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Hey what's for Thanksgiving?

Looking ahead to Thanksgiving menu planning, which I am already, will you make the same family favorites, or try something new? How do new dishes fare at your holiday table -- welcomed or booed?

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  1. There's always a mix of favorites and new dishes...the caramelized onion/blue cheese tarts are now institutionalilzed; putting the soup into mini-sized pumpkins will never happen again, for instance. Deep fried turkey - maybe again....someday. Grilled - probably. Roasted - always. (yes, you intuited correctly: that means two turkeys, not one) Side dishes definitely up for grabs in new treatments. Not so much on desserts that revert to the bridal approach ("something old, something new..")

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alice Letseat

      How do you do the carmelized onion/blue cheese tarts? That sounds great!

    2. I think whether or not new dishes are accepted depends on the people you're serving. This year we're trying out Turducken...last year was a heritage turkey... never tried sweet potatoes with marshmallows but I'm sure if I did the kids would be all over it.

      There are some classics, of course (have a look at last year's Thanksgiving threads) but I think the main point is to gather family & friends together, remember what the holiday is about and share a good meal even if your definition is different than mine it's all about good company - sprinkled with family drama ;) & good food.

      1. New dishes are soundly booed at my house and God forbid you omit any of the usual suspects. I did manage over the course of 10 years to replace the green bean casserole complete with french's dried onions with fresh green beans and pearl onions sauteed in garlic olive oil. For 2 years, I had to serve both! Don't make the mistake of switching fresh cranberry sauce with the canned variety. The holiday may have to be cancelled!

        1. While the rest of the year is open to experimentation, Thanksgiving is untouchable. So it will be a roasted turkey, baked yams, stuffing recipe presumably from my late grandmother, and like baseballfan, I'm required to serve fresh cranberry sauce--2 ways. One is straight cranberry, the other has tart apple, orange juice, orange zest, whole clove, and a cinnamon stick. Homemade pumpkin pie.

          1. We always have pretty much the same menu but I try to vary the dishes from year to year, cooking the turkey in a different way, working in a new recipe for stuffing, etc.

            One of our staples is macaroni and cheese, which I think may be a southern thing. My husband's family in New England thought it odd that I would serve mac and cheese at a holiday dinner. I think they were thinking I was going to prepare the box kind.

            Anyway, I tried this recipe several years ago for the first time and it is now a family favorite. Even the folks from Mass. were pleasantly surprised. It is really delish:


            1 Reply
            1. re: JenBoes

              JenBoes, my dad always wanted macaroni & cheese to be part of the Thanksgiving & Christmas dinners because that was part of those meals when he was a kid. My aunt, his sister, always made it from scratch (no Kraft blue box) as their mother had made it as one of her contributions to the meals at family gatherings. It was good, but I always enjoyed it more at some time other than Thanksgiving or Christmas - when there was not already mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, etc. which seemed to be basically the same type or class food as the mac & cheese. I've never knew any of my mother's people (or anyone else that I can recall) to serve mac & cheese as part of the Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. It may well be one of "those southern things", but don't believe it is nearly as widespread as are a number of other southern food traditions. By the way, I like the looks of your mac & cheese recipe much better than that which my aunt made. Yours looks not so bland, like its got some flavorful "oomph" to it.

            2. Last year I had a shrimp ring, bread, and cheeses while people came in and drink their wine. First course was a salad with apples and nuts.

              Main course was a cider-brined turkey with lots of gravy, cornbread/apple/sausage stuffing, pecan sweet potatoes, a deconstructed green bean casserole (Michael Chiarello recipe that put beans and mushrooms in a red wine sauce and topped with crispy onions), and homemade cranberry-orange sauce. We had chocolate cream pie and apple crisp for dessert.

              This year the only thing I'm changing is that I'm serving sweet potato soup instead of salad and garlic mashed potatoes with dinner.

              4 Replies
                1. re: MMRuth

                  There may be more elegant versions, but here it is a ring of chilled, cooked large shrimp with tails on, encircling a centre-piece of seafood dipping sauce. You can get sexier than that, of course, but will Uncle Wilf still eat it?

                  1. re: LJS

                    Sounds good to me! I'd just never heard of described that way.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I"m not fond of shrimp myself, but someone always brings one and it keeps everyone distracted while I do last minute prep.

              1. butternut squash soup
                turkey- trying a heritage breed this year
                green beans
                mashed potatoes
                roasted carrots, parsnips and turnips
                oyster stuffing
                some other TBD stuffing
                homemade biscuits
                cranberry/orange chutney
                balsalmic braised cippoline onions

                Dessert is being assigned to someone else.

                1. Just bought my Jersey corn for Thanksgiving - I buy a couple of dozen ears before the end of the season, remove the kernels, and store them in an airtight bag in my freezer - it is so nice to have the taste of summer in November - it was a big hit last year, and will be a tradition from now on!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: newfie29

                    That is a great idea!
                    Do you blanch the corn kernals first, or freeze them raw?

                    1. re: PamelaD

                      I do the same thing, buy a dozen ears and freeze them raw for Thanksgiving. Half I make corn pudding, and the other half creamed corn.

                  2. Planning for Thanksgiving already? I had to check your profile to make sure you weren't Canadian. :)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: paulj

                      I, however, am Canadian, so have started planning. Dinner is usually at my parents' house with turkey and all the trimmings. But this year, my mom will be newly out of the hospital with a new knee, so we had to decide what else to do. She won't be able to sit around our crowded dining table, so we decided a buffet would be better.

                      And I wanted to tempt her appetite with some of her favourite things, so we are having planked salmon and roast beef. I will still make my mashed potatoes, or else the kids will be very sad. My mom has a variety of homegrown veggies in the freezer to choose from...corn, beans.

                      We figured it was okay to skip the turkey this year. We do another at Christmas anyway.

                      1. re: Sooeygun

                        My only direct contact with Canadian Thanksgiving was years ago when returning from a couple of months in Alaska (in mid October). We stopped at a dinosaur museum in Alberta, and found turkey and stuffing on the cafeteria menu. Only then did I realize what date it was.

                        Was it the Thanksgiving or the Christmas turkey that Dave cooked at the hotel?

                    2. rushing the season a little arn't we? ;-)

                      I will probably order my local turkey in the next couple of weeks from my butcher, and then start planning the menu beyond the typical roasted turkey w/stuffing, mashed potaotes w/ gravy, the green bean casserole, and the pies. I am still trying to hang onto the last but of summer before another crappy midwestern fall, and winter, its still bbq season for my smoker.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: swsidejim

                        For some reason I still love to read the Thanksgiving suggestions and ideas, even though MY SON AND DAUGHTER IN LAW ARE DOING THANKSGIVING and I GET TO BRING DESSERT ONLY! ONLY! Huzzah! After doing it year after year after year.

                        1. re: oakjoan

                          I also love Thanksgiving, its my favorite holiday, I was just having some fun with the OP.

                      2. It's so nice to see that I'm not the only one already dreaming of turkey and stuffing!

                        3 things that never change: anyone that has no family or friends in the area is welcome (I live in a fairly transient region and I always seem to collect "strays" for T-Day), we always have roasted turkey w/ bread stuffing and wine, A LOT of wine

                        Other than that, everything else is fair game. Of course the staples are always included, mash potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, corn, peas, green beans, soup, salad, relish tray, desserts, rolls, the second stuffing (yes, there has to be 2 because I can't live without my Mom's plain old bread stuffing), sweet potatoes.

                        The variation is that I find new ways to reinvent the ingredients.

                        1. I'm glad I'm not the only one excited for Thanksgiving 2.5 months early! :) Probably something similar to the usual:

                          turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, rice and noodle casserole, sweet and sour meatballs, green beans, pumpkin cornbread sausage stuffing, pumpkin pie, apple pie, brownies...I love Thanksgiving! Here was last year: http://chewonthatblog.com/2007/11/07/...

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Chew on That

                            That stuffing looks delicious! I may have to try that one. I love Thanksgiving too - it's all about FOOD.

                            I make the mainstay favorites, but try a few new recipes every year. This year will be the first time in our new house with a REAL kitchen, plenty of room, and two ovens, it's going to be a big difference from my tiny city galley kitchen with a 30-year old Magic Chef oven.. Also, this year there is actually someone else who likes sweet potatoes so I can finally make Bobby Flay's Sweet Potato Gratin with Chipotle that the CHs rave about every year. Not sure of the menu for this year - might try a Southwestern twist.

                            I couldn't find 2008's report, but here's the menu from 2007 (a lot of the new recipes tried were from Silver Palate since that was the Cookbook of the Month at that time):

                            Well, how did you Thanksgiving Go?

                            Chipotle Sweet Potatoes:

                            1. re: Rubee

                              Hi Rubee-

                              Where can I find the brown sugar pumpkin pie recipe? It sounds great. How do you rate it as well.

                              1. re: drewb123

                                Hi Drewb!

                                How is everything?

                                Here's the link to the brown sugar pie recipe tomaneng had recommended: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4562...

                                It is a delicious pie, although my husband still prefers the one I usually make - Brandied Pumpkin Pie. That's a good pie too (I use cognac) and the one I'll make this year:


                              2. re: Rubee

                                I made the Sweet Potato Gratin with Chipotle last year and it was phenomenal!!! I went a litle overboard with the chipotle though...so beware!

                                1. re: sds

                                  Yeah "one chipotle" means one pepper, not one can. I found out the hard way.

                              3. re: Chew on That

                                Hi Chewonthat I noticed there was no recipe for sweet and sour metaballs? I would like to know if i can please get your version.


                              4. This is totally off the traditional reservation or turkey farm...but having cooked for extended family for more years than I care to admit with the traditional turkey , bread stuffing , potato stuffing ( yes Irish) , mashed potatoes , peas, butternut squash, tiny onions in cream sauce, corn etc etc etc ... our parent are recently gone ( to I hope a better restaurant) and extended family dispersed and off on their own.Two years ago DH and I moved into a weekend and every Holiday house 5 days before Thanksgiving and with a bunch of different traumas he was hell bent to cook me everything I love. So it was seared foie gras, bread stuffed pheasant , mashed pots and various other veggies...but I made my own little dish of potato stuffing as Dad would have liked ....we made a new tradition and it is special....can't wait for that Thursday !

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: capeanne

                                  Oh, such a nice story capeanne! I can see why you look forward to it - a meal of everything you love made by someone who loves you. Doesn't get any better than that.

                                  BTW, care to share the recipe for potato stuffing? ; )

                                  1. re: Rubee

                                    Sure it is totally simple and my Paternal Grandmother started it...we use both Yukons and one large Russet ,boil as usual and coarsely mash. add finely chopped celery and finely chopped onion, S&P and Bells Seasoning .a small amount of half and half for the consistency you desire . In the days that my Grandmother and Parents made them they stuffed the turkey with it ...I have recently made it as a side dish and bake it for the last 45 minutes that the bird is in...we never used exact measurements ...just kinda toss it together til it looks right..if you can get your crowd off mashed potatoes this is a delicious substitute and is killer with turkey gravy !

                                    1. re: capeanne

                                      So very touching to read your tribute to your dad, capeanne, by your preparation for self of his special potato dressing. And so interesting to read of your grandmother, family, your "doing" Irish potato dressing. So good after all these years to finally find someone, in addition to my friends the Lamberts of Spanish Fort, AL, (about whom I posted in "Your Mom's Weird Cooking" on 9/9 & 10) who appreciates & prepares Irish potato dressing. Your recipe sounds delicious and so much easier than Mrs. Lambert's that I do definitely plan to try it. As much as I like her potato dressing, I never make it because it is too time consuming, too much work, especially with all else that is going on with preparation of a holiday turkey dinner. Thanks for this alternative & for sharing the tribute to your dad.

                                      1. re: foodisgreat

                                        Love the brains and the flour trick Thanks

                                        1. re: capeanne

                                          Thanks, capeanne, and I can't wait to try your Irish potato dressing. Do you have any idea how your grandmother came up with this? Surely some families in addition to yours and the Lamberts make Irish potato dressing, but I've never before found any who do.

                                          1. re: foodisgreat

                                            My great grandmother who spoke only Gaelic lived with her after they left Ireland so I suspect the recipe came directly from Tang in County Westmeath absent of course the Bells seasoning ! I remember it as a Thanksgiving staple from my first memories of that Holiday at her home...

                                            1. re: capeanne

                                              Thanks so much, capeanne, for history of your family's potato dressing recipe. I thought, perhaps, it had an Irish heritage. Your great grandmother sounds most interesting, & I am sure you are so happy to know that much about her & the recipe background. Mrs. Lambert always said she never heard of potato dressing until she married & learned it from her mother-in-law who did not know history of it except that "it had always just been in the family". Mr. Lambert used to say his Irish ancestors could make anything from potatoes - at times they had to do so, nothing else to use. Know it was good and can't wait to try your version of the dish. Thanks.

                                2. Wow, I'm really glad I'm not the only one already planning. We have such an issue in our crowd -- new or old? Some people balk at anything different on the table, and others are so fed up with the boring old stuff they don't even want to show up! Getting some great ideas here...

                                  1. I'm doing the first Thanksgiving with the boyfriend, which is way more stressful than with my family (where there is no tradition and everyone's game to experiment).

                                    He's set on doing the turkey, stuffing, and potatoes, because they have to be exactly how his mom made them. I'm doing dessert - easy enough - but I also need to make something vegetarian I can eat for dinner!

                                    He's pretty picky - no mushrooms, cheese, creamy sauce, or anything too exotic - but I want us to be able to share. Any ideas for something tasty but homey?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: piccola

                                      One year I hosted a vegetarian Thanksgiving, so we made pumpkin gnocchi with hazelnut butter, sage and freshly shredded Asiago cheese. It's vegetarian, and the boyf riend can skip the cheese. Are hazelnuts exotic? I guess you could omit the nuts.


                                      1. re: fluffernutter

                                        Actually, that sounds great! Hazelnuts are fine, and as long as he can skip the cheese.... Thanks!

                                        1. re: piccola

                                          We have 3 vegetarians; last year I got a Tofurkey from Trader Joe's and it did not disappoint

                                    2. We make the same thing practically every year for Thanksgiving, all home made, but quite traditional:

                                      butternut squash soup with croutons and nutmeg
                                      roast turkey
                                      baked sweet potatoes
                                      mashed potatoes
                                      buttery rolls
                                      turkey gravy
                                      cranberry sauce
                                      some sort of sauteed green
                                      pearl onions; sometimes carmelized, sometimes creamed, sometimes both

                                      sour cherry pie
                                      pumpkin pie

                                      For my vegan cousin, she has tomato soup to start and we've tried different main courses over the years: vegan pot pies, tofurky, etc. Nothing's been a clear winner, though I did really like the pot pie last year (Amy's).

                                      Looking back on last year's thread, this menu is exactly the same. Every year I think I'm going to make something different, but it never happens due to each dish being a favorite for different family members: David's stuffing, Karen's mashed potatoes, Edward's cherry pie. I could do without the turkey or the onions, but it might cause mutiny. I'm toying with the idea of a goose this year...

                                      1. We can add dishes, but absolutley cannot take any away! Makes for a big meal. WE have
                                        roasted turkeys
                                        bread stuffing
                                        sweet potatoes- baked, then mashed with just butter, S/p- they are sweet enough on their own
                                        cranberry sauce- has to be homemade- one of the few changes to the menu in the last 25+ yrs
                                        creamed cauliflower/onions
                                        green beans
                                        cabbage salad

                                        clam chowder
                                        stuffed mushrooms
                                        asstd dips, cheese, crackers

                                        pies- apple, lemon merangue, pumpkin
                                        truffles, cookies, etc

                                        1. Same menu, same mess, same most dreaded occasion of the year. Bah-humbug <g>

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                            Thats funny- we have the same menu, same mess- but Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday- not only for me, but for most of my family- we have at least 20 for dinner, and it is a ZOO! This year I think we will be at 30, which will be great- it will be the entire family- my mom, my siblings and all of their wives and kids. Kids range in age from 28 to 5 months.

                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                              Me too. Blended family, patriarch prefers the new family. Food sucks. Tense. Hate Thanksgiving, but I hate Christmas more.

                                            2. Last year I added a corn pudding to the menu. I had read about it on CH and when I looked it up ( it's a Paula Dean recipe) I was horrified ( as were many of the reviwers) by the amount of butter. I checked other sites and found one that was less of an artery choker - it was so popular that my husband's family,who never try anything new, asked for it to be brought for Christmas. Cooks.com has a bunch of variations.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: eimac

                                                Could you post a recipe? I like the sound of that.

                                                1. re: eimac

                                                  You know, that's generally my experience with Paula's recipes -- a shocking amount of overuse of rich ingredients. The result is much of a muchness, pointlessly excessive and usually so rich they make me feel slightly unwell.

                                                2. I've been thinking about Thanksgiving for months! It's my favorite holiday and this will be the first year I'm hosting it. I'm VERY excited!

                                                  I'm having the same dilemma regarding new dishes vs. the traditional menu (from my family, even though my husband's family is coming too.) I might just add a soup mushroom or squash?) as a starter and ditch the corn.

                                                  The evening before, I'm planning on serving chili and doing a wine and chocolate tasting as family arrives at our house.

                                                  Because *everyone* is from out of town, they'll be hanging out at our house for the whole day. I want to do light snacks while we prepare Thanksgiving dinner. Any suggestions?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: buckeye.mary

                                                    Oh, and here I am already making fruitcake for Christmas ... not even thinking about Thanksgiving. We typically go to sister and brother in law's house for one meal and my requested item to contribute is usually creme brulee and a pumpkin praline cheesecake.

                                                  2. Were I going home for Thanksgiving this year I'd be enjoying my family's usually 1 roast turkey, 1 smoked turkey, chicken and dumplings, corn, rolls, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, squash casserrole, broccoli rice and cheese casserole, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, and cranberry sauce followed by pumpkin pie, banana pudding pie, chocolate pudding pie, pecan pie, chocolate pecan pie, cheesecake, and fruitsalad. However I won't be making it home this year. It wil just be my husband, myself, and a student from the AF base where he works that we'll adopt for the holiday. Assuming our guest has no dietary restrictions or serious food aversions I hope to play around a little. Nothing is in stone yet, but I am really wanting to try a recipe I've seen for sweet potatoes with blue cheese and pecans thats been floating around the net recently. Also definitely mulled cider(mulled wine at X-mas) and for dessert a maple, chocolate, and cashew pie I have been eyeing since last year. There will still be some of the traditional fare just to ensure I don't get too homesick.


                                                    1. Making many family favorites, and trying some newer dishes as well....i pretty much do that every year,,,,keeps Thanksgiving interesting:) I've hosted Thanksgiving dinner every ytear since 1976...my husband's and my first Thanksgiving together, we were required to go to three Thanksgiving dinners! And I decided never again! So here's the basic plan for this year:
                                                      Bloody Marys while I stuff the turkey
                                                      little hot dogs in crescent rolls for g'daughter who only eats hot dogs, pb&j's and meatballs
                                                      chicken liver pate
                                                      cheddar rosemary crackers (home made)
                                                      relish tray (pickles, olives, zucchini relish a friend made)
                                                      Ina Garten's roasted butternut squash salad with warm apple cider viniagrette
                                                      Roast Turkey (not sure what exact method/recipe yet...thinking about a dry rub)
                                                      Stuffiing (which I prefer inside the turkey)
                                                      Mashed potatoes
                                                      Scalloped oysters
                                                      Broccoli casserole
                                                      assorted homemade quick breads (pumpkin, banana nut, cranberry cheese)
                                                      maybe some type of yeast rolll...I think I saw a recipe someplace for a sweet potato yeast roll..may try that
                                                      Ina Garten's cranberry conserve sounded good...had apples and walnuts or pecans
                                                      Pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust
                                                      crumb topped apple pie
                                                      Andes mint candies ( for my daughter...her tradition)
                                                      thinking a Reisling or Gewurtztrameiner for wine
                                                      coffee with ? after :)

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                                        hi sunflwrsdh- do you have a pumpkin cheesecake recipe handy? I am making one as well and can't find the one I used and LOVED last year... so far I am looking at epicurious's and deciding.