Good morning. I figure you’ve got your turkey recipe sorted by now. (You oughta. Thanksgiving is in less than a week!) Kim Severson’s recipe for dry-brined turkey is the choice for nine out of 10 sharpies I’ve spoken with, though if you’d like something new, I’d still love to make the argument for this marvelous recipe for a Jamaican-spiced bird or this recipe for a New England-style one.
And, hey, it’s not too late to deep-fry your turkey. Like training elephants, it’s not particularly difficult. It’s just a little dangerous if you don’t keep your wits about you while you work.
But let’s talk side dishes. I think it’s wise to bring a new one to the holiday table each year. I’m eyeing this recipe for hash brown casserole (above) from Naz Deravian, a simplified take on a classic potluck side dish, funeral potatoes. (R.I.P. turkey.)
Naz calls for frozen bagged hash browns, which would ordinarily annoy me because the whole vibe of this operation is to cook from scratch. But I once spent a winter evening staring at the lights of a frozen bagged hash browns plant twinkling in the dark on the northern Plains, watching plumes of steam from the blanching cauldrons rising toward the stars. It moved me, and when I got home to Brooklyn I bought a bag, griddled it up and fell in love. Frozen bagged hash browns are a quality ingredient.
So make that casserole this weekend and sneak a taste. It freezes nicely, so you could serve it on Thanksgiving if you like or keep it on hand as a last-minute rescue breakfast in the days following the feast, when there are still cousins kicking around and everyone expects you to feed them again.
For non-Thanksgiving cooking this weekend, I think you should jump into Vivian Chan’s new recipe for Mongolian beef, which isn’t Mongolian at all but a staple of Taiwanese barbecue restaurants: Thinly sliced flank steak is marinated in soy sauce, brown sugar and mirin, then cooked over high heat with scallions and chiles until everything’s crisp and caramelized and fiery.
Alternatively, take a look at Melissa Clark’s recipe for mushroom bourguignon, which is remarkably meaty for a vegetarian dish, especially if you can lay your hands on some brisket-like maitake mushrooms to stir into the mix. Make sure you really, really brown them before adding the stock. All that caramelization adds real depth to the sauce.
And you should absolutely make waffles for breakfast on one of the days. Waffles send a message to the universe: You believe in the delicious. You know how to bring it to life.
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We’ll get to the cultural recommendations soon enough, but I’ve got some Thanksgiving housekeeping for you first. If your turkey’s frozen, the time to start defrosting it is Sunday, so that it’s ready for that dry brine on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. And this weekend is the time for stocking up as well: potatoes and butter and butternut squash and more butter and wine and seltzer and cranberries and everything else on your list. Don’t tarry on that stuff. Wednesday night into Thursday morning’s complicated enough without adding last-minute shopping to the mix.