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Thanksgiving How-To: The Recipe File

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Mashed Sweet Potatoes - 'Test Kitchen' Recipe


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 large or 3 medium-small potatoes), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • pinch ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

Cutting the sweet potatoes into slices of even thickness is important in getting them to cook at the same rate. A potato masher will yield slightly lumpy sweet potatoes; a food mill will make a perfectly smooth puree. The potatoes are best served immediately, but they can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and kept relatively hot for 30 minutes. This recipe can be doubled in a Dutch oven; the cooking time will need to be doubled as well.


1. Combine butter, cream, salt, sugar, and sweet potatoes in 3 to 4 quart saucepan; cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes fall apart when poked with fork, 35 to 45 minutes.

2. Off heat, mash sweet potatoes in saucepan with potato masher, or transfer mixture to hopper of food mill and process into warmed serving bowl. Stir in pepper, maple syrup, and orange zest; serve immediately.

Serves 4. Published November 1, 2002.

Salted Turkey - From Chris Kimball's 'Test Kitchen'


  • 1 turkey (12 to 14 pounds), giblets and neck reserved for gravy, if making
  • 5 tablespoons kosher salt (see note above)
  • 1 bag ice cubes (5 pound)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted

This recipe was developed and tested using Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. If you have Morton's Kosher Salt, which is denser than Diamond Crystal, use only 4 1/2 teaspoons of salt in the cavity, 2 1/4 teaspoons of salt per each half of the breast, and 1 teaspoon of salt per leg. Table salt is too fine and not recommended for this recipe. If you are roasting a kosher or self-basting turkey (such as a frozen Butterball), do not salt it; it already contains a good amount of sodium.


1. Using a wooden spoon and/or your hand, carefully separate turkey skin from meat on breast, legs, thighs, and back; avoid breaking skin. Rub 2 tablespoons salt evenly inside cavity of turkey, 1 tablespoon salt under skin of each breast half, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt under skin of each leg. Wrap turkey tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate 24 to 48 hours.

2. Remove turkey from refrigerator. Rinse off excess salt between meat and skin and in cavity, then pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Add ice to two 1-gallon zipper-lock bags until each is half full. Place bags in large roasting pan and lay turkey breast side down on top of ice. Add ice to two 1-quart zipper-lock bags until each is one-third full; place one bag ice in cavity of turkey and other bag in neck cavity. (Make sure that ice touches breast only, not thighs or legs.) Keep turkey on ice for 1 hour (roasting pan should remain on counter).

3. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line large V-rack with heavy-duty foil and use paring knife or skewer to poke 20 to 30 holes in foil.

4. Remove turkey from ice and pat dry with paper towels (discard ice). Tuck tips of drumsticks into skin at tail to secure and tuck wingtips behind back. Brush turkey breast with 2 tablespoons butter. Set prepared V-rack in roasting pan; set turkey breast side down on V-rack; brush back and legs with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Roast for 45 minutes.

5. Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven (close oven door to retain oven heat); reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Using clean potholders or kitchen towels, rotate turkey breast side up; continue to roast until thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees and thickest part of thigh registers 170 to 175 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer. Transfer turkey to carving board; let rest 30 minutes. Carve and serve.

Serves 10 to 12. Published November 1, 2006.