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What "must have" Thanksgiving dish will never be on your table?

For me it's green bean casserole and sweet potatoes with marshmallows in any guise. In fact, we don't have sweet potatoes at all -- mashed Yukon Golds and then a casserole of puréed roasted winter squash for us.

No form of jello either.

No pecan pie -- far too sweet for my tastes. No pumpkin pie either. I love pumpkin and I make some other pumpkin dessert -- a financier, a cheese cake, a crène brulée, whatever, something different -- but no pumpkin pie.

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  1. Sweet potatoes...I love sweet potato pie, cake, pudding, hash, hash browns, rolls, biscuits etc. but am not fond at all of candied or the marshmallow topping. I'm leaning toward including sweet potato cheesecake or pound cake instead this year.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cherylptw

      I enjoy a simple roasted sweet potato or mashed roasted sweet potatoes. Any other time. Never with a marshmallow in the same county.

    2. Two words: brussel sprouts. Blech.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DC in DC

        LOVE 'em! We have them sautéed in browned butter and pancetta. Once upon a time my kids didn't like tthem. I didn't interfere or attempt to get them to try them. But over the years their tastes broadened and now them love 'em too.

      2. Any form of stuffing that is not traditional bread and sage stuffing. No cornbread. No oysters. No raisins or cranberries or any other fruit. Just bread, celery, onions, butter and seasoning and enough chicken stock to make it moist.

        4 Replies
        1. re: cycloneillini

          I agree. ...altho I do sauté a handful of walnuts with the onions and celery for mine. Also parsley, rosemary and thyme along with the sage.

          When I didn't have a clue how to make a Thanksgiving dinner back in the late 60s I just thought the Simon & Garfunkle song must have come from somewhere so I built the stuffing around parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

          So? Inside the bird or in a casserole? I make a ton because we love it so much so there's always a casserole of it roasting but it's the stuff from inside the bird that's so great.

          1. re: cycloneillini

            No dressing that is not traditional Cornbread dressing...Just cornbread, maybe two or three crumbled biscuits, with lots of onions, celery, pepper, eggs, lots of black pepper, moistened with the richest (fattest) chicken stock I can make..Baked in a casserole just until it sets, and is golden brown...Then there's Oyster dressing...Mmmmmmm! :))

            1. re: cycloneillini

              See I'm the opposite, oyster stuffing was traditional in my family, so when I cook it's oyster stuffing, if someone wants bread based stuffing, they can bring it themselves

              1. re: roro1831

                For our family cornbread dressing and oyster dressing is tradtional. We never had bread based dressing.

            2. Green bean "casserole" with cream of mushroom soup?

              What a horrible way to ruin green beans!

              6 Replies
              1. re: gordeaux

                What is Thanksgiving without those "must have" dishes?
                It's once a year and wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them. It's about family and memories and those must haves are a part of the tradition.
                I love the green bean casserole and my daughter loves the green bean casserole and I'm sure her kids will do the same.
                What's next?....no turkey?

                1. re: monku

                  Our leftovers can last a few days after the event. Sorry, but this is not just one meal. No green bean casserole in my house. Ditto for marshmallows with sweet potatoes.

                  Growing up, we never had those things anyway. Maybe tsimmis, but no "sweet potato casserole."

                  It's Thanksgiving without them.

                  1. re: Steve

                    That's how I feel about it. Dinner is all well and good but it's the leftovers that make the holiday something to look forward to!

                    My mother may have made green bean casserole a year or two when I was a kid. I remember the cans of French's onion thingies --they're much more interesting than the casserole is as far as I'm concerned. Still, no one at my house has ever requested it and I'm not volunteering it. ;>

                      1. re: monku

                        I understand that America's Test Kitchen came up with a version of the recipe that used fresh mushrooms, some sort of Béchamel and fresh green beans. I also understand they used the French's onion thingies because they couldn't replicate it satisfactorily. But, the thing is, I just don't like it and don't want it. At all. Not at Thanksgiving. Not ever.

                        Sounds like you enjoy it and I certainly hope it will be part of a memorable holiday meal! ;>

                        I'm not trying to dictate what anyone else's choices should or shouldn't include. Just clear about how mine part company with most and interested in how other people's do.

                        1. re: monku

                          We make turkey gravy plus we have cranberry sauce, so that's already enough sauces on one plate for me.

                          Not that I ever like my green beans covered in a dairy sauce. Tossed with some sauteed garlic is about as fancy as I want them.

                          But I don't make green beans at all for Thanksgiving; it's collard greens for me.

                2. Agree about the green bean casserole. That stuff is nasty.

                  1. On Thanksgiving Day, it's all welcome on my table. Or on the sideboard if we run out of room on the table.

                    I'll fix or buy anything if it's important to a member of the extended family or friends who have been invited. Sometimes, it just ain't Thanksgiving without [..........] for some people.
                    I even ask people what they enjoyed about their own T'giving meals when I invite them to make sure that we have them covered.

                    I don't have to eat it, so what do I care? They're happy, and I'm thankful for that.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MakingSense

                      Well said!

                      We just have family and we share the same memory of what's traditional and essential at our house.

                    2. Sweet potatoes, no question. I will make other things I don't care to eat (pumpkin pie comes to mind) if other people will enjoy them, but I draw the line at sweet potatoes. My aversion dates to an unfortunate showdown with my father when I was about six--one of those "You WILL eat what your mother has cooked" scenes. I ate them but they didn't stay eaten for long. I still can't even smell them without getting queasy.

                      1. Green bean casserole and sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Sweet potatoes in any form, actually, other than baked chips.

                        1. Is it normal to have green bean casserole for Thanksgiving? We never did as a child so I have never associated the dish with this holiday. Peas in cream and green bean almondine were the regular features in my house, and every year my father never failed to crack a joke about the "pea soup" as the pea to cream ratio was always awfully low.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Roland Parker

                            I think "traditional" is a matter of how each family defines their expectations. Then you get a sense of the larger cultural "traditions" as you go along in life.

                            I remember once when a friend from Chicago (I lived in Los Angeles at the time and came from NYS) decided to throw a Fourth of July party. She was describing her plans and said, "and of course we'll have the traditional meatloaf sandwiches!" I think she must have been able to see my head spin at that little tradition, but then a meatloaf sandwich can be a mighty good thing so why not?

                            1. re: rainey

                              Wow- meatloaf on the 4th- never heard of it! But, as you say, each region has its own traditions. I am from the Boston area, and Chinese food is the traditional food for NYE around here.

                            2. re: Roland Parker

                              It was for my family. I loved the stuff. Truth be told, I still do. But don't always make it. It's been 86'd from this year...too much other stuff I want to try.

                            3. After looking at the responses, I guess our meal is non-traditional. No green bean casserole, no marshmallow sweet potatoes (we have sweet potato pie), no pumpkin pie, no canned cranberries (we make cooked cranberry chutney with Grand Marnier.)

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                I have had green bean casserole, ot sweet potatoes with marshmallow. I guess they must be traditionakl, but never in my house when I was a kid, or now that I am the TG cook! We do have sweet potatoes ( I love them)- but I simply roast them, then mashed with butter salt and pepper. And our green beans are steamed with the same- with lemon wedges on the side.

                                1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                  ....Never the less....traditional for you and your family!!!

                                  Happy Thanksgiving!!

                                  1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                    Your cranberry chutney sounds like mine. ...but I still have to have Oceanspray canned cranberry jelly or my husband wouldn't think it was really Thanksgiving.

                                    If your family looks forward to what you're cooking every year, that's the most important kind of tradition of all!

                                    1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                      Like you, never the green bean casserole, or marshmallow sweet potatoes (roasted sweets only, and usually only for Mom and Dad, as we kids didn't seem to like them growing up - although we do now). Also, no stuffing/dressing. We just didn't grow up eating it. My stepfather's family always had it, so when Mom and I moved in with them, we always made it. But I'm not a big fan of it.

                                      We *did* have the canned cranberry sauce, but only as an accompaniment to the cranberry-orange relish that Mom always made. Pumpkin pie if Mom made it which she did most years (I always made the apple). I'm very happy being non-traditional when it comes to the green bean casserole and marshmallow sweet potatoes.

                                    2. Green bean casserole
                                      Sweet potatoes with marshmallows
                                      Brussel sprouts
                                      jello salad

                                      1. Many of the same responses from me, too. No green bean casserole, no marshmallow sweet potatoes, no jello cranberry sauce from a can. Nobody ever served this stuff in my house and mr. rockandroller doesn't miss it.

                                        1. rainey,
                                          All of the above except pecan pie. I know the kind you mean. The stuff that's more like a sickenly sweet confection that sticks in your throat. I have a recipe for one that's much more rich than sweet and enhanced by whipped cream on the side. Will post, if you like.

                                          As for my childhood memories, the green bean, mushroom soup & onion squiggles casserole (invented in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly of the Campbell's test kitchen to sell mushroom soup) was tried for a few years and fell into disfavor. So did the sweet potato and marshmallow casserole (developed in the Kraft test kitchen to sell marshmallows).

                                          Some offerings fluctuated over the years but the fave sides were:
                                          Whipped Yukon gold potatoes with sauteed shallots and cream cheese (sooooo rich)
                                          Creamed white corn or baked corn casserole
                                          Buttered peas with pearl onion
                                          Home made orange and cranberry relish
                                          Sweet cabbage slaw
                                          Hot crescent rolls and mini cinnamon buns
                                          Pecan pie & whipped cream
                                          Apple gallette

                                          As you can see, mom had no fear of cream or butter.


                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Chefpaulo

                                            Sounds good!

                                            I do my potatoes with sour cream and truffle butter for T-day. But I've got another thing with roasted potatoes and winter veggies that gets mashed with cream cheese. As you say, rich and yummy!

                                            We don't have the cole slaw for Thanksgiving dinner but I do have it made for the turkey sandwiches that follow.

                                          2. NO CANNED GREEN BEANS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! Vile things... you can have fresh or frozen, and they won't be grey slime.

                                            I also avoid canned cranberry sauce, because now I know how simple (and delicious) it is to make it yourself from scratch! All other 'traditional' Thanksgiving dishes are welcome, even the super-sweet potatoes. I just have mine for dessert! Mmmmm that stuff is good with a scoop of icecream.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Kajikit

                                              I think the bright color of homemade cranberries is wonderful!

                                            2. If you try the Martha Stewart or ATK version of green bean caserole, they're delicious! Martha's uses fried shallots to replace the nasty Durkee thangs. Real mushrooms, fresh green beans and a good bechamel are all you need. adam

                                                1. At my house we all hate the green bean casserole, thanks primarily to a friend who thinks she's a much better cook than she actually is.

                                                  Sweet potatoes in any form won't be present; I love them, my son thinks they're "OK", and my wife despises them.

                                                  Pumpkin pie. My wife doesn't like it, although she loves my pumpkin bread.

                                                  Stuffing; I never stuff the turkey, and don't make the same dish outside the bird, which we called "dressing" when I was growing up. I only liked my mom's recipe, and after she died Dad remarried and his wife threw Mom's recipe box in the garbage.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jmckee

                                                    I love pumpkin but I think pumpkin pie is a pretty boring thing to do with it too. If your wife likes pumpkin bread, Sherry Yard has a recipe for pumpkin financier that is fantastic. I spilt it in half and layer in some lemon curd (I love the sweet-tart Trader Joe's lemon curd) and sprinkle powdered sugar on the top. It's pretty awesome and not at all difficult or fussy.

                                                    If you feel like trying it Bob's Red Mill makes almond meal (finely ground blanched almonds). You'll probably find it at a health foods or natural foods store if not in a large well-stock grocery store. And it's simple to make your own by pulsing blanched almonds in a food processor until they're very fine. Just make sure to pulse so that you don't build up heat and make almond nut butter.