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What is Your Thanksgiving First Course?

Just wondering what everyone is serving. I'm thinking about a seafood platter.

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  1. Mine is always butternut squash soup. The quintessential Thanksgiving first course in my view. I also think anything with butternut squash or pumpkin could work. Pumpkin soup can be good too. Or a nice mixed greens/field greens salad with roasted butternut squash. I think you could have seafood any day of the year and I love seafood. I like to keep things unique so the pumpkin or butternut works well- what other day of the year would you have these things. And I find the soup super easy to make.

    1 Reply
    1. Pear and butternut squash bisque, with candied pecans for garnish

      4 Replies
      1. re: gingershelley

        A not-too-stodgy lobster bisque, brightened with tomato and lemon and moderate with the heavy cream.

        1. re: gingershelley

          I do love to serve a soup as the first course, as often I am hosting a dozen or so 'orphans', who can't get home to family for whatever reason.
          I have alot of friends who don't cook much ( I am the go-to cook in many of my friends lives), and with all the aptz and bev's had while everyone visits before coming to the table. I like the 'wake up', and sit down aspect of gathering everyone around the table, bringing out the tureen, and serving each person the soup.
          Then, we go around the table and everyone is asked to share something they are thankful for, then we eat the soup. It is a lovely, gracious reminder that we are all around the table now, together, and are sharing a real meal. It turns the 'party' into a celebration of the table and sharing, and friends

          1. re: gingershelley

            That sounds so nice and you sound late a great hostess and friend.

            1. re: DaisyM

              Thank you DaisyM,

              It is funny, so many of my friends are artists or actors, everyone is SO excited to share and talk and emote(!) and reconnect before we ever sit down, that the invite to the table, and the tureen of soup is a real moment where everyone kind of quiets down, and realizes that it is not their 'last show', but us being together. I especially like going around the table to say what we are thankful for.

              A grace, if ever there was one - with yummy soup!

              I also love the chance to serve the soup to each guest from the tureen, it feels like I am offering them my ' thanks' for being there, and being my friend, and we are at the table together. Blessings, yumms, and a great two hour feast usually rolls from this moment:)

        2. Last year I did crab cakes and they were too rich as a starter. This year I'm considering a salad since there are sure to be some rich hors d'oeuvres. Pomegranate, avocado, persimmon would all be nice, maybe with a citrus dressing so the meal starts out light.

          7 Replies
          1. re: escondido123

            i'd lean toward a champagne or sherry vinaigrette for that salad (maybe fortified with a splash of pomegranate juice). and i'm thinking toasted walnuts or pistachios would be lovely sprinkled over the top for a bit of crunch ( or hazelnuts, but i know a lot of people don't like them).

            just my two cents.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Pistachios have become my standard nut and the shelled and salted ones from TJs are great. The sherry might be too much for a couple of the diners and I don't keep champagne vinegar but maybe a hit of walnut oil would be good.

              1. re: escondido123

                i meant sherry vinegar, not actual sherry ;) but the walnut oil would definitely work.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  I know you meant sherry vinegar, but it is a slightly unusual flavor that some picky eaters at my table might not like.

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Sparrow Lane in CA makes an amazing Champagne Walnut vinegar. The walnut comes through loud and clear. I pair it with Castellas Olive Oil from Provence. It is the only olive oil made from black, ripe fermented olives. The combo is outstanding.

                1. re: Candy

                  it sounds fabulous...but their website is stressing me out. apparently i have to create an account just to see their shipping options...?

            2. We do a simple fall salad. Pears, walnuts or pecans, and goat cheese over mixed green with a simple vinaigrette.

              2 Replies
              1. re: luciaannek

                This is a great idea! I might even switch!

                1. re: luciaannek

                  I'm going that route. Frisee au lardons with homemade croutons. I'm omitting the poached egg.

                2. my family always follows more of a COME AND GET IT!!! strategy on Thanksgiving.... but most of us have a first course that i like to consider "quality control" of everything as it comes out of the oven/off the stove

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mattstolz

                    We are also from the "quality control" school of thought.

                  2. I serve a fresh fruit cup (and pay through the nose for the fresh raspberries and blackberries). It's light and doesn't overpower the rest of the meal. And it's something coldish, where just about everything else (except for the cranberry sauce) is hot.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                      I used to live in RI so can't remember if the fall fruits are any less expensive this time of year (I'm still getting them at my local Farmers' Market) but have you considered trading those out-of-season berries for fall fruit like plums, pomegrante or persimmons? Don't know why the letter P predominates.

                    2. When it's a large group of us... 25 or so, it's definitely just nibbling as the matriarchs of the family finish things up before blessing the food and digging in. The years we have smaller groups of 6 or 8, and I've hosted, I have put out appetizers to snack on. People grab small plates and visit while munching on different things like crudites, soup samplers (soup in espresso cups), shrimp cocktail, zucchini fritters, caramelized onion bites, and cheeses with fruits and/or crackers. (Not all of the things, mind you, those are just examples.) There is not usually a formal first course.

                      1. Roasted butternut squash soup or pear and apple frisee salad with dried cranberries and blue cheese vinaigrette.

                        A celery root soup would be nice too.

                        1. We usually start with stuffed mushrooms, have different munchies on the appetizer table, then serve my sister in laws wonderful clam chowder. After a little break , we sit down for dinner. The desserts are wonderful. I make the pies, and two other sister in laws, who are awesome bakers, bring all kinds of good things.

                          1. i am doing appetizers around noon or so, consisting of shrimp with cocktail sauce, some mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat, and maybe a small antipasto. The meal will be around 5:30 since it's just mrbuffer and myself...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mrsbuffer

                              haha around noon or so we're normally still trying to wake up from our breakfast induced food coma to finish the dinner!

                            2. More than a couple of "Scarlett O'Hara" cocktails - lol!!! Southern Comfort, cranberry juice cocktail, & fresh lime juice whizzed together with crushed ice.

                              1. If we're having a group, then it's various munchies: Bisquick Sausage Balls, Brie topped with Orange Marmalade then wrapped and baked in Phyllo dough and served with apple wedges, Little Smokies in barbecue sauce, etc.

                                1. Fondest Thanksgiving Day memories are of moving to the country (now generic 'burbs) of Gwynedd, PA where, in the late 1960's, we had mom's French onion soup around 1:00 p.m. and waited by the bay window for 60 or so fox hunters in their red jackets and top hats to charge down the easement and off into the woods. Around 3:00 or so, Whiskey sours, crab claws with mustard sauce and Parmesan spinach balls were out for snacking until the bird was ready around 6:00.

                                  Forty years later, mom, dad, aunts, uncles and grandparents are long gone. My brother always invites me to dinner in NYC but its a bit of a drive for one meal full of tryptophan. We save Christmas for our celebration. Instead, I have adjusted tradition to share favorite apps and family desserts with my new friends up the road who may not have been blessed with the extensive and supportive network I took for granted in my youth.
                                  CP

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Chefpaulo

                                    CP, I loved hearing about your family Thanksgivings.

                                  2. We don't do courses, everything is served family style or buffet depending on the decision that year.

                                    1. smoked oysters and a variety of crackers
                                      MS's pate on her holiday bread

                                      1. Since 1956 (well before me)... Ours has been an Eastern European Stuffed Cabbage.

                                        My Great Aunt Ethel was in charge until she died, then I took over.

                                        I think I put the recipe up here a few years back.

                                        1. In my family, always a nice big salad. In the past, it's usually a fall-themed salad with green apple slices, blue cheese, and toasted walnuts over mixed greens with a champagne vinaigrette.

                                          1. We're like some of other 'hounds, apps and wine sitting around the living room before dinner is served. My MIL, bless her, used to serve marinated mushrooms, shrimp cocktail and some cheese spread. I did, too, till it all became overkill -- our gang is totally focused on the gravy and spuds. So now, old school, California dip and chips ...veggie tray, maybe some nuts. That's it.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: berkleybabe

                                              My mother always serves marinated mushrooms as a T-day hors d'oeurve, and pie crust scraps stuffed with grated cheese and herbs, baked and cut in bite-size pieces. I love the marinated mushrooms, but I've never served them myself.

                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                Love the pie crust idea...I haven't made the mushrooms, either Caitlin. Never could do it justice so it's a great memory.

                                            2. I am thinking about a green salad topped with fried oysters.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Candy

                                                Yum. My favorite oysters are cornmeal battered and fried, drizzled with butter sauce, dotted with bacon, and served on greens.

                                              2. We don't habitually do a first course, which I always figured was because people were saving their appetites. One year I made butternut bisque, and to my great surprise, everyone ate it and raved about it. It was a very simple one- sautéed garlic, stock, roasted butternut squash, and finished with cream cheese. It lends itself well to pan fried scallops and/or shrimp, but that's probably not practical as a last-minute prep for most cooks on Thanksgiving.

                                                1. I have a spread of appetizers and a pitcher of soup out on the counter while I cook. People help themselves and nosh for the late morning or early afternoon and we eat around 2ish.

                                                  We've always had a pumpkin soup with a light curry flavor. Right now I'm roasting kabocha squash to make a purée for the soup this year.

                                                  Along with it we'll have Dorie Greenspan's Cheez-It-Ish crackers made with Point Reyes blue cheese, warm spiced mixed nuts, warm herb roasted olives, stuffed mushrooms spiced with turmeric, and puff pastry squares baked with an onion & maple conserve I made a couple months ago.

                                                  The soup base and the dough for the blue cheese crackers are on my do ahead list and I began working on them today. How about you guys? What do you do ahead? What have you begun?