Home Ec: Thanksgiving Basics--Fried Sage Salsa Verde

The Thanksgiving table is always shy of acid and herbs, if you ask me, so salsa verde is a great way to reintroduce a bit of that into the meal.  Delicious on roast vegetables and turkey alike, this version works in that crucial fall flavor: sage.

photo souce: sarah at

the delicious life

Fried Sage Salsa Verde

Serves 8 

2 bunches sage, leaves picked

1 bunch parsley, leaves picked and chopped finely

1 shallot, diced finely


Peanut or grapeseed oil for frying

Red wine vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

First, macerate the shallot.  Cover with red wine vinegar and set aside.

Next, fry the sage.  In a deep saucepot, bring 2 cups of frying oil to 360°F.  Drop in a scant handful of the sage and fry for about 20 seconds, or until the bubbles slow down.  Remove from the oil and drain on a pan lined with paper towels.  Repeat with remaining sage leaves.

When the sage has cooled, it will be crisp.  You can either chop it with a knife or crumble it with your fingers.  In a large bowl, combine the parsley and sage and cover with olive oil.  Season with salt. 

When you are ready to serve the salsa, combine the shallots, but not the vinegar, with the herbs.  Taste the salsa and adjust for salt, and if needed, add some of the leftover vinegar to taste. 

Home Ec: Thanksgiving Basics--Working ahead

Planning and prepping ahead--and thinking like a professional cook--is the key to getting the entire Thanksgiving meal on the table at the same time without committing either seppuku or homicide.

photo source: the amazing andrea gentl of

hungry ghost food + travel

The trick is to spread out tasks that take lots of time, lots of oven space, lots of stove space, or make big messes so that you aren't out of space at the last minute.  So choosing dishes that reheat well, or that taste good served at room temperature, is crucial to making Thursday go smoothly.  

Here are a few ways you can work ahead for next week:

Before Tuesday:

  • Make pie dough and freeze
  • If using a frozen turkey, defrost so you can season or brine it on Tuesday
  • Make turkey or chicken stock and freeze for gravy


  • Season or brine turkey
  • Buy bread to use for stuffing, or make cornbread for stuffing


  • Make cranberry sauce
  • Wash herbs, greens and lettuces
  • Roast pumpkin for pie if using fresh squash
  • Measure out ingredients for pecan pie filling, pumpkin pie filling, etc.
  • Tear croutons for stuffing and dry out in oven
  • Clean green beans
  • Make soup, if planning to serve
  • Peel potatoes and keep whole in water
  • Peel onions and carrots that you might use in any dishes, such as creamed corn, creamed spinach, stuffing, etc.
  • Make any caramel sauces or things like that that you might need to garnish desserts
  • If you're insane enough to want to make homemade ice cream, get it in the freezer by tonight.
  • If you are using fresh chestnuts, get them boiled and peeled.


Early morning

  • Pull turkey out of fridge to come up to room temp
  • Blind bake pie doughs
  • Brown sausage or bacon for stuffing
  • Prep vegetables--trim and halve Brussels sprouts, peel squash, peel any root vegetables, clean and trim cauliflower or broccoli, etc.
  • Roast vegetables that might need roasting--these do well at room temperature!
  • Cook off onions or any mirepoix
  • Make creamed spinach--this reheats well.
  • Do anything like seeding pomegranates, peeling persimmons, toasting nuts, or making vinaigrette that might be necessary for the salad

Heading into the afternoon and dinner time

  • Roast the turkey
  • Make the gravy with turkey drippings
  • Bake off pies
  • Make mashed potatoes and keep warm in double boiler
  • Assemble and bake stuffing/dressing

Right before dinner

  • Reheat dishes that need to be reheated, like soups, creamed spinach, or gravy
  • Toss the salad greens
  • Carve the turkey

Before dessert

  • Whip cream
  • Portion pies

Home Ec: Thanksgiving Basics--Roasted Vegetables in Agrodolce

Though this recipe is for brussels sprouts and butternut squash, it'll work with any dense root or vegetable, such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions or even green beans!

photo source

Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts in Agrodolce

Serves 8-10

1 pound Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed

1 large butternut squash, cut into 1-inch slices, skin on , seeds discarded

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

½ medium red onion, sliced thinly

½ teaspoon red chili flakes

1 clove garlic, pounded

¼ cup fresh mint leaves


Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. 

Season the squash lightly with salt, drizzle with olive oil and place in a single layer on 1 or 2 cookie sheets. 

Halve the Brussels sprouts and season lightly with salt.  Drizzle with olive oil and place in a single layer on 1 or 2 cookie sheets, cut side down. 

Place vegetables into the preheated oven and cook 20-24 minutes, until tender and caramelized. 

Meanwhile, stir together another ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, sugar, onion, chili flakes, and garlic and season with salt. 

Check on the vegetables to make sure that they are browning evenly, rotating pans to control the heat.  When you are satisfied that they are cooked, remove from the oven and mix in a big bowl.  Pour marinade over and allow to sit for 20 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Garnish with torn mint leaves before serving.  

Home Ec: Thanksgiving Basics--Cranberry Sauce Two Ways

Cranberry sauce, with its color and its acid, is one of the most important dishes on the Thanksgiving table. It's also pretty much the simplest dish to make.

Here are two versions--one basic, and one a bit more complicated. Both are perfect on that leftover turkey sandwich.

photo source: 

cranberry squircle

, by 


Super Simple Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Serves 12

12 ounces (1 bag) fresh cranberries

1 cup water

6 tablespoons sugar

3 bay leaves

1 orange, juiced and zested finely

Pinch of salt

In a medium, non-reactive saucepan, combine all ingredients, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir and taste as it cooks, adding water, sugar and salt as needed. 

Once it cools, it will set up a lot.  Add water or fresh orange juice, if desired, to thin it out.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Cranberry Sauce with Quince and Bay 

Serves 12

5 quinces (2 to 2 1/4 pounds), peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch chunks

3 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

3 bay leaves

8 ounces cranberries

3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in heavy large saucepan over medium–high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium–low. Cover and simmer until quinces are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Pour mixture into large strainer set over bowl; reserve juices.

Return quince mixture to same saucepan; mash with the back of a wooden spoon. Add cranberries; cook over medium heat until most of berries burst, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and lemon juice to taste. Transfer sauce to bowl. Before serving, stir enough reserved juices into sauce to thin to desired consistency. Serve sauce cold or at room temperature.

Home Ec: Thanksgiving Basics--Charlie's Prune and Sausage Stuffing

This is Charlie's sausage and prune stuffing, which I have whole-heartedly adopted as my own.  The prunes and wine offer much-needed acid to balance out the sweetness of the vegetables, and everything else on the Thanksgiving table.

This stuffing is SO GOOD when fried up the next day, served with a poached egg for breakfast.  Total heaven.


Aya Brackett


Martha Stewart


1 loaf (2 pounds) day-old country bread, crust removed and bread torn into 1-inch cubes

4 cups chicken stock

12 ounces prunes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

2 bunches hearty leafy greens, such as Tuscan kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 8 cups)

2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled

5 celery stalks, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

2 onions, chopped

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 250°F. Bake bread on a baking sheet in a single layer until dried but not browned, about 15 minutes. Remove bread, and let cool. Raise oven temperature to 350°F.

Bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add prunes, and let soak for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook greens until tender, seasoning with salt as you go, about 10 minutes, and transfer to a plate. Let cool. Wipe out skillet.

Heat remaining tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat. Brown sausage, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through and no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl using a slotted spoon. Add more oil to skillet if needed, and cook celery, carrots, and onions until tender, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain prunes, reserving poaching liquid. Add prunes, bread, greens, and vegetable mixture to bowl with sausage. Gradually add reserved poaching liquid (about 2 1/2 cups) and wine, stirring to combine. Stir in parsley, sage and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.  The mixture should be really juicy, salty, and balanced with the acid from the wine.

Divide stuffing between two buttered  9-by-13-inch baking dishes. Dot tops with butter. Bake until browned, about 45 minutes.