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Nov 9, 2007 10:15 AM

Avant-garde Thanksgiving recipes?


My friend is a great cook. She had Thanksgiving dinner with her in-laws for the 1st time last year. She did most of the cooking. She is a very adventurous cook & finds most of the classic T-day recipes to be boring. So she made a savory sweet potato gratin w/onions, and did a spicy rub on the skin of the turkey, among other things. Her mother-in-law shows up with a sweet-potato marshmallow casserole & is horrified with the dinner my friend has prepared. She says in all her "50 years of Thanksgivings, this is the worst Thanksgiving dinner EVER!" As you can imagine, things got pretty ugly after that.

Well, my friend is doing a Thanksgiving party next weekend for all her friends, where she can be as experimental as she wants. She's asking people to bring either an appetizer or dessert. I've been looking thru my cookbooks, but I figured you hounds would have some good ideas, for twist on T-day stuff, or just some interesting Fall recipes in general. Thanks!!

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  1. How about a pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli with sage butter?

    On another note, I am sure many of us CHer's can relate to the not so subtle shock on our family's faces when we attempt to introduce a variation to Thanksgiving : )

    3 Replies
    1. re: mtleahy

      Yep--my relatives did a totally different Thanksgiving a few years back, and my dad (who HATES turkey) asked afterward, "Why can't we have NORMAL Thanksgiving food?"

      If you've got a group of friends that will put up with the experimentation, though, that's wonderful.

      1. re: revsharkie

        my kids asked if we were going to have "good" t-day food, along with our Asian-Styled eats

      2. re: mtleahy

        I was gonna suggest sweet potato pierogies, but ravioli are pretty similar. If you want to go crazy different, you could switch the s.p. for chestnuts, or mess with the seasonings - it would taste great with Northern African flavours.

      3. I'm not even going to waste my time on my opinion of your friend's m-i-l or any guest pronouncing any meal "the worst," family or not. Believe me, I really do like a lot of the sort of standard Thanksgiving fare, but I am all in favor of twisting things here and there, though nothing super-spicy for me regardless of the occasion. What I don't do well with on Thanksgiving is not varying from the usual, it's the "healthy" cooks who decide "no-fat" this and "low-fat" that. I am happy they are healthy. BUT IT'S THANKSGIVING. I want my rich and creamy food on the day of all food days.

        All of that said, I often do the bulk of Thanksgiving with my sister. Knowing the audience, we don't go too extreme, but I bet we could get the family to try the ravioli, so maybe we're not hopeless...Last year, I tried a sweet potato souffle in phyllo from the Martha Stewart site. I am not always a fan of her stuff, but this looked pretty safe. It's great. Really tastes good. The only thing is that it is a bit labor-intensive. I hope the link works, otherwise, you can go on the site and do a search for "sweet potato souffle pie" and it comes up.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Shayna Madel

          Couple years back my mom made cranberry sauce, as usual, for Christmas dinner; but she was on this diet, so she made it sugar-free, with Splenda. Said "Oh, you've got to try this; it's even better than with sugar, I think!"

          It wasn't.

        2. Some interesting non-traditional ideas came up in this post, don't know if you saw it:

          1. Try making sweet potato gnocchi with a brown butter sauce flavored with pumpkin pie spice. Top it with pecans and pecorino: it's a sort of strange savory take on sweet potato pie. Another idea would be to make sweet potato blinis: you can make savory by topping it off with sage creme fraiche and bacon or you can make it sweet by adding some mascarpone with whipped cream and sweetened with maple, top it off with roasted salted pecans. Good luck.

            8 Replies
            1. re: digkv

              how do you make a sage creme fraiche?

              1. re: alkapal

                I would steep some sage leaves in water, broth, or heavy cream - let it cool, then stir into the creme fraiche.

                1. re: alkapal

                  Just mix some fresh, finely chopped sage in with the creme fraiche

                  1. re: diablo

                    jnstarla, won't that dilute/loosen the texture quite a bit? too much?

                    diablo, chopped fresh sage -- even finely chopped -- doesn't get stuck in the teeth?

                    1. re: alkapal

                      You heat a little creme fraiche up until it is smooth and then add some blanched sage leaves into a blender along with the heated creme. You blend until the sage leaves are evenly chopped. Let it cool down in the fridge and then fold it into some whipped creme fraiche. I'm not sure if you can whip heated creme fraiche up so that's why you might just have to fold it in.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Yeah, but it seemed a better idea than steeping :)

                        1. re: diablo

                          I thought the steeping thing might work, depending on how much liquid you used and how thick you want your creme fraiche to be. Or you could steep them in cream and then blenderize/beat it to make it thick...

                          Now I really want to mess with this steeping thing to see if it works! :)

                2. pumpernickel & apple bacon sausage with loads of fall dried herbs, married in a wine and stock broth makes for a delicious stuffing.