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Oct 19, 2010 10:36 AM

Thanksgiving - your BEST side dishes

I'm trying to collect some ideas, as my family has volunteered to bring most all the sides since I'm hosting this year and wanted me to give them the receipes to execute :)

So what are the sides you serve that are always gone FIRST, year after year?

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  1. Congratulations on getting help with the cooking!

    I make two things that generate the greatest oohs and aahs (and disappear promptly), one being a pumpkin shrimp bisque and the other a swiss chard gratin, both of which appear as recipes in a terrific cookbook, The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld. They are not simple preparations, insofar as they require a number of steps, but they are unquestionably delicious. If you'd like, I can post the recipes.

    17 Replies
      1. re: 280 Ninth

        Would LOVE you to post the recipes! I will be getting this cookbook for Christmas, but it would be awesome to get a jump start especially if you think the recipes are particularly good.

        1. re: Maya

          I'm at work now (shh....) but will post when I'm at home with the cookbook. Absolutely awe-inspiring bisque is all I can say. All you can hear at the table are the sounds of slurping and moaning from the greatness of the flavors.

            1. re: 280 Ninth

              So you don't have to type it all in, I just found the Herbfarm pumpkin shrimp bisque recipe on epicurious:


            2. re: Maya

              Without further adieu, here's the swiss chard gratin recipe:


              2 Tbl. butter, softened
              2 - 3 Tbl. breadcrumbs
              1 Lb. swiss chard
              1 Tbl. EVOO
              medium shalllot finely chopped
              2 cloves garlic
              1/2 tsp. salt


              2 Tbl. unsalted butter
              2 Tbl. flour
              1 1/2 cups milk
              1/4 tsp. salt
              1 bay leaf
              1/8 tsp. nutmeg
              2 Tbl. fresh oregano
              2 tsp. fresh thyme
              1/2 cup Gruyere cheese


              1/4 cup breadcrumbs
              1/2 cup Gruyere cheese

              1. Prepare the dish: Coat the interior of a 1 1/2 qt. gratin dish with the softened butter. Spoon in the bread crumbs and tilt the dish until they adhere to the buttered surface. Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.

              2. Chard: Slice the chard stems and leaves with ribs attached into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Wash in a colander but don't dry. Heat olive oil in 6 qt. dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring constantly until softened but not browned, about one minute. Add chard, sprinkle with salt, and cover tightly. Let chard steam for 2 -3 minutes, until abt. 1/2 its original volume. Remove lid and stir, until water is evaporated, 3 - 5 minutes. Season with pepper and set aside.

              Sauce: Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the fliour and mix until mixture bubbles up and turns lighter in color, about one minute. Pour in cold milk all at once and whisk vigorously. Add the salt and the bay leaf and continue to whisk until it comes to a boil and thickens. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in oregano, thyme, and cheese. Remove and discard bay leaf.

              Combining and baking: Stir the sauce into the swiss chard in the large pot. Taste and add salt or pepper as necessary. Sprinkle bread crumbs and cheese evenly over the top. At this point you can cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 1 day. Bake the gratin until it bubbles over the entire surface and the top is browned, 25 - 35 minutes. If you wish, you can finish in the broiler for the last minute or two. Serve hot.


              1. re: 280 Ninth

                Thanks for that. I tried it tonight. I didn't have chard on hand but had red russian kale and that worked well. I wasn't sure how much it weighed (it was just a big bunch), so I kinda winged it a bit for the measurements. We very much liked the breadcrumbs aspect of the dish. What a great texture. Thanks so much for the recipe!

                1. re: LNG212

                  Terrific! With savory dishes like this, exact amounts aren't necessary...glad you enjoyed, and even found a way to alter the recipe to your satisfaction!

                2. re: 280 Ninth

                  Smitten Kitchen has a sweet potato swiss chard gratin that is to die for also. Will have to try yours.

              2. re: 280 Ninth

                After reading through these 135 (so far) replies (and searching the board), I can't find your pumpkin shrimp bisque recipe. Would you please post it?

                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                    Fortunately, it is great. I live in an apartment building, and I've had neighbors come over to ask what I'm cooking because they can smell the aroma in the hallway...and then there's the taste! Try and enjoy!

                    1. re: 280 Ninth

                      I did make this, w/butternut squash instead of pumpkin. I had some gorgeous shrimp and some shrimp stock already made. Whipped it together in no time. I was worried about my husband not liking it as he generally turns up his nose at sweet potatoes and squashes of all kinds. May wonders never cease: he loved it. It was good, but I was especially taken with how fetching it looked--velvety texture, rich golden orange hue, the contrasting white of the plump shrimp. I sprinkled chopped chives on top for a dash of green. The finished dish screamed holiday, but it would be a lovely (easy) first-course for any dinner party.

                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                        What a lovely outcome (and report!), It really is a terrific starter that I intend to use this T-giving....glad it worked out so well!

                1. re: 280 Ninth

                  As much as I love Jerry Traunfeld's food, I personally feel that making each of his dishes requires undivided attention. If I had several dishes to prepare, I personally would opt for something easier. Every year I make a sweet potato souffle dish that everybody loves, plus it's super easy to make. It's somewhat similar to the whipped sweet potatoes dish that JungMann posted below, but even easier to prepare, since it saves you the step of peeling, cutting and boiling the yams (if you use candied yams from a can). The step-by-step directions are below:

                  This dish is a winner - easy to make and virtually error proof, plus it taste delicious. It's usually the first one to go, plus it saves me time to concentrate on more complex dishes. Good luck!

                2. My favorites aren't the same as the ones that are always gone first and get the most rave reviews. Since you're passing out the recipes, Ruth's Chris's sweet potato recipe is a super easy one to do and always a hit:


                  Another one that people love (my SIL's contribution and she's had to triple it for family gatherings) is Jiffy corn muffin pudding:


                  My favorites are things like oyster sausage stuffing, sweet potato rolls, and I love these glazed chestnuts with haricots verts (I can't stop eating the glazed chestnuts):


                  It really comes down to the type of crowd you're serving. My in-laws love the green bean casserole type dishes best.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chowser

                    People go nuts for that Jiffy corn muffin pudding. I never like to admit what's in it. I lighten it a bit by cutting the butter a bit and using at least part low fat sour cream. Don't detect any difference.

                    Your chestnut haricots verts recipe sounds great! Love chestnuts and love maple syrup.

                    1. re: karykat

                      I'll bet there is a good recipe for the corn muffin pudding, without using the creamed corn and jiffy mix. I'll bet it would be great in the summer w/ fresh corn. I used to try to make the from scratch version of foods my in-laws enjoy but they love what they're used to so I stopped trying.

                      The chestnuts make the haricots verts dish. I have to make extra because I keep snacking on them. I also like that it can all be done in advanced and just reheated. I've also used brussel sprouts instead and that turns out well, too.

                  2. I love this recipe for Brussels Sprouts and Pearl Onions in a Horseradish Cream Sauce from Epicurious.


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: susan1353

                      I love brussel sprouts braised in cream with fresh nutmeg. O. M. G.

                      1. re: girlwonder88

                        girlwonder, I love this , too. So easy, so delicious! I'm placing susan1353's link on my to-do list. Sounds awfully good.

                      2. re: susan1353

                        I love brussels sprouts, in any style. However, I would not expect them to be "always gone FIRST, year after year."

                        I can tell you another dish for which there were plenty of leftovers: a vegetable terrine.

                      3. I do a loaded mashed potatoes that everyone seems to love. Standard mashed potato recipe (2-3 lbs. of any potatoes you like, I prefer Yukon Gold), one stick of butter, add heavy cream until it becomes a creamy consistency, and salt and pepper to taste. Then add (to taste) sour cream, chives, cheddar cheese, and bacon.
                        Paula Deen's Corn Casserole is also a terrific hit. However, I do mine without the cheddar cheese crust/topping. It's like a super-moist, super tasty corn spoon bread.
                        My 7 cheese mac and cheese is also a favorite. Undercook the macaroni in salted water by 2-3 mins. Make a standard bechemel sauce while the pasta is cooking. Add the following cheeses: sharp cheddar, monterey jack, asiago, and fontina. Throw in drained undercooked macaroni, fold mixture. Add the following cheeses: parmesan, mozzarella, and colby. Fold mixture. Top with sharp cheddar cheese and toss in a 350 oven until the cheese is completely melted.

                        1. Without fail, Garlic Mashed Potatoes are always gone first. I don't have the recipe written down, but basically I simmer whole peeled garlic cloves in chicken broth until they're soft, then whip them into boiled potatoes (using a stand mixer) along with neufchatel cheese, salt, and pepper. I don't really measure anything, just do it by taste. Yum.

                          My best friend brought this Beet Salad to our Thanksgiving last year and it was a huge hit:
                          Since there were a lot of us, she made one big salad in a springform pan rather than individual servings as the recipe calls for. I thought it was very clever of her! It's nice to have a salad to go with all of the hot dishes.

                          This sweet potato recipe also performed very well:
                          Nothing crazy, just really really good.

                          Hope that helps!