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Thanksgiving Hardcover – October 23, 2012

82 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

No national holiday preserves traditions as rigorously observed as the foods of America’s Thanksgiving Day. In fact, it’s impossible to imagine the fourth Thursday of November without turkey, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. Sifton, former food critic for the New York Times, sets out to find the best rendition of the time-honored Thanksgiving dinner. He’s not interested in introducing some trendy new food into the feast, just in steering readers to carefully crafted versions of customary holiday favorites. Sifton quickly inventories essential kitchen equipment for the dinner. He enumerates the sorts of turkeys currently in markets and gives a handful of recipes with varying cooking techniques. A host of different stuffings and side dishes complements the bird. Traditional American desserts conclude the meal. He even details how to set a table, recognizing it as a nearly lost art in today’s world. This is a good resource for any cook not already bound to fixed and inflexible Thanksgiving menus. --Mark Knoblauch


Advance praise for Thanksgiving
“If you don’t have Thanksgiving, you are not really having Thanksgiving. This book is as essential to the day as the turkey itself. It’s an expert, gently opinionated guide to everything from the cranberry sauce to the table setting to the divvying up of the leftovers, but it’s also a paean to the holiday and an evocation of both its past and its promising future. Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving world is the one I want to live in.”—Gabrielle Hamilton, bestselling author of Blood, Bones, & Butter
“The charm of Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving is that he proposes that home cooks treat this culinary Olympics like any other dinner party—don’t panic, deconstruct your tasks into bite-size pieces, and conquer that fear of failure. Sam could talk a fledgling doctor through his first open-heart surgery. It’s all here—from brining to spatchcocking, sides to desserts—and served up with a generous dollop of reassuring advice from one of America’s most notable food writers.”—Christopher Kimball, editor of Cook’s Illustrated and host of America’s Test Kitchen

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (October 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400069912
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069910
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Esther Schindler TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is one instance when I want to distract you from the number of stars I give the book, because depending on what you're looking for, the rating is either "absolutely 5 stars" or "not so much."

Sam Sifton's _Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well_ has a very clear goal: to make the traditional what-we-grew-up-with Thanksgiving meal the best it can possibly be. Without question, it succeeds. However, it gives no attention, none, to alternatives, let's-try-something-different, or what to serve vegetarians. If you want suggestions on how to liven up the old turkey-and-dressing meal, look elsewhere. Really. You'll be completely disappointed.

But oh, OH, it is so good at what it sets out to do. As Sifton writes, "It is a primer on how to face down the Thanksgiving meal. It should provide you with solace as you face the terrors of your first Thanksgiving or the boredom of your 26th." Solace: That's the ticket. Because even if Thanksgiving is the High Holy Day to us foodies, it's a huge meal to prepare for people who are not into cooking, not to mention them coping with stress of the family politics of who is talking to whom, and the subjects we hope Uncle Harry *won't* bring up. Sifton promises: "You can make a better turkey than anyone has ever served you in your life. You can serve it with dressing that makes your guests swoon."

He has very clear ideas on what it takes to make the meal (the day, really) a success, starting of course with the menu. And this is where the expectations come in: The recipes he provides are for the super-traditional Thanksgiving dinner. That means turkey, no alternate suggestions. It means the side dishes you can tick off on your fingers -- mashed potatoes, green beans, brussels sprouts, cornbread dressing -- without a lot of options.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By S. D. Fischer VINE VOICE on October 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I must agree with the author when he writes, "Thanksgiving is not a book for everyone. It is not for those in search of the new Thanksgiving craze, the latest recipe for turkey in a bag, the next big trend in holiday entertaining. There will be no recipes here for ham or lamb, roast beef or swordfish... You will make a turkey. Turkey is why you are here." He has a very strong opinion of what Thanksgiving is and allows no room for deviation. There will be no appetizers and no salad.

As other reviewers have noted, if you want a primer on an old-fashioned Thanksgiving with turkey, sides and dessert (AND you don't already have a Thanksgiving cookbook), this might be worth considering (although I encourage you to check out other Thanksgiving books first). If you already have a Thanksgiving cookbook (perhaps The New Thanksgiving Table or The Thanksgiving Table: Recipes and Ideas to Create Your Own Holiday Tradition), I doubt you will get much from this.

If you want recipes for a traditional meal with alternatives for loved ones who follow a vegetarian, gluten-free or low-fat diet, this book is not for you. Although the author mentions fielding questions on the New York website including what to feed a vegan aunt, there is no consideration given to alternative diets in the book.

There are also no photos, only a handful of sketches. Granted, nearly everyone knows what a cooked turkey and a pie look like, but I still like to see photos of the finished dish when I make a new recipe.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By anon on October 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As Thanksgiving provides comfort food, Sam Sifton has provided comfort reading in this small, but packed-full little reader. Would I call this a recipe book? Not sure, but it certainly does contain all the recipes a newbie would need to whip up their first Thanksgiving . But it's more than just recipes, and that is what I love about it. The author talks about each component of the meal, and also reminisces about past holidays which gave me the same feeling as when I think back to some of my favorite past Thanksgivings as well. We all tend to have that ideal vision, either from a past event of our own, or from a magazine page or movie scene. We hold it in our hearts and do what we can to recreate it year after year. Regardless of how the food comes out or who shows up at our door, we need to remember that part of the joy comes from our state of mind. This book helps put you in that good place.

There are plenty of cookbooks out there with full-color photos, so if that is what you are looking for, this is not that kind of recipe book. There are just a few black and white sketches (the publisher should have put more, they add charm and fit so well with the author). But if you want the feel of a favorite relative or friend sitting with you over coffee or a glass of wine and sharing with you their old recipe box filled with tried and true classics, this is the book for you. Grab a warm drink and snuggle up on the couch with this book. You'll feel the spirit of Thanksgiving upon you.

It starts with, of course, Getting Started - and talks about the basic supplies, pans, and tools you will need. I have been very happy to see that most of what a do is in sync with the author. I was worried it was going to be ultra Martha Stewart and I would think, oh, forget this. But it's not.
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