Turkey vs. sides! Recipes for holiday staples

What makes the Thanksgiving meal: the turkey or the sides? This holiday season, two writers took their kitchen fight to the pages of the New York Times. Kim Severson argued that the turkey is the most important part of dinner and Julia Moskin argued that it's the side dishes that make eaters and cooks the happiest. Below are the treasured holiday recipes they used to prove their point:

Dry-Brined Turkey

Ingredients

    • 1 12- to 16-pound turkey, preferably a heritage or pasture raised bird
    • 1/2 cup kosher salt, more if needed
    • 1 tablespoon black pepper
    • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
    • 2 small onions, halved
    • 2 small apples, cored and halved
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/2 cup white wine (optional)

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Two days before serving, rinse turkey and pat dry. Rub all over with kosher salt, slipping salt under skin where possible and rubbing some into cavities. Use about 1 tablespoon per four pounds of bird.Wrap bird in a large plastic bag and place in refrigerator. On second night, turn turkey over. A couple of hours before cooking, remove turkey from bag and pat dry. Place in roasting pan and allow to come to room temperature.Heat oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle half the pepper into main cavity of turkey; add thyme, parsley, half the onions and half the apples. Truss legs with kitchen twine. Put remaining apples and onions in neck opening and tuck neck skin under bird.Rub butter under breast skin and onto thigh meat. Sprinkle bird with remaining pepper.Roast for 30 minutes. Remove turkey from oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees and cover breast of bird and wing tips with foil. Add a cup and a half of water or white wine to bottom of roasting pan and roast bird for another two hours, depending on size; figure 12 minutes a pound for an unstuffed bird. Remove foil in last half-hour so breast browns. When turkey has roasted for two hours, begin to test for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer (digital is best) into two places in thigh, making sure not to touch bone. It should be at about 160 degrees.When roasting is done, tip turkey so interior juices run back into pan. Remove turkey to a separate baking sheet or serving platter, cover with foil and then a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.Pour fat and drippings from pan into a measuring cup. Deglaze pan with white wine or broth and pour that into same measuring cup. Fat and drippings can then be used to make gravy.

Two-Way Chanterelle and Pear Bread Stuffing

Ingredients

    • 1 large loaf Pullman or other firm white bread
    • 1 pound chanterelle mushrooms
    • 1/3 pound pancetta, diced small
    • 10 tablespoons butter, more for greasing muffin tins
    • 1 large chopped onion
    • 1/4 cup minced shallots (about three)
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/3 cup white wine
    • 3 1/2 cups diced pears (about four or five firm, ripe varieties like Bartlett or Anjou) plus one whole pear
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
    • 1/4 cup minced chives
    • 1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
    • 2 cups turkey stock

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Tear bread into small pieces and set in roasting pan or bowl. To dry bread, cover with paper towels and leave out overnight. Or, place on a baking sheet in batches and lightly toast. Set aside.Wipe mushrooms with a clean, damp towel. Trim tough ends. Slice some thickly, chop others. Set aside. Place pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook slowly until fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Remove to a large plate.Add 2 tablespoons butter to fat in pan and turn heat to medium high. Add onion and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft. Do not brown. Remove to plate holding pancetta.Add 3 tablespoons butter to pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and quickly sauté until starting to brown. Remove and add to plate.Add wine to pan and deglaze over medium high heat, cooking until wine reduces by about half. Pour remaining liquid over mushrooms. Wipe out pan and add remaining butter. Add pears and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Sauté pears, in batches if necessary, over medium high heat until they begin to brown slightly. In a large bowl or roasting pan, add sautéed ingredients to bread. Toss lightly to combine. Add herbs and toss again. Slowly pour one cup stock over mixture and toss. Add more broth to make a very moist stuffing. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. If you are stuffing a brined turkey, remember that the bird will add a bit more salt.Just before roasting turkey, place some room-temperature stuffing lightly inside a prepared bird. Place whole pear in opening of cavity to help hold stuffing in the bird.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter muffin tins and fill each with stuffing, pressing down so each cup is well filled. Top each with one tablespoon stock. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until a golden crust forms on bottom. To serve, use a butter knife to remove each stuffing muffin and invert onto the plate.

Fiery Sweet Potatoes
Servings:

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients

    • 5 pounds sweet potatoes
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
    • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon salt.

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake potatoes on a baking sheet until very soft, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, peel and mash.In a small saucepan, heat coconut milk with curry paste over low heat. Mix coconut milk mixture, half the sugar, half the butter, and salt into potatoes. Keep warm until ready to serve, or cover and refrigerate up to two days. At least 30 minutes before serving, heat oven to 425 degrees. Put potatoes in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover potatoes, dot with remaining butter and sugar and broil until brown and crusty on top, checking often to prevent scorching.

Read the full New York Times article on Thanksgiving dishes.

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