When it comes to turkey, Melissa Clark is an expert. She’s an award-winning cookbook author, and a food columnist at The New York Times. Ahead of Thanksgiving, she showed Sanneh her latest recipe: “reheated” turkey.
“Every year, I get so many emails, letters: ‘I have to make my turkey ahead and drive it to my daughters, my son-in-law, my cousin, my aunt,'” Clark said. “So, I brought this up in one of our meetings, and my editor said, ‘Okay, go with it.'”
“That looks really juicy,” said Sanneh. “I’m no expert, but if you served that to me, I would’ve no idea that was reheated.”
As a kid, Clark grew up cooking with Julia Child cookbooks, splattered with food: “Oh my God, those cookbooks, they’re like, all the pages are stuck together. You can’t even open them anymore!”
Over the years, Clark has contributed more than a thousand recipes to the paper. Of course, The New York Times isn’t primarily known for recipes. The paper, which has nearly ten million subscribers, launched the NYT Cooking app in 2014, and started charging extra for it three years later. It now lists more than 21,000 recipes, from a peanut butter and pickle sandwich, to venison medallions with blackberry sage sauce. Dozens of recipes are added each month.
Emily Weinstein, who oversees cooking and food coverage at the Times, believes recipes are an important part of the paper’s business model. “There are a million people who just have Cooking, and there are millions more who have access to Cooking, because they are all-in on The New York Times bundle,” she said.
“And at a basic price of about $5 a month, that’s pretty good business,” said Sanneh.
“Seems that way to me!” Weinstein laughed.
And the subscribers respond, sometimes energetically. “We have this enormous fire hose of feedback in the form of our comments section,” said Weinstein. “We know right away whether or not people liked the recipe, whether they thought it worked, what changes they made to it.”
Clark said, “I actually do read a lot of the notes – the bad ones, because I want to learn how to improve, how to write a recipe that’s stronger and more fool-proof; and then, the good ones, because it warms my heart. It’s so gratifying to read that, oh my God, this recipe that I put up there, it works and people loved it, and the meal was good!”
Each recipe the Times publishes must be cooked, and re-cooked. When “Sunday Morning” visited Clark, she was working on turkeys #9 and #10 – which might explain why she is taking this Thanksgiving off.
“This year, I’m going to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving,” Clark said.
“And they’re making you a turkey? They must be nervous,” said Sanneh.
“Not at all.”
I guarantee you that home chef right now is already stressing about this.
“Um, he has sent me a couple of texts about it, yeah!” Clark laughed.
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Story produced by Mark Hudspeth. Editor: Joseph Frandino.
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