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Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well

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Overview

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY EATER.COM

From one of America’s finest food writers, the former restaurant critic for The New York Times, comes a definitive, timeless guide to Thanksgiving dinner—preparing it, surviving it, and pulling it off in style.
 
From the planning of the meal to the washing of the last plate, Thanksgiving poses more—and more vexing—problems for the home cook than any ...

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Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well

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Overview

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY EATER.COM

From one of America’s finest food writers, the former restaurant critic for The New York Times, comes a definitive, timeless guide to Thanksgiving dinner—preparing it, surviving it, and pulling it off in style.
 
From the planning of the meal to the washing of the last plate, Thanksgiving poses more—and more vexing—problems for the home cook than any other holiday. In this smartly written, beautifully illustrated, recipe-filled book, Sam Sifton, the Times’s resident Thanksgiving expert, delivers a message of great comfort and solace: There is no need for fear. You can cook a great meal on Thanksgiving. You can have a great time.
 
With simple, fool-proof recipes for classic Thanksgiving staples, as well as new takes on old standbys, this book will show you that the fourth Thursday of November does not have to be a day of kitchen stress and family drama, of dry stuffing and sad, cratered pies. You can make a better turkey than anyone has ever served you in your life, and you can serve it with gravy that is not lumpy or bland but a salty balm, rich in flavor, that transforms all it touches. Here are recipes for exciting side dishes and robust pies and festive cocktails, instructions for setting the table and setting the mood, as well as cooking techniques and menu ideas that will serve you all year long, whenever you are throwing a big party. Written for novice and experienced cooks alike, Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well is your guide to making Thanksgiving the best holiday of the year. It is not fantasy. If you prepare, it will happen. And this book will show you how.

Advance praise for Thanksgiving
 
“If you don’t have Thanksgiving, you are not really having Thanksgiving. This book is as essential to the day as the turkey itself. It’s an expert, gently opinionated guide to everything from the cranberry sauce to the table setting to the divvying up of the leftovers, but it’s also a paean to the holiday and an evocation of both its past and its promising future. Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving world is the one I want to live in.”—Gabrielle Hamilton, bestselling author of Blood, Bones, & Butter
 
“The charm of Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving is that he proposes that home cooks treat this culinary Olympics like any other dinner party—don’t panic, deconstruct your tasks into bite-size pieces, and conquer that fear of failure. Sam could talk a fledgling doctor through his first open-heart surgery. It’s all here—from brining to spatchcocking, sides to desserts—and served up with a generous dollop of reassuring advice from one of America’s most notable food writers.”—Christopher Kimball, editor of Cook’s Illustrated and host of America’s Test Kitchen

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
With strict guidelines and a respect for traditions, Sifton's book might more aptly be called "The Elements of Thanksgiving." It's the culinary equivalent of Strunk and White's classic writing guide. Like the authors of that volume, Sifton sets down rules that must be followed to guarantee success. Some of those bylaws seem to turn the tastemaker into a taskmaster, but that lends the book a certain charm…Sifton is the prim teacher rapping a ruler in his palm. But for a nervous novice, that strict guidance is most welcome.
—Timothy R. Smith
Publishers Weekly
Sifton, the national editor for the New York Times and its former restaurant critic, talks turkey, as well as gravy, cranberry, side dishes, and table settings in this wonderful holiday survival guide. The author describes how to “cook Thanksgiving correctly,” as he spells out the proper way to plan the feast and includes variations on all the classic dishes. Words of wisdom include forgoing appetizers, unless those appetizers happen to be oysters. Recipes include gingered cranberry sauce, creamed brussels sprouts, six different ways to cook a turkey, and four ways to use it in leftovers. As a critic, Sifton would delight his readers by employing a mix of lush and simple imagery, plus a poet’s ear for rhythm. Of a favorite entrée at a Greenwich Village restaurant, he once wrote, “The beans were creamy and substantial, their velvet richness augmented by the plush ermine nature of the peppers.” While his book is intended to be instructional, Sifton displays glimpses of this lyricism throughout, all the while maintaining a playful good nature: “The dessert need not be extravagant. It absolutely should not be experimental. Nor should it be overly cute.” (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Advance praise for Thanksgiving
 
“If you don’t have Thanksgiving, you are not really having Thanksgiving. This book is as essential to the day as the turkey itself. It’s an expert, gently opinionated guide to everything from the cranberry sauce to the table setting to the divvying up of the leftovers, but it’s also a paean to the holiday and an evocation of both its past and its promising future. Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving world is the one I want to live in.”—Gabrielle Hamilton, bestselling author of Blood, Bones, & Butter
 
“The charm of Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving is that he proposes that home cooks treat this culinary Olympics like any other dinner party—don’t panic, deconstruct your tasks into bite-size pieces, and conquer that fear of failure. Sam could talk a fledgling doctor through his first open-heart surgery. It’s all here—from brining to spatchcocking, sides to desserts—and served up with a generous dollop of reassuring advice from one of America’s most notable food writers.”—Christopher Kimball, editor of Cook’s Illustrated and host of America’s Test Kitchen
Library Journal
New York Times national editor and former restaurant critic Sifton condenses considerable Thanksgiving know-how into this slim, practical guide to the basics (e.g., The Turkey, Side Dishes, Setting the Table, Drinks & Drinking, Cleanup & Leftovers). Filled with elegant prose, humorous stories, and helpful FAQs, this collection favors simple, well-prepared dishes over trendy showstoppers. There are no appetizers or salads; Sifton believes they detract from the traditional meal. VERDICT This book has everything readers will need to host a successful Thanksgiving dinner. Rick Rodgers's Thanksgiving 101, which has detailed menus and timetables, is another good choice.
Kirkus Reviews
An easy-to-read, concise, somewhat tongue-in-cheek guide for how to host the perfect Thanksgiving dinner. This simple book is a valuable tool for someone hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. New York Times national editor Sifton begins by describing the items needed to prepare a turkey. Considering varying budgets, the author gives a range of options for pans, cutting boards, knives and other kitchen equipment at different price points. He provides more than one recipe for many traditional Thanksgiving items as well, catering to differing time restrictions and cooking expertise. For example, Sifton includes four recipes for an oven-roasted turkey: "A Simple Roast Turkey," "An Even More Simple Roast Turkey," "Herb-Roasted Turkey" and "Faster Roast Turkey." The author also advises on what brands and types of ingredients to buy, how to set a table and how to use leftovers. He takes the mystery out of terms such as "brining" and "heritage turkey" and how, and if, they make a difference in the turkey's final taste. Also of note is Sifton's advice on what not to do. Thanksgiving should be appetizer-free; chocolate should be put aside in favor of classical American desserts such as apple, pumpkin and pecan pie; mashed potatoes should not have garlic or basil. Additional tips on what to serve for drinks, as well as Sifton's policy for serving oysters on Thanksgiving, will help make the entire day a better experience. His leftover recipes, which go beyond the basic turkey sandwich, will ensure that the days after Thanksgiving are filled with great culinary experiences. A brief, straightforward guide to hosting a Thanksgiving dinner without being overwhelmed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400069910
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/23/2012
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 151,284
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.36 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Sam Sifton

Sam Sifton is the national editor of The New York Times, the newspaper’s former restaurant critic and a food columnist for the Sunday Times Magazine. Before coming to the Times, where he has also worked as the culture editor and the editor of the Dining section, he worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, a teacher in the New York City public schools, a first mate on a century-old schooner, and a prep cook. Sifton lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3

1 Getting Started 10

2 The Turkey 22

3 Side Dishes 47

4 Gravy & Cranberry Sauce 68

5 Setting the Table, Serving the Food & Some Questions of Etiquette 78

6 Drinks & Drinking 87

7 Dessert 96

8 Cleanup & Leftovers 115

Index 127

Notes 139

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2012

    Great Book!

    Probably the gourmet cooks who thrive on complication might be searching for something "more." I was looking for a resource that was simple, & would help me reign in all of the ideas that were churning around....a compilation of memorable Thanksgivings. Usually I am not the one cooking...just contributing but this year I am hosting so there is more pressure. This book helped me focus. From the simple turkey to the importance of good sides, to the reminder that we need to create some formality and elegance to the occasion....in whatever minimal way we are able.....it helped me soooo much! For some of us this is just a reminder of all the things that we know but have not been implementing. Organization, planning, and a warm, comfortable environment make all of the difference. For others, it is an incredibly helpful primer on how to do everything correctly for a great Thanksgiving. Plus it's a really short book and an easy read. Thank you!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    I think I will love this book.

    I haven't read this book yet , but I think it will be so good, I'll read it over and over again!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2012

    Big Help getting it all organized!

    This book gets all the details of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner organized in an easy-to-execute way. I've been doing thanksgiving for over 40 years, and still found this book helpful. Wish I'd had it all those years ago.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2012

    A great basic how to book and a great read

    I heard about the book in an NPR interview. The book gives you everything you need to create a great Thanksgiving from beginning all the way to leftovers. Even the "turkey carcass" soup I've been making for years was included. I spent a pleasant evening reading - the background stories made it especially enjoyable. A great reference, especially for the first timer.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2013

    I love this book. It's an interesting one-evening read and a fas

    I love this book. It's an interesting one-evening read and a fast reference for the actual cooking. I love that Sam Sifton takes a traditional approach to the meal itself and a no nonsense approach to the prep work involve. My only question is when will he come out with one for Christmas? And Easter? And that 4th of July bar b que?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2013

    Lousy Sample

    Again a cookbook sample with not even one recipe. This sample didn't even make it out of the introduction. Even for only $1.99 it didn't spark enougj interest. No thanks.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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