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Nov. 12 2009 - 9:51 am | 8 views | 0 recommendations | 10 comments

Talkin’ Turkey: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side?

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is the best holiday, because all it requires is that you show up and eat. I don’t even mind cooking the dinner–just set aside two days, with no other thoughts in my head. But as my son has pointed out, the least important part of the feast is the turkey (“I don’t even like it,” he said. “You just need it for the gravy.” Or maybe, the centerpiece).

The point is: We all have one Thanksgiving side dish we cannot celebrate without.

Mine is cranberry relish (or “rubbish,” as my young son would mispronounce).  Said son’s favorite dish, as an adult, is the stuffing (which, in recent years, I’ve been making in a slow cooker). My daughter loves Mister Rogers’ Corn Pudding (yes! we have his recipe!). And my weight-battling husband can trace his struggle to the fact that his Italian family BEGAN the meal with antipasto, soup and lasagna (a menu I refuse to recreate).

But as a family, we would probably all vote for Baked Mashed Squash from The Victory Garden cookbook.

With only two weeks left to plan, let’s talk turkey. What is your favorite Thanksgiving side? Vegan, vegetarian or full-out carnivore, share your recipe! Here’s mine:

Baked Mashed Squash (Serves 4)

2 1/2-3 lb unpeeled winter squash

8 T butter (1 stick)

2 T chopped onion

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel squash and steam or bake until tender. Mash. You should have 1 1/2-2 cups squash.

Mix in 4 T butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place squash in a buttered 1-quart baking dish, dot with 1 T butter.

Spread grated Swiss cheese over top.

Saute chopped onion in 3 T butter ; add bread crumbs and brown. Cover cheese with this mixture and bake in a 350F oven for 30 minutes.

Note: I cut back on the butter. Also, this is easy to make ahead; just allow extra time to reheat.


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  1. collapse expand

    My mom was always big on “Thanksgiving in a box”. Canned gravy, canned cranberries, packaged stuffing, Pillsbury crescent rolls, etc. That’s not so much a recipe as an entire tradition, and one that I plan to carry on in her honor. Needless to say, my Polish husband, with his tattered stack of holiday recipes, isn’t pleased.

  2. collapse expand

    I have to say, I admire the whole Thanksgiving in a Box idea! Maybe you can post one of those tattered Polish recipes, and some of us will test them for you.

  3. collapse expand

    A good Gravy, made with food milled roast vegetables and turkey scrapings…Gravy on turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, anything brought a relative’s kitchen, gravy gravy gravy.

  4. collapse expand

    Your squash recipe reminded me of my mom’s baked kabocha-squash mash. And (this will sound fancy but it’s not) her sweet persimmon salad with white miso dressing. I still dream about it sometimes.

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    Absolutely 100 percent stuffing (aka “dressing”), and not just any stuffing—only my mother’s. I eat it for days after Thanksgiving, by itself, cold, straight out of the refrigerator.

  6. collapse expand

    Here’s the best recipe for Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
    5 big Idaho Potatoes (only Idahos, no other)
    8 large whole cloves of garlic, peeled
    1/2 cup butter
    1/2 cup half and half (room temp.)
    salt to taste
    Peel and chop potatoes into small cubes. Add to pot with just enough water to cover the potatoes. Too much water kills potatoes.
    Throw garlic cloves into water with potatoes. Don’t be afraid of too much garlic.
    Turn heat on high and cook until potatoes are soft. Then remove from heat and drain.
    Mash potatoes by hand (never use electric mixer) with garlic, adding butter, cream, and salt to taste.
    These are the best.

  7. collapse expand

    The best Thanksgiving memory was the holiday dinner shared at your home when our family relocated from Beverly Hills, CA to Larchmont, NY. Up until that time, we always had to travel (miles in traffic) to two different family meals with both sides of the in-laws/out-laws; endure sloshed relatives; family bickering; and hurt feelings. Your home, dinner, conversation and the pure joy of celebrating the holiday with your family (and assorted friends) was just the absolute best….And to also take home those yummy leftovers…well, it was truly a Turkey Day to savor and remember!

  8. collapse expand

    Susan, for many years we had mashed potatoes as a side dish, but now we have something better – smashed potatoes.
    For 2 people…
    14 fingerling potatoes
    1 1/2 tbs butter
    2 tbs. sour cream
    bunch of fresh chives
    salt & pepper

    Cooking the fingerlings (can substitute small yukons) in boiling water till tender, about 30 minutes, then drain. Add butter and smash the potatoes with a potato masher. Note that the consistency is lumpy. Add the sour cream and salt and pepper and mix. Now use a scissor and add a healthy amount of chives. Serve

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