Post-game analysis

apple pie

The dust is now settling (along with the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pie) on Thanksgiving 2016 in the US. As we sit in our turkey-induced stupor, we should resist the urge to take a nap and instead do a ‘post-game analysis’ on what dishes we loved, what was merely average, and what we will never, ever make again. If we don’t do it now, we’ll get busy with other tasks (like tackling the disaster that is our kitchen) and come next year, we may not remember which recipes were winners. 

This year I took that advice and wrote notes in the EYB Library on recipes that I made. Next year I will have to hand over the photography to someone else because the only photos I got were of dessert, after the hectic rush was over. I made the apple/cranberry pie above without using a recipe for the filling, but I did use Michael Ruhlman’s 3-2-1 pie dough. (If the lattice topping looks familiar,it’s because I used a similar weave to the one that King Arthur Flour recently used in its ‘bake along’ email.)

The pie was a hit, as was the Spiced pumpkin cheesecake from Cook’s Illustrated. The standout dish of the day, however, was the Spiced sweet potato and parsnip tian from Epicurious. The combination of sweet apple cider and sumptuous, spicy Aleppo pepper hit all the right notes, even if I used a bit too much liquid. It’s a visually stunning dish, too, which is why I’m sad I didn’t snap a photo.

Thanksgiving wouldn’t seem complete in our household without turkey; this year I spatchcocked a thirteen-pound bird and roasted it following this Serious Eats recipe and with their recommended dry brine, sans baking powder (I have heard it can make the skin splotchy so I just skip it). The bird was beautiful, golden, moist, and about as good as you can expect from turkey, which is not the most flavorful meat to ever grace a holiday table. 

One thing I learned from today’s meal is that you can never make too many mashed potatoes. Each year I make a little more, hoping for potato pancakes for breakfast the next morning, and each year all of the potatoes get eaten. But everyone left the table feeling satisfied, and for that I am very grateful. I am also thankful for the opportunity to share a meal with people so important to me, and to share food and cookbook news with members of the EYB community. 

We’d love to hear from everyone on what worked – or didn’t – for your holiday meal. Please feel free to comment below, but more importantly, make sure you leave feedback on the recipes you tried (with photos if you have them). I hope everyone had as much success with their holiday meal as I did. Now on to that kitchen cleanup…

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  • Jane  on  November 25, 2016

    Fantastic looking pie Darcie. You definitely need to designate a photographer in future – we need your great photos added to recipes on EYB.

  • Jenny  on  November 25, 2016

    That pie is great. I didn't have a moment to take a photo. Maybe for Christmas. Happy Weekend.

  • Rinshin  on  November 25, 2016

    I did not follow a recipe for turkey, but decided to use a technique I read. Instead of using shio koji which I make and use often for fish, chicken pieces, and tougher cuts of meat, small amount of koji powder and even smaller amount of salt is used all over whole chicken or turkey for 1-2 days. I did it for 2 days. I won't go back to other methods of brining whether dry or wet. Excellent results. Skipped on mashed potatoes since I feel it is already too carb heavy. I improvised the recipe for miso coated sweet potatoes since I do not care for sweet tasting main meals and used sake in place of maple syrup which worked great. I'll be repeating that one with tweaks again.

  • FJT  on  November 25, 2016

    Well, being a foreign transplant in the US and only cooking for two (one severely jet-lagged), I made a chicken tagine the day before (something that could be reheated easily whenever my husband's flight got in) and an apple-almond cake – both recipes from David Lebovitz. Nothing will ever induce me to cook a turkey (even though it's a traditional Christmas meal back home in the UK) and I always try to cook something different for the holidays. Both recipes that I made were new to me and both worked a treat.

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