Some dishes were pretty easy to decide. Noelle Carter's stuffing with cornbread, chorizo and pumpkinseeds, for example, was so splendid it was voted one of the 10 best recipes of 2008. The same was true of Regina Schrambling's marvelous slow-rising pumpkin-thyme dinner rolls from 2002. And, of course, we had to have Judy Rodgers' dry-brined turkey that won 2006's big bird smackdown.
But what would we serve for an appetizer? Roasted pumpkin salad? Spiced pumpkin soup served in roasted mini-pumpkins? Dungeness crab salad with apples and curried mayonnaise? Gougeres? In the end, we decided on something light, crisp and delicious: a persimmon salad with cumin-line vinaigrette from Russ Parsons.
The side dish was equally difficult to decide. Acorn squash roasted and basted with hazelnut butter? Something simple and deeply flavored like braised kale? Or maybe we ought to go more over the top: sweet potato souffle or broccoli casserole. Tough choice, but we finally settled on another dish from Parsons: Brussels sprouts gently braised with bacon and chestnuts.
We went around and around on desserts too. Pear frangipane tart? Sweet potato pie? But in the end, we thought, who were we kidding? Of course we had to have Donna Deane's classic pumpkin pie from 2005.
Sound good? Besides the recipes here in the Food section, on our website you'll find videos showing you how to prepare all of these dishes. And as a little holiday thank-you, we've included all of those tempting runners-up as well.