Are you a planner or a spontaneous cook when it comes to Thanksgiving?
Me? I’m a planner. As soon as the calendar starts reading ‘November’, my mind is thinking menu plans and guests and seating. The whole nine yards. My mother-in-law, who is my co-host for almost all our holiday meals, does not typically share in my eagerness for brainstorming turkey preparations and suitable side dishes and exactly how many pies we need four weeks out. I’ve taken a hint after years of being chuckled at when I start talking pies the first week of November– just keep all the holiday planning to myself until the week of.
A large part of my enthusiasm does of course stem from the fact that I love to cook. But I cook every single day so there has to be an extra motivator when it comes to holiday meal planning.
Holiday meals are different. Special.
The meal has been anticipated for days (or weeks!). The food is more than simply tasty, it is nostalgic. The smells and flavors are familiar and trigger memories of years past, memories both joyful and bittersweet. And once everyone is gathered around the table, they tend to linger longer. Unlike the meals we eat most other days during the year, the distractions and the rush to get to whatever is next are gone. People we love are gathered with the intentional purpose of being together.
I hope that our table and yours is full of family and friends, good food, conversation that leads us to know and cherish each other more, and belly laughs inspired by moments we will remember for years. And pie. Always pie.
Curious what our menu plan is likely to look like this year?
Below are some of our favorite holiday dishes and some new ones I’m excited to try. And at the bottom of this post you can find a recipe for a healthier version of a holiday classic: green bean casserole.
- Fried collard green wontons
- Sausage balls: my mother-in-law has her own traditional recipe but here’s another recipe that’s gluten free and paleo friendly
- Salami, sliced cheese, and crackers
The Main Event:
- Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey: The Pioneer Woman helped me make my very first turkey on the first Thanksgiving I hosted in my married home. Make it with her brine for an incredible holiday bird.
- Honey Pomegranate Glazed Brussels Sprouts: (pictured above) these were a tasty new addition to our menu last year
- Stuffing: A delicious blend of french bread and cornbread.
- Parker House Rolls: a decadent, buttery treat reserved only for holidays
- Mashed Potatoes: thanks to Aimee for sharing how to make the best mashed potatoes
- Green Bean Casserole: find the recipe at the bottom of this post
- Sweet potatoes or butternut squash: tossed with chopped apples, cinnamon, cranberries, and a splash of orange juice; roasted at 400° for about 30 minutes or until tender.
- Apple Pie: this pie dough, and 5-6 apples sliced thin and tossed with a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, a quarter cup of brown sugar, and three tablespoons flour, cooked for about 45 minutes at 400°.
- Pecan Pie: Cooks’ Illustrated’s delicious version with maple syrup subbed for corn syrup
What’s on your holiday menu this year?
Green Bean Casserole
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped
- kosher salt
- 2 heaping Tbsp flour
- 1/2 C heavy cream
- 1/2 C milk
- 1 1/2 lb green beans
- 2/3 C flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1 C water
- canola oil for frying (non-GMO if possible)
- 1 onion, halved and sliced thin
1.If you plan on frying your own onions, begin heating a saucepan of canola oil over medium-high heat. The oil should be about 1 to 2 inches deep and slightly smoking when it is ready to fry.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, stir to coat with the butter, and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and dark.
3. Make the batter for the fried onions: In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and spices with a fork. Add a cup of flour and mix. Add additional water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is the consistency of a creamy soup. Stir in the onions, tossing to evenly coat the onions with the batter. Set aside until the oil is hot and slightly smoking.
2. Sprinkle flour evenly on the darkened mushrooms and stir. Slowly pour in the milk and cream, whisking the liquids into the mushroom roux as you pour. Heat over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Taste and add salt as needed. Add green beans and stir to coat the beans with the mushroom sauce. Transfer the bean mixture into a long baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes in preheated oven.
5. Fry the onions: Test the oil to see if it is the right temperature by dropping one battered onion in the oil. The onion should immediately sizzle and should be brown and crisp in 5 to 10 seconds. If it immediately darkens, the oil is too hot. If the onion takes longer than about 10 seconds to fry, the oil needs to be hotter. If the oil is not hot enough, the onions will take too long to cook and soak up oil making them soggy. Once the oil is the correct temperature, use a fork to transfer the battered onion slices into the hot oil in two batches. Fry each batch for 5 to 10 seconds and transfer to a paper towel to drain.
6. Remove the beans from the oven and top with the fried onions. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.