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David Leite: Renee?

Renee Schettler: Mm-hmm?

David: What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year?

Renee: I’m…not exactly certain yet. You know, it’s not exactly a traditional year.

David: Right. Yeah.

Renee: And my mom has decreed no Thanksgiving dinner at her house because I don’t think she could handle the Catholic guilt, which I completely respect and support.

David: Yeah.

Renee: And from a food perspective, that’s okay with me. I’m accustomed to untraditional traditions.

David: Yeah.

Renee: I usually am not here, close by family. So that aspect, it’s not like I need to have stuffing, like my little sister does.

David: Right.

Renee: I’ll figure something out. What I will miss is all the obvious, getting together with people. Maybe my mom will come over on the porch and we’ll have coffee in the morning. I don’t know. What about you?

A white casserole dish filled with gingersnap and sweet potato casserole, topped with mini marshmallows and a spoon resting inside.
: Jennifer Davick

David: Well, my dad died this year, and so my mom is alone. And I haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents or my mom in years and years. So what The One and I are going to do is cook Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, all the different things that we like. And he’ll portion out whatever he wants for himself. Like for instance, he loves sweet potato casserole. My mother would never touch that. So he’s going to make it for himself and keep it. And then early, early, early Thanksgiving morning, we’re going to take up all the food, bring it to my mom’s house, reheat it there, and have Thanksgiving with her.

Renee: Oh, that will be really nice.

David: Yeah. And I’m excited by that. Of course, we are going to be very safe. We’re going to get our COVID test several days before.

Renee: Nice.

David: We’ll get a COVID test after, but I’m just craving a real traditional Thanksgiving this year. I just really am. I want some sense of tradition and normalcy.

Renee: I can understand that. We just don’t have that this year. I guess I’m trying to shift my awareness to everything I do have to be grateful for. And there’s so much.

David: Very good. Adam, what about you? What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Adam Clairmont: I was just talking about this over the weekend with my wife and her folks, because usually we meet up with my in-laws.

David: Oh, that’s nice.

Adam: We go to their place and there’s a big stroll outside with shops and cider and parades and we do Santa. There’s someone on that side of the family who’s in her early-nineties and she is super amazing so we always love to see her. You know, like a lot of people, we’re not going to be able to do all those things so it’s probably going to be a lot more low-key, although I’m sure we’ll hop on Zoom and still be able to laugh and see some people at some point.

Renee: Nice.

David: That’s good. Well, obviously this year is different, and we’ve gotten a lot of questions from readers and also listeners on how to navigate this year’s holiday because it is really a family and friends holiday. So welcome to the Thanksgiving edition of Questions, Qualms, and Quagmires, or what we like to call around here “Q³.” You get that Renee? Q? Cubed. Cubed!

Renee: I got that. Thank you, David. Very clever.

David: Thank you.

Renee: I’m Renee Schettler, Editor-in-Chief of the website Leite’s Culinaria.

David: And I’m David Leite, its founder. And this is Talking With My Mouth Full, a podcast devoted to all things food, the people who make it, and the stories that make the people.

Renee: Adam, what’s the first question that folks have sent in?

Should I use fresh or canned pumpkin for my desserts?

Adam: Okay. Renee and David, here is our first question. It comes from Shauna and it’s about pumpkin.

Shauna: Hi, David and Renee. My name is Shauna. I was wondering if you two could address the question of whether fresh or canned pumpkin makes a more flavorful pie? Really enjoying the podcast. Thanks so much.

A slice of drunken pumpkin bourbon tart on a white plate with a fork beside it and a mini pumpkin and leaves in the background.
: Hélène Dujardin

David: Well, that’s nice that she likes the podcast. So Renee, what do you prefer? Do you like canned or fresh pumpkin?

Renee: Well, I think a lot of it depends on the recipe itself.

David: Yes, it does. Yes.

Renee: But, keeping that in mind, I absolutely prefer fresh pumpkin. I think if you’re going to do pumpkin pie, do pumpkin pie. There’s a lot of vagaries involved with that.

David: Yes.

Renee: The specific ripeness of the pumpkin. How watery it is.

David: The water content. Exactly.

Renee: All these different things. We’ve talked about this before.

David: Yeah.

Renee: So it’s a little tricky. If you’re making your first pumpkin pie, I would not rely on fresh. Absolutely not.

David: Absolutely not.

Renee: And I fully understand that canned offers a lot more convenience and consistency.

David: That’s the big thing for me is consistency. I don’t make my pumpkin pies or pumpkin desserts using fresh pumpkin. First of all, it’s harder for me to find sugar pumpkins, which are the kind you really should use. And roasting it, so therefore there’s the right amount of moisture in it. Otherwise, let’s say your pumpkin cake, or your pumpkin bread can be too soggy because it’s just too wet. So I prefer to use canned pumpkin during this holiday. Shauna, I would mess around with fresh pumpkin when it’s not really such an important day.

Renee: Anyone out there who’s rolling your eyes right now, go ahead, do your sugar pumpkin. Just make sure that when you roast it, you keep it in the oven long enough to get that really caramelized crust, golden brown, all that rich flavor. That’s going to exponentially improve the pie.

How can we have Thanksgiving for just the two of us?

David: What else do we have, Adam?

Adam: So next question. Missing my Family writes, “It’s just going to be me and my husband this year. Any suggestions on how we can have a small but traditional Thanksgiving?”

A brandy-brined turkey breast on a wooden cutting board with a couple slices cut off, a basket of mandarins in the background, and some grilled red onion wedges scattered around.
: Matthew Benson

David: Yeah, that’s going to be happening a lot this year. Well, what comes to mind for me is if you are a white meat lover, buy a turkey breast and just continue with that as if you would your regular turkey. Or if you like dark meat, you can buy a couple of turkey legs and then roast them, so therefore you are getting your main course. And then as far as the side dishes, I would just cut them in half. And for dessert. For instance, let’s say you love pumpkin pie or you love pecan pie, you can get six-inch or even four-inch pie plates. Therefore you can have an individual serving or just cut it in half and share. So you can have all those great flavors, but you’re not having to have all those leftovers.

Renee: And if you can’t find the packaged turkey legs at the store, go ahead and ask to speak with someone behind the counter. Because if they don’t have them out, chances are they’ll be willing to cut up a turkey for you.

David: Especially this year.

Renee: Especially. Also, you could do Cornish game hens.

David: Great idea.

Renee: Then you get like a little wee turkey experience. Now, we do have a Cornish game hens recipe on the site. They are a little bit tricky because there’s not so much meat on them. They tend to dry out quite a lot. I once spent days of my life trying to perfect a Cornish hen recipe.

A stuffed pomegranate-glazed Cornish game hen on a white platter
: Emily Sandor

David: Did you really?

Renee: When I worked at The Washington Post, I was on deadline, and two days before deadline, I walked in my editor’s office and I was like, “I don’t think I can get them to be not dried out.” And she got really pale because this was our big Thanksgiving feature.

David: Yeah.

Renee: She looked at me and she paused. And she very calmly said, “You have to make it work.”

David: There you go.

Renee: And so here’s the trick. When you roast them, make sure that you roast them on a wire rack in your roasting pan. And you need to put some sort of liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan, so that it kind of humidifies the oven while the Cornish hens cook. It can be anything. It can be water. It can be wine. It can be homemade chicken broth. It could be–

David: Juice.

Renee: Cranberry juice, for all I care. Apple juice would be really nice.

David: Yeah. That’s nice.

Renee: So yeah. Cornish game hens.

Any dessert ideas that don’t call for flour?

David: Adam, who’s up next?

Adam: Well, next Tanya from South Carolina writes, “I’m hearing flour is going to be scarce again.” Oh, man. I hope not. “What kind of desserts can I make that don’t ask for flour?”

David: Tanya, actually I wrote a post recently about the impending flour shortage, or the second flour shortage, and a lot of producers and food manufacturers are working overtime trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. And it may. But if it does, Renee came up with a wonderful post about the kind of desserts you can make that don’t call for flour. So Renee, what were some of those recipes in there?

Renee: Well, the beautiful thing about these recipes is they just naturally don’t call for flour.

David: Yeah.

Renee: You’re not jumping through any hoops. There are no high jinks. It’s stuff like crème brûlée, pumpkin pots de crème, beautiful exquisitely nuanced wine poached pears.

Four small crocks of pumpkin pots de creme--pumpkin pudding topped with crumbled cookie and whipped cream
: Colin Price

David: Flourless chocolate cakes.

Renee: Flourless chocolate cakes. Everyone loves chocolate, even at Thanksgiving.

David: Right.

A flourless chocolate chile cake cut into 8 wedges with one slice missing on a piece of parchment paper.
: Holly Wulff Petersen

Renee: Tradition may have to fly out the window. That’s okay. This year is going to be memorable in a lot of ways.

David: A lot of ways.

Renee: Well, the beautiful thing about pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake, as I prefer, is they don’t call for flour. All you need is a graham cracker crust.

A slice of pure pumpkin cheesecake on a white plate drizzled with caramel glaze with a fork resting beside it.
: Ben Fink

David: Yeah. Very good point. Yes. That’s true.

Renee: Graham crackers are not in short supply, at least not yet. So you can really have your tradition.

How to find the thickest part of a turkey thigh?
A meat thermometer.

Adam: All right. So our next question comes from Burke G., who says, “Recipes always say to check the thickest part of the thigh, but I don’t know exactly how to find that. Can you help?”

Renee: David, that’s your area of expertise.

David: Absolutely, and I will give full credit to the man who taught me this. It was the repairman for our oven.

Renee: Well, that makes sense. Because you’re not exactly a thigh man.

David: No, I’m not a thigh man. I’m a different kind of man, but not a thigh man. And what he told me was, what you want to do is you want to get your instant-read thermometer and stick it in the thigh, which most people know what the thigh is. It’s just on the other end of the drumstick. And you want to poke around a little bit till you find the coldest spot. And that’s the deepest part, or the thickest part, of the thigh. Take the temperature there and then check back if it’s not where it needs to be, which is 165°F (74°C). Check back in a little bit and try and find the coldest spot. And once you find the coldest spot, when it’s 165°F, you’re perfect to go. Even if the legs aren’t wiggling the way you think it’s supposed to, the temperature is the best way to check.

Renee: It’s so brilliant.

David: Yeah. I know. The great thing about this is you can learn from anyone anywhere. And I’m so grateful to that man, I forgot his name, because I have never failed after that.

Renee: Yeah. That’s the thing. We’re always students.

David: What’s next, Adam.

What a good wine for Thanksgiving?

Adam: All right. So this next question is another call-in question from Anna, and she’s interested to know about wine. Thank you, Anna, anything about wine is welcome.

Anna: Hi, David and Renee, this is Anna. Hope all is well. I was just curious what your favorite wine is to serve with your holiday turkey. Thanks.

Renee: Okay. Well, there are kind of two different questions she needs to be asking here. Because there’s what’s our favorite wine.

David: Right. Which we both have the same.

Renee: Exactly. One thing we actually agree on it. And what would we recommend others to have? So David, elucidate us on your choice of beverage.

David: For me, anything with bubbles is my choice. I absolutely love Champagne or cava or Prosecco. That’s what I like. I just love the celebratory aspect and feel that brings to a meal. And it pairs perfectly with turkey.

Renee: It really does. The lightness, the effervescence, it really kind of counters the richness of the meal. So if you ask us, Champagne. Right?

David: Yeah. Absolutely. But what would you recommend for those people who aren’t drinking champagne?

Renee: Okay. I’m going to draw upon the expertise of Josh Wesson. He’s one of my favorite wine guys. And in fact, we just had him on our podcast a couple of weeks ago.

David: Yeah. It was the repeat that we had, the Thanksgiving repeat.

Renee: Exactly, from so many years ago, and we loved his advice so much, we had to share it again. Josh suggests we not try to find the perfect wine pairing, because the Thanksgiving dinner, I believe he said, was a minefield. You’ve got so many different flavors and textures and things going on, not to mention people at the table with their different preferences. So what he suggests instead is just kind of play it cool. Go with a wine that you like, that’s not too overwhelming in any one aspect or the other. Not too spicy, not too oaky. Don’t get hung up on a varietal, but if you want some suggestions, Sauvignon blanc or a dry, not-too-sweet Riesling, you really can’t go wrong. They’re light and crisp and they really cut through a lot of the richness on the table that day. And if you prefer something red, well then go for a not-too-robust Syrah. Or Pinot noir would be really nice.

David: What about a Merlot?

Renee: You could do Merlot. Or a Zinfandel might be a little nicer, a little bit more fruit forward, a little bit more depth.

David: Those are good choices. Okay, Adam, who’s next?

Can I use a foil pan to roast my turkey?

A foil roasting pan, discussed in the podcast Talking With My Mouth Full, Ep. 37: Your Thanksgiving Questions Answered, 2020 Edition.

Adam: All right. Our next question comes from Alberta, Canada, and this is from Zadie. And she writes, “We had our Thanksgiving last month, but I’m thinking of serving turkey for Christmas. I don’t have a roasting pan. Could I use one of those foil ones?”

David: No.

Renee: It depends on how much drama you want in your kitchen that day.

David: Foil roasting pans are a mistake. Renee actually has a great idea. So I’ll pass it on to her, but I say, no.

Renee: I say, do what you need to do. But if you’re going to do foil, you absolutely want to buy at least two and preferably three foil pans. And you stack them, one inside the other, to at least make it a little sturdier.

David: Mm-hmm.

Renee: Because they’re really flimsy and it’s so easy to puncture them. Even if you just slide the pan on the oven rack, trust me, they can catch, they can tear. It’s not pretty. And then I would even go one step further and place those triple-layered foil roasting pans on a rimmed baking sheet. Just to give a little bit more, what’s the word?

David: Structure.

Renee: Structure.

David: And support.

Renee: Yeah. We all need a little of that.

David: That’s a great answer.

Renee: I try.

How to avoid making lumpy gravy?

Adam: All right. So next up, Sarah P. has a question about turkey gravy. And she writes, “Mine is always lumpy. How can I fix that?”

Renee: Lumpy gravy. David, that sounds like a question for you.

David: Lumpy gravy? Yes, I’m the lumpy gravy man. I think one of the problems is when people in dump in the flour and they start to whisk it gets lumpy because it’s all being thrown in at once. One of the things I do is take the flour and take some liquid and stir it so I make a little bit of a slurry. And what I do from there is I just pour back it into the pan and it’s lumpless. And then I can crank up the heat, start whisking, and it gets nice and thick. Now what you can do, if you don’t want to do that, an easy fix is simply just strain it.

: Weldon Owen

Renee: That’s a good idea. Yeah.

David: That’s not a problem. That’s what I do with lemon or orange curd. I just will strain it to get some of those white things out. I’m not going to go–

Renee: You’re not going to sit there with the tines of a fork and mash them out, like I do?

David: It’s exactly what I’m not going to do. And so that’s all you have to do with that.

Renee: And also just hearken back—”Hearken!” How old am I?—but just to hearken back to that question about flour, if you find yourself on Thanksgiving day without flour in your kitchen, stock up on cornstarch instead. That’s also a terrific thickener. It’ll lend your gravy a slightly more lustrous sheen.

David: Yeah.

Renee: It’s really beautiful.

David: Luxurious.

Renee: Yes. Silken almost. You’ll need a little less cornstarch than flour just because it has greater thickening potential. You would do it the same way that David explained making regular gravy. You make a little slurry first, try equal parts cornstarch and water, and then just slowly, slowly whisk that into your gravy. And stop when you get the desired thickness.

David: Simple, simple. One thing, though. I have a question for you, Renee. Do you like a light-colored gravy or a dark-colored gravy?

Renee: Well, I don’t know. I guess I prefer more on the side of dark. I like that robust flavor.

David: Mm-hmm. Me too.

Renee: As long as it doesn’t taste like roasted bones.

David: Right. I actually like to make my turkey gravy ahead of time.

Renee: Ahead of time?

David: Mm-hmm.

Renee: How do you get the pan drippings?

David: You take turkey wings and vegetables and you toss them in a pan, add a little bit of olive oil, put them in the oven, roast them until they’re really nice and dark. And you’re going to get some natural juices coming out there, some caramelization from the vegetables. And then you take that out and you make gravy just like you would if you had a whole turkey. The great thing about it is you’re not stuck at the last minute whisking gravy while all of your guests, well maybe not this year, but your guests are watching you and you get lumpy gravy because you’re so anxious you’ve got to get it done quickly.

Renee: I love that. It’s like Thanksgiving just feels like the 440 hurdles.

David: Oh my god. Sure does sometimes. Yeah.

Renee: Yeah.

David: Okay. What do we have next, Adam?

How can I not be crazy busy on Thanksgiving?

Adam: Okay. Next, we have Susan with a very common complaint. And she asks, “I always think I have enough time on Thanksgiving to cook, and in the end I’m crazy.” Yeah, I know, right? “By the time I sit down, I’m fed up, exhausted, and not in a thankful mood at all. What can I do different this year?”

David: Well, that’s a perfect segue. Partly what we were talking about. I think a lot of people don’t realize you can make so many things on Thanksgiving ahead of time.

Renee: What do you make, besides the gravy, ahead of time, David?

David: I will make my lemon mashed potatoes ahead of time.

A potato masher pressing down in a pot of olive oil mashed potatoes.
: Artem Shadrin

Renee: Ah. The Julia Child trick.

David: Yep. I do that. If I’m having my pumpkin cake with maple cream cheese frosting as a dessert, I will make the-

Renee: Everyone, that was a little teaser for you to go to the website, to his recipe.

David: I will make the cake ahead of time and freeze it. I’ll make the frosting and I’ll put it in the refrigerator and then I’ll assemble it that morning or the night before. If I’m making a pie, I’ll make the dough ahead of time. Put that in the refrigerator. And then what I’ll do for some of the other dishes, any of the dry ingredients, I’ll take a sheet pan and I’ll put all the dry ingredients for, let’s say, one side dish there. If there’s another side dish and there’s some dry ingredients, I’ll put the mise en place, or all the ingredients, there. And then I pull things out. I pre-chop things. If I’m making a green bean casserole, I make sure that beans are trimmed, cut, cleaned, and all set.

A pumpkin cake with maple-cream cheese frosting on a teal cake stand.
: David Leite

David: Carrots, I make sure they’re all peeled and clean. They’re all put in there so they just come out and go right into the oven or go right into the pan or the skillet or whatever it is. And it’s so much easier. I’ll even make my dressing ahead of time, and I’m not talking about stuffing because stuffing goes in the bird, dressing is on the side. I’ll make that ahead of time because those flavors mingle and they mix and they’re wonderful. And really, I have nothing left to do except the bird and maybe one vegetable or two vegetable side dishes. So what about you? Do you do a lot of things ahead of time? But no, you don’t really do Thanksgiving traditionally.

Renee: I don’t do Thanksgiving in my kitchen on Thanksgiving. That’s because for so many years I did it dozens and dozens of times throughout the year, in the middle of summer, without air conditioning, testing recipes for everyone else to have on their Thanksgiving table.

David: Yes, I understand.

Renee: I think that cranberry relish is another thing that I make ahead of time.

David: Great.

A white gravy boat filled with cranberry relish with a halved lime and juicer in the background.
: Becky Rosenthal

Renee: Cooked, simmered till the little berries burst. Or I like to just throw cranberries, sugar, and an orange in a food processor or blender.

David: That’s nice.

Renee: Raw. No cooking. But whichever way you make it, like your dressing, they improve with time in the refrigerator. Mashed potatoes, I love the trick of making them ahead of time and then to warm them up all you do is put them in a bowl placed over, but not touching, simmering water. Is that how you do it, David?

David: Yep. Double boiler.

Renee: Then stick a spoon, preferably a wooden spoon, in the bowl and put a lid on. The spoon is going to keep the lid just slightly ajar so that they don’t get too hot in there. You might have to add a little extra liquid. I like to add a little extra cream and butter just so they don’t get dried out.

David: That’s exactly what I do.

Renee: And then for dessert, well, usually that’s made ahead of time anyway.

David: Exactly.

Renee: We agree.

David: I know. Which is unusual.

Renee: Adam, what else?

How to make fresh-baked Thanksgiving rolls without last-minute baking?

David: Well, Renee, this next question comes from Rosemary and it actually relates to Susan’s question.

Rosemary: Hi, David and Renee, this is Rosemary. My question is how do I get, from scratch, fresh-baked rolls on the table for a holiday meal without having to actually put everything together that day?

David: That’s where the refrigerator comes in. Now, I haven’t done this myself, but I do it all the time with my sourdough breads. What you want to do is make the rolls, shape them, and then put them in the refrigerator. That’s retarding the proofing. They’re not going to rise because it’s so much colder and it slows everything down. Make sure they’re covered really well with plastic. I would even go so far as spray the plastic and make sure the plastic is nicely greased so it doesn’t stick to it. And they’ll stay in there for a good 24 hours, 36 hours. And then on the day, take them out, let them rise, put them in the oven, and you’re all set with fresh baked rolls and you didn’t go crazy the day of.

Renee: That’s terrific advice. And I suggest using that with our buttery pull-apart rolls recipe on the site. Numerous recipe testers swear by that recipe every fall and several readers have given it five stars as well.

A bowl lined with a napkin and filled with pull-apart rolls
: Mary Britton Senseney

David: That’s the one that’s in the pot, right?

Renee: Yeah. The Dutch oven.

David: So what’s great about that is you shape them and then you put them in there, cover them with plastic, cover it with the lid and you’re all set.

Renee: You just slide it out, bake them off that day before dinner, and then let them cool to room temp. Then while the turkey rests, slide them back in that hot oven to warm.

David: Wrapped in foil.

Renee: Wrapped in foil. Not plastic wrap.

David: I would do that.

Renee: Yes, you would. And then you would call me to tell me about it.

David: Yeah. So Adam, what’s next?

Why is my stuffing dry?

Adam: Next up is Janet from Maine. And she wants to know why her stuffing sometimes comes out dry when she pulls it out of the oven. She wants to know what she’s doing wrong.

Wild Mushroom Stuffing
: Karen Mordechai

David: Well, a couple of things you can simply do is first, you want to make sure you’re adding enough stock. Sometimes recipes say this amount or that amount. Just make sure there’s enough when you start out. If it is dry when you take it out, you can add a little bit more, drizzling it over the top, make sure that it’s warm and you can also drizzle it with a little bit of butter. That would really refresh it. I wouldn’t go in and start stirring it all up because it’s going to make it very gummy.

Renee: Right. And you’re going to lose that really gorgeous, crunchy texture on top that you get if you uncovered it for a little while during the last moments of baking.

How can I have an all-vegetarian meal with traditional Thanksgiving flavors?

David: Yeah. Any more, Adam?

Adam: Well, there’s one more question and this is from Alyssa. So Alyssa asks, “I stopped eating meat this year. What can I do to have a full vegetarian meal with traditional flavors?”

David: Oh, this is your question. This is your question, Renee.

Renee: Mine?

David: Yep.

Renee: I love steak. I love turkey.

David: You do, but you know a lot more about vegetarian cooking than I do.

Renee: Okay. Fair enough. So I think we want to focus on the things that are available to you. And a lot of the things on the Thanksgiving table inherently are vegetarian. The potatoes, the cranberry sauce, even the stuffing if you can make certain that it’s made with vegetarian stock.

David: Mm-hmm.

Renee: And then that’s when you get a little creative. So maybe since you have this stuffing, you roast butternut squash that’s been halved or maybe cut into wedges. Maybe at the last minute, you kind of assemble them together so you’ve got these gorgeous wedges of butternut squash on the plate with stuffing on top. You still get all the nostalgia of stuffing, but you still get the satiating quality of other vegetarian foods. So you don’t have to sit there with this tiny little sad pile of stuffing and cranberry relish and that’s it.

David: I really like that idea of putting a mound of stuffing in the hollow of the butternut squash. That’s very creative.

Renee: I would suggest halving the butternut squash or acorn, if you want, lengthwise.

David: Mm-hmm.

Renee: Scoop out all the gunk, rub it with butter or olive oil, flip it cut-side down in the roasting pan so it gets that real caramelized texture on the bottom. And then when it’s tender, after about an hour or so in the oven—we’ve got recipes on the site—let it cool a little to room temperature, flip it up, and then, just like David said, put some stuffing on top. There’s your centerpiece.

David: What about a main course in the sense of something that’s more of a showstopper? What would you suggest?

Renee: Wow. Okay. So a couple of options. I’m not going to recommend a Tofurky.

David: No, no, no, no.

Renee: I’m going to go for something that’s showstopping in its own right, not for trying to pretend to be something that it’s not. We’ve got this amazing recipe for portabello mushroom and spinach Wellingtons on our website.

Four individual mushroom wellingtons with spinach and walnuts on a squares of parchment paper.
: Nassima Rothacker

David: Oh that’s right. Yes.

Renee: Which are really nice. Now, granted not traditional to Thanksgiving, but they’re so amazing. Pastry-enclosed portabellos with sauteed spinach. There’s some miso in there for added flavor and complexity. Super simple. You could actually make these on a Tuesday night. It’s not going to throw you off your game in the kitchen that morning.

A wooden bowl with butternut squash and whole grain salad with a bowl of chopped parsley on the side and two glasses.
: DK Publishing

Renee: We also have a recipe for this gorgeous jewel-toned autumnal salad with grains and roasted squash. It’s got some flecks of green from, I believe, herbs. There may be some radicchio in there. Toss in some pomegranate seeds, both for crunch and for that garnet color. Again, anything that’s just really festive. Doesn’t have to be familiar, as long as you already have some of those other old comfort foods on the table as well.

A cooked pumpkin lasagne in a square casserole dish.
: France Ruffenach

David: Well, as a non-vegetarian, all of that’s lovely. But I was thinking a lovely pumpkin lasagne.

Renee: And why were you thinking pumpkin lasagne?

David: Because it’s wonderful, it’s rich, it’s savory, and it’s very sating. And I think to me, that’s more of a showstopping centerpiece than a salad or something like that.

Renee: That’s fair.

David: That’s just me. But something like that. And you have the pumpkin flavors, the autumnal flavors, with some spices. You can even throw some other vegetables in there and it can be really lovely.

Renee: Yeah. That’s fair. You’re absolutely right. That is going to be a lot more satiating, although I think my ideas are going to be a little bit more helpful if you have some vegans at the table.

David: Yeah. That’s true.

Renee: Yeah.

David: Very good point. Very good point. Adam, thanks for asking those questions for our readers. And we want to thank our readers very much for calling in and writing in this year.

Renee: We want to wish all of you a really happy, lovely, and most of all, safe Thanksgiving.

David: Yeah. Renee and Adam, happy Thanksgiving.

Renee: Happy Thanksgiving, David.

Adam: Happy Thanksgiving, guys.

David: This podcast is produced by Overit Studios, and our producer is someone we’re very thankful for, Adam Clairmont. You can reach Adam and Overit Studios at OveritStudios.com. And remember to subscribe to Talking With My Mouth Full wherever you download your favorite podcasts. And if you like what you hear and want to support us, consider leaving a review and rating on Apple Podcasts. If you’d like to leave Renee and me a recorded question, or even a compliment—we love compliments!—visit our podcast page at leit.es/chat. Press and talk away, and maybe you’ll be featured on the show. Chow!

Renee: Chow!


David: (singing)

“Everybody says don’t
Everybody says don’t
Everybody says don’t walk on the grass”

Renee: Makes you want to do it all the more. It’s like, “I’m not supposed to laugh in church,” and then you can’t not crack up.

David: My father kicked my mother and me out of church one time. We laughed so hard that he kicked us out of church. He made us wait in the car!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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In this podcast episode, the charismatic Pati Jinich, Mexican chef, author, and star of the PBS series Pati’s Mexican Table and La Frontera, talks about Mexican cuisine.

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  1. This is my favorite food podcast. The affinity between Renee and David is what makes its so enjoyable.