Make your Thanksgiving unique
Thanksgiving is a week away. People are preparing for the folkloric traditional American turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, mashed or sweet potatoes, dressing, and other side dishes.
Thanksgiving, unlike other American holidays, is solely devoted to food. Somewhere along the line, the attitude of gratitude was forgotten. Impressing family and friends with your culinary skills take center stage.
Thanksgiving can get boring. The same dishes year after year.
You have to impress or not disappoint aunt Wanda or mother-in-law Millicent using traditional family dishes.
The first Thanksgiving feasts included many different types of wild game, seafood, and farmed or wild produce.
Turkey became the bird of choice for many reasons, including it is native to America.The main reason is size. A farm raised turkey can feed a large number of people.
There are some unique twists you can implement to impress your guests, while still holding to familial traditions.
Turkey, especially the dark meat, has a stronger more distinct flavor than chicken. From a versatility standpoint, turkey is the pork of the fowl world. It takes well to a wide variety of spices and herbs, besides the “original” parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
I prepared the Morrocan style two years ago.
You do not have to roast a whole turkey. Try braising a cut up turkey.
If your family or guests like dark meat, just roast turkey legs. Season per this recipe or get creative.
Who said you have to make a turkey? Beef, pork, especially ham, lamb, fish, or any other protein is perfectly acceptable.
How about a duck or two? Why a duck? Because duck tastes great. A goose or two is also an option.
I will not get into the dressing since there are way too many ways to prepare it. In my small circle, the dressing is way more important than the turkey. There are variations of bread, sausage, chestnut, oyster, fresh and dried fruit, and other types of dressings out there.
Side dishes are what make or break many Thanksgiving feasts. If you need some ideas, here are 116 different sides from Bon Appetit.
Sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple. They too can be elevated to another level. Here is a list of different recipes, both savory and sweet.
Mashed potatoes can be kicked up with sharp cheese, garlic, herbs, scallions, or other enhancements. Do not use the food processor for mashed potatoes unless you are making wallpaper paste.
Brussel sprouts are a staple side dish. If you are roasting them, make a balsamic vinegar glaze to drizzle over the top. The glaze will add a slightly sweet-sour element to the dish.
Belgian endive, grapes, apples, and rosemary sauteed in butter is a unique dish from the vineyards of France.
There is no rule that states you cannot serve a sweet and spicy coleslaw as a side dish. This will go very well if you are serving barbecued or smoked turkey.
A decadent three-cheese mac and cheese is an excellent side dish. The leftover tastes better reheated the next day.
Asparagus is a good choice. Served alone, with some salt and pepper, or dressed in a vinaigrette or sauce.
Make the internet your friend. There are plenty of sites, blogs, and newspaper articles with recipes, advice, and tips to make your Thanksgiving feast different and memorable. Prepare the recipes or use them to generate ideas to make your Thanksgiving unique.
Forget that Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving. Go outside the box. Create your own traditions.
We live in a time when there are a wide variety of ingredients from all over the world that are readily sourced. Do some homework and get cooking.
One last thing, Thanksgiving is also about the leftovers. Repeat after me, “I will not get into arguments over the best leftover meals.”
Happy Thanksgiving. Do not forget the attitude of gratitude.