2 Award-Winning Boston Chefs Answer Your Thanksgiving Cooking Questions

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We've got a few questions about Thanksgiving: brine, roast or deep fry? Stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or all three? Homemade cranberry sauce or store-bought? When it comes to pies: apple, pumpkin or pecan? And what's the secret to a crust?

With Thanksgiving approaching, these are just a few of the food questions you might be pondering. Others might include: what's the best way to stuff a turkey? The best way to carve it? Or the best way to make gravy?

WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer and Anthony Brooks get answers from two Boston-area chefs.


Joanne Chang, pastry chef and owner of Flour Bakery. Chef and owner of Myers + Chang in the South End. She tweets @jbchang.

Tony Maws, chef and owner at Craigie on Main in Cambridge and chef and proprietor at Kirkland Tap and Trotter in Somerville. He tweets @tmaws.


The New York Times: How to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner: Frequently Asked Questions

  • "A good rule of thumb is to buy a pound of turkey per person, which will leave you with minimal leftovers. Increase that to a pound and a half per person if you’d like to have leftovers."

Bon Appetit: A Modern Guide To Thanksgiving Etiquette

  • "Invite at least one non-family member to ensure that everyone is on their best behavior, help temper tensions, and extend the bread and salt of welcome to neighbors and friends. It’s especially fun to ask those, like the British, for whom Thanksgiving is a curious novelty."

Tony Maws' Cranberry Walnut Relish

2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed
2 cups dried cranberries
2 cups Spanish onion, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
3 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 sprig rosemary
2 cups orange juice
1 cup apple cider
2 cups port
1 1/2 cups honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 clove
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoon butter
pinch of kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper out of a mill

1 Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat.
2 Sweat the onions in butter until soft and translucent.
3 Season lightly with salt and pepper.
4 Add both fresh and dried cranberries and continue to cook until they begin to give off some juice.
5 Add the rosemary, spices, ginger and all the liquids.
6 Season with salt to taste.
7 Cook slowly, stirring continuously, until the liquid reduces and is sticky and the cranberries are completely cooked.
8 Remove from heat and add the citrus zest.
9 Let cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve, or 1 week.

Joanne Chang's Roasted Pear And Cranberry Crostata

Makes: One nine-inch crostata (serves 8 to 10)

We’ve offered this scrumptious open-faced rustic tart for years at Flour, and I started making it long before that. It’s my go-to holiday dessert to take to dinner parties and such, and it never fails to stop conversation as everyone takes a first bite and exhales with a collective, "Mmmmmm." It’s a sheet of flaky pâte brisée rolled out into a large circle, a generous layer of frangipane (almond cream) spread in the middle, and pears (roasted with butter, sugar and fresh ginger) and fresh cranberries placed on top. It’s finished with an egg wash and lots of sanding sugar and when it emerges from the oven, it is guaranteed to impress everyone with both its gorgeous appearance and delicious taste.

9 Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored
1-inch knob fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Pâte Brisée II (recipe follows)
Frangipane (recipe follows)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sanding sugar, pearl sugar, or granulated sugar

1 Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2 In a 9x13-inch baking pan, toss together the pears, ginger, granulated sugar and butter. Roast, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the pears are soft when pierced with a knife tip and golden. Let cool completely. (The pears can be roasted up to 5 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
3 Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a well-floured work surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough circle on the prepared baking sheet.
4 Using the back of a spoon or a small rubber spatula, spread the frangipane in the middle of the dough round in a circle about 9 inches in diameter, leaving a 3-inch border uncovered.
5 Place about 8 pear halves, cut side down, in a circle in a single layer on top of the frangipane, lining them up with the edge of the frangipane and with the stem ends pointing toward the middle. Place 1 or 2 pear halves in the center to cover the frangipane circle completely. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cranberries evenly on top of the pears. Top the first layer of pears with a second layer of pears, using about 7 halves and reserving 1 pear half, arranging them in a smaller concentric circle. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cranberries evenly on top of the second layer of pears.
6 Place the reserved pear half on a cutting board. Using a paring knife, and starting at the squat bottom end, cut four or five lengthwise slices, stopping just short of the stem end. Fan the slices, and place the pear half in the center of the second layer of pear halves. Starting at one side of the crostata, fold the 3-inch border of dough up and over the fruit, forming six to eight loose pleats around the perimeter and pressing the pleats firmly together onto the fruit. The center of the crostata will remained exposed in a 3- to 4-inch circle, showing off the fanned pear. Refrigerate the assembled crostata for at least 1 hour before baking. (At this point, the crostata can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking.
7 Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
8 Brush the pleated pastry with the beaten egg, then sprinkle evenly with the sanding sugar. Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the pleats are golden brown. Make sure all of the folds are evenly browned, so there are no chewy underbaked bits of dough in the finished crostata. Let cool on the pan on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature.
9 The crostata can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.


Makes: about 1 cup

1/3 cup blanched whole almonds or 1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt

1 If using whole almonds, grind them in a food processor as finely as possible without turning them into a paste. Set aside.
2 Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer or wooden spoon), cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until light. Add the ground almonds or almond flour and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, or until thoroughly incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
3 On low speed, beat in the egg. Add the all-purpose flour, vanilla, and salt and mix until combined. You should have about 1 cup. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, then let sit for a few hours at room temperature before using. Or, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, then thaw it in the refrigerator before using.

Pâte Brisée II

Makes: about 10 ounces dough, enough for one 9-inch single-crust pie, 10-inch crostata, or 9-inch quiche

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold milk

1 Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Scatter the butter over the top and mix on low speed for about 45 seconds, or until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and pecan-size lumps of butter are visible throughout.
2 In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk until blended. Add to the flour-butter mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough barely comes together. It will look really shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.
3 Dump the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and gather it together into a tight mound. Using your palm and starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top of the mound and then sliding your palm down the side and along the work surface (at Flour we call this “going down the mountain”), until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the dough comes together. Do this once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the mound until the whole mess has been smeared into a cohesive dough with streaks of butter.
4 Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down to flatten into a disk about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Caller Jan's Roasted Green Beans With Fresh Herbs

2 1/2 pounds tender green beans, trimmed
3 bunches scallions, trimmed with 1" green tops still attached, halved lengthwise
6 large garlic cloves, each cut lengthwise into 4 slices
4 shallots, peeled and cut into eighths
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1 Preheat oven to 375.
2 Toss first 5 ingredients together until well combined, then season with salt and pepper.
3 Bake on a shallow rimmed baking sheet (you may need to divide beans among 2 or more sheets- they should be in 1 layer) for 30 to 45 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes or so until shallots and garlic are soft and almost caramelized.
4 When tender, add all of the chopped fresh herbs (except a tablespoon for garnish - or you can garnish with fresh chopped parsley) and roast another 10 minutes.
5 Taste, adjust seasonings and enjoy!

This article was originally published on November 25, 2014.

This segment aired on November 25, 2014.

Headshot of Sacha Pfeiffer

Sacha Pfeiffer Host, All Things Considered
Sacha Pfeiffer was formerly the host of WBUR's All Things Considered.



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