Recipe of the Week: Thanksgiving with Julia Child

With turkey day fast approaching, cooks around the country are whipping up grocery lists and getting ready for what is the equivalent of a marathon for many home chefs. With the release of the film Julie & Julia earlier this year and a renewed interest in Julia Child’s recipes and methods, many of you might be thinking: What Would Julia Do?

In November 2000, Business Week ’s Thane Peterson asked the question of Julia herself in an interview about holiday cooking. Julia’s advice for Thanksgiving? Plan ahead. Get things started ahead of time: Make your pumpkin pie filling, string your string beans, and cream your onions. If your family is anything like mine, there are decades-long debates still going strong over whether to cook the stuffing inside the turkey or out. Julia offered a unique approach: bake the stuffing in a “great big fat squash” and baste it with turkey juices.

Garland Julia Child cooked many Thanksgiving dinners on this six-burner professional Garland range. In an interview with Smithsonian researchers in 2001 she said, “ . . . for a big turkey, everything just fits very well into that oven. And I just love it. I would take it to my grave if it would fit.”

Food enthusiasts and amateur chefs have long looked to Julia for guidance and inspiration around the holidays. Her mashed potato recipe was featured in NPR Morning Edition host Bob Edwards’ 2003 Thanksgiving Fantasy Feast with dishes from celebrity chefs Maida Heatter, Paul Prudhomme, and Wolfgang Puck. In 2000, Julia was invited to demonstrate a few of her recipes on Good Morning America, including a recipe for roast turkey from Julia Child’s Kitchen Wisdom.

Instead of featuring a new dish as part of our Recipe of the Week series, we’ve decided to highlight one we’ve already tested. Every Thanksgiving feast needs mashed potatoes, and this recipe includes a great idea for using your leftovers!

Whether you plan to make turducken or tofurkey for your holiday, remember to heed Julia’s most important advice: “ . . . above all, have a good time.”  And be sure to share your cooking experiences with us.

After you’ve eaten your fill, you might consider working off some of those Thanksgiving calories by taking a stroll down to the Mall to see Julia Child’s kitchen for yourself. The museum will be open on Thanksgiving Day until 5:30 pm and will have extended hours on Friday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 28 (open until 7:30 pm).

Dana Allen-Greil is the new media project manager at the National Museum of American History.