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Idaho's own Chef Joyce Doughty shares secrets to find the 'perfect balance' this Thanksgiving

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Courtesy Roger Doughty
Chef Joyce Doughty's latest bestseller is The Chef Within, Dinner Edition.

There are oodles of recommendations to choose from each Thanksgiving, but Idaho's own Chef Joyce Doughty is dishing out some of the best tips of the holiday season.

The Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and owner of the gone-but-much-loved Doughty’s Bistro in Boise, Chef Doughty is a part of the Boise State Public Radio family, having hosted Food for Thought for several years. And her latest book, The Chef Within, Dinner Edition, is packed with mouthwatering recipes.

Chef Doughty pays two visits with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk Thanksgiving – with some savory tips in their first conversation, and some sweet ideas in their second.

“Taste it before you make a final decision so you can tweak it and just get it to that perfect balance.”
Chef Joyce Doughty

Read the full transcript below:

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News, Good morning. I'm George Prentice. It's Thanksgiving week, and we thought it appropriate to spend some time with Chef Joyce Doughty. And of course, we know Chef Doughty as the host of Food for Thought heard for years on this program, and as the owner of the James Beard-honored Doughty’s Bistro, and the author of the wonderfully delicious The Chef Within. And more often than not, I'm holding The Chef Within, The Dinner Edition whenever I'm hungry, which is more and more often this time of year. Chef Doughty, good morning.

JOYCE DOUGHTY: Good morning. Great to be here.

PRENTICE: We're going to spend some time today and tomorrow talking about some things that might make our Thanksgiving a bit more special. So, I'd like to talk about gravy.

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Roger Doughty
Chef Joyce Doughty

DOUGHTY: Well, good gravy starts with good drippings. If you're roasting your turkey, it's nice to collect all of that wonderful stuff that oozes out and often sticks to the pan. And I think sometimes we look at that and we go, :”Oh, you know, I can't use that,” but that's really the essence of good gravy. And if you can take that roasting pan and set it over a burner and add a little water to it, then that liquid just lifts all the all the wonderful caramelization and flavor into the broth and you're left with this delicious flavor. And at that point, you need to strain it because it is kind of a messy… it's a greasy mess. What can I say? But if you take that and you pass it through a strainer, you're left with this essence. And that is the that's what we're after. Is that wonderful, you know, flavor. And if you look at it and you say, “Well, I don't have enough liquid here,” well, you could add some chicken broth to it to extend it. You could maybe… that essence is so strong that you could, you know, add some just water to it to get the amount of liquid you want. But I usually if you've got oh, I don't know, depending on your group, I won't tell you how much gravy to make because I don't know how many people are coming over. But it's it simple. And then you make you've made gravy before, haven't you?

PRENTICE: I have. Ok, some people like it lumpy. Some people like it runny. I just like it savory.

DOUGHTY: What's wonderful about the gravy, too is whatever you however you've treated the turkey, let's say you, I don't know, stuck some seasonings or something in the center or put something under the skin while it was roasting, then all of that flavor is going to translate to the gravy, too. So they're just wonderful companions. But I I like. Honestly, George, I've never met anyone that likes lumpy gravy.

PRENTICE: Oh gosh, yeah. I liveE in South Texas for a number of years. And it was a thing at a couple of holiday dinners that I went to. And when someone came to my house, they asked, “Well, do you make lumpy gravy?” And of course, my answer was, “What are you talking about? No.” But by then I had been introduced to lumpy gravy, which is to say… you know, giblets, and pieces the turkey.

DOUGHTY: So, you're talking about little pieces of meat or something in the gravy, not just the consistency. Well, I'm glad you clarified that. That's good. And so the next step is just to make a slurry of flour and water. And it's almost too easy, I think, but I just get a little a small bowl with. And you start with less flour and water because it's always easier to make the gravy thicker than it is to make it thinner. You just stir that with a whisk and then gradually add that to your hot broth and you stir it till it simmers and you've got some awesome gravy. Do you do anything more than that or a special technique?

PRENTICE: I don't. It's all about the drippings… and when in a rush, I'm embarrassed to say sometimes it's off the shelf… and I almost always regret it.

DOUGHTY:: Well, here's a here's a thought to if you didn't feel like you had enough gravy of your own making, you could extend it with something store-bought. And I think that combination. Just the fact that you had that really good stuff to start with will make it really nice.

PRENTICE: I've only got a couple of minutes here real quick. What can we do about the turkey dressing? What how can we jazz that up?

DOUGHTY: Oh, that is such a wonderful opportunity because, you know, you have the Brits, right, you can do the just the ordinary white bread, you could do a wheat bread and you could even use one of those more rustic breads that are a little denser that make wonderful dressing. And you know, if you're going to use something denser like that, you probably want to add a little more butter and flour to compensate for that. So, so you have the bread option. And then there are the savory ingredients, right? I mean, you've got the onions. Most people put onions in their dressing and think about what kind of how many onions there are in the market there. I don't know that I'd use red onions because they sort of bleed into the dressing, but you've got sweet onions, you've got yellow onions. You could do shallots, you could do leeks. Oh my gosh, leeks would be so awesome. Substituted. And then you just have those little garnishing ingredients. And I this is where I go crazy in my family sometimes says Mom. Stop, stop. But you know, there are nuts that you can add to it. Just that little personal, just that little variation. You could do toasted pecans or toasted almond slivers. Or, gosh, what have you done? Have you done some interesting things that are your favorites?

PRENTICE: It's all about the herbs and,…the sage. My mom was a purist, and I can still smell it on Thanksgiving morning in my mind's nose, if you will. But it was all about the herbs, and quite frankly, it was the gravy. It complimented. It never overwhelmed.

DOUGHTY; Mm hmm. You know, I have never I don't usually I won't say never, but I don't usually use something beyond the poultry seasoning. But you certainly can. And if you've got some wonderful herbs to work with, do. But here's the here's maybe a tip for for people as you've made that dressing, and it's I think it's good to start with little less than too much, right? But as you're making the dressing, when you have it all mixed up, taste it. See if it has enough poultry or enough salt or whatever ingredients your seasoning it with, you know, taste it before you make a final decision so you can tweak it and just get it to that perfect balance.

PRENTICE:  Love it! Well, Chef Doughty, I'm going to pick your brain. I know you are coming to us from your kitchen. So, let's meet up tomorrow morning and let's talk sweets. Let's talk desserts.

DOUGHTY: I'm excited. I love it. See you then.

PRENTICE: Ok, thanks Chef Joyce Doughty…here on Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News.

PART TWO

PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News Good morning. I'm George Prentice. Thanksgiving week, and yesterday and today we're spending some time with chef Joyce Doughty, Chef Doughty. Good morning.

DOUGHTY: Good morning, George.

PRENTICE: Yesterday we spent some time talking savory, and for our listeners, you can catch up on our conversation on our website, which is BoiseStatePublicRadio.org. But this morning, let's talk about something sweet:desserts.

DOUGHTY: Ooh, pies.

PRENTICE: Do you have favorites? What's usually on your table?

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Roger Doughty
The Chef Within

DOUGHTY: I love the traditionals. I do love pumpkin pie. I love pecan pie. But you know, once again, my brain wants to give it just a little twist. And so if you take a pumpkin pie filling? Maybe just add a little fresh, grated ginger. Oh, you know, some a little fresh note like that. Really, just people say,:” Wow.” They can tell there's something special in it. And yet you've paid honor to the traditional pie. I love fresh ginger in those things. And then, you know, pecan pie, you can go crazy with pecans or with the nut pie, you can use any nut. I love to throw in walnuts and pistachios and make it sort of a mixed nut affair. And then, of course, if you add a little bit of chocolate, put the corn. Wow. Oh my gosh, you know, that's great, you know? Years ago, I saw a recipe that combined the two. The bottom half was a. Pumpkin, so they've used half a recipe of pumpkin pie, and they baked that till it was fairly firm and then the top half was for corn. So and I've done that a few times and it really is delicious. So, you know, that's a thought if you wanted to to do that combination. Oh, and then Nutella. One more thing what Nutella with the pecan pie or the nut pie if you spread the bottom of your crust with a nice layer of Nutella? Oh, who doesn't love that, right?

PRENTICE: Well, I really want to ask you about a couple of your recipes in The Chef Within, The Dinner Edition that blow my mind. On page 170, this is chocolate croissant bread pudding. Oh my goodness. I see this and I I just think, “Oh, please, please, let's do this.”

DOUGHTY: You know that I love that recipe. And it's so, so simple. You take ready-made croissants and slice them in half and then spread a nice, thick layer of chocolate. Any kind of chocolate, whatever. I prefer something a little darker, not too intense. Then you chill that you cut it into pieces and bake it with a custard, you know, just some half and half and eggs. And maybe I should confess this I love to serve that for brunch. Oh my gosh, yes. That is just like the perfect brunch dish with, you know, if you're looking for a nice holiday brunch, you can make that and so many of the components can be made ahead.

PRENTICE: And real quick, I want to ask you about page 175: carrot pudding.

DOUGHTY: Oh, that's a family recipe from my grandmother. It is the most delicious and yet the healthiest of combinations. It's just the moist… and all those spices, all those sweet spices, cinnamon and all spice that you love mixed with moist vegetables like carrots and potatoes grated raw that baked into this. I hope you get a chance to try it, George, because the recipe is it's what I call a dump recipe. You just throw everything into a bowl and mix it. But the results are, Oh, please do try that.

PRENTICE: Fantastic. Chef Joyce Doughty, thank you so very much for joining us from your kitchen. And boy, you have us drooling… at this hour of the morning. Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you so very, very much.

DOUGHTY: Thank you… a pleasure.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren