The Perfectionist's Thanksgiving

See Also
The Feasts: Holiday Banquets to the Nth Degree
  Waldorf-Salad Stuffing

The Chef
Thomas Keller of Per Se

8 people

2 ½ cups brioche-bread croutons
½ cup apple cider
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons dry currants or raisins
½ cup of 1/4-inch-diced bacon lardons
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
¼ cup toasted walnut halves
¾ cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon horseradish (fresh or canned)
2 cups small diced apples
¾ cup diced celery
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Handful young celery leaves

Cooking Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, soak 1/2 cup of croutons in apple cider. Mix the honey and dry currants together in a small saucepan and warm over low heat. Render the bacon lardons in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and sweat over low heat. Add the walnuts, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan, and add the horseradish. Add a second tablespoon of butter, and when it has melted, add the apples and celery. Add the last tablespoon of butter, stir in well, and season with salt and pepper. When the apples and celery are half cooked, add the soaked croutons and let them break into the mixture. Stir in the parsley and remaining croutons and finish cooking. The croutons should retain most of their shape.

Put the stuffing into a large ceramic dish, drizzle the honey and currants over the top, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Garnish with celery leaves.

Best With
Suggested Menu: sunchoke soup with virginia-ham croquettes; virginia-ham croquettes; breast of four corners farm's turkey "cuit sous vide" and roasted leg "en ballotine"; giblet gravy; green-bean casserole: Oven-baked haricots verts with cream of california cepe mushroom and crispy shallots; garnet sweet-potato mille-feuille with white-truffle royale and shaved truffles from alba; Waldorf-salad stuffing; pecan pie with whipped cream; caramel popcorn.

To Drink: Weinbach 2002 Gewurztraminer Cuvee Theo; Alsace, France ($40). This dry Alsatian Gewurztraminer has a medium to full body but finishes dry and spicy. It works with the diverse flavors of the turkey and accompaniments.