didn’t much make it. Ingredients weren’t at his store in Connecticut.  I found this amazing, until I realized something important!  It was Jacques Pepin!  He doesn’t NEED veal stock.  He could probably make Miracle Whip taste good. But for the rest of us?  Slipping a little veal stock into our food has the same effect Read On »

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