Thanksgiving is one of my favorite Holidays. Which is not surprising considering how much I love food and feeding people.
Each year, even though I promise myself I won’t, I usually buy at least three magazines (okay five) with Thanksgiving recipes. I already have more recipes than I will ever need, use or even read all the way through. And, truth be told, I usually end up making the same things every year anyway because, well, I love them, they are family recipes and they are … tradition. But I still buy the magazines because you just never know and because I have a serious magazine problem.
Here are a few of my favorite family sides, tried and true, made year after year (despite my intention of trying something new).
Sausage & Herb Dressing/Stuffing
This stuffing (or dressing because I like it baked separately, not stuffed into the turkey cavity) recipe is really the one recipe I never deviate from. I can’t. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it. I have changed it up a little from my mom’s original recipe (a fresh herb option, etc.) but for the most part this is the stuffing I have had every year for as long as I can remember.
- 3 Quarts Diced White Bread (I like crusty artisan bread but I trim off a little of the outer crust if it is too chewy or hard. You can use any white bread).
- 2 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. Paprika
- 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp. Rubbed Sage (or 10 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced)
- 2 tsp. Dried Thyme (or 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves)
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 Cup Butter + 2 Tbsp. to dot the top of the stuffing
- 1 Cup Chopped Onion
- 3 Cups Chopped Celery
- 1-2 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
- 1 pound of sausage – browned and cooled (you can use hot or sweet Italian sausage or a half pound of each or whatever sausage you like).
The night before: dice the bread and let it sit out on a baking sheet to “dry-out” over night, or you can toast it in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes the next day. However you do it, it needs to be dry (not hard but dry).
Place the bread in a LARGE mixing bowl. Mix the salt, paprika, nutmeg, pepper, sage, thyme and parsley together and then sprinkle over the dried bread cubes. Beat the eggs and add them to the mixture. Stir and set aside. Saute’ the onion and celery in the butter until soft and transparent (5-8 minutes), add a pinch of salt to help “sweat” the onions & celery rather than brown them. Cool slightly and then add to the bread mixture. Add enough stock to generously moisten the bread (approximately 1 cup – but it may need more depending on the bread you use). Add the browned and cooled sausage to the mixture. Stir until everything is well incorporated. Put your mixture in a buttered 9×13 casserole dish, dot the top with the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 20 minutes until golden brown and crusty on top. Serves 8-10
Sweet Potatoes and Walnuts
Forget the marshmallows! If you love an ooey gooey sweet potato dish then this one is for you. All of my childhood Thanksgivings included this dish and I love it but I have to be honest, I really LOVE roasted vegetables and this year, I am going to serve a roasted sweet potato and butternut squash combo. But here’s the ooey gooey one in case you want to try it, I promise you won’t be sorry (but you will need to work-out the next day).
- 2 1/2 Pounds of Sweet Potatoes (or yams)
- 1/2 Cup Broken Nut Meats (walnuts or pecans, whichever you prefer)
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
- 1/2 Cup Butter, melted
- 1/2 Cup Orange Juice
Steam the sweet potatoes until just fork tender (20-30 minutes) and let them cool completely so you can handle them. Peel and cube the sweet potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Place the sweet potatoes into a buttered 2 quart baking dish. Scatter the broken nut meats over the sweet potatoes. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt and sprinkle over the sweet potatoes. Combine the melted butter and orange juice and pour over the sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Serves 6-8
Warning: my husband hates these; but that is just because he’s weird and doesn’t like any sort of casserole. Have you ever heard of a mid-western boy who doesn’t like casserole? I know, crazy. His idea of a Thanksgiving vegetable is a can of corn warmed up in the microwave – where’s the fun in that? Unless you leave it in the can when you warm it in the microwave – that could cause a little bit of “fun”. I am not recommending that, I’m just saying it would be interesting.
- 6 large carrots – cut into quarters or thick “pennys”
- 1/4 cup water reserved from cooking the carrots
- 2 Tbsp. grated onion (or 1 small grated onion)
- 2 Tbsp. Prepared Horseradish
- 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise (or May Mays as my son says)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs (I use Panko)
- 2 Tbsp. Melted Butter
Cook Carrots in water until they are tender crisp (about 8-10 minutes). Drain the carrots, reserving 1/4 of the cooking water. Arrange the carrots in a shallow baking dish. Combine the onion, horseradish, mayonnaise, reserved carrot water, salt and pepper and pour over the carrots. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and butter and sprinkle over the carrots. Lightly sprinkle the top with paprika. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 4-6
So there you have it. Three amazing side dishes my mom spoiled us with. I apologize that I don’t have pictures – I will post them after Thanksgiving when I’ve made the recipes (I guess I’ll have to make the sweet potatoes after all – oh, darn). Give them a try and let me know how you like them. And don’t forget about Aunt Peggy’s Corn Casserole that I posted yesterday.
Since you were kind enough to read all the way through, I am going to let you in on a little secret. The BEST green beans EVER are at Target. The Archer Farm’s steam in the bag green beans. Throw them in the microwave for sixish minutes, toss them with some olive oil and a good pinch of kosher salt and you will be a star! Fresh tasting, crunchy, perfect green beans just like that – or use them in your green bean casserole; if you don’t have a weird mid-western non-casserole eating husband.