To learn more about Dupree and her cookbooks, visit NathalieDupree.com. | Ruta Smith file photo

Award-winning cookbook author Nathalie Dupree says her top Thanksgiving tip is something that doesn’t directly involve cooking food: On the big day, make sure to put a cooler or big bin in an out-of-the-way place so you can store dirty pots, pans and utensils. By doing this, you’ll keep your kitchen relatively clean as guests buzz around in anticipation of the main event. 

Dupree, a Charleston foodie icon who moved to Raleigh earlier this year, has cookbooks filled with great recipes that will enliven any Thanksgiving meal.

Fast Unstuffed Turkey

Serves 12-15 | From New Southern Cooking, 1986

“This is a desperation turkey. It’s for those times when you can’t cook ahead, when you somehow ruined your first turkey, or when you have only two hours to cook everything.”

  • 1 turkey, 12-14 pounds
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary, or 2 tablespoons of dried rosemary
  • 4-6 cups of chicken or turkey stock
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Butter a piece of aluminum foil and place in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the turkey, breast up, on the foil and rub all over with butter. Place some of the onion and some of the carrot and all of the rosemary inside the turkey. This isn’t stuffing; it’s added for flavor. (Dressing, she explains elsewhere, is baked beside a turkey and is Southern; Stuffing, baked inside the bird, is Northern.) Pour in stock to a depth of 1-2 inches up the sides of the turkey. Now turn the turkey breast side down, so the juices from the turkey and the stock will keep the breast moist. Sometimes, a turkey doesn’t want to stay put, in which case, you leave it breast side up.

Roast for 1 hour. There will be a lot of steam in the oven. Carefully remove the turkey from the oven, closing the door rapidly so that very little steam is released. If the stock has boiled down to less than 1 inch, add enough to bring it up to 2 inches. Then, turn the turkey breast side up, and return it to the oven. When the oven has returned to a temperature of 500 degrees, reduce the heat to 450 degrees and roast for 1 hour more.

Remove the turkey; check for doneness with a meat thermometer or by piercing to see if the juices run clear. Let sit 30 minutes before carving. (You can add remaining stock to pan juices and reduce for a rich and flavorful sauce.)

Yam Souffle

Serves 4-6 | From Nathalie Dupree’s Southern Memories, 1993

Dupree explains this is a light dish that came from one of her students. If you can’t find canned yams, you can use sweet potatoes.

  • 2 28-ounce cans yams
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten to mix
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Topping

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ cup flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Drain the yams, reserving about 1 ½ cups liquid. In a large bowl, mash the yams with 1 cup reserved liquid, adding more if needed for a smooth consistency. Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt; mix well, and pour into
a greased casserole dish.

In a small bowl, mix the pecans, sugar, vanilla, flour, butter and coconut. Crumble over the top of the casserole and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot. Note: This dish can be made in advance and frozen.