Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Cookbooks: The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan

Over the years, we’ve reviewed a number of Diane Morgan’s excellent cookbooks at January Magazine. And, in general, we like them quite a lot. Morgan’s approach to food is sensible. Though she stays aware of trends and her food is always modern, there is nothing of faddishness about a Morgan cookbook.

All of these things can also be said of The New Thanksgiving Table (Chronicle Books), the latest addition to the Morgan oeuvre. If I have a single quibble, it’s that the title is a bit misleading. One arrives expecting Thanksgiving-specific recipes. And while those are all there -- and then some -- there is so much more here, as well.

I’ll tell you what I mean. Of course there is turkey. And turkey. And then turkey. In fact, aside from basic turkey know-how (buying, defrosting, brining) Morgan has included eight ways to cook a turkey, including the very trendy -- and perhaps even slightly faddish -- Spatchcocked turkey. Some of the eight would seem to have a broader appeal than others. Perhaps that’s to be expected? But while I have no trouble at all imagining hordes of home chefs settling in to prepare Herb Butter-Rubbed Turkey with Giblet Gravy, thinking about the Roast Turkey with Vidalia Cream Gravy makes me feel a little queasy.

As impressive as a book with eight (eight!) turkey recipes might sound, to my mind, the most significant recipes in The New Thanksgiving Table would seem to me to have very little to do with Thanksgiving at all. Crostini with Fig and Calamata Olive Tapenade. Tex-Mex Honey Pecans. Sizzlin’ Corn and Jalapeño Bread with Bacon. Oyster Stew. Roasted Chestnut Soup. Forget Thanksgiving. In some ways, Morgan’s new book is autumn delivered straight to the table. Which is not a bad place to be come Thanksgiving.

The New Thanksgiving Table is another winner for Morgan.

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