We’re just over a week out from the big meal, and it’s time to hone in on a menu. The turkey is a given, but options are endless when deciding what surrounds it. So we went back through our past editions and looked for our very favorite recipes to share the spotlight on Turkey Day.
We're starting with dessert first: this might be one of the best pies we've ever made, a recipe from Scott Hocker's Volume 6: Sweet Potatoes.
Cardamom & Coconut Milk
A little aromatic and lush, this pie conjures both East Africa and the American South. The key to the dough, which I based on a foolproof recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, is to be sure the fat is extremely cold. You could even put the lard or shortening in the freezer about 30 minutes before you make the dough. If you can get pure rendered pork fat, I recommend using lard. It’s healthier than shortening and the flaky results it produces are remarkable. -Scott Hocker
Makes 1 pie
For the crust:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons sugar
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
4 tablespoons cold lard or vegetable shortening
¼ cup ice-cold water
For the filling:
1¼ pounds sweet potatoes (about 1 extra-large potato or 2 medium potatoes)
3 cardamom pods, smashed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup tightly packed light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk (shake the can well before opening and measuring)
Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter, using your hands to coat the pieces with the flour. Pulse for five 1-second bursts. Add the lard (or shortening) and pulse about four more times, until there are no dough pieces larger than a pea. Don’t overprocess. Turn the mixture out into a large bowl.
Add 3 tablespoons of the ice-cold water to the dough. Using your hands, fold the water into the dough, pressing it into a ball. The dough is ready when it barely comes together; add another tablespoon of water, if needed. Use your hands to shape the dough into a flat disk about 4 inches wide. Wrap the disk with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. (You can leave it there for up to 2 days.)
Lightly flour a work surface. Unwrap the chilled dough and, using a rolling pin, roll it into a circle about 10 inches wide, dusting it with additional flour as necessary so that it does not stick to the work surface. Transfer the crust to an 8- or 9-inch pie tin.
Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 325°. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1½- to 2-inch pieces. Add the sweet-potato pieces to a baking dish small enough to fit them rather snugly (an 8-by-8 dish will work well). Add 1 cup of water: The water level should be about ½-inch deep. If it isn’t, add more water until the depth reaches about ½ inch. Add the cloves and the smashed cardamom pods. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake until the sweet potatoes offer absolutely no resistance when their centers are pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes.
Pass the sweet potatoes through a food mill, potato ricer or sieve into a large bowl. Let cool. Strain the cooking liquid (you should have between ¼ and ½ cup).
Increase the oven temperature to 350°. Add the beaten eggs to the sweet potato puree, mixing well. Add ¼ cup of the spiced cooked liquid and mix well. In a medium bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and brown sugar until no clumps remain. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl of sugar and stir. Add the sugar-flour mixture to the sweet potatoes and stir well, until the sweet potatoes and sugar are uniformly combined. Stir in the coconut milk.
Add the filling to the pie tin. Trim the dough hanging over the edges of the pie tin and crimp the edges with a fork. Bake until a cake tester or knife placed in the center of the pie comes out clean and the top of the filling is cracked in places, about 1 hour. If the edges of the crust start to darken before the filling is cooked, cover the rim of the crust with foil. Let the pie cool before serving it by itself or with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.