Turkey, a New Baby, and Good Friends: This Is How One Chef Enjoys Thanksgiving in Snowy Upstate New York
For U.K.-born chef Clare de Boer, Thanksgiving is a welcome chance to cook for everyone she loves in her rustic home kitchen in upstate New York. Last November, college friends came together amid the snow to meet her newborn son, Abe. Here, she shares her Thanksgiving dinner recipes and reflects on that feast with all the rituals that make the holiday that much richer.
For those of us who love to feed people, Thanksgiving fills the month of November. It begins with bedtime thoughts of what to cook, and isn't over until we finish the last spoon of turkey broth. My own anticipation manifests in menu planning and spills into conversations: I'll trade roasting secrets with friends, and small talk about sides with strangers.
On the family email thread, we'll tease cousins about new plus-ones. The vegan will remind me that she is still vegan, and my mother-in-law will remind me that less is more. (I will ignore her advice, as I do every year.) A turkey calculator will say we need a 20-pound bird. I'll add five, just in case. I'll ripen persimmons for pie in a paper bag, but we'll eat them as they get sticky. I'll hide the next pound I buy behind cereal boxes.
By Thanksgiving morning, I'll be ahead of the game: turkey seasoned, tart dough frozen in fluted rings. I'll be impressed by my serenity and organization, until the last-minute gas-station run for forgotten whipping cream and I burn my tongue tasting stuffing. I'll have to transfer my turkey to the fireplace, to make room in the oven to brown breadcrumbs and caramelize walnuts on the apple tart. It will look intentional.
Dinner will be ready later than expected, and by that time everyone will be fizzing from Champagne. Hunger and nostalgia make everything taste best. When I finally fill my plate, I'll choose the meat underneath the bird that has steamed between fat and bone. Everyone will ignore the salad, but I won't let it go: Crisp greens refresh my appetite for dessert.
When some guests have left and our son is asleep, my husband and I will nibble cold turkey, rinse wineglasses, and laugh at our faux pas. He'll compare the meal with last year's, and predict that by next year, our son will be walking.
Food styling by Greg Lofts; art direction by Ryan Mesina; prop styling by Tanya Graff.
The Thanksgiving Table
The heart of chef Clare de Boer's Hudson Valley house is the dining room, with its oversize fireplace on one end and open kitchen on the other. "It's where I cook and everyone gathers," says de Boer, a cofounder of the restaurant King, in New York City's SoHo. "I love that I'm always part of the good times." She sets her holiday table simply, with white plates, linens, and candles.
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De Boer hollows out red onions to be stuffed with parsley breadcrumbs.
- Chilled Crisp Rosé Champagne
- Gruyère, Anchovy, and Olive Straws
- Lemon-Herb Turkey with Bay Butter
- Red Onions Stuffed with Parsley Breadcrumbs
- Sweet-Potato-and-Sage Tian
- Broccolini with Peperoncini
- Currant-and-Pine-Nut Relish
- Kale Purée
- Butter-Lettuce Salad with Buttermilk and Herbs
- Persimmon Tart
Before the Feast
Luke Sherwin, de Boer's husband, takes everyone for a pre-meal joyride on his UTV.
Around the Fire
Gruyere, Anchovy, and Olive Straws
Spindly puff-pastry straws in three different flavors keep hungry hands out of her pots: "Even picky people like them, and they look elegant when they're this long," de Boer says.
Lemon-Herb Turkey with Bay Butter and Gravy
The centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table is a heritage turkey roasted with lemon and herbs.
Sweet-Potato-and-Sage Tian and Red Onions Stuffed With Parsley Breadcrumbs
Broccolini with Pepperoncini
After the turkey and sides, a green salad—and the delicious baby—get passed around.
Butter-Lettuce Salad with Buttermilk and Herbs
De Boer likes to serve crisp greens to revive appetites ready for dessert.
And for Dessert
A speculaas-esque Appeltaart is de Boer's homage to her Dutch father, and the persimmon-custard one is a "more delicate, fudgier" take on the usual pumpkin. "We top them both with fluffy spoons of whipped cream," she says. "We go through one giant bowl; then someone has to get up and whip some more."
Sherwin often sets off floating lanterns after the Thanksgiving dinner with friends. Says de Boer, "It gives us a reason to get outside and appreciate the sky."