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What's off with my Thanksgiving Menu

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I feel there is something off with my menu, can't quite put my finger on it. Cooking for 16 people. Breads, Appetizers and Desserts are going to be prepared by someone else. There are some semi-vegetarians attending. Any suggestions? Critics welcome. Thanks!

Butternut Squash Soup
Bourbon Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Basic Bread Dressing (May Omit)
Wild Rice & Porcini Mushroom Dressing
Assorted Roasted Beets
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Cranberry Sauce
Turkey Gravy

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  1. How do the scallops fit in? It does sound very rich, though delicious, and I might think about substituting a nice green bean or pea dish for either the beets or the brussel sprouts.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      Good suggestion, thanks. I don't really know how they fit in, just something we wanted to throw in and since the vegetarians attending do eat fish we thought it may be a nice touch. Does it sound too off?

      1. re: edbk

        How about thinking about a different fish that would have a more similar preparation? It's just that scallops will need to be done quickly at the last minute and may need more handling. They also don't match the heavier flavors and textures as well.

        I'm not sure I can offer something too specific. But I'm thinking of some kind of "roasted" heavier fish fillet or steak that has a more "meaty" texture and might be able to stand up to the other sides better. I'll try to think of specifics...

        1. re: eamcd

          Good point. Last year I cooked a filet of fish en papillote (sp?), which was great because I could assemble it ahead of time, and then just pop it in the oven with other things. I'll try to find the recipe.

    2. I was going over mine the other day and has the same dilemma but I found a solution. Aside from the cranberry sauce I felt I needed something cool and crisp. So many other things are hot/warm so I'm making a celery, cucumber and orange salad thingy. Thinly slice the celery and cucumber, supreme the orange and then add whatever else you want. I'm adding some sherry vinegar, and you could try some red pepper flakes or mint.

      1 Reply
      1. re: HaagenDazs

        I should have mentioned that the beets are going to be cold, your salad sounds very refreshing though.

      2. When I do Thanksgiving Dinner, I try to include all the primary colors in my food choices. I don't *see* yellow on your menu!!! Naturally, corn comes to mind, but I'm sure there are other choices. ( I haven't yet found a "blue" food group )

        For those who haven't ever eaten Roasted Brussel Sprouts - you don't know what your missing!!!

        5 Replies
        1. re: CocoaNut

          Blue potatoes of course...or blueberries, if you can make that into a dinner course somewhere...

          I like to do roasted rutabagas and carrots (and sometimes my sweet potatoes go there too) alongside the brussel sprouts. They can be a bit yellow (and orange).

          1. re: eamcd

            HA! I'd opt for the blueberries. I just can't get my brain around blue potatoes as I stand in the produce section gazing wonderously at them.

            Hmmmm..... I'm wondering about a blueberry compote as an addition/alternative to the cranberry sauce.

          2. re: CocoaNut

            edbk, if you're taking CocoaNut's observation to heart, cornbread might be a good yellow instead of the "Basic Bread Dressing" you're considering omitting anyway...

            1. re: CocoaNut

              goodhealthgourmet-spot on...even if the beets were golden or rainbow, your color scheme needs an accent that can be easily accomplished... also i like something on the bitter, or acidic side with all the starch and protein...my easy fix is smashed rutabagas...you boil them, smash them coarsely, add butter, salt, squeeze of lemon juice or rice wine vinegar,...and more butter...that's it. color is right, not heavy or starchy, and always complements anything else on the menu. a given every year, now matter what else i change on the menu.

              1. re: CocoaNut

                I agree the first thing I thought is it needs corn...corn pudding ,maybe.
                I love a layer salad at the holidays....yum.

              2. It does sound lovely and yes, rich; but that's what we love about T-giving, isn't it? Would you consider sharing your Bourbon Sweet Potatoes recipe?

                I agree the scallops don't quite fit in. I think a nice Caesar salad would be a good option to lighten things up a little bit; I suppose you could top it with some grilled or sauteed shrimp if you need another protein or make some sauteed kale with or without pasta--hearty and a good protein source if that is one concern.

                2 Replies
                1. re: gourmanda

                  It looks like a fair number of your dishes need oven space. I try to balance my menu for Thanksgiving with top of stove and oven dishes. I am not blessed with double ovens, so while the turkey is doing its think I am stuck for oven space. I have pressed the gas grill into service a time or two though.

                  What about removing one oven based dish for a steamed or simmered dish, green beans with shallot butter or toasted pecans in brown butter?

                  1. re: gourmanda

                    Of course. Will post first thing tomorrow (don't have the recipe with me)

                  2. I'm a bit tempted to say that butternut squash soup, plus two kinds of potatoes, may be a bit too heavy at that end of the spectrum. I'd be inclined to swap whichever one you're least attached to for something green: (cream of) watercress/spinach soup, green beans, even a really nice lettuce salad (maybe with apples/pears and blue cheese, or pomegranate seeds or something to dress it up).

                    1. I agree that the scallops seem a bit off, and they are a little more work - you don't want to worry about scallops when you're busy trying to get gravy and all of the other last minute things pulled together.

                      At first glance, I'm thinking maybe a cold, crisp dish. Maybe even making the beets into a salad? I just made a beet and chickpea salad from Sunday Suppers over the weekend, and it was fantastic. And you can make it ahead!

                      I feel like you could omit one of the following - the soup, sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes (I am thinking soup).

                      For the vegetarians (fishtarians....whatever), maybe you could grill a whole fish (presents well). Or, you could do a more substantial side with beans and nuts - something else with some protein to it.

                      1. If the cost isn't too objectionable, and if it's available, roasted salmon would be lovely. You can make it a day ahead, and then serve it at room temp. It would hold up very well.

                        1. My fish dish for the pescatarians this year is whole roasted fish in salt. It looks amazing when is comes out of the oven. I am using a local fish instead of snapper but the presentation is really lovely and since it cooks unmolested for 20 minutes it can cook while you enjoy your first course.

                          1. I think the cold roasted beets and roasted brussels sprouts sound wonderful. I wouldn't bother with a salad. Any time I make a salad at Thanksgiving, it goes to waste as there is so MUCH food. I did make a Waldorf salad one year that was a nice change, though.

                            1. i think there are too many similar textures. i think potatoes, sweet potatoes and beets are all sort of similar in heaviness and texture. and the beets/cranberry is close in another way. does that make sense? create one stuffing! it sounds delicious. i would omit scallops, not sure how they fit in and make sure you have bread to sop up that gravy! ;) hope this helps, really.

                              1. sorry for repetitive comments. ack. i'm so tired from work i didn't read the responses yet. my bad!

                                1. Sweet potatoes and butternut squash seem too similar to me, but since one is soup and one is served in chunks, perhaps I'm just overthinking it.

                                  If it were me, I'd omit the soup out of sheer laziness. One less set of dishes (bowls) to wash at the end of the night!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: operagirl

                                    Thanks for all the great comments, I have some re-thinking to do.

                                  2. I would leave the fish/seafood to the appetizer people. I can't see mixing that with turkey. I love a traditional turkey dinner. I also agree that squash and sweet potatoes are too much of the same. I don't see carrots. I would add that to the main course sides. Or you could have a nice mushroom soup rather than squash soup - although squash is so easy. As for turkey dressing, anything you feel like would be great but I wouldn't have two different ones. After all, there is only one real turkey cavity and we are used to one dressing. How about some steamed spinach?

                                    1. Whatever you do, don't omit the bread dressing.

                                      I agree with another poster about the scallops. You may want to consider roasting a side of salmon or a large halibut filet. Both of these oily fishes will stand up to the richness of the rest of the meal.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jpc8015

                                        agreed...scallops are too labor intensive and generally need a sauce preparation, even if just butter, shallots, wine...my standard is the roasted salmon. easy, just lemon, pepper, and sprinkle with some chopped tomato the last 15 minutes of roasting...garnish with chopped parsley, lemon...

                                      2. I know it’s way late, but perhaps for next year...

                                        Might I suggest sauerkraut. It has been a staple on our Thanksgiving table since I was a boy. I think it would balance very well with the sweet, savory and salty flavors you listed on your menu. It may not be a perfect match with the seafood, but with the turkey and dressing – absolutely. Should appeal to vegetarians too.