For your feast: dishes to dig into



Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving Recipes and History, From Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie

Kathleen Curtin, Sandra L. Oliver and Plimoth Plantation

Clarkson Potter / 2005 / $22.50

If you're looking for a cookbook that both takes you back to the roots of Thanksgiving and gives you fresh variations on the classic meal, Giving Thanks is for you.

Food historian Kathleen Curtin and writer Sandra L. Oliver draw on the resources of Plimoth Plantation, a living-history museum in Massachusetts that explores the origins of the holiday. Not only can you cook from this book, but also you can read from it to start a discussion around the holiday table.

It includes everything from 17th-century instructions on how to boil a "wilde duck" to a discussion of how Americans of various backgrounds have made Thanksgiving their own (lasagna, for example, has claimed a place on the menu in many homes).

Another bonus: The recipes we tried were a breeze to prepare. Really Easy Cranberry Pecan Brie was just that.

As an alternative to turkey, we tried Pernil, a pork shoulder slowly roasted in a peppery garlic paste that the authors say is commonly served alongside the turkey in Caribbean-Hispanic households.

It had all the hallmarks of a great holiday dish; it's prepared the day before (without much trouble), then brought to the table after several hours of slow cooking. It was delicious, and the leftovers only got better.

Brussel Sprouts With Chestnuts was a fine accompaniment. (If you're using fresh rather than the canned chestnuts the recipe calls for, chop them.) Texas Buttermilk Pie, said to be a state Thanksgiving favorite, came together quickly with a store-bought crust, and finished the meal with a light, lemony touch.

The recipe doesn't estimate how long it will take to bake, so you must watch the pie carefully until a sharp knife comes out clean. (Mine took about 50 minutes.) While the recipe calls for a double pie crust, one is all you need.


A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year

DeeDee Stovel

Storey Publishing / 2005 / $12.95

If you just can't get enough pumpkin in these fall months, DeeDee Stovel offers more than 125 ways to use it all year long.

For Thanksgiving, she offers six recipes for pumpkin pie alone, along with pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate-pumpkin cake and white chocolate pumpkin fudge. You'll also find lots of pumpkin soups and stews, and tips for preparing and storing fresh pumpkin.

The more intriguing recipes put pumpkin in unlikely places -- such as a version of Sloppy Joes ("Punkin' Joes"), Mexican Pumpkin Lasagna, and Blue-Cheese-and-Pumpkin Galette.

Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving Entertaining

Lou Seibert Pappas

Free Press / 2005 / $24.95

This Thanksgiving volume ushers in a new entertaining series of Williams-Sonoma books. This one is coffee-table pretty, with 50 recipes and menus for a New England Thanksgiving, California Thanksgiving, Southern Thanksgiving, Day-After Lunch and Weekend Breakfast.

There are work plans, lists and tips throughout, for setting the scene for each celebration, pairing wines with the meal and creating centerpieces.


Pernil (Puerto Rican Roast Pork Shoulder)

Serves 8 to 10

1 large head of garlic, broken apart and cloves peeled (serious garlic lovers can use two heads)

1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

3 tablespoons olive oil

one 5- to 6-pound bone-in pork shoulder, trimmed

The day before you will serve the roast pork: Using a mortar and pestle, food processor or blender, make a paste of the garlic, oregano, salt, peppercorns and olive oil.

Place the pork shoulder in a glass or ceramic roasting pan. Using a sharp knife, pierce the pork shoulder on all sides to a depth of 1/2 inch. Rub the entire shoulder with the garlic mixture, making sure it goes into all of the cuts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.

The next day, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the pan with the pork, fat side up, on the middle rack of the oven. After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 300 degrees. Cook for an additional 3 hours to 3 1/2 hours, basting every 30 minutes or so with any pan juices (you can add water to the pan by the half cup if needed).

The pork should be tender when pierced with a fork, and the internal temperature of the roast should be 150 degrees. Remove the pork from the oven and allow to rest 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

Per serving (based on 10 servings): 378 calories; 37 grams protein; 24 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 2 grams carbohydrate; 0 grams fiber; 114 milligrams cholesterol; 542 milligrams sodium

From "Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, From Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie"

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