MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Calories, schmalories. We are a hungry lot here at ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, crossing off the days before Thanksgiving and fantasizing about food. That's why we've been getting menu suggestions and tips from cooks for the past week and probably making you hungry as well. Who better to help today than Shirley Corriher. She's an Atlanta-based food chemist and cookbook author and veteran of many a Thanksgiving feast.
She's got her own holiday tradition. It's her grandmother's scalloped oyster recipe.
SHIRLEY CORRIHER: Oysters were such a rare, rare treat, she only had them Thanksgiving and Christmas for the big feast. And she would layer oysters on the bottom and then layer saltine crackers and then pour in a nice, rich cream sauce made with half milk and half heavy cream and thickened. And then another layer of oysters and a layer of crackers and all the way up that way and then she would put it in the oven and roast it until it was all bubbly and wonderful.
Now, my aunt and uncle always got me to make that and bring it Thanksgiving.
BLOCK: That was your job.
CORRIHER: That was my job.
BLOCK: I want to ask you about something green, Shirley. I love roasting broccoli and I love roasting brussel sprouts. And here's the problem, my whole house smells terrible when I do it.
CORRIHER: Yes, yes, yes, alas.
CORRIHER: The stinky gas, hydrogen sulfide, the amount of hydrogen sulfide gas that comes off of your cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, between five minutes of cooking time and seven minutes, doubles. So the real secret to cooking these is to cook them less than five minutes. My favorite way of preparing all of these vegetables is to pre-cook them the day ahead.
And I love to reheat them with butter in the big skillet and some bread crumbs and then throw in your brussel sprouts or it can be your broccoli or cabbage, fine shreds of cabbage, and toss them around until they're reheated and then serve.
BLOCK: But what if you want to roast them, Shirley, like, get them nice and crunchy and crispy and nutty in the oven?
CORRIHER: Well, I am afraid you're gonna have that stinky hydrogen sulfide all over your house.
BLOCK: No way to avoid that, huh?
CORRIHER: No. Well, you might pre-cook them like I suggested and then under the broiler until they begin to brown, just, you know, a couple of minutes. That might work.
BLOCK: What is it about that fateful five to seven minute window that releases that nasty stuff?
CORRIHER: Well, that's the way the gas starts forming in them as they cook and it just goes kebang and doubles after five minutes.
BLOCK: Shirley, what about an idea for dessert that's not the traditional, not a pumpkin pie, not the heavy pecan pie, something maybe lighter for the end of a meal?
CORRIHER: Oh, eat strawberries, strawberries with balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Toss them around and let them soak in a balsamic brown sugar for, oh, an hour or two, and then drain them and save the liquid because you can use it again tomorrow. And it has stained those strawberries this deep, deep red and they're just gorgeous.
So you want to put them in a tall, clear glass vase and have a fork or some of those long toothpicks to stab them.
BLOCK: Well, Shirley, have a very happy Thanksgiving.
CORRIHER: Oh, you, too, Melissa. And eat up. I'm planning on it.
BLOCK: Me, too. Kitchen chemist Shirley Corriher, author of "CookWise." And you can find her recipe for scalloped oysters at our website, NPR.org.