Pumpkin Pie, Now With Butternut

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So, Thanksgiving is next week. Flights are booked. Recipes are dog-eared. Friends and family are invited. My dad will celebrate his 50th birthday. What’s on your menu this year? Wait. Don’t answer that. Not yet. What I want to know, what I really need to know, is this: could you love a pumpkin by any other name?

Melissa Clark, who has led us to many good dinners before, breaks it down. She tested nine different varieties of squash and pumpkin to find the one that’s best for pie. The champ? Butternut. Save the sugar pumpkin for Halloween carving; it’s all trick and no treat.

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Sausage and Apple Stuffing with Fennel

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The truth is I don’t remember seeing stuffing on the Thanksgiving table. We had turkey every year, and I know there was cranberry sauce. Potatoes, always. Mashed or scalloped and afloat between thick layers of butter and cheese. But stuffing? I can’t picture it and if it was on the table I’m not sure who in our family would’ve cooked it.

You may think, what the heck does this girl from Miami know? A girl from a city where they call it ‘Sangiving’ and the traditional American staples of this holiday might share a table with gallopinto, taquitos, and tres leches.

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But I have my sources. A boy from Iowa and a copy of the classic Joy of Cooking, which was a high school graduation gift from his Michigan-born father. This well-known tome dedicates a couple pages to the topic of stuffing and offers a basic recipe with many variations. This Thanksgiving we’re heading to Iowa, which feels very much like the center of America, so I’m bringing a fairly traditional stuffing recipe with me.

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Chocolate-Hazelnut Icebox Pie

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This pie should’ve been a beer.

Rapp Brewing, everyone’s new favorite Tampa Bay brewery, makes a chocolate-hazelnut porter that I can’t get out of my head. The guys running the show at the tasting room are some of the friendliest I’ve met; they didn’t even kick us out when our card game got probably way too loud. They offer 20 rotating beers on tap, and this chocolate-hazelnut porter caught my eye but I wondered if it’d be too sweet. This being our first trip to Rapp, I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

A couple sips later and I couldn’t shut up about the porter. It tasted so clearly of dark chocolate, pumped up by the flavor of hazelnut. The beer was balanced rather than cloying. I regret not ordering a second. I can’t get this beer out of my head, and I can’t seem to get my hands on it either.

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