Turkey Talk 2007 With Christopher Kimball of Cook's Illustrated
"People have to get over their fixation with green vegetables. Green beans are disgusting. Our meal is all shades of white, brown, and orange."
Christopher Kimball is an unlikely media mogul. He's the founding editor and publisher of Cook's Illustrated, the bespectacled host of America's Test Kitchen on PBS, and the proud owner of many bow ties. We caught up with him a couple days ago on the phone to talk turkey (day) with him. It turns out that, among other things, the man hates green beans, and he's not afraid to admit it.
How do you approach Thanksgiving at Cook's Illustrated?
How we approach Thanksgiving goes to the heart of our philosophy. Today, most people's repertoire in the kitchen is unlimited. (Once upon a time people knew how to make 100 dishes, at most.) As a result, nobody ever gets good at anything, because they don't do anything twice. In our magazine, we keep doing the same thing over and over again. So in our Thanksgiving issue we stay focused on the things people want to make: turkey, mashed potatoes, pie crust, biscuits.
How is your coverage different from the other food magazines like Gourmet, Bon Appétit, and Food & Wine?
The editors at the other food magazines write for their friends and themselves. They feel compelled to do something different every year because they're bored. People want mainstream American cooking, and that's what we give them.
What does Chris Kimball serve at his own Thanksgiving? Keep reading.
We came up with one of the best articles we've ever done. Its a recipe for truly foolproof, flaky pie crust. It's a brilliant recipe. The secret ingredient in it? Vodka. [Cook's Illustrated Foolproof Pie Crust recipe]
So what are you serving at the Kimball Thanksgiving this year?
A brined turkey from my neighbor across the road [recipe here], mashed potatoes with turnips, sweet potato casserole, brussels sprouts with our own bacon, glazed onions, all-purpose stuffing with dried breadcrumbs and homemade sausage, apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, trifle made with pastry cream, and a chiffon cake. We call that our "gumming dessert," because you don't need teeth to eat it.
No cranberry sauce?
Oh yes, I just use the recipe on the bag of frozen cranberries. I just add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
I notice there aren't very many green vegetables on the menu.
That's right. Our Thanksgiving meal is all about the desserts. People have to get over their fixation with green vegetables. Green beans are disgusting. Our meal is all shades of white, brown, and orange.
[Chris Kimball didn't talk about this Best Drop Biscuit recipe, but we love hot biscuits at Serious Eats, so we wanted all of you to have the recipe for your feast this year.]