Sure, times are tough. But is the answer to avoid restaurants altogether? Consider this a challenge from Times Restaurant Critic S. Irene Virbila: " ... if we don't support our restaurants now, they may not be still serving when things turn around and we really have something to celebrate." What do you think?
That throwdown helps kick off this week's Food section, but the star of the show is — what else? — Thanksgiving. Here are other can't-miss highlights:
- Thanksgiving is a holiday defined by sharing food, so don't be afraid of enlisting the troops. In some ways, though, that places an added burden on the host: When a lot of cooks pitch in, it's up to the host to make sure the mix works. Here's your checklist, and some words of wisdom: "Remember: It is not possible to be too organized when you're expecting a house full of cooks."
- We revisit a turkey recipe — Judy Rogers' dry-brining-and-roasting method — that has proven to be such a hit with readers that it even has its own lingo.
- Don't be intimidated by carving duties, either. Check out the video of Times Food Editor Russ Parsons, above, walking you through it.
- Are you the invitee instead of the hostee of a potluck this year? Be sure to bring a showstopper, such as creamy mushroom ragout over sweet potato cakes, warm barley and kale salad with roasted pears and candied prosciutto, or pissaladiere with spiced ricotta, radicchio and poached apricots. You could also try starters such as cream of parsnip soup with crisp-fried pancetta or Dungeness crab spring rolls with endive and almonds.
- Amy Scattergood shows you how to enlist the kids when it comes to making dessert, which is, of course, pie, as in pear-blackberry and apple-cranberry. We've also got pecan brittle and blackberry sauce on the side.
- When picking a wine for the big meal, Virbila maintains that you shouldn't stop at just one. (She won't get an argument from any of us.) A photo gallery takes you through her top eight picks.
- If you can't stand the thought of cooking, we've got you covered there too: Here's your list of places where you can dine out — or take out — on Thanksgiving Day.
And finally ...
Check out our photo gallery of Thanksgiving dishes in all their luscious glory.
— Rene Lynch