Ina Garten. The Butterball turkey hotline. Even the late, very great Anthony Bourdain.
Those are some of the names that come to mind when you think of a Thanksgiving expert.
Snoop Dogg is not one of those names.
But in his recently released cookbook, "From Crook to Cook" (Chronicle Books), the erstwhile rapper, entertainer, and co-host of the Emmy-nominated series Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party on VH1 emerges as someone with strong opinions about the year's best eating holiday. His recipes are solid, and in some cases brilliant, superior to what's in a lot of cookbooks. ("He surprised me with his unique cooking techniques and recipes," says another Thanksgiving expert, Martha Stewart, in the book's intro.) Take, for example, the Ain't No Jive herbed turkey and gravy. It features an herb butter rubbed underneath the skin - a pro move - as well as gravy with a hit of orange juice.
Snoop answers several all-important questions about his holiday feast and shares the recipe for M.O.P. mash out potatoes (see below), which include the genius addition of mayonnaise. For the rest of the recipes, you'll have to buy the book. Until he has his own Thanksgiving hotline, it's as close as you'll get to having him in your kitchen.
"Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays," Snoop tells Bloomberg, "because it's a double-hitter - you got good food and you got good football on the same day. I got a game-day menu in my book with plenty of munchies you can make before the main event. The best are the Suited and Booted loaded nachos. So easy and cheesy. All you do is spread your favorite chips on a baking pan, load 'em up with toppings, and bake in the oven. One pan slam."
For his nacho recipe, Snoops adds everything you could wish for on a sizzling platter of chips: Well-spiced ground beef, corn, black beans, Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, and smashed avocado. "If you really wanna get your chips dipped and whipped, don't just settle for some bland sauces," he says. He reconfigures the nachos into another unlikely T-day snack, Soft Touch tacos. Snoop makes them with a similar chili-spiced ground beef and a colorful mix of toppings.
OG Gin and Juice or the Remix?
"Everyone knows gin and juice is my drink of choice," Snoop says. "After the original comes the remix. After 25 years of mixing that Tanqueray with the OJ, it was time to put a fresh twist on the classic. We still add a splash of juice, only now we hit it with pineapple to give the whole thang a tropical vibe. You can do both OG and the Remix for T-Day. Just set up some Tanqueray, Ciroc, orange juice, and pineapple juice and let the homies make what they want."
You'll find a recipe for both drinks in "From Crook to Cook." For the OG gin and juice: "Take some gin, take some juice, mix it up. That's it." The remix uses pineapple-flavoured vodka and pineapple juice.
The Ain't No Jive Turkey
"I always keep OJ in the fridge and oranges in my kitchen. Martha makes a lot of recipes with lemon, and it just made sense for me to use oranges since I love the flavour," Snoop admits. "And ooh-wee does it work for turkey." The rapper is an unofficial turkey expert. For years, he has given out birds to locals in Inglewood, California, in advance of Thanksgiving; people line up for hours.
"I'm always lookin' for ways to use all kinds of herbs. Don't they make everything better?" he continues. "I don't get down with no bland turkey, and unless you add plenty of herbs in a thick rich coat of butter, nobody is getting excited about that bird. It's the main event. It better have all that flavour."
Sweet Potato vs. Pumpkin Pie
"When I was making my cookbook I had to get sweet potato pie in there," says the rapper-cum-cook. "These days everyone is into pumpkin spice, but I skip the pumpkin - sweet potato pie is a real 'hood staple and Broadus family favorite. [Pop-culture fact: Snoop was born Calvin Cordozar Broadus.] A little orange makes the sweet potato flavour stronger, and that's what you're here for, right?"
Turn Up for T-Day
Says Snoop: "I love a good Turkey Day turn-up. Every year, I host a special Thanksgiving episode on my show, GGN. Everyone from T.I., Margaret Cho, Bishop Magic Don Juan turns up, and we talk everything from politics to religion, always with a big plate of turkey, mashed potatoes, and greens. With plenty of drinks and herbs of all types, ya dig? We always end up talking about what we're grateful for in this life."
Thanksgiving Leftover Favorite?
Snoop isn't one to choose. "Especially after a late-night session - all of them," he says.
If you've had enough of all the turkey, one of Snoop's all-time favorite snacks is a fried bologna-and-cheese sandwich. "I had the bright idea of throwing that bologna in a frying pan. Fry that Oscar Meyer up with some cheese, and you're on your way to a bomb meal." He piles the bologna and cheese on toasted bread with yellow mustard, and slides in barbecue potato chips - "as many as you and your sandwich can handle."
M.O.P: Mash Out Potatoes Recipe
"This is where you load up that plate," Snoop says. "And make sure you're getting ready for the coming cold season. Even in Cali, in November the weather starts to dip, so no need to keep that beach bod. Just as well, 'cause you know I add that cream to give my mash that classic, buttery texture. It's the holidays - relax your mind and let your conscious be free."
Snoop's reasoning: "Mayonnaise is another thing I always keep in the fridge. Adding it to mashed potatoes makes them taste so whipped and all fluffy, you wouldn't believe it. Just don't over-mash or it gets sticky."
4 lb. Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Freshly ground pepper
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook over medium high heat until tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain and cover with a damp towel.
Set the pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Add cream and mayonnaise and whisk until smooth.
Return potatoes to the pot. Using a masher, mash to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.