cover image Thanksgiving: 
How to Cook It Well

Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well

Sam Sifton. Random House, $18 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6991-0

Sifton, the national editor for the New York Times and its former restaurant critic, talks turkey, as well as gravy, cranberry, side dishes, and table settings in this wonderful holiday survival guide. The author describes how to “cook Thanksgiving correctly,” as he spells out the proper way to plan the feast and includes variations on all the classic dishes. Words of wisdom include forgoing appetizers, unless those appetizers happen to be oysters. Recipes include gingered cranberry sauce, creamed brussels sprouts, six different ways to cook a turkey, and four ways to use it in leftovers. As a critic, Sifton would delight his readers by employing a mix of lush and simple imagery, plus a poet’s ear for rhythm. Of a favorite entrée at a Greenwich Village restaurant, he once wrote, “The beans were creamy and substantial, their velvet richness augmented by the plush ermine nature of the peppers.” While his book is intended to be instructional, Sifton displays glimpses of this lyricism throughout, all the while maintaining a playful good nature: “The dessert need not be extravagant. It absolutely should not be experimental. Nor should it be overly cute.” (Oct.)