The Thanksgiving Recipes Question(TM))
November 15, 2010 7:26 AM   Subscribe

What are your thanksgiving side dishes that bring down the house every year?

Despite completely sucking at cooking, I'd like to wow my family this year with an easy-to-make side dish like we've never had before. We usually keep things pretty vanilla every thanksgiving - I'd like to bring a dish that shakes things up a bit (in a good way).

Whether it's classic down-home gooey comfort food to the max, or funky and new agey, or fusion/ethnic, I want to know what you make every Thanksgiving that gets the people talking.
posted by windbox to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 106 users marked this as a favorite
We like a side dish of Sweet Potato Cranberries. I have a nut allergy - so I swap the walnuts out on the topping for just some oats.
posted by quodlibet at 7:31 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

In some families, real cranberry sauce (i.e. made from cranberries rather than can-shaped) is some sort of amazing revelation in its fantasticness, yet it's super-easy.
posted by JMOZ at 7:34 AM on November 15, 2010

people love roasted brussels sprouts. Trim and halve them, toss in olive oil and lots of salt and pepper, roast on a rimmed baking sheet in a hot oven - 400 F - for forty minutes or so, until loose leaves are crackly brown and the sprouts are a mix of steamy-tender and frizzled-crisp. Lovely on their own, also awesome with a bit of crisp pancetta or bacon or toasted walnut meats. Eaten like candy by adults and children alike, and the novelty value - good brussels sprouts? - can't be beat.

this squash gratin knocks socks off, too.
posted by peachfuzz at 7:38 AM on November 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

I came in to recommend that exact squash gratin as well - my mother in law remembered it from last year and just asked me for the recipe yesterday.
posted by Jorus at 7:44 AM on November 15, 2010

This started out as an Christmas dinner experiment and has become a dish that my family starts talking about in September.

Creamed Parsnips with Nutmeg

You can either replace mashed potatoes with this, or serve it alongside:

-Skin several parsnips (adjust number based on number of diners) and chop each into several pieces. (Remove and discard woody cores if the parsnips are very large.)

-Put the parsnip chunks in pot with a steamer basket and an inch of water. Steam on the stovetop on high heat for about 10 minutes. Parsnips are done when a fork enters with minimal resistance. Save the steamer water.

-Carefully put the steamed parsnip chunks into a food processor. Add a little of the steamer water. Process until thick but smooth, adding small amounts of steamer water if the parsnips are chunky or sticky. (If you add too much water and make it soupy, steam another parsnip or two and throw them in.)

-Put the processed parsnips in a pot and warm through over low heat, adding butter and salt to taste.

-Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve with extra nutmeg on the side.
posted by hayvac at 7:45 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Peachfuzz beat me to the roasted brussels sprouts, but I make a vegetarian version that includes pecorino Toscano (fairly hard, salty sheep's milk cheese) and toasted walnuts.

I'm so hungry.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:47 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Green bean casserole -- with fresh beans (frozen work too, just: not canned), don't use tinned soup.

This year I just sauteed a pile of assorted mushrooms and stirred in whipping cream and simmered a bit for the sauce; for the topping I use Cook's Illustrated suggestion to cut the French's fried onions with bread crumbs. Googling around for "Cook's Illustrated green bean casserole" will get you some variants on their recipe, and many discussions about non-soup green bean dishes.
posted by kmennie at 7:58 AM on November 15, 2010

Squash casserole! My mom made this every holiday.

2 cans (14 ½ oz each) squash (drained) – if you can't find canned squash, use about 5 or 6 fresh yellow squash, sliced crosswise (no thicker than ¼ of an inch thick) and boiled until tender, then drained
1 cup sour cream
1 medium onion, cut fine
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 ½ sticks of butter
2 carrots, grated
2 oz. jar of chopped pimentos
¾ of a package Pepperidge Farm stuffing (the one with the blue label – herb seasoned); if you can't find Pepperidge Farm, then use about 1 ½ boxes of Stove Top sage flavor, but only use about ¾ of one seasoning packet.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Sautee onions.
Melt butter, and mix with stuffing in bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix together all ingredients except stuffing mixture.
Butter a casserole dish generously, and spoon in half of the stuffing mixture. Top this with the squash mixture, and then cover with the remaining stuffing mixture. Bake uncovered for about 25 to 30 minutes in 350 degree oven (or until slightly brown and bubbly)
posted by Evangeline at 8:12 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing This isn't exact our recipe, but it's very close. (I'll need to double check it when I have the actual recipe in hand.)

Beyond the yummy flavor, what I love about this stuffing is that there's no yucky celery. Celery blows.
posted by 26.2 at 8:12 AM on November 15, 2010

Since two people have already taken brussels, I'm going to suggest roasted acorn squash, instead. Halve the squash, scoop out the goop, pierce the interior flesh with a fork in a few places, and put a pat of butter (or so) and a teaspoon of brown sugar (or so) in the bottom. Roast about 350 F until they're tender (might take as much as 40 minutes). Either quarter, or serve just as halves, and let people scoop out the yummy.
posted by Gilbert at 9:11 AM on November 15, 2010

You want simple? If you have a food processor, Cranberry Relish is just about foolproof. Four ingredients, no actual cooking, and you don't even peel the oranges! (And, despite what the recipe says, I don't peel the apples, either. But you do remove the seeds from both the orange and the apple.)

Like I said, I use a food processor, because seriously, who has a grinder anymore?
posted by IvyMike at 9:18 AM on November 15, 2010

For a side:

Pineapple Souffle

3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 large can of crushed pineapple (in it's own juice)
1/2 stick of butter (melted)
5 slices of white bread (I used sliced sourdough) with crust removed

Cut bread into small croutons. Mix all ingredients and let sit in the refrigerator 12-24 hours in a souffle dish.
Before putting in oven, you can use two or three more slices of bread (cut up to crouton size) and tossed with 1/4 cup of melted butter and put on top of souffle.
Cook uncovered at 350 degrees for around 40 minutes or until top is browned.

For dessert:

Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
Cream cheese filling (below)

Preheat oven to 375. In bowl, combine eggs and sugar, beating well. Add pumpkin, mixing until blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Add to egg mixture, mixing well. Lightly butter a 10X15-inch jelly roll pan. Line with a sheet of lightly greased wax paper. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Invert on clean dish towel/tea towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. From 10-inch side, roll cake up in the towel. Set aside. Meanwhile, prepare filling (page 46). Slowly and carefully, unwrap the cake and evenly spread filling over cake. Roll up the cake (without towel). Tightly cover with plastic wrap. Place cake seam-side down and chill for at least 2 hours.

Cream Cheese Filling for Pumpkin Roll

Beat together 1 8-ounce package soft cream cheese and 4 TBS butter. Stir in 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla, blending till smooth.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:35 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

I came in here to second Cowboy Mashed Potatoes. Leslie Harpold knew what she was talking about.
posted by shesbookish at 9:45 AM on November 15, 2010

I made this Creamed Broccoli with Parmesan for the first time a couple years ago. It was a huge hit and is now a required part of our Thanksgiving menu.
posted by rhiannonstone at 9:49 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

maple pumpkin cornbread is my go-to. sweet and delicious, and unexpected.

1 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup cornmeal (yellow or white, doesn't matter)
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tbsp maple syrup


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8×8″ cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, spices and cornmeal; set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and oil together, then add eggs and stir, then mix in pumpkin and maple syrup. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined (don't overmix), and then pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top. Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

I serve mine with whipped maple butter.

(you can also swap out the maple for honey or molasses if you don't have any maple syrup)
posted by kerning at 9:50 AM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've had pumpkin roll before; it was awesome.
Roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta, bacon, mushrooms or other savory addins, check.
If you add pancetta or bacon, omit the olive oil.

I make cranberry ice. It's served at dinner as a palate cleanser and as the required cranberry component, but really as an early dessert: 1 can cran jelly, juice of 2 limes, cranberry juice. Blend, freeze, mash several times during freezing. There is a great deal of latitude in the ingredients.

Curried squash soup: Make a roux, add poultry stock, cooked squash, curry powder, puree. Top w/ with either sour cream or plain wholemilk yogurt and maybe some toasted nuts. If the soup is too spicy, the sourcream/yogurt cools it.

I occasionally make creamed onions, which only a few people eat. They are an awesome addition to the post-TDay turkey soup.
posted by theora55 at 11:12 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Old-fashioned oyster stew. Easy and delicious.
posted by vers at 11:45 AM on November 15, 2010

These chipotle smashed sweet potatoes never fail to attract a lot of attention and praise.
posted by General Malaise at 11:59 AM on November 15, 2010

I make creamed spinach gratin every year and I think it is omg amazing, but now I see that it has garnered an average of 1 star over at Real Simple. Hmm. Well, I think it's great!
posted by missrachael at 12:01 PM on November 15, 2010

This cooking light sweet potato casserole is so light and fluffy and delicious it's almost like a souffle, and is the best thing about thanksgiving after stuffing, and vodka. I'll sometimes make one just to keep in the fridge as "dessert" during the week. Plus the streusel is all buttery-floury-marsmallowy-pecany yum. You can even get away with replacing the half and half with fat-free half and half, and the eggs with egg beaters and then you don't have to feel so bad about eating half of the casserole at once.
posted by IWoudDie4U at 12:21 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've brought it once and now I'm on the hook for it forevermore: cider-glazed carrots. I substitute olive oil for butter for vegan relatives, and I use celery salt instead of celery seeds / salt.

Another favorite is sweet potato zucchini bread. I skip the walnuts, add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of allspice. I also sometimes decrease the sugar to a total of 1.5 cups, sometimes combining brown sugar and white sugar. I also substitute apple sauce for the vegetable oil. Lastly, I sometimes cook it in 3 small loaves or muffins. This can be a pre-dinner appetizer or a light dessert. Family has eaten it with dinner, but I don't think that's the appropriate timing.
posted by indigo4963 at 1:10 PM on November 15, 2010

This is a late post, sorry. However, this recipe for creamed onions with bacon and chives just came up on Smitten Kitchen. Obviously I haven't had a chance to try it, but according to Deb and the comments, it's a show stopper. I thought of you.
posted by purpletangerine at 3:47 PM on November 17, 2010

Wasabi mashed potatoes are a winner if you have a crowd that likes spicy. The contrast between creamy buttermilk and hot wasabi is what makes it work. You can serve it with the dried snack wasabi peas or regular peas.
posted by benzenedream at 10:21 PM on November 21, 2010

I make a cranberry relish from fresh cranberries.

! package fresh cranberries, washed and sorted. ( one and a half cups or so)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup port
1/2 cup water

Heat the water sugar and port until the sugar is dissolved, then add the cranberries. Bring to a boil, then simmer at least until the berries burst, I prefer to cook until the pectins start to thicken the sauce.

Alternatively, use the standard ratio of 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to the standard package of cranberries, and add some freshly grated ginger and red chile powder, to taste. heaven, with A slight bite.
posted by annsunny at 8:05 PM on November 23, 2010

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