Why turkey? Colonist William  Bradford wrote how the colonists had hunted wild turkeys during the autumn of 1621. Since the wild turkey is a uniquely American bird, it gained traction as the Thanksgiving meal of choice for Americans. President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 as a gesture to all Americans to give thanks for what they have. Yet today, cooking the turkey can be the source of anxiety for millions of American home cooks. Here are several good points Chef Miller will discuss on KSQD’s “In The Garden.”

Top Tips for a Perfect Bird:

  1. Brining, keeps the light meat moist and it’s easy to do in advance.
  2. Cook the breast and thighs separately, that’s a hack for people who want moist white meat and luscious dark, but don’t want to brine. Also a great way to feed a few people who only like one or the other!
  3. Go with a bird—but smaller and perfect for fewer people: Cornish Game Hens

Get creative and non-traditional with the side dishes. This year tradition may be even more meaningful to families who aren’t having large, extended gatherings. The silver lining here is that you have the chance to experiment without putting Aunt Lucy’s knickers in a twist!

  1. Try Roasted pumpkin and goat cheese crostini to start: Sliced baguettes are topped with garlic, olive oil, goat cheese, and a cubed, roasted pumpkin-leek mixture with balsamic glaze.
  2. Cranberry jalapeno relish is a nod to the traditional with a spicy kick.
  3. In that same vein, make mascarpone mashed potatoes for an elevated rich starchy delight.
  4. Add chestnuts to your traditional bread stuffing, and even the purists won’t complain.
  5. Eight-six the sweet potato casserole and instead serve sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallow frosting for dessert.

    Chef Brandon Miller relaxes before heading to the kitchen.

Garden Fresh

What’s in season is a must for Thanksgiving. Beets, carrots, snap beans, eggplant, oranges, pomegranates, persimmons, pumpkins and fall squashes of course.  Fresh herbs add a brightness as a garnish to many dishes and can be found at farmers markets as well as your local grocery store.

Wine Pairing

Pinot Noir pairs perfectly with the many different flavors and spices of the Thanksgiving meal. Pinot Noir expresses the peculiarities of a site (terroir) more than most varieties. The potential for quality and individuality only comes from the place in which the vines are grown. Try a Central Coast producer like (Chef Brandon fills in his favorites). A great choice for a white is a Gruner Veltliner, an Alsatian wine that has a beautiful floral nose. When vinified dry, it’s a great complement to Thanksgiving foods. (It’s also terrific with Asian cuisine). The only non-negotiable? The wine has to be California—after all its Thanksgiving!

Tune in to “In The Garden” with Joe Truskot, 9 to 9:30 a.m., Saturday, November 21, 2020 for a fun conversation with Chef Brandon Miller.