All You Need for a Nourishing Thanksgiving Dinner

We’ve assembled our best Thanksgiving dinner advice here to take the “frazzle” out of your feast. For 2 full-color e-books (including one for stress free “other” meals); a 5-step Surthrival Guide; hands-on daily checklists and more, get our Holiday Surthrival Kit!


Before the Feast

Test Your LeavenersBefore you start baking, run your baking soda and baking powders through these simple tests so your desserts won’t fall flat.

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Desserts – Five delicious, seasonal options that you can make at least two to three days ahead and savor throughout the holidays.

All About Heritage Turkeys — What they are, why you’d want one, how they’re different and how to cook them.

Talking Turkey — A decoder for all the terms out there, from “fresh” to “natural” to “free-range” to “kosher” to help you decide what’s right for you.

Why Brine? — A primer on brining for a succulent bird.

What to Serve with the Thanksgiving Bird — Expert advice from Jill Hough on pairing wine with the Thanksgiving meal.

During the Feast

Slow Down and Savor the Feast — These three tips will help ground you in the ‘thanks’ and ‘giving’ part of the holiday meal.

After the Feast

Love Those Leftovers! — Five ways to make the most of the extras. Plus another bonus three.




On Thanksgiving, Thanks for the Culinary Memories

When Thanksgiving rolls around, I react like many cooks and start digging around for those must-have recipes. In my case, I’m searching for my mom’s kick-ass stuffing recipe.

thanksgiving-culinary-memoriesWhile I imagine other cooks riffling through cute little vintage boxes filled with beloved family recipes neatly handwritten onto 3 x 5 index cards, my own journey is less clearly mapped out. Instead, I find myself pawing through cookbooks in search of random bits of paper like an archeologist hunting for ancient Egyptian papyri.

Our little trove of Thanksgiving family treasures is stuffed inside the pages of Volume 12 of the circa-1966 Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery (“T” for turkey, duh). That’s where I find a magazine article about turkey, my mom’s handwritten stuffing recipe, and other cobbled-together guideposts to making the annual feast our way. I always chuckle at the the version of the stuffing recipe that was clearly addressed to me. There’s a little note in the margin: “Pepperidge Farm Herb Crumbs,” underlined twice so I wouldn’t–God forbid–buy the bread cubes instead.

Beyond Volume 12, scribbled recipes, newspaper clippings and other “Mad Men”-era ephemera are stashed into the pockets of a red, generic Cooking Clips Recipe File. But these don’t represent a passion for cooking so much as a middle-class woman’s obligation to, dammit, get dinner on the table. Mom was a reluctant cook, more Betty Friedan than Betty Draper, and mid-‘60s domestic ambivalence wafts from the pages with the scent of old newspaper.

Her culinary repertoire was limited, but we liked it, and those pages yield warm memories of the simple dishes we loved: London broil, the Yorkshire pudding we had every Christmas Eve, a wine-marinated flank steak that I’m tempted to make this week. It’s straightforward fare that seems quaint and comforting in this time of precious foodie-ism. Though, in all fairness, flank steak marinated in Burgundy wine was upscale stuff back then.

Given that I write about food for a living, you’d think I’d make an effort to organize this stuff. My sister-in-law Julie did a few years ago, gathering favorite recipes from family and friends, along with the stories that go with them, into a tasteful little Tastebook. It’s a charming, gently irreverent heirloom that she’ll no doubt save for my niece. But I’m not tempted to follow her example.

No, instead I’ll continue to hunt down Mom’s recipes, then tuck them back into their respective books, right where they belong.

Susie’s Breadcrumb Stuffing Recipe

This is an updated version the stuffing recipe my mom always made for Thanksgiving dinner, only instead of Pepperidge Farm Herb-Seasoned Stuffing mix, I use a blend of whole wheat panko, sea salt, black pepper and fresh sage and thyme. (It would work with regular whole wheat breadcrumbs, too.) This recipe serves 8-10 and doubles easily for a bigger crowd. You can make the stuffing a day or two ahead, spoon it into a baking dish, cover and refrigerate. On Thanksgiving, spoon some pan drippings from turkey over the stuffing and pop it in the oven while the turkey rests.

1 (9-ounce) package whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (such as Ian’s)
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus additional to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional to taste
1/2 teaspoon onion granules
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium)
1/2 cup shredded carrot (about 1)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1-1/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 to 1/2 cup pan drippings from turkey

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine first 7 ingredients; set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and a pinch of salt and pepper; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in parsley; cook another minute. Remove from heat, and stir in the egg and chicken stock. Stir in panko mixture and walnuts. Transfer mixture to an 8-inch baking dish. Spoon 1/4 to 1/2 cup pan drippings from the turkey over the stuffing. Bake at 425 F for 25 minutes.

Serves 8-10