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Turkey Talk: Cook's Illustrated's Chris Kimball

Every Thanksgiving we check in with food magazine editors around the country to see how they have gone about putting together their Thanksgiving issues. The reductive and obsessive Chris Kimball, founding editor and publisher of Cook's Illustrated and host of America's Test Kitchen, is always refreshingly honest and forthcoming.

"I am not in favor of green vegetables. I'm a white, tan, and orange food guy."

Christopher KimballYour subhead on the pumpkin pie piece in the magazine is fighting words in some quarters: "The best thing about pumpkin pie is that you only have to eat it once a year." Once in awhile we do back and do something again if we learn something about it in the interim. I made our old pumpkin pie recipe for years. It was fine but not fabulous, so I gave it to our test cooks and told them start again. I really like what they came up with [recipe]. In a custard pie there is no reason to use fresh sweet potatoes or fresh pumpkin for that matter.

For your turkey recipe this year you take apart the bird. Turkey parts is radical, I know. I don't cook my turkey this way, but it does solve the problem of the white meat drying out [recipe]. Cook's Illustrated is a democracy, it's a republic, it's not a monarchy, we don't tell people what to cook, we simply respond to surveys of what people want to talk about. The fact is a lot of people don't want to flip a 20 pound bird. I personally don't care about the skin, if you want crispy skin you have to do a lot more work. My attitude is it's 50 percent easier not to worry about the damn skin.

Tell us about your green beans. This is a variation on a theme [recipe]. You combine steaming and sauteing. This recipe starts with sauteing and then you end up steaming the green beans for a couple of minutes. It's a basic approach to vegetables on a stove top that works really well.

bug-holiday-turkey-100px.pngThe sweet potatoes recipe calls for slicing then roasting the sweet potatoes? You get a lot more caramelization that way. It's simple, delicious, and it works [recipe]. That's what we try to do with every recipe.

You have previously told us you are not a green vegetable lover. I am not in favor of green vegetables. I'm a white, tan, and orange food guy. No one eats green vegetables, anyway. It's a guilt thing. My wife makes Brussels sprouts with tons of pork products. Now those are really good because of the pork products. Everyone loves them, even my vegan 20-year-old. My guess is when my back is turned, some of the bacon disappears. She doesn't even try to lecture me any more. She tried proselytizing. It didn't work. She tried to tell me about cancer and barbecue, but it didn't go over very well.

Cook's Illustrated's Thanksgiving Recipes

Slow Roasted Turkey with Gravy
Sautéed Green Beans with Garlic and Herbs
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Pumpkin Pie

Previous Turkey Talks

Gourmet's Ruth Reichl
Bon Appetit's Barbara Fairchild

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