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French Chef Puts Spin On Thanksgiving Dinner

Chef Dominique Crenn was raised in Versailles, France. She now makes an incredible Thanksgiving dinner, but when she first came to the U.S., the entire holiday threw her off.

She sat down with NPR's Steve Inskeep to discuss how she cooks for Thanksgiving.

"I was a little bit lost when I came here," she told Inskeep. "I had no idea what Thanksgiving was about."

In France, turkey is eaten at Christmas. So the American phenomenon of Thanksgiving turkey and dressing mystified her.

"Oh, a month before Christmas, we're gonna eat Turkey?"

But now, she's hooked. Crenn has been celebrating Thanksgiving for about 20 years. "This is a pretty cool holiday," she said.

She makes her turkey-day feast with flair. She described how she cooks the bird:

"Do a roulade with the breast. Open up the breast, stuff it, roll it, then tie it."

I like slow cooking. I don't do it at high temperatures. ... You kill the animal once; you don't want to kill it twice.

Crenn stuffs the turkey with mushroom, truffle or foie gras. Then she wraps it in bacon. Next, she cures the legs, then confits them with duck fat.

"I like slow cooking," she said. Her turkeys are cooked between 160 and 200 degrees. "I don't do it at high temperatures. ... You kill the animal once; you don't want to kill it twice."

For sides, Crenn serves up roasted chestnuts and Brussels sprout leaves, picked and sauteed.

As for dessert: "I will maybe do something a little bit different than a pumpkin pie."

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Steve Inskeep
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.

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