Then Add Apple Tree Bark

The cover story of Saveur’s just-out Thanksgiving issue has a slice-by-slice account of a feast by the host, cookbook author Lynne Rossetto Kasper, and the executive producer of public radio show The Splendid Table. It’s a good concept, not least because the program has an annual Thanksgiving SOS call-in, Turkey Confidential, with Kasper and Cook’s Illustrated editor Chris Kimball talking listeners down from the edge of their cranberry bogs.

The most intriguing thing in the Saveur story might be its turkey brine recipe—really!—which Kasper and producer Sally Swift claim was “arrived at with a scientific rigor that would impress Charles Darwin.” Which is funny, because this bath looks like a kitchen-sink recipe. Driven, I suspect, by the same impulse that causes otherwise sane people to deep-fry their turkeys—in short, the make-it-taste-like-something-else impulse—they’ve concocted a ballsy, over-the-top brine that includes (and I’m leaving out ingredients here) 35 cloves of garlic, a small tart’s worth of apples, one-third cup ancho chile powder, and a half gallon of apple cider. It’s a brine for cooks who can’t say no, and it looks, I admit, sort of sensational.

Also, Kasper and Swift’s cookbook comes out next year, and I can report that it has taken an early lead in my very occasional Best Title competition. It’s called The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper.