Thanksgiving Cooking Guide

Here is a summary of many of Chris Kimball’s Thanksgiving options. A few of the posts are not his recipes, but I’ve nevertheless included (for my convenience). I still am afraid to risk my Thanksgiving turkey using Chris Kimball’s November 2012 recipe for Grilled Turkey; if anyone has tried, please post a comment with your results.

The best turkey options are:

  1. Julia Child’s Deconstructed Turkey. While I was resistant to departing from the tradition of roasting the turkey whole, this recipe came out fantastic last year. This recipe elevates the dark meat to become the star of the dinner. Classic stuffing with sausage.
  2. Herb Roasted Turkey, which I’ve rated 5-stars in the past. It is brined in salt water for 4 to 6 hours, then air-dried, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours to get crisp skin. The herb paste adds great flavor, but the recipe calls for a relatively hot oven (400-degrees) so I doubt this will work on my big turkey.
  3. Old Fashioned Roast Turkey.  This is one of my favorite turkeys. It is draped with salt pork, which constantly bastes the turkey during baking. Also, it salts the turkey instead of a wet brine.
  4. Brined Roasted Turkey. For many years I brined my turkey to help keep the turkey from drying out. Chris Kimball’s formula is 1 cup salt per gallon cold water for 4-to 6-hour brine or 1/2 cup salt per gallon cold water for 12-to 14-hour brine. The hardest part is finding a stockpot or clean bucket large enough for the turkey.


  1. Traditional turkey gravy. This was part of Julia Child’s deconstructed turkey.
  2. Best Turkey Gravy. A classic recipe for turkey gravy.
  3. Make-Ahead Dripping-less Turkey Gravy. This recipe was developed by Cook Illustrated because it’s associated turkey recipe was cooked too hot to yield usable drippings. So if you don’t have drippings, here is the solution.

Cranberry Sauce:

  1. Cranberry-Orange Sauce. Don’t make a standard cranberry sauce, when a little bit of triple sec and orange zest make it so much more interesting.
  2. Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce. I made this recipe for years, which is 100 times better than canned cranberry sauce.


  1. Fluffy Mashed potatoes. Cut potatoes into 1″ chunks. Rinse, Steam for 10 minutes, Rinse again, Steam for 20 more minutes until done. It requires my Dutch Oven, but I’ve had dinner guest that raved more about these potatoes than the 5-star main course.
  2. Holiday Scalloped Potatoes. A nice 4-star alternative to standard mashed potatoes.
  3. Master Recipe for Mashed Potatoes. Requires boiling potatoes with their skins on, then peeling hot potatoes. For 15 years Chris Kimball has told us to make mashed potatoes this way.
  4. Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Peeled before cooking, then boiled in half-and-half normally added at the end of the recipe.

Pumpkin Pie:

  1. Matt’s Pumpkin Pie. Make the filling the night before for the best flavor. This recipe is based upon King Arthur Flour recipe. My son Matt took over the pumpkin pie baking responsibilities in 2011. For him, it’s a labor of love.
  2. Libby’s Pumpkin Pie. For a long time this was my “go to” pumpkin pie recipe, until I discovered the King Arthur recipe.
  3. Chris Kimball’s Pumpkin Pie. I could never bring myself to put yams into a pumpkin pie, so have never made it.

5 Responses to Thanksgiving Cooking Guide

  1. Kathy says:

    I made the CI Pumpkin Pie with yams and it’s great; you should try it once to see what you think!

    • Hi Kathy, I have been afraid because my son is so in love with his own pumpkin pie. Actually this was my 5th Thanksgiving without making the pumpkin pie; my son makes them.

      So my fear was that it would taste non-traditional. Is the taste much different than regular pumpkin pie?

      • Anonymous says:

        No but it is a bit fussy; when you’re having a crowd, have your son make his and you make this one, too. Does your son make the crust, too? Impressive.

  2. Kathy says:

    It doesn’t taste that different but recipe is a bit fussy. No surprise there!

    Next time you have a crowd, have your son make his and you make this one just for fun.

    Does your son make his own crust? I’m impressed.

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