Sunday, November 20, 2011

Turkey Day 2011: Reflections and Recipe Rundown

Part one of the spread from Thanksgiving 2009
Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and I'm giddy with excitement the way that children look forward to Christmas morning.  I believe with steadfast resolve that Thanksgiving is the best American holiday of the year.  Worldwide, I think it might be either tied or a close second to Guy Fawkes Day, but if we're talking strictly non-pyrotechnic food-centric holidays, Thanksgiving is tops.

Why?  Because despite it's dubious beginnings, Thanksgiving these days is about celebrating time spent with your loved ones and preparing a fantastic meal together, and there is really nothing that can top that.   Unlike other feast days, there aren't any religious overtones, pressure for perfect gift-purchasing, and every family can make up it's own traditions.  No family that you can visit? Thanksgiving spent with friends is an equally special experience.

My parents live in Boston, and since Thanksgiving Eve is notoriously the worst travel day of the year, I usually like to go up early Thursday morning and have my own personal cook-off at home for my dishes the night before.  This year, my sister has goaded me into participating in a gratuitous athletic display on Thanksgiving morning.  Since I also have a zero vacation balance, I will braving the masses on Wednesday evening, sweating/panting Thursday morning, and going to be completely deprived of cooking time

But I'm not going to leave you gentle Trash Salad readers high and dry.  I've prepared a rundown of my favorite dishes that I've made over the years.  As a parting pro-tip: do not waste your cooking time or valuable stomach space on soups and breads.  You've got all of winter ahead of you for that.

Thanksgiving 2009's stuffing-heavy spread.  Courtesy of my sister for these photos, but Trash Salad worthy nonetheless.

Tried and true traditional flavors:
AllRecipes Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole
Serious Eats Classic Sage and Sausage Stuffing (I'm actually supremely fussy about my stuffing, but this is the recipe that comes closest to what I usually do, though eggs are completely unnecessary. Stuffing post forthcoming.)
Simply Recipes Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Gourmet Cranberry Sauce 
Cambell's Green Bean Casserole (My Mom's version has lots of cheese, completely canned ingredients, and is absolutely amazing.)
Martha's Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Tyler Florence Oven Roasted Turkey with Sage Butter
Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie
Jell-o Chocolate Pudding Pie (Another family favorite!)

A little something different:*
My Coconut and Ginger Sweet Potato Casserole
Bon Appetit Lemon Roast Potatoes
My Kale Salad
Williams-Sonoma Spiced Cranberry Chutney
Dave Lieberman Tangy Almond Green Beans
101 Cookbooks Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Apples
Giada de Laurentis Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus
Oprah's Pumpkin Gingersnap Pie with Sugared Cranberries (I know. But it's really good!)
Alison Kave's Blue Ribbon Ginger Bourbon Pecan Pie

*Having tried many stuffing variations including cornbread and wild rice, this is the only place where I will say do NOT mess with the classic.


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