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But as we barrel toward the end of the year, I’ve thought a lot about something Ina Garten told my colleague Sophie Gilbert just a few weeks into the norm upheaval of quarantine. There’s something about a grilled-cheese sandwich, the Barefoot Contessa noted, that’s “not just physically satisfying; it’s somehow soul satisfying.”
While scanning a slew of food magazines, blogs, and cookbooks in search of the perfect recipes for my own pared-down Thanksgiving, I kept coming back to the simple pleasure Garten described months ago. And though I probably won’t be serving up cheddar on sourdough, this year I’m hoping to find some comfort in the mundane repetition and small revelations of cooking itself.
Below, cooks and non-cooks alike from around our newsroom share their best tips for navigating this strange Thanksgiving.
Don’t make a traditional meal.
As far as I’m concerned, the best part of Thanksgiving isn’t turkey and gravy—it’s spending all day in the kitchen, doing the kind of cooking we have time for only once a year. So dispense with tradition (this is the year!) and make whatever special, project-y meal your heart desires. In my house, it’ll be Julia Child’s coq au vin, crusty bread, and lots of wine, but in yours it could be bo ssam, carnitas, sabzi polo, or homemade gnocchi. Or, for that matter, boxed mac and cheese and a really indulgent, baroque dessert, such as baked Alaska. The only rule is that there are no rules.