Quick Tip: Tying and Trussing

Watch as Food Editor Ann Taylor Pittman demonstrates how to tie and truss your roasts, creating a beautiful meal once it hits the table.

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Take your chickens up a notch by learning how to truss.

Trussing poultry. You either do it or you don’t. There are arguments for both sides. Some say the bird cooks more evenly, some say it has the opposite effect. Some say it depends on the size of the bird, with trussing being better for a smaller (under 4lbs) fowl.

I tend towards trussing as it makes the presentation much nicer and is quite easy once you do it a few times. Plus, the main recipe I use to roast a chicken–Thomas Keller’s–states that the bird is to be trussed. The amazing recipe has made me a trussing convert.


STEP 1: Place your bird breast side up, feet towards you on a cutting board, and locate the center of your twine.

STEP 2: Loop the center of the twine around the neck skin flap on the bird’s back bringing the flap down and the sides of twine across the back. If there is no skin flap, just place the string horizontally across the back of the back.

STEP 3: Bring the twine under and around the wings just below the wing tip joint

STEP 4: Bring the wings in close to the body by pulling the twine towards –and eventually under–the breast.

STEP 5: Cross the twine under the breast and pull tightly.

STEP 6: Bring the crossed twine over and around the base of each drumstick.

STEP 7: Cross the twine under the the base of the drumsticks and pull to tighten, bringing the legs as close into the breast as possible.

STEP 8: Bring the twine down around the butt of the chicken, tying underneath, and pulling to tighten before knotting.

STEP 8 from a different view point. Tightening before knotting. (NOTE: The top piece of twine should be tighter, but the bird still roasted up perfectly fine. )

Remove your pork from the fridge about an hour before you plan to start cooking it. Remove any packaging (except string if it’s a rolled joint – the string will help it keep its shape) and pat the meat and skin dry. … The skin may be already slashed by your butcher. If it isn’t, you’ll need to do it yourself.

What you need to know about cooking ANY large piece of meat in the crockpot is YOU HAVE TO LET IT COOK LONG ENOUGH. Unlike any other kind of cooking – almost – meat will get more tender the longer you cook it in the crockpot.

Thanksgiving turkey 101: Trussing, roasting, carving and more tips

The big day is almost here. We’ve compiled a last-minute resource of common turkey tips to help you out as you tackle the big bird, covering everything from trussing to carving and presentation this Thanksgiving.

We’ve shot many of the tips on video, such as Food editor Russ Parsons’ helpful tips on dry-brining and roasting the turkey, above. You’ll find links to the videos along with helpful written tips below.

Craving more? Check out our handy holiday recipes and cooking tips page to help you out with your Thanksgiving planning. Not only do we cover familiar holiday dishes, we share tips and tricks to save you time and energy during this busy time of year. And you can find all your Thanksgiving recipe needs in our California Cookbook.

If you have any tips or questions you’d like me to explore, leave a comment or shoot me an email at [email protected]

If you’ve ever roasted a whole chicken for dinner, or tackled the big task of roasting the turkey for Thanksgiving, you probably know the importance of tying up the bird, or “trussing.”

Trussing tightens the shape of the bird to give it that appealing shape: forcing the breast plate out, keeping the legs crossed at the ends. Without trussing, the bird would just lie there, limp and sloppy-looking.

You can have your butcher truss a bird for you, but it’s just as easy to do at home. Check out the video above for a quick step-by-step.


You’re roasting your turkey in the oven, and while it may look like it’s ready to eat, you have no idea if it’s actually done. What do you do?

There’s only one foolproof way to check for proper doneness, and that is using a thermometer. Turkey, like chicken, is done when a thermometer reaches at least 165 degrees. Slide the thermometer into the hip meat, in between the leg and breast make sure the thermometer does not touch the bone, as this will give an artificially high reading (the bones heat faster than the meat).

Likewise, if the meat is done, the joints should twist easily. Additionally, properly cooked turkey meat should feel firm when pressed, and the juices are often clear.

But what happens if we still see pink? Color isn’t always a good indication of doneness. Turkey, and other poultry, can be done even when it is still a little pink.

This is especially true with young birds whose bones are still porous -- since the bones haven’t completely calcified and hardened, pigment can seep through to the surrounding area, coloring the meat and liquids, and causing the bones themselves to darken.

And while the meat should not be overly pink or “rubbery"-feeling (a good indication it still needs to cook), it meat might also remain a little pink even after cooking due to the hemoglobin in the tissue.

Invest in a thermometer. It’s the one foolproof way to safely check for doneness.

Parade the bird early. No matter how beautiful your turkey looks when it comes out of the oven, it only takes a few minutes before the taut skin begins to wrinkle and your proud bird begins to look like a large raisin with legs. Proudly parade your bird to the guests right out of the oven, when it’s at its most spectacular. Then keep it in the kitchen until you’re ready to serve, and carve the turkey before presenting it again at the table.

Most of us only carve a turkey once, maybe twice, a year. If you’re feeling a bit rusty, check out Russ Parsons’ video. He also offers these helpful tips:

“Use a carving knife that is stiff and sharp enough to cut through the bird’s many joints. Work on a cutting board that’s large enough to hold everything comfortably, preferably one with a groove around the outside to catch the juices.

“And remember that even expert carvers need a well-cooked turkey to do their best. A bird that has been overcooked will be dry and will crumble under the knife. An undercooked turkey will be a wrestling match as you try to flex its joints.

“Also, be sure to allow at least a half hour of ‘resting’ after removing the turkey from the oven, to allow the meat to reabsorb the juices. Cover the bird loosely with aluminum foil to keep it warm.

“Start with the wings. Cut a deep slit through the base of the breast just above the wing’s “shoulder” joint. Flex the wing backward and cut through the joint. Hold the wing upright and cut straight down through the “elbow” joint to divide the wing in half. Repeat with the other side.

“Now remove the legs. Cut through the skin between the breast and the leg. Flex the leg down to pop free the “hip” joint and then cut around it to separate the leg completely. Hold the leg upright by the drumstick and cut straight down through the “knee” joint to divide the leg in half. Use a carving fork to pin the thigh to the carving board and cut away as much of the dark meat as you can in long clean slices. Repeat with the other side.

“Carve the breasts. Feel for the keel bone, the long, sharp bone that runs down the center of the breast. Cut straight down on one side until you feel the ribs underneath. Use the carving knife and fork to follow the bones, lifting the breast off in one piece. Now carve the breast in cross-wise slices. Repeat with the other side.”

Arrange the platter carefully. After you’ve carved the turkey, arrange it on the platter so that plenty of browned skin is showing, not just gray and beige meat. And if your turkey is a bit dry (this has happened to all of us), baste the slices with broth or thinned gravy to moisten before serving.

A simple ball of string -- no kitchen should be without one

You gotta love any kitchen tool that you can get at Home Depot. At the top of my list of must-have hardware-store cooking gear -- along with an inexpensive Microplane and a blowtorch -- is a simple ball of string. Or at least it’s my favorite until Thomas Keller figures out how to sous-vide with duct tape.

String, specifically cotton butcher’s or kitchen twine, is one of the most useful things you can have in your kitchen. Think about it: With just a simple length of twine, you can tie roasts, wrap a bouquet garni or sachet, tie off sausage links, hang charcuterie, tie roulades, hang yogurt and other items in cheesecloth to drain, support stuffed meats or vegetables, reconstruct cuts of meat, and truss all manner of poultry.

And don’t forget quick fix-it projects and crocheted potholders.

Twine is one of those kitchen tools, like plastic wrap and parchment or wax paper, that we often take completely for granted. But consider how many ways you already use it -- and allow for a few new ones -- and you might want to pick up a few more rolls the next time you’re at the hardware store.

Not only is twine inherently practical, but there’s also a simplicity about a ball of string that’s oddly comforting.

So ordinary as to be mundane, made of basic cotton (don’t use plastic or plastic-coated, which will melt, or jute, which can be too stiff), a well-wrapped cone, not unlike Keats’ well-wrought urn, operates as a metaphor for kitchen organization.

“I use twine all the time and every day,” says Michael Cimarusti, chef-owner of Providence restaurant on Melrose Avenue, who admits that it drives him nuts when the stuff goes missing from his kitchen.

Cimarusti -- who learned how to tie knots while fishing as a kid in New Jersey and how to use them in a kitchen while at New York’s Le Cirque restaurant -- uses twine to shape steaks, truss birds and wrap roulades. He also suspends cheesecloth bags of roasted vegetable purées to drain, using the purée and the collected juices in recipes. He even uses twine to tag the lobsters in his restaurant kitchen’s lobster tank. (The strings float up, like lines without buoys, from the lobsters’ anchor-like claws.)

Tying cuts of meat and wrapping whole birds with twine helps them keep their shape, which makes for tidier and more uniform cooking. Twine can keep stuffings firmly inside roulades or the cavities of birds. And it can fasten items that you want to keep on the outside, such as herbs or slices of bacon or pancetta (a technique called barding).

“The hardest thing about string,” says Mélisse chef-owner Josiah Citrin, who uses twine to tie meat in shape before cooking it sous-vide, among many other things, “is to make sure it’s not in the meat when you serve it.”

Citrin isn’t joking. It may seem obvious, but string can sometimes get lost in a beautifully roasted turkey, or maybe you’ve just forgotten it during its long hours in the oven.

One way to remember the string in your dishes is to make further use of it. Keep it wound around a roast or roulade while you slice it -- this helps keep any stuffing or barding intact and also makes portioning easier -- and then cut and remove the bits of string when you’re done.

Michel Richard, chef-owner of Citrus at Social Hollywood, demonstrates some of his favorite uses for kitchen twine in his cookbook “Happy in the Kitchen.” Richard encircles lamb loin with twine before wrapping it in plastic and poaching it he ties a lamb shoulder into a “melon,” reconfiguring the meat by the simple process of trussing it to form the specific shape he wants.

Tying is important when reassembling cuts of meat that have been boned, especially if they’ve been re-formed around the bone. Tying a standing rib roast or a large rack of lamb helps prevent the layers of meat from separating during roasting.

“You can use [twine] as a belt too,” says Richard, who reports that he learned the art of knotting “from tying my shoes.”

A note about knots. Although there are many knots to choose from -- there are more than 2,000 in “The Ashley Book of Knots,” perhaps the definitive book on the subject, published in 1944 -- the square knot is probably the most useful in the kitchen. Just tie two overhand knots, left over right, then right over left: The tidy results will look like two interlocking loops.

“A palomar is my favorite knot to use while fishing,” says Providence’s Cimarusti, who mostly utilizes the square knot for cooking, “but alas, it’s useless in the kitchen.”

Maybe a palomar knot would work for a cooking method called à la ficelle (“on a string”), in which a whole bird or piece of meat is tied up and hung to roast in front of a fire. This bucolic trick was supposedly invented by French novelist Alexandre Dumas (Dumas père, whose book “Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine” was as influential in some circles as his novel “The Three Musketeers”), who was said to have used the method with a whole lamb.

If you don’t have a fireplace handy, a more convenient French recipe for boeuf à la ficelle can be accomplished with little more than a cut of beef, a pot of broth, a bit of string and a long-handled spoon. Essentially, it’s just poached beef, served medium-rare with some bread, condiments and a few blanched vegetables.

To make it, wrap a rump roast with a long piece of string, tying the meat securely and then use the tails at the end to suspend the beef in a soup pot so that it clears the bottom. Use the handle of a long wooden spoon as a bridge over the top of the pot and tie the ends of the string to the handle.

You can poach the beef in plain water, but a subtle homemade broth of carrots, leeks and celery root brings out the beef’s lovely notes. If you’re cutting vegetables to blanch anyway, you’ll have a lot of scraps. Instead of throwing them out, use them to make the broth. After the beef poaches, let it rest, then cut it and arrange the warm slices on a platter alongside the blanched vegetables. It’s an entire meal as still life.

Herbed pork loin is even better when it’s barded with bacon, a simple method that’s kind of like wrapping a present without tape. Here two tenderloins are rubbed with minced sage and garlic, then covered with apple-wood-smoked bacon. Lengths of twine, spaced out at even intervals, secure the bacon to the pork.

As the pork roasts in a hot oven, the crisping bacon adds moisture and flavor. Add some quartered apples (neither peeled nor cored, they add a pretty, rustic look) and fresh sage leaves part way through the roasting. The rendering bacon fat and accumulating pan juices caramelize the apples -- and make an awesome quick pan sauce when deglazed with a little wine.

For a roulade with a bit of a kick, make a spicy filling of chiles, red kale and toasted pepitas and spread it on pounded chicken breasts. Rolled up and tied with string, the roulades are then seared in a skillet before being finished in the oven. While they’re cooking, a simple side dish of hominy and diced bacon takes only a few minutes.

Or if all this seems too much for you, just soak a bit of twine in water (to prevent it from burning, Cimarusti says), tie it securely around a juicy New York steak -- the taut string plumps the meat and allows it to cook uniformly -- and throw it on the grill.

And if you leave enough string attached, you can even use it to reel in your steak without ever leaving your patio chair. You can’t get much more practical than that.

Why This Recipe Is Always a Favorite

Crispy Brown Skin. Rubbing the skin with oil helps the skin get crispy and also makes the seasonings stick. Tying the legs together (trussing) and tucking the wings underneath exposes more of the skin underneath these parts so that the skin can brown nicely.

Moist and tender meat. Injecting the chicken with marinade keeps the interior moist. Tying the legs closes the cavity of the chicken which prevents air from circulating inside and drying out the the smoked whole chicken.

Flavor. The smell of smoking chicken stimulates our primal sense of food and survival that really makes our mouth water. The dry rub adds just enough interest to not overpower the chicken.

Simple Ingredients. Chicken is readily available and typically budget-friendly. You can use your favorite ready-made BBQ sauce and a dry rub mix.

You can use a homemade BBQ sauce - I have an easy BBQ sauce recipe for you in the recipe card! You can also use a smoked chicken rub, a seasoning blend or you can use my recipe for BBQ rib rub.

Great for Leftovers. Served carved or shredded. Serve it once like a traditional Sunday dinner with carved smoked chicken. Then, shred it or cut it into chunks for use in a variety of dishes.

Easy to Make Ahead. Smoked whole chicken can be frozen up to 6 months. It can also be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Test Kitchen video tip: How to truss a chicken

Trussing tightens the shape of the bird to give it that appealing shape: forcing the breast plate out, keeping the legs crossed at the ends. Without trussing, the bird would just lie there, limp and sloppy-looking.

You can have your butcher truss a bird for you, but it's just as easy to do at home. Check out the video above, or follow the jump for a quick step-by-step.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at [email protected]

Video: Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times

2a. Fold the wings back behind the bird: Lift each wing and move it so it rests behind the bird along the back. This will help to move the breast plate forward.

2b: Flip the other wing behind the chicken.

3. Run a length of butchers twine (about 3 feet, depending on the size of the chicken) over the top of the bird, behind the collarbone but in front of the neck bone.

4. Lay the chicken flat and continue to run the twine along the sides of the bird, behind the breast but over the wings and along the outer edges of the thighs.

5. Tie the string around the tailbone (loop it behind, then cross the twine in front, tying the string together). Gather the legs and bring the twine up over the legs to tie together.

6. Cross the legs as you tie the string, tightening it. This will pull the legs toward the breast, forcing the breast plate up and out. Some cooks truss the chicken with the legs closer to the breast than the tail, so the cavity can be seen under the legs. I prefer to truss as shown -- with the legs tied closer to the tail. This makes for a nicer presentation if you stuff the bird, as the legs cradle the stuffing as it spills out of the cavity.

7. Make sure the twine is tied tightly. The bird is trussed.

8. After the trussed bird is out of the oven. To remove the twine, cut it with scissors or a knife. Gently peel back the twine -- it may stick to the bird  peeling it back gently will help to prevent you from tearing the skin off your showcase.

5-Ingredient Dinner Recipes (five of them!)

If you're resolved this year to make healthier dinners in less time, we’ve got you covered with these easy-to-make main courses—each using just five ingredients (not counting salt and pepper). Recipes and photos by Working Mother Consulting Food Editor Jennifer Perillo, author of Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen.

This soup is a great way to get kids to love their root veggies. The natural sweetness of the pears balances the earthy flavor of the turnips. Serve it with a loaf of crusty baguette, or garnish with croutons. Easy upgrade: Use the bonus Fried Sage Leaves recipe (below) to sprinkle over the soup for an aromatic finish and a sophisticated twist.

  • 3 turnips, scrubbed clean or peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 shallot, cut into quarters
  • 1 pear, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • 1½–2 cups vegetable broth

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Add turnips, shallot and pear to a 13-inch by 9-inch deep roasting pan. Drizzle the 2 tablespoons oil on top and sprinkle with salt. Give the pan a good shake to coat the vegetables. Cook 50 minutes, until turnips are golden, and tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the pan from the oven, and let the vegetables cool 10 minutes—do not skip this step or the turnips will get gummy when you puree them.

2. Transfer all vegetables from the pan to a blender. Add 1½ cups of the broth. Pulse a few times to break down the ingredients, then blend on high to a thick, smooth soup. If you prefer your soup a little thinner, add the remaining ½ cup broth and blend 30 seconds longer.

3. Divide soup evenly among four bowls. Swirl a bit of olive oil on top and serve immediately.

Fried Sage Leaves

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add sage leaves, being careful as the oil will pop and sizzle from the water released by the herbs. Cook until leaves are crispy, 45 to 60 seconds. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Use immediately.

My spin on fried rice was inspired by a family favorite—arancini, fried Italian rice balls. This is much faster than the rice balls since it’s stir-fried in a skillet rather than formed into balls and fried. You can swap in white rice for the brown, but it’s important to use cold, leftover rice (hot rice will make the dish gummy). I usually make a double batch of rice earlier in the week to go with dinner, and use the leftovers to make this quick and easy dinner a few days later.

Tip Leftovers may be stored up to three days in a tightly sealed container and reheated in a skillet over medium heat.

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups cold, leftover brown rice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Add eggs, parsley, cheese and pepper to a deep bowl, and beat with a fork to mix well. Add rice and use the same fork to stir the mixture together until well combined.

2. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add oil and tilt the pan to swirl it to the edges. Once oil is shimmering (about 30 seconds), add the rice mixture. Give it a good stir with the fork, then spread it out into a single layer in the skillet. Cook until the bottom turns golden and forms a crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Use the fork to stir and break it up, then spread into a single layer again. Cook 2 more minutes, then serve immediately.

When in doubt, add a whole chicken to your weekend shopping list. It’s an easy, hands-off weeknight meal. Just pop it in the oven when you walk in the door, and let the oven do all the work. The trick to this short roasting time is cranking the heat up to 450F, which also ensures a golden brown exterior.

Tip Tying up the legs and tucking in the wing tips makes for a pretty-looking chicken, but trussing is totally optional in my book. In fact, I’ve found that not trussing lets the heat circulate into the center of the chicken, allowing it to cook more quickly.

1 (3½-pound) whole chicken
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup Lillet, or other dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 450F. Place chicken breast-up in a roasting pan, and season with salt and pepper. Cook 20 minutes, then add wine, butter and ½ cup water to the bottom of the pan. Roast 40 to 50 minutes longer, basting chicken with the sauce in the pan every 10 to 15 minutes, until the juices run clear and an instant read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 185F.

2. Remove chicken from the oven and let sit 5 to 10 minutes before carving or cutting.

A pot of tomato soup is the ultimate winter comfort food—and very easy on the budget. Roasting canned whole tomatoes produces a deep, concentrated flavor. Another great thing about soup is that it’s a good make-ahead meal. For a creamier variation, stir in ½ cup heavy cream at the end and cook 1 minute longer. Serve garnished with croutons with desired.

Tip: make a double batch and freeze half for a surprise future meal.

1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Olive oil for drizzling (about 2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 cups reserved tomato juice
1 cup vegetable broth or stock

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil and set aside.

2. Drain tomatoes, saving the juices for preparing the soup (you should about 1½ cups reserved). Slice tomatoes in half and place cut-side up on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and brown sugar. Drizzle with olive oil and roast 1 hour. Remove tray from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

3. Transfer cooled tomatoes to a blender. Add stock and reserved tomato juice and blend until smooth. Pour soup into a 2-quart pot and heat until warmed, but not boiling. Serves in warmed bowls with crusty bread.

Creamy Scrambled Eggs with Zucchini & Pecorino

Breakfast for dinner is a great working family option. For this Italian-style dish, be patient when cooking the eggs. The key to a creamy scramble is low and slow. You can prep the zucchini a day or two ahead and store in a covered container in the fridge until ready to use.

2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/8-inch coins
6 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup grated pecorino cheese
Grapeseed oil, for frying the zucchini
2 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Add 1/4-inch of oil to a 10-inch skillet, and heat over a medium-low flame until oil is shimmering. Add zucchini slices in a single layer, and fry until golden flip and fry until golden on the other side. You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your skillet. Transfer cooked zucchini to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.

2. Combine zucchini, eggs and cheese in a medium bowl, and season with pepper. Stir to mix well. Melt butter in a clean 10-inch nonstick skillet over low heat. Add egg mixture and cook, stirring every few minutes, until almost cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Take the pan off the heat while the eggs still look wet they’ll continue to cook from the residual heat in the pan. Serve immediately.

Roast the chicken for 20 minutes per pound, plus 15 minutes. If you like crispier skin, start out at a temperature of 450 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and continue to roast for 20 minutes per pound.

Remove the chicken from the oven and check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. The temperature should read 165 degrees to indicate the chicken is thoroughly cooked. If not, continue roasting for five to 10 minutes until the temperature reaches 165 degrees. Juices should also run clear when the chicken is cooked.

Things You'll Need

For additional flavor, you can insert chopped onions, garlic cloves and fresh herbs into the cavity of the chicken before roasting.

Trussing the chicken, or tying it prior to roasting, is optional.

Roasting and frying are only recommended if your chicken is young. Older chickens are tough and should be cooked slowly, such as in the crock pot, over a period of several hours to soften the meat.

How to get the most out of your supermarket butcher and fishmonger

It started when I was working as a private chef. Clients would often request a meal or dinner for four only an hour or two in advance, meaning I sometimes had to dash to the market, cook and have the meal on the table in 90 minutes or less. Once, after asking a store employee where I could find whole ducks, he pointed to a refrigerated case and mentioned that the butcher could truss it for me, or even cut it into parts, if I’d like. That’s when I realized that grocery store meat departments often offer a range of helpful services.

Like a neighborhood butcher shop, which can special order hard-to-find cuts of meat and offal, butchers and meat cutters at national and regional grocery chains can help you find specific cuts of meat, and may be able to do some basic tasks, like trussing, scoring, butterflying and grinding custom burger or meatball blends. If you see a cut of meat you’ve never cooked before, they might offer cooking suggestions, such as whether it should be quickly seared or would benefit from a long braise.

Likewise, store fishmongers can help with descaling, fileting, deboning and deshelling. Stores that offer these complimentary services include Harris Teeter, H-E-B, Wegmans, Whole Foods, some H Mart locations and many smaller, regional and independent grocers. Services will vary by store, availability and sometimes time of day — butchers and fishmongers may not work all store hours.

Watch the video: LRF για Αρχάριους - Εξοπλισμός και Συμβουλές. (November 2021).