Turkey Talk 2007 With Barbara Fairchild of Bon Appétit

"In summer we test recipes. When it's about a hundred degrees out, we're eating turkey, gravy, stuffing, and sweet potatoes."

20071114fairchild.jpgBon Appétit editor in chief Barbara Fairchild is an American success story. She started at the magazine in 1978 as an editorial assistant and worked her way up to her current job 22 years later. I spoke to her a few days ago about the magazine's Thanksgiving issue. What did I learn? Don't mess with her octogenarian mother's pumpkin pie, which is still as good as pumpkin pie gets.

So what happens at Bon Appétit when you start thinking about Thanksgiving coverage?
It all starts right after the last Thanksgiving. We talk about a year ahead of time. In summer we test recipes. When it's about a hundred degrees out, we're eating turkey, gravy, stuffing, and sweet potatoes. But you know what? Everyone still comes running, because people love Thanksgiving food any time of year. No one ever complains.

So where did you end up this year?
We returned to the basic format, dish by dish, chapter by chapter. I think it's the easiest way for readers to put together their own dinners. If we present recipes people can really use, we'll have done our job.

What are her favorites from this year's magazine? Keep reading.

part of a Serious ThanksgivingWhat are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes in Bon Appétit this year?
I love the Potato Gratin with Porcini Mushrooms and Mascarpone Cheese. It's way too rich for Thanksgiving, especially since I serve two kinds of stuffing and two kinds of potatoes already. But, man, is it good.

I also think the Cornbread Stuffing Muffins with Ham and Sage is fun because everyone gets their own little cornbread muffins. I bet it would even work with a cornbread mix, though we never tested the recipe using a mix.

I also really like the Cranberry, Pear, and Ginger Chutney. It's easy, different, and I like the texture. Plus, it's foolproof, so I'm giving it to a friend who never cooks the other 364 days of the year.

Then I love the Brussels Sprout Hash with Caramelized Shallots. I want something green at my Thanksgiving table, and it's always brussels sprouts. I know my nephews are going to pick the almonds out of the dish.

What's your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal?
I like the turkey, stuffing, and gravy combo, followed by my mom's pumpkin pie. She's 87, but her pumpkin pie is still the best one I've ever tasted.

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