Kira and Marybeth Talk Turkey (and Other Thanksgiving Stuff)

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SacMag food bloggers Kira O’Donnell and Marybeth Bizjak recently discussed their plans for Thanksgiving dinner.

Marybeth: Hey, Kira, I popped into Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op the other day to reserve a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving. But the guy at the meat counter said there will be plenty on hand through the holiday; no need to put in an order. So I’m set. I’ll go pick up my bird on Tuesday. How about you? Where are you getting your turkey this year? What kind? Are you springing for one of those fancy heritage ones? And where do you stand on the question of the day: to brine or not to brine?

Kira: My free-range, hormone- and antibiotic-free turkey is coming from Corti Brothers. Yes, brining is an absolute for me. I think it makes a big difference. Brined turkey is—in my opinion—much moister and more flavorful. My husband’s tackling the stuffing, and I’ve got the mashed potatoes, roasted veggies and dessert. We’ll have to cook our food over several days, as we only have one oven rack—a long story that involves over-eager children, a clandestine baking experiment and a plastic cutting board. What side dishes are you serving? And how many guests will you have?

Marybeth: It’ll be just myself, my husband and our two daughters for Thanksgiving this year. I used to make everyone eat dinner in the dining room using the good china, linens and candles. But a few years ago, they all rebelled. Now, I set up a buffet in the kitchen, we all fill our plates, and then we eat dinner sitting on the floor in the family room, watching a movie. (This year it’s a double feature: Back to the Future and Knocked Up.) It sounds weird, but everybody’s much happier, and that’s what the holidays are about, right? In terms of the food, I keep it simple. In addition to the turkey, I’m making mashed potatoes, green beans, tiny balsamic-glazed onions (the recipe’s in this month’s Sunset) and stuffing. Normally I make a wonderful Tex-Mex dressing that takes days. (It starts with homemade biscuits and cornbread, which I set out on the counters to dry.) But I was just at Williams-Sonoma, which was sampling a pecan-dried cranberry stuffing mix from La Brea Bakery. It was fabulous, so I bought a box. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that people don’t care if I knock myself out for days preparing food. A rested mommy is a happy mommy, don’t you think? I still haven’t decided on dessert. What are you making, Kira?

Kira: Thanksgiving dessert at our house will be cazuela (pumpkin, sweet potato and coconut milk) pie, a huge customer favorite at the Real Pie Company; a poached quince and wild blackberry custard tart; and dark chocolate-mint brownies. Mmmmm. I may have to skip the turkey just to save room.

Marybeth: I suppose I’ll make a pecan pie (my husband’s favorite)—and maybe chocolate cream pie, if I get around to it. One last question: What will you be drinking with your turkey? We’re having Champagne. Frankly, it’s all I want to drink between from Thanksgiving til New Year’s. How about you?

Kira: A selection of Beaujolais Nouveau, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Viognier—and lots of sparkling cider for the kids. Happy Thanksgiving!