'Hey, Alexa' contact Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line, Snoop Dogg, pies and pinots

  • A golden brown, spatchcock roasted turkey is so much more than a shining centerpiece for your holiday table; it's the star of each diner's plate.

    A golden brown, spatchcock roasted turkey is so much more than a shining centerpiece for your holiday table; it's the star of each diner's plate. J. Kenji López-Alt for Serious Eats

 
 
Updated 11/21/2018 2:19 PM
This article has been updated to correct the dates Sonoma-Cutrer has been making pinot noir wines.

Volunteers and the folks at Butterball have hosted its Turkey Talk-Line for more than 65 years, and it's up and running for the holidays, now through Dec. 24. A friendly volunteer will give you cooking support by phone, text, email, live chat.

New this year: You can ask Amazon's disembodied household helper Alexa to connect you to a live person, keeping your hands free to wrestle with the turkey. Just say, "Alexa, connect me to Butterball." Of course, that's after you acquire Alexa, and say, "Alexa, enable the Butterball skill." Then you should be free to ask questions and hear the trusted Turkey Talk-Line experts provide turkey prep advice. Users can also watch how-to videos on such compatible devices as Echo Show, Echo Spot and Amazon Fire TV Cube.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Find out more on connecting at the Alexa Skills Store through the Alexa app or on Amazon.com.

To connect with Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line experts -- old school -- call (800) BUT-TERBALL or (800) 288-8372. With coupons, trusted recipes, step-by-step how-to videos and critical tips for success, everything you need is accessible at Butterball.com and the Butterball Cookbook Plus App.

Snoop cooks up meatballs. Find the recipe in, "From Crook to Cook." (Chronicle Books)
Snoop cooks up meatballs. Find the recipe in, "From Crook to Cook." (Chronicle Books) - Courtesy of Chronicle Books
Giving thanks

Today, you'll find Snoop Dogg's advice on Thanksgiving Day entertaining and his over-the-top nachos for all that football watching. Plus, there's a shoutout to his new cookbook, "From Crook to Cook," and he shares his recipe for Mash Out Potatoes, perfect for Thanksgiving or any winter feast.

We present an ode to side dishes, and that includes a new treatment for that green bean casserole, cornbread stuffing, roasted squash and a dreamy looking pumpkin roll cake for a nontraditional dessert.

A masterpiece of a pie. The puff crust expands into flaky, tender layers.
A masterpiece of a pie. The puff crust expands into flaky, tender layers. - Courtesy of Penny Kazmier
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Speaking of cooking for Thanksgiving, last week we featured Penny Kazmier's trip to a fall pie-making class and her step-by-step directions on baking a beautiful holiday pie. Don Mauer shared his experience with using a dry brine and a butterfly method for a flavorful and moister-than-moist bird in a shorter time. You won't get that Norman Rockwell centerpiece golden brown bird for your table, but your guests are sure to thank you. After all, you can see the picture-perfect holiday bird when you cue up "Miracle on 34th Street."

Sonoma-Cutrer Vinyards Owsley Pinot Noir 2016 Russian River Valley.
  Sonoma-Cutrer Vinyards Owsley Pinot Noir 2016 Russian River Valley. - Susan Stark | Staff Photographer
Holiday beverage of choice

I like pinot noir with my Thanksgiving dinner. I love other beverages, too, but that's my first pick. The deep ruby red wine adds a bit of color to a holiday table. Also, I think pinot noir's spicy notes add zip to the sweeter dishes and its fruity notes smooth the savory items of the menu -- a turkey and fixings type of menu. But pinot noir goes just as well with not-so-traditional dishes. Last year, my family made America's Test Kitchen's Rigatoni with Beef and Onion Ragu for Thanksgiving. Pinot noir was the perfect accompaniment to the rich and creamy dish. Pinot also rocks pumpkin-anything so save some for dessert.

I recently had the chance to sample three pinots from the folks responsible for some award-winning California chardonnays while they were in town to promote their pinot noirs. The wines, all from the 2016 vintage, are from three Sonoma-Cutrer vineyards in the Russian River Valley. The Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir 2016 is smooth and complex, and it's available at some Chicagoland outlets. The S-C Owsley was just as delicious but with a deeper, spicy bite. The S-C's Vine Hill Pinot Noir is simply smooth, with a deep ruby-red fruit finish. These last two are available online straight from the winemakers due to limited supply.

Zidanelia Arcidiacono
Zidanelia Arcidiacono
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We've been making pinot noir since 2002," says Zidanelia Arcidiacono, pinot noir winemaker for Sonoma-Cutrer, of the company. Arcidiacono has been making the pinot noirs for Sonoma-Cutrer since 2015.

"When I meet someone who says they've heard of our pinots, I'm shocked," she laughed. "That's why we're here to promote our wines and get the word out about our pinots."

These wines went perfectly with the menu at Executive Chef Stephanie Izard's The Girl and the Goat, too.

The Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir, Vintage 2016, Russian River Valley is available at some area Jewel Osco and Mariano's stores and Warehouse Liquors and Uncork It in Chicago and online at www.sonomacutrer.com.

Top chefs in the spotlight

Next month, Chicago's Theater on the Lake, 2401 N. Lake Shore Drive, will launch Authors on the Lake, a monthly series featuring some of the most-renowned chefs, cookbook authors and nonfiction writers. The series features one-on-one interviews with authors, led by Chef Cleetus Friedman, executive chef at The Lakefront Restaurant at Theater on the Lake. Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet their favorite authors and ask questions.

The Authors on the Lake series will kick off at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 with Chicago's Chef Rick Bayless. Topics will cover the "Mexico, One Plate at a Time" series, Bayless' philosophies on the culinary world and life. You can also buy autographed copies of Bayless' newest cookbook, "More Mexican Everyday."

Next, Friedman will host Chef Paul Kahan on Jan. 16. He'll discuss his cookbook, "Cheers to The Publican, Repast and Present: Recipes and Ramblings from an American Beer Hall." Known for a number of award-winning restaurants, including Blackbird, avec, The Publican, Big Star, Nico Osteria, Dove's Luncheonette and Publican Anker, Kahan was awarded the Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2004, and has earned the praise of many who claim him to be one of America's most influential working chefs.

On Feb. 16, Chef Bill Kim will discuss his "Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces" cookbook, as well as his vast experience working in some of the top French and Asian restaurants across the country.

Tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the door. Light food with beverage pairings. Reservations are required, and available at www.theateronthelake.com or call (312) 414-1313.

• Contact Food Editor Susan Stark at sstark@dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4586. Be her friend on Facebook.com/SusanStarkDailyHerald or follow her on Twitter.

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