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Nov 16, 2008 10:04 AM

Thanksgiving dinner: What is your LEAST favorite menu item that you can't get rid of?

There are so many Thanksgiving dishes that are obligatory to include on many family dinner tables. What T-day dishes do you wish would disappear forever from your family feast?

We don't live near any extended family, so we only eat what we like on Thanksgiving or at any other gathering. But, some of the things I've had at other's people houses on Thanksgiving are a mystery to me. Guess my list would include:

Sweet potatoes with marshmallows. I love sweet potatoes, baked and served with a bit of butter. Why marshmallows?

Really boring or poorly cooked green beans.

Horrid store-bought pumpkin pie. Homemade is so much better, and not difficult to prepare. My husband always brings home grocery store-bought pumpkin pies at this time of year. In fact, we have one in the trash right now. He said it was not edible, so I just took his word on it and didn't even try a bite.

What is on your list of bad Thanksgiving fare?

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  1. Luppy & nearly cold mashed potatoes..timing is so critical w/these.
    Imitation cider...why bother when the REAL stuff is so easy to find
    Imitation eggnog...make your own and experience heaven!

    Now if I could only get my inlaws to read CH!

    2 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      My family cooks and whips the potatoes the day before and refrigerates them in our removable slow cooker crock. Then around 1 or 2 we put them in the slow cooker on medium for 4 hours and they are nummy and toasty warm for supper!

      1. re: Bryn

        Bryn, now if my mil could only accept a few holiday suggestions.... :)

    2. The domesticated, chemical cocktail, agri-business, Butterball style turkey. A tasteless carcinogenic homogeniac mess. The poultry equivalent of the MacIntosh apple. Give me wild (or free range) or give me lobster!

      2 Replies
        1. re: Passadumkeg

          Amen! We've got a Narragansett hen coming our way this year, and FINALLY, I'm looking forward to turkey again.

          It's just too depressing, eating something that can't even manage to procreate on its own.

        2. Green bean casserole with Cream of Muchroom soup and those fried "onion" things on top. Should be renamed gray bean casserole, blech.

          Ditto on the fake apple cider and the grocery store frisbee pies. There's a reason they're 3.99, people!!!

          37 Replies
          1. re: yamalam

            Good heavens, I'm with you on that gray bean casserole! We had a potluck at work last week and there were a couple of them there(one with potatoes in it) . Ack! I wanted to wish it away!!!

            1. re: Luvfriedokra


              Under the "could be a new way to love green beans" category, I read this recipe just this morning. Yum inspired.

              1. re: Luvfriedokra

                I had a guest who brought the green bean casserole but made it with canned brown mushroom gravy instead - it was vile, and I'm not a picky eater

                1. re: jacquelyncoffey

                  Actually, my wife (the real cook in our family) does one. I am not really into green beans, in general, but have no aversion to them either - except that they usually clash with most wines, but they are not alone in that aspect. I do not know her recipe, but it does involve mushrooms and then a "canned" topping, those French-fried onions. At most sittings, I find myself reaching for two helpings of her dish, even if I have to hold my wines for other courses. Wish that I had the details, but for a non-fan, to begin with, I find hers to be head-n-shoulders above all others, that I have tasted.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    I have made it using all "from-scratch" items except for the onions, and it was delicious. I don't like the "original" recipe that uses all canned ingredients, and it was especially nasty when brown gravy was substituted for the cream of mushroom soup. If your wife makes something other than the original recipe, I'd love to see, because the dish can be really good if you make it right.

                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      Green beans clash with wine? I've never thought of them as clashing with wine ... sauteed with plenty of butter, I think they go nicely with CĂ´tes du Rhone, Beaujolais ... I might have to pay more attention, though, it could just be that I'm used to it.

                      1. re: tmso

                        The problem is an organic acid cynarin, that, at best, confuses the tastes of wines. Whether it becomes a "clash," is totally up to your palate.


                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                        SO just told me that it is a "well known fact", that artichokes clash with wines.
                        Little did I know... Is this similar to the "acid" in green beans?

                        1. re: Scargod

                          For me, the only thing that really clashes with wine, is telephone poles.

                          1. re: Scargod

                            One of my favorite meals is an artichoke (done in the MW as I learned from you all) and a glass of red.

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka


                              Especially predicated on my recent pairing of a PG with artichoke, may I ask you, "which reds?"



                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                I'll forward this to Sam; we exchange h-mails..:)

                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Bill, our dear friend Sam passed away over 18 months ago, so i'm afraid you won't be getting an answer on that one.

                              2. re: Scargod

                                I am not an organic chemist, but if memory serves, it is about the same acid, or similar. Maybe one, more knowledgeable in chemical matters, can weigh in here.

                                Similar exists with asparagus, and Brussels sprouts.

                                Now, and this goes for both clashes and affinities, the interactions, or their perceptions, will depend on the palate of the taster.


                                BTW - I recently had a Pinot Grigio (not my favorite varietal in many iterations), that went well with artichoke! I was not expecting that, and it was a good surprise.

                            2. re: jacquelyncoffey

                              It always look like vomit to me. Sorry for the graphic....oops this was in response to the green bean casseroles. I can't get my post to go into the right spot.
                              Sorry, Sam. I love love artichokes and wine...just not green bean casserole!

                          2. re: yamalam

                            If you've been reading the thread about the prepared food prices at Neiman Marcus, you should go on-line and check them out. They have a bloody green bean casserole! Here, see for yourselves!
                            That's $70.00 for the green beans, $15.50 for delivery and processing, plus state tax where applicable, and where I live, it's applicable! That's a tad under $93.00, or (it says it serves 12) $7.73 a portion! Under duress, I might pay that much to have it hauled away, but never to put it on the table!

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              Interestingly, a lot of the items in the Neiman Marcus catalog actually come with the baking dish or tart pan with which they are displayed. That being said, $7.73 per person for a green bean casserole is highway robbery!

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                $70 bucks! Whoa, that is un-friggin'-believable!

                                In addition to all the expected answers to this question (canned cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, etc), I would like to include tomato aspic and mashed rutabagas. Why my family included these two dishes to our holiday spread I'll never know. Ugh.

                                1. re: lynnlato

                                  Geez, how can anyone hate mashed rutabagas/turnips? Mashed with a little butter and brown sugar, they are the perfect way to convey gravy from plate to mouth. Plus, nutritionally speaking, they are way better for you than mashed potatoes - more fibre, less sodium, way higher vitamin content, etc. I'd rather have these than lumpy, cold mashed potatoes any day, and especially on Thanksgiving.

                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                    I second the turnips. My parents make them every year, and without fail, it's the one leftover dish that ends up molding in the fridge. I'll admit that aside from my mom making them, I've never eaten them elsewhere, but she's a great cook, so I'm inclined to think that it's more the turnips than her method of preparation that's turning me off. I've always thought there were just kind of dry.

                                    1. re: Al_Pal

                                      Now, I like variations on turnip greens, but have, so far, not warmed to the roots.

                                      Still, though we in the Deep South are known for turnip greens, I do not associate either part of the plant with Thanksgiving meals - maybe just a familial thing?


                                  2. re: Caroline1

                                    Prepared green bean casserole by mail, good grief that's strange & amazing.
                                    I have no idea how the mil prepares her mashed potatoes (we're not permitted in the kitchen during holidays) but it's some "secret recipe" known only to her....and for my's going to stay a secret. Really poor; always cold.
                                    The older I get the less I enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving. My wife & kids are having a Tex Mex Thanksgiving menu...but we do make the rounds with family and there is just no getting away from my mil's ode to Turkey Day.

                                    Holiday best to all at CH!

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      Your wife and kids are having a Tex Mex T-D menu? What are you having?

                                      1. re: c oliver


                                        c oliver, We're following the "feast" from this article. We've tested several of the recipes already. Minus the turkey (since we make the rounds w/family).

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          HillJ, thanks for posting this link. I'm actually doing the turkey from Zarela's Veracruz cookbook and was thinking that some of the traditional sides my family usually has wouldn't be the best match with a turkey rubbed with chile paste. Some of the recipes on the Food & Wine link you posted seem to be a much better fit.

                                    2. re: Caroline1

                                      The tamales are tempting. Six dozen/six pounds. Less than a buck apiece. They look small...
                                      You have to order by the 22nd! I could just go to Texas for Thanksgiving ($350-400).

                                      1. re: Scargod

                                        There's a high risk you'd get much better tamales by flying to Texas!

                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                          I was actually talking about tamales with someone the other day, and I would LOVE to know where I can get some good tamales or exactly what it is that would make them good. I'm actually from Texas originally, so you wouldn't expect finding good tamales to be a real problem, but I've never had any that weren't dry and bland. Which is a total shame because I've heard that when they're good, they're AMAZING. So after 25 years of life, I'm sadly still searching for a good tamale. Or perhaps just a good recipe.

                                          1. re: Al_Pal


                                            Where are you searching (geographically) now?

                                            I've had many great iterations, and from many Hispanic areas, but then have lived in some areas, where they were fairly common.

                                            Biggest revelation, for me, was when I lived in New Orleans. We were blessed with a family restaurant, Chapanlandia, which had maybe a dozen different tamales on their menu. Though the family was from Guatemala (Land of the Chapan), they had wonderful handmade tamales from Cuba, Mexico (three distinctly different variations, from different areas), Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rico, the Domican Republic and a few other countries. Each was wonderful, and each was different.

                                            In Arizona, while we have a wealth of Sonoran Mexican tamales, I miss all of the variations.


                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                        OMG, I just fell out of my chair laughing at Caroline1's post! Seriously, $93 for one of those godforsaken conglomerations of green bean glop? I would definitely pay that much to never again experience a family member or friend bringing one to the Thanksgiving meal - but paying $93 for something that you can pay about $5 to make yourself, that takes no time to make, and will probably taste just as awful????

                                      3. re: yamalam

                                        One year my aunt told me to bring a vegetable dish, and silly me, I did something interesting with zucchini. I thought I'd never hear the end of it. That's when I discovered that the vile green bean stuff was some kind of tradition and that vegetable was code language for green bean casserole. Yuck. When did that happen? I know that the holiday is more about eating a lot than eating anything interesting, but that stuff is truly gross.

                                        1. re: Judith

                                          I totally beg to differ! My family always has the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, but we make a POINT of trying a new dish every year...possibly because my mother rarely cooks anymore now that her three birds are out of the nest, so this is a good chance for her to try something she's been wanting to since she has to cook anyway. And some of the experimental dishes were so good that they've become Thanksgiving staples.

                                        2. re: yamalam

                                          My mom and both grandmothers favored frenched green beans lightly boiled and that is what I like. So the first time I tried that green bean casserole at my Aunt Rita's it was so hard to swallow even one bite. I hid the rest under a half-eaten slice of ham. My theory on why they exist is that it is so very hard to keep green beans hot for long. I make Thanksgiving dinner every year and the hardest thing is making sure that the green beans are piping hot yet not over-cooked when they come to the table. They still get cold really fast but that is what the hot mashed potatoes with really hot gravy are for, putting on your fork along with the rapidly chilling green beans. Another thing I have figured out over the years is to be sure to make more green beans than you think you will need. Big bowls of them retain heat and nuke nicely the next day for the hot sandwich platters.

                                          1. re: yamalam

                                            LOL @ "grocery store frisbee pies"~~~in defense of the Entenmann's (not sure of sp.) chain of baked goods~~~their pumpkin "frisbee pie"(LOL again) isn't really that bad, if you can't make your own.
                                            ~now Mrs. Smith's, I wonder how she got Mr. Smith to marry her, must not have been for her pumpkin pie.
                                            Usually in my own personal experience, most supermarkets had a fairly decent "frisbee pie" as far as pumpkin...but be afraid, very afraid, of what they try to pass off as sweet potato pie, has an odd aftertaste, and is just odd, period.

                                            1. re: yamalam

                                              they have a ton of ads for this and it makes me nauseous just looking at the ads, let
                                              alone seeing it on someobody's table. It is the height of laziness in my opinion.

                                              1. re: DustyOR

                                                I concur. Honestly, making a pumpkin pie has to be one of the simplest things on earth, and I find it so tragic when someone can't or won't put even that minimal amount of effort into making their own on a holiday that's ABOUT good, home-made food.

                                              2. re: yamalam

                                                I am one who normally hates casserole type things made with cream soups, but this is one I can't seem to shake. I love it. I know it's garbage, but I can't stop eating it.

                                              3. The cran-from-a-can that makes that "sploip" noise as it exits its metal tomb.

                                                15 Replies
                                                1. re: beth1

                                                  If yo'u're talking about the kind of cranberries that come out of the can with the imprint of the lids of the can and needs to be sliced, I'm right there with you. Kids seem to like it, though.

                                                  1. re: chicgail

                                                    I've never been a fan of cranberry sauce (and my mom always makes it fresh - NEVER from the can), but from doing Thanksgivings with friends over the years, I've noticed that it's really only the people who grew up eating canned cranberry sauce who actually like it. One of my friends loves vienna sausages, and I think it's sort of the same thing - you'll enjoy it if you were raised with it, but it's probably not something you'll like if you try it for the first time when you're older.

                                                    1. re: Al_Pal

                                                      This is probably true. A good friend who we have somehow got roped into spending every Thanksgiving with makes a from-scratch cranberry sauce every year - and I DESPISE it. It's why I don't want to spend Thanksgiving with her...because I'm a secret canned cranberry lover.

                                                      I love the sploink noise! It was always my job to slice it as a kid, and now, I can't stand any sauce that's got chunks. Which is funny because I think canned cranberry is the only canned item I eat all year, and definitely the only thing that tastes of cranberry. Thanksgiving just isn't the same without those perfectly even slices!

                                                      1. re: thursday

                                                        I am a member of the "secret canned cranberry" society as well. ;)

                                                        1. re: mcel215

                                                          I love canned cranberry. And it is cranberry and little else. And the sound at birth is, "SSCCCHHHGGLLLOOOOOOOPPPPP"!!

                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                            Okay, now it's a toss-up between you and Beth1 for the best onomatopoeia-ish description of canned cranberry glop. I love your onomatopoeia word, but "as it exits its metal tomb" is just such a wonderful phrase....

                                                            1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                              I think Sam's sound is from a "metal womb" not "tomb."

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                True, but as I'm not a fan of canned cranberry glop, I prefer beth1's description of the metal tomb. To me, that stuff seems as though it's very much a dead, not a live or fresh product! So her description seems more apt, in my opinion. :-)

                                                                1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                  Tammy and the Spoolettes just sang this about me!!!

                                                                  He like iceburg lettuce
                                                                  He like toast and Spam
                                                                  He like can cranberry
                                                                  Oooh, oooh what a lovin' man

                                                                  He eat Jello an' marshmello
                                                                  Co't 45 an' gas station co'ndog
                                                                  Like my mama chitlin' an' pea
                                                                  Ooh wah ooo he our lovin' man

                                                                  [Copyright, Captain Pissgums & the Gay Cowboys Music]

                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                    Next song is ladies' choice. Wanna dance?

                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                        Wow, Sam. :-O

                                                                        Classic. :-)

                                                                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                  That's why I make red chile "gravy", to give the meal some flavor. I like any kind of cranberry sauce, we eat it all year long w/ venison.
                                                                  The Pilgrims had no taste buds.

                                                        2. re: beth1

                                                          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, that might be the best description of that godawful canned pseudo-cran crap I've ever heard, Beth1!!!! Cranberries deserve a far better fate; they are so yummy, tart, crunchy, and cool!

                                                          1. re: beth1

                                                            In childhood and adulthood, we always had whole cranberry sauce (sometimes canned, sometimes fresh) and the cran-from the can jellied stuff at either end of the Thanksgiving Table. Everybody got what they wanted.

                                                          2. If I had my druthers, I would cut out the mashed potatoes. They've never done anything special for me, and the sweet potatoes and dressing are so much better.

                                                            Oh, and my Dad's new 'ladyfriend' likes to bring along an oyster casserole (fresh oysters, cream, butter, and, crushed Ritz crackers - all mushed together and baked into oblivion) that is a crime against shellfish. Why did so many have to die for something so nasty?

                                                            13 Replies
                                                            1. re: Cachetes

                                                              Fat free stuffing; fat free mashed potatoes. Yuck!!

                                                              1. re: Cachetes

                                                                Now, I love my mashed potatoes, but we usually do either garlic, or horseradish mashed, with a wonderful, mainly au jus gravy.

                                                                I have yet to be served "rubber" mashed, but I'd wager that many families get their mashed potatoes from a box - bad move... really bad move.


                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                  I also feel it's not Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes. But I like good mashed potatoes and would even prefer instant "mashed" potatoes to those that are whipped with an electric mixer until they turn into one large mass of potato gluten! Those things are nasty! My daughter makes them that way. She knows better. I even gave her my potato ricer, but her husband likes potato glue! <sigh> I don't go there for Thanksgiving any more. Besides, two years in a row her mother-in-law destroyed my sweet potato souffle. First by dumping marshmallows on it and turning it all to ash. Yes! Bona fide incinerated black flaky ash! In a souffle dish! The next year I thought I'd be proactive and just bake it there. She kept opening the oven and it never got baked. But now I live 600 miles away. What's funnier than life? You've got to keep your sense of humor. '-)

                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                    I'm with you on having mashed with some extra texture, though I'll take the whipped version, over anything from a box, just so long as they are not "liquid." I hate that.

                                                                    At our age, we have far fewer "family" Thanksgivings, and now spend more time with friends. Fortunately, many are great cooks, and a few even chefs, so it's less a problem now, than in years past. Things might swing back to family, if my oldest nephew, a chef in RI gets his act together, but until then...


                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      haha, that's what we called it as kids, 'glue potato'. It was our favourite request for when we were feeling sick. normally served with cheese grated on top. Clearly it rubbed off on relatives - when my 17 yr-old cousin got sick, my aunt called my mum, anxiously asking for her recipe for 'glue potatoes - she says it's the only thing she'll eat!"

                                                                    1. re: Cachetes

                                                                      That "casserole" is in fact scalloped oysters, a fine old New England dish (though properly made with buttered soda-cracker crumbs, not Ritz!) that I've adored since I was knee-high to a turkey. Crime against shellfish? Fie! It is an apotheosis.

                                                                      That said, if you throw it together with cheap, tough industrial-grade oysters and don't mind your fluids-to-solids ratio, it can be merely OK rather than transcendental. If I can't get worthy oysters, I'll default to oyster stuffing, since the seasoning covers many sins...

                                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                                        I agree, done well its a delight. I make it (or some version of it) fairly often.

                                                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                                                          Your reply makes a lot of sense -now that I think of it, she comes from an old New England family, and a lot of her cooking reflect that (it's a mystery to me in all of my second-generation Italian-ness). Now that I've lately moved to Boston, I should seek out some recipes for traditional New England fare and give them a try. Any suggestions?

                                                                          As for my Dad's ladyfriend, she's always welcome. But her version of scalloped oysters is far from the near-divinity of which you speak, so I'll still skip it this year!

                                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                                            I also love scalloped oysters, but not the canned and baked-to-oblivion variety! It's a Thanksgiving staple.

                                                                          2. re: Cachetes

                                                                            IMHO, if you HAVE to do mashed potatoes on thanksgiving, make 'em with cooked turnip (especially the big rutabagas) mixed in, gives them a whole new taste dimension, especially if who ever made the turkey makes a good gravy too. I never did understand why people would do "that" to oysters, that nasty baked concoction. Oysters aren't meant to be eaten any other way other than off the half-shell or deep-fried and appreciated!!!
                                                                            (will say a prayer for you on thanksgiving re: that nasty casserole, or that dad's new "ladyfriend" makes something different this year)

                                                                            1. re: LadyOnO2

                                                                              my mom (from philly) called the oyster and cracker thing scaopped oysters,also...

                                                                            2. re: Cachetes

                                                                              Mashed potatoes can go one of two ways: freaking incredible or absolute garbage. I grew up eating my grandfather's recipe which also includes onion, a couple different kinds of cheeses, some milk, and some seasonings you'd never expect. I mash them (no electric mixer) so they don't have such a uniform texture. And they're amazing. Truly incredible. We make TONS of extra potatoes just so we'll have leftovers, and my sisters and I still can never get our fill of them.

                                                                              On the other hand, when we don't celebrate a holiday at my parents' house and end up having to go over to another family member's house, the potatoes are typically horriffic - bland and overly buttery to make up for the fact that they came out of a box. Which is why my parents always petition to have Thanksgiving at their place.