For a story in the November 518Life magazine, I asked local chefs for Thanksgiving memories and recipes, turkey and otherwise. Some offered tips, tricks, cheats or, in contemporary vernacular, hacks; others simply had favorites they wanted to share. There are recipes for herbed Boursin, pumpkin bread, a substitute for pumpkin pie, a dressing for the Thanksgiving turkey developed 75 years ago, pumpkin-chair tiramisu and more. Short version:

Chef Dale Miller herbed Boursin and pumpkin bread.

Chef Dale Miller herbed Boursin and pumpkin bread.

(T)he sad and not-very-secret truth is a lot of mediocre turkey is served on Thanksgiving Day. During our lives, hopefully less often than more, most of us have encountered or contributed to a Thanksgiving meal that needed repair or excuse. The central problem is the central protein. A lot can go wrong while turning that blimpy Butterball into gorgeous, bronzed roaster worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting. …

Says New World Home Cooking owner Ric Orlando: “At dinner time [last year], the turkey breast was perfect, 168 degrees on the bone and golden brown, but the legs and thighs were still too rare to serve.” Spotting a bamboo steamer on the stovetop, which had been used for a steamed-dumpling appetizer, Orlando had a flash of inspiration. He removed the legs and thighs from the bird and took off their skin, returning the skin to a low oven with the breast to stay warm and crisp. He then steamed the legs and thighs for 15 minutes to cook them through.

“They looked pretty unappetizing,” says Orlando, “so I pulled and shredded the meat and put it on a platter.” The family’s creativity took over, and soon enough a version of Peking turkey was being served, with shredded turkey being wrapped in lettuce and dosed with sriracha and hoisin sauces.

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