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Thanksgiving Side Dishes

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36 minutes ago, cakewalk said:

Good Lord. Bread is a side dish? Sauteed kale is among the "most popular"? They just get worse and worse. I think they pull recipes out of a hat! Last week the NY Times had a pullout section about Thanksgiving cooking. (I get the actual paper on the weekends.) I was hoping for something that would really catch my eye. Well, I'm only me, I'm sure many other people saw things they will make and love. But I just don't understand why their food section is so uninspired. (And uninspiring.) 

 

You should see the Food Section in the newspaper here (The Missoulian) it consists of about 3 awful recipes, so pathetic!

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34 minutes ago, lindag said:

 

You should see the Food Section in the newspaper here (The Missoulian) it consists of about 3 awful recipes, so pathetic!

My guess is that The Missoulian has far fewer resources at its disposal than the NY Times, so I'm much more willing to cut it some slack. (But I do understand your frustration!)

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2 hours ago, cakewalk said:

Good Lord. Bread is a side dish? Sauteed kale is among the "most popular"? They just get worse and worse. I think they pull recipes out of a hat! Last week the NY Times had a pullout section about Thanksgiving cooking. (I get the actual paper on the weekends.) I was hoping for something that would really catch my eye. Well, I'm only me, I'm sure many other people saw things they will make and love. But I just don't understand why their food section is so uninspired. (And uninspiring.) 

I agree that the NYT recent Thanksgiving suggestions have been blah. And that includes the fat section that came with today's Sunday Times. It put me to sleep. But truly I am starting to believe it isn't just the uninspired suggestions from all quarters, it's me, feeling there's nothing new under the sun at my in-laws' Thanksgiving; truly, I just don't find this kind of food very exciting any more.

 

Bread does seem redundant if there is some type of stuffing or dressing. I used to make a good stuffing cooked in the turkey but I got tired of it and my husband likes doing the turkey unstuffed, and I agree that it cooks better that way. Any dressing I made would have to be vegetarian for half this crowd, and I've never found that to be very tasty. Honesty, a plain biscuit sounds good! If anyone here has a great vegetarian dressing recipe I would be happy to hear about it. One of my SILs might be willing to make it, since some of them seem to miss it, at least in theory. 

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I'm leaning toward sage sausage stuffing (un-avoidable), jalapeno cornbread, braised spiced red cabbage, potatoes dauphinoise,  and maybe greens or smoked yam with rosemary.

 

Pretty prosaic, I'm afraid.

 

But no jello, no fruit salad, no macaroni and cheese.  So there's that anyway.


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4 hours ago, Katie Meadow said:

I agree that the NYT recent Thanksgiving suggestions have been blah. And that includes the fat section that came with today's Sunday Times. It put me to sleep. But truly I am starting to believe it isn't just the uninspired suggestions from all quarters, it's me, feeling there's nothing new under the sun at my in-laws' Thanksgiving; truly, I just don't find this kind of food very exciting any more.

 

Bread does seem redundant if there is some type of stuffing or dressing. I used to make a good stuffing cooked in the turkey but I got tired of it and my husband likes doing the turkey unstuffed, and I agree that it cooks better that way. Any dressing I made would have to be vegetarian for half this crowd, and I've never found that to be very tasty. Honesty, a plain biscuit sounds good! If anyone here has a great vegetarian dressing recipe I would be happy to hear about it. One of my SILs might be willing to make it, since some of them seem to miss it, at least in theory. 

 

I've done a stuffing that was ok and could be made vegetarian, but I just winged it. Sauté the usual suspects (onion, celery, small amount of carrot because my mom hates carrot in her stuffing but I insist it rounds out the flavor so we compromise by me chopping it up tiny and not using a lot - I like the onion and celery to be a little bigger so it gives texture contrast in the finished dish) in a decent amount of butter, add your preferred seasonings - I usually do sage, tiny bit of thyme, bay leaf, salt, generous fresh black pepper - and mix, then off the heat add in your bread - we can get small cubes of stale bread here that work great and are usually a variety of bread types which helps add flavor - and try to get it coated as much as possible in the butter. Put back on the heat just for a short time, stirring often, to get some of the bread cubes a bit cooked. Dump into your baking dish then add a GOOD stock (I used chicken but you could use vegetable, but it has to be tasty to start with since the whole thing is relatively bland and a bad stock will overwhelm it) to near the top of your dish. Leave the bread to soak for about 5 min, smoothing down into the dish as needed, then bake covered for ~30 min (it's pretty forgiving, I just stick it in and leave it while I do other stuff) Remove covering and dot a little fresh butter on top and bake ~15 min? More to get the top crispy and let it dry out a little so it isn't too soggy.

 

I think it depends what you want stuffing/dressing for, though - on our table for this kind of meal it's almost a mashed potato alternative in that it's carb-heavy and not super strongly flavored so it is a good foil for the meat and gravy. We don't actually care for super fancy stuffing with lots of surprising stuff in it. (As you may have guessed from the carrot inclusion issue. :D ) Think Stove-top stuffing but not quite so dried out and gross. It's not meant to be the star of the show. (Though gross stuffing can totally ruin a plate.)

 

On the subject of other side dishes - I'm wondering about doing something fairly hearty with mushrooms. I have no idea what, but if we had a fairly substantial mushroom dish along with the turkey then the mushroom whatever could act as more of a main dish for those that are not turkey fans? (Luckily, they are all mushroom fans.) Any ideas for a relatively hearty mushroom something that wouldn't seem weird on a thanksgiving table? Something more interesting than just a bowl of sautéed mushrooms. And bonus points if it can be prepared in advance and reheated to serve. 

 

The other protein I was pondering was fish - something that is kind of regionally appropriate, like I think trout? But I have basically no fish cooking or eating experience so I don't know if a trout recipe could work with the typical thanksgiving flavor profile so it wouldn't seem too weird to have sharing a table with other traditional stuff.

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7 hours ago, quiet1 said:

On the subject of other side dishes - I'm wondering about doing something fairly hearty with mushrooms. I have no idea what, but if we had a fairly substantial mushroom dish along with the turkey then the mushroom whatever could act as more of a main dish for those that are not turkey fans? (Luckily, they are all mushroom fans.) Any ideas for a relatively hearty mushroom something that wouldn't seem weird on a thanksgiving table? Something more interesting than just a bowl of sautéed mushrooms.

 

How about stuffing some portobello mushrooms with your dressing, with maybe some sausage added.

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I'm curious. How many "stuffing," which I interpret as white bread based, vs cornbread-based "dressing" do we have here? And am I correct in believing cornbread dressing is mostly a southern thing?

 

My dressing is all cornbread. My mother made it with probably 3/4 cornbread, and the "heels" from loaves of supermarket white bread to lighten it a bit. Sage is a common ingredient, along with onion and, for some folks, celery (I don't like celery, so none in mine). Some have chopped, boiled eggs. Some put chopped boiled eggs in the giblet gravy.

 

This year I'm getting my dressing from a local restaurant that makes great chicken and dressing. Mine is tremendously inconsistent; some years it's great, other years inedible. Decided I'd play it safe.

 

Leftover dressing, crumbled and moistened with chicken or turkey broth and spread into a casserole dish, with depressions for eggs to be cracked into it and then baked, makes a fine after-Thanksgiving breakfast. You can shop for a while on that.

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9 hours ago, quiet1 said:

The other protein I was pondering was fish - something that is kind of regionally appropriate, like I think trout? But I have basically no fish cooking or eating experience so I don't know if a trout recipe could work with the typical thanksgiving flavor profile so it wouldn't seem too weird to have sharing a table with other traditional stuff.

 

If I wanted some type of fish at Thanksgiving I might opt for a smoked one. You could do it as an app; for instance a smoked trout spread or some type of smoked salmon on toasts. Personally I would be awfully happy about that. Although it does seem unusual to have trout on the table next to a turkey, if a grilled trout happened to appear before me I might just say the hell with the turkey. Of course if you really wanted fish as an option you would have to provide a challenging amount, no? So apps might be more realistic. But Thanksgiving is all about the bounty, right?

 

And good suggestion on the veg dressing. I'm pondering the whole thing; the truth is my relatives seem far more attached to the idea of dressing than to the actual thing. Typically very few of them ate it, but they just wanted it to be there. I'm getting sleeeepy....

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I wanted to try something new and fun, but our family is pretty old-school when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. My SIL is hosting, so she is doing the turkey, stuffing, salad and bread. My MIL wants to do a ham and her sweet potato casserole (which is to die for, btw.) I am task with doing the mashies, green-bean casserole and desserts. This year, the mashies will be more of a smashed-potato - garlic- butter type. I harvested a great crop of red potatoes, so there we go.   Green bean casserole is almost like a main dish for my youngest son (20)...so I felt obligated to take that on. One dish for my son, one for everyone else. :P  I do have an enormous blue hubbard squash, so I will likely make something with it-roasted in cubes, perhaps.   Desserts are my favorite to make- so I don't mind that at all.  Pumpkin pie is a given, and Lord knows I grew enough pie pumpkins!   Still contemplating what other sweets to make.  But, that's it so far. 

 

As for the stuffing,  my Grandmother's (Dad's mom) stuffing was never cornbread. And the cornbread stuffing I have tasted was never really all that yummy. Perhaps it was not made correctly?   All I know is that the stuffing at the Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth tastes about as close to Grandma's stuffing as a restaurant has ever gotten, but hers was and still is my favorite.   I've come close to replicating it a couple of years, but all my notes disappeared in the fire....so I shall try to recreate that at Christmas dinner- which I am hosting.  

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-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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Yes, the recent NYT "most popular" Thanksgiving sides were downright depressing and completely unhelpful. 

 

Katie Meadow, I agree that smoked fish works well as an app, but wouldn't work well on the table with the turkey and sides. We sometimes had smoked salmon with capers and lemon (and a little buttered thin dark bread) as a app, and that worked well without killing the appetite.

 

Also yeah, I never see the need for bread, rolls, etc. what with the stuffing (my family's tradition is a sausage/dried white bread/herb stuffing) and the mashed potatoes (which I generally skip now that I'm on my own and unwell, so I have a very small appetite), but some folks (my Mom, for instance) think dinner, no matter what it is, requires bread of some kind.

 

As for a vegetarian dressing/stuffing, I'm no vegetarian but there are many recipes out there for bread stuffings with lots of herbs, mushrooms, sometimes chestnuts and so on that can be made with vegetable stock. Maybe it just doesn't work as well with cornbread?

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20 hours ago, Alex said:

The New York Times chimes in: Our 10 Most Popular Thanksgiving Side Dishes

They're idiots.

In their roasted Brussels  Sprouts recipe, they tell you to brown the halved sprouts in a cast iron skillet first, then transfer them to a hot oven for another 10 to 20 minutes. 

I don't get it. If they use the infamous eGullet Roasted Cauliflower method of cooking, they can bypass the skillet altogether and just get the browning from the roasting pan/sheet.

Am I under-thinking this? 


 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

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3 hours ago, Katie Meadow said:

 

If I wanted some type of fish at Thanksgiving I might opt for a smoked one. You could do it as an app; for instance a smoked trout spread or some type of smoked salmon on toasts. Personally I would be awfully happy about that. Although it does seem unusual to have trout on the table next to a turkey, if a grilled trout happened to appear before me I might just say the hell with the turkey. Of course if you really wanted fish as an option you would have to provide a challenging amount, no? So apps might be more realistic. But Thanksgiving is all about the bounty, right?

 

And good suggestion on the veg dressing. I'm pondering the whole thing; the truth is my relatives seem far more attached to the idea of dressing than to the actual thing. Typically very few of them ate it, but they just wanted it to be there. I'm getting sleeeepy....

 

Fish came up just because I was looking at what might have been on the table historically. Can't do shellfish because I have an allergy, but fish were also there. Also waterfowl and venison. (I was thinking venison might be good but my mom strongly objects to eating Bambi.) Roasting two birds (turkey and duck or goose) seems a bit much to fuss with. So I was thinking fish might be an option that won't take up the whole oven for ages. Though I guess we could also do something just with duck breast instead of the whole duck?

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Thanksgiving happens for my husband's family at their beach house north of Tomales Bay. There are deer and wild turkeys wandering about town all the time. The turkeys display like giant decks of cards in the middle of the road and have been known to block cars from driving down the narrow streets until the turkeys feel like they have done their job and move on. It's pretty funny. But it is weird to see one right out the window when we are passing around a plate sliced turkey. 

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On 07/11/2017 at 12:01 AM, Katie Meadow said:

Thanksgiving happens for my husband's family at their beach house north of Tomales Bay. There are deer and wild turkeys wandering about town all the time. The turkeys display like giant decks of cards in the middle of the road and have been known to block cars from driving down the narrow streets until the turkeys feel like they have done their job and move on. It's pretty funny. But it is weird to see one right out the window when we are passing around a plate sliced turkey. 

LOL "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father..."

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“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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On 11/6/2017 at 11:01 PM, Katie Meadow said:

Thanksgiving happens for my husband's family at their beach house north of Tomales Bay. There are deer and wild turkeys wandering about town all the time. The turkeys display like giant decks of cards in the middle of the road and have been known to block cars from driving down the narrow streets until the turkeys feel like they have done their job and move on. It's pretty funny. But it is weird to see one right out the window when we are passing around a plate sliced turkey. 

Hey, at least you're getting great oysters.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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2 hours ago, weinoo said:

Hey, at least you're getting great oysters.

Yes, we do have good oysters. My favorite local oyster is the Hog Island Sweet, and Hog Island's farm is about half an hour from the beach house. But I also love the briny east coast oysters that just can't be had on the west coast, although Hog Island also farms a smaller crop of what they call "Hog Island Atlantics," which are a little brinier than the Sweetwaters and have more of that eastern shape, but they are not quite the same as a European Flat. Rarely Hog Island gets some of those tiny Olympias from Puget Sound and that is a rare treat. 

 

My thanksgiving relatives are not oyster people for the most part. That's "day after" food for when the crowds have departed.


Edited by Katie Meadow (log)
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@Katie Meadow I recently had some amazingly briny oysters from a little river in Maine - was like swallowing a mouthful of the sea. And I imagine the Hog Island Atlantics, while briny, are nowhere near as briny as when they come from back east.

 

Enjoy your day after!


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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7 hours ago, chromedome said:

LOL "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father..."

I swear it wasn't me!

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It was a farmer with six fingers...

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“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Depends how well he wields that axe, I suppose. 


“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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On 11/6/2017 at 11:15 AM, Toliver said:

They're idiots.

In their roasted Brussels  Sprouts recipe, they tell you to brown the halved sprouts in a cast iron skillet first, then transfer them to a hot oven for another 10 to 20 minutes. 

I don't get it. If they use the infamous eGullet Roasted Cauliflower method of cooking, they can bypass the skillet altogether and just get the browning from the roasting pan/sheet.

Am I under-thinking this? 

 

A few years back, they did a recipe for Brussels sprouts with hazelnuts and it was 100% roasted in the oven in one pan. It's also delicious, and I would vote for it over the garlic version. (BTW, the recipe calls for olive oil, which is ok, but I have also usedFrench toasted hazelnut oil that I got from Home Goods, and it was sublime.)


Edited by Lisa Shock (log)
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On 11/5/2017 at 5:37 PM, Katie Meadow said:

I agree that the NYT recent Thanksgiving suggestions have been blah. And that includes the fat section that came with today's Sunday Times. It put me to sleep. But truly I am starting to believe it isn't just the uninspired suggestions from all quarters, it's me, feeling there's nothing new under the sun at my in-laws' Thanksgiving; truly, I just don't find this kind of food very exciting any more.

 

Bread does seem redundant if there is some type of stuffing or dressing. I used to make a good stuffing cooked in the turkey but I got tired of it and my husband likes doing the turkey unstuffed, and I agree that it cooks better that way. Any dressing I made would have to be vegetarian for half this crowd, and I've never found that to be very tasty. Honesty, a plain biscuit sounds good! If anyone here has a great vegetarian dressing recipe I would be happy to hear about it. One of my SILs might be willing to make it, since some of them seem to miss it, at least in theory. 

 

Honestly, I go in two directions -as some people don't view some foods as proper in dressing, depending upon where they are from. They aren't really precise, I wing it depending on how many people will show up.

 

My family is from Michigan, so they always did wild rice (perhaps mixed with some brown rice). You simply cook the rice with water and salt. Then take some olive oil (or butter, if they'll eat it) and sautee finely diced onion along with some chiffonade of fresh sage in a large pot (big enough to hold everything at the end. When the onions are translucent, maybe just starting to brown, add some sliced mushrooms, a big handful,  and a pinch of salt, plus a very tiny whisper of nutmeg. (onion confit is a great inclusion here, if you have any -so is a drop of liquid smoke) Sautee for a few minutes, then add a little more fat, and stir in the cooked rice(s). It's kind of like an American fried rice. Keep warm in a pan. Can be made the day before and just reheated, add a couple extra tablespoons of water if reheating from cold.

 

A more conventional dressing can be had by cutting various breads into cubes and drying in the oven a few days beforehand. A mix of, say, sourdough and wheat and maybe rye, is good, the cubes will be different colors. Also a few days before (if it's more than 5 days before, make the stock and freeze it)make some vegetable stock by simply simmering some trimmings for 45 minutes and straining. (good things include: any member of the onion family including paper skins, mushrooms, celery, carrot, tomato, fresh corn cobs) (avoid the crucifers like broccoli, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, or anything starchy except corn cobs) Then make small-dice mirepoix -have about 1/8 as much volume of mirepoix as you do bread. This is important as it's part of the familiar taste of bread dressing. In a large pot, add some olive oil and briefly saute the mirepoix. Add some chiffonade of fresh sage. (onion confit is a great inclusion here, if you have any -so is a drop of liquid smoke) Add the dry bread and some salt and toss to coat with oil. Place in a baking pan, and pour the stock over, until about half-full. Cover with a lid or foil, and bake for about 45 minutes at 350° -it will steam itself and be evenly cooked.

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The Rancho Gordo website has a free recipe e-booklet with several interesting-sounding Thanksgiving recipes. 

I especially like the sound of the wild rice and bean salad with roasted pumpkin, brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, persimmon, pomegranate arils and toasted nuts. 

 

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