BIRD IS THE WORD: Since Thanksgiving is the one national holiday built entirely around food, WWD asked various food writers, editors of foodie magazines and lifestyle gurus what they were planning to cook up this year. Here’s what they had to say.

Ruth Reichl, editor in chief of Gourmet magazine and former food critic for The New York Times, said she will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner for about a dozen people at her country house. (The kitchen can be seen on page 124 of the November issue of Gourmet.) Reichl will be preparing a miso-rubbed turkey with gravy, persimmon cranberry sauce and rustic porcini onion stuffing.

Food & Wine editor in chief Dana Cowin is fixing an equally decadent shrimp bisque with sherry and brandy, maple-roasted Brussels sprouts and chocolate pecan pie. “This is the dessert that’s going to make everyone happy — the chocoholics and the pecan pie lovers,” she said.

Rachael Ray, whose new magazine is called Every Day with Rachael Ray, is going home to upstate New York for the holidays, to her place in Lake Luzerne near the Adirondacks. Ray said she never tries new dishes on special occasions, instead sticking to her tried-and-true favorites, such as pumpkin polenta, bread pudding and pumpkin seed goat cheese pesto.

Kristin van Ogtrop, managing editor of Real Simple, said she leaves the cooking to her mother-in-law. “I am extremely helpful but not in the driver’s seat,” she said. And not on I-95. “We are driving out of our way to take the scenic route and avoid traffic on I-95, which in my experience provides more than half the stress surrounding any national holiday.”

Margaret Roach, editorial director of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, said, “I’ve been fortunate to be included as a guest by Dennis and Judy Mareb, who live in the Berkshires, near my weekend house, and own a favorite nursery of mine.” She said she was most looking forward to the Marebs’ Albanian-style potato-cracker-and-pine nut stuffing. Roach’s contribution to the meal: “I can make really good gravy, something that so many people aren’t confident about.”

This story first appeared in the November 23, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“I’m still trying to figure out Thanksgiving,” said Vogue’s food critic, Jeffrey Steingarten. “Last year, I was in San Sebastian, Spain, and though I ate wonderfully, there was not a turkey in sight. [This year] I’d like to roast a ‘heritage’ turkey, probably a large, fresh American Bronze.”

New York Times food writers Matt Lee and Ted Lee agreed that Heritage turkeys are hard to beat. “Ted and I both roasted Heritage turkeys last year and were blown away by the flavor and texture of those, so we’re repeating the performance,” said Matt. The Lee brothers will be cooking supper for 16 in Charleston, S.C. “It’s the last Thanksgiving before ‘The Lee Bros. Cookbook’ comes out next November 2006, so the guests are (unwitting) guinea pigs.” The recipes they’ll be testing: sweet potato buttermilk pie, hot slaw (a side dish of red cabbage wilted with smoky slab bacon) and two kinds of spoonbread.

Meanwhile, GQ correspondent Alan Richman said he would be “as close to home as possible” on Thanksgiving. “Although,” he added, “my wife and I will daringly violate our nonmobility principles and visit friends in New Jersey, which means we have to cross state lines.…Inasmuch as we will be in Hoboken, we anticipate fresh mozzarella, meat-bread and Frank Sinatra records.” Asked if there would be anything new on the Thanksgiving menu this year, he said, “I pray not.”
— Sara James

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