Thanksgiving approaches for readers in the US, which means that I turn my attention around here to lab preparations that have already been through trials in my own kitchen. I've posted my procedure for chocolate pecan pie here in the past, and I plan to make it again this year (my kids will brook no change in this menu). And I should also note another reliable recipe from here at Pipeline HQ, chicken pot pie, which should adapt very easily to using up whatever leftover turkey you need to clear out. Personally, I can clear out quite a bit of it in the form of turkey sandwiches with mayonnaise-and-horseradish. My wife puts hoisin sauce on hers instead, in a wrap or flour torilla with fresh scallions to make a sort of turkey-for-duck Asian substitution, but you may need other options.
But I wanted to provide another well-tested prep, so for those of you looking for something a bit different, here's one for key lime pie, adapted from the Cooks Illustrated version. I've checked this procedure several times, and the only defect of the resulting pie is that it tends to have a short half-life, especially if left unwatched. It is, in theory, more of a summer dessert (being served cold), but no one's ever objected when I've made it at other times of the year.
First, the only tedious part of the whole recipe. You'll need to zest some limes - if you haven't done this before, it involves scraping the green peel off in small flakes or strips from the limes (wash 'em first), while not getting deep into the bitter white pith below. There's a lot of flavor in the volatile oils in that layer; this step really is important. Fellow blogger Megan McArdle has long recommended a Microplane Zesterfor this, and I may have to break down and buy one myself. There are other zesters, which are basically small, shallow grating tools. Judicious use of a standard grater, or even a peeler or sharp paring knife if you have a steady hand, will do the trick. You'll want to come up with four teaspoons of lime zest, and I have been unable to come up with a weight equivalent for that (I'll weigh it next time I do this recipe and amend this post!) But that's three limes worth if you're pretty efficient, but more likely four limes of zest, if that helps. Note: I'm talking about the amount from usual-sized "Persian" limes here, not the authentic Key limes, which are smaller. If you have the latter, feel free to use them, although zesting them is more of a pain and (to my palate, anyway) there's not too much difference in the finished product. Floridians disagree.
Take four eggs and separate out the yolks into a bowl (no use for the whites in this recipe, unfortunately). Mix the lime zest into the yolks - you'll notice that they'll extract some color, and they're doubtless doing the same with the flavor constituents as well. While that stands, take some of those ugly sheared limes you've created and squeeze out 1/2 cup (about 120 mL) of lime juice. If you're particular, you can run this through a strainer to remove pulp, which will give you a more homogeneous pie, but I sometimes don't bother. Stir the juice into the yolk mixture, and then mix in one 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk. That's a standard can size here in North America, about 390 mL, but I have to confess that I'm less clear on the product's availability and packaging size in the rest of the world - clarifications welcome in the comments. Leave this mixture standing during the next part of the recipe; it'll set up a bit as the lime juice goes to work denaturing the casein protein in the milk (and probably albumin in the egg yolks). It will be an interesting yellow-green color.
Now, a crust. You'll need the oven heating to 325F (160 to 165C). The recipe calls for 11 full-sized Graham crackers to be put into a food processor (or crushed up in a bag) and thus turned into crumbs.That quantity is easy enough to round up in North America, but I'm not sure about the rest of the world. It comes to about 154g of Graham cracker, which might help. As for substitutions, I think that British wholemeal digestive biscuits (McVitie'sor equivalent) would work out fine, although they seem more open-textured than Graham crackers, so you might want to watch and not over-process them. The idea is to produce crumbs, not dust).
Combine these crumbs with 3 tablespoons (about 37g) granulated sugar. Melt 5 tablespoons (65 to 70 grams) of (unsalted) butter, and mix this into the crumb/sugar preparation. Press this into an even layer in a 9-inch round pie pan, up the edges as well. (I'm not sure about standard pan sizes in other parts of the world, but that's about 23 cm diameter and about 3 to 4 cm deep). Bake this for 15 minutes and let it cool to room temperature or a bit above. It's worth taking the time to make the crust, by the way - I think this pie is much better with a crumb crust than a standard pie crust, and the homemade one, although quite easy to make, will wipe out any store-bought version.
Pour the lime/milk/egg mixture into the crust, and bake the whole thing at the same temperature for about 17 minutes - the interior will still look a bit fluid, but it should be fine on cooling. Cool to room temperature, and then chill thoroughly before serving.
As mentioned above, these things don't last long around here - fresh limes (juice and zest) are sui generis, and if you like the flavor, you'll eat more of this than is good for you. Of course, there is the vitamin C content, which is no doubt substantial. Lemons for limes is an obvious substitution, although I haven't tried it - that's the equivalent of para-chloro for para-fluoro in a med-chem SAR (although I've seen that one fail, while lemon-for-lime is foolproof outside of the expected flavor change). I suspect that this would work with oranges as well, although you would probably want to add some extra lemon juice to take the acidity up in the first step. And for that matter, it would probably work with grapefruit, although you'd probably run into some bitterness problems that would require experimentation. Sugar won't cancel that out (consider the quinine-driven taste of bitter lemon, which you can hardly find in the US any more, and which I pounded down while in England the other month). I'd be glad to hear about any such research, naturally!