Take a deep breath through your N95 . . . it’s almost Thanksgiving!
For a year whose numerals are so handsome, 2020 has been brutal. Now, in 202o’s eleventh month, many Americans, who generally welcome Thanksgiving, are simply exhausted, and the holiday feels diminished and complicated.
If you, like we, are planning a smaller gathering—where fewer guests mean fewer hands in the kitchen—these recipes keep things small and tidy, with servings sizes of 4 to 6 and simple cooking vessels and presentation.
Happy Thanksgiving! We are tremendously grateful to have had your support over the past long months and look forward to the continued opportunity to grow and mill our grains for you.
Japanese Milk Bread
When creamy rice-flour “water roux” joins enriched yeasted bread dough, they make magic. We love the light, moist crumb and delicate palate of Japanese milk bread and consider this recipe a particularly tasty true-to-type representation. Less sweet and confection-leaning than many milk breads, this bread’s flavor trails off on warm notes of caramel and spice. We credit the character of the French Mediterranean landrace wheat used in the recipe, which, this season—by virtue of increased carotene content in the field—expresses a tawny cast in the bread’s crumb. Far from being considered a flaw, increased carotene predicts robust flavor in any bread formula it informs. If you do not own a Pullman loaf pan, instructions on how to bake this bread for the stuffing below are described in the Baking Notes section of the Japanese Milk Bread recipe.
Light and Crisp
Thanksgiving Bread Stuffing
Received opinion suggests that “stuffing” is baked inside the bird and “dressing” out. But does anyone actually stuff a turkey anymore? And don’t most people who make dressing call it “stuffing” anyway? That is what we’re calling this one, a baked-on-the-side bread stuffing that has been left largely to its own devices. There is nothing to see here, no fancy ingredients, no aperçus. But the beautiful bread, the shallots, and the rich stock contribute collectively to make this stuffing’s flavor and texture memorable. Bake the bread and make the stock ahead, and this bread stuffing is a piece of cake.
Bacon-Glazed Brussels Sprouts
with Farro Piccolo
Any vegetable you know need a plus-one? Tap our friend farro piccolo, the bouncy grain that presents with great looks and taste—and it’s witty, too. We already know Brussels sprouts enjoy the company of farro—we know because we’ve seen the two of them together on our site in the past. This holiday preparation glosses farro piccolo and pan-seared Brussels with smoky bacon fat, crisp fried bacon, a few chopped pecans, and a splash of maple and vinegar. There’s your green vegetable.
Gravy is Thanksgiving’s designated driver. There to save everything. But executing pan gravy amid grease and clutter right before the meal can run straight into “make mine a double” territory. Get the gravy’s foundational elements well in hand ahead of time. The recipe can also be halved for a smaller guest count.
Double-Crust Apple Slab Pie
To our mind, having an apple dessert at Thanksgiving is nonnegotiable. If we don’t make one, someone else will. This year, amid a falling guest count, we realized we’d be peeling and chopping apples ourselves. The three apple-in-residence recipes on the site—strudel, dumplings, and crêpe cake—were too much bother. The shaping and fluting demands of a double-crust apple pie didn't sound like fun, either. So we took a practical approach: pastry without curves! One square baking dish, two sheets of pastry, a couple pounds of McIntosh apples later, and a double-crusted slab is what you get. This pie is pretty easy and exceptionally tasty. Make sure to seek out creamy, quick-baking Macs—they are apple variety #1 for this pie.
Custard Sauce (Crème Anglaise)
Every holiday needs dessert sauce, and crème anglaise, or stirred custard, is the fairest of them all. This one has enough heft to drape, just enough sugar to pull the vanilla bean forth, and could go to eggnog ice cream at a moment’s notice.