The Return of the Side Dishes
I asked a friend what she was doing for Thanksgiving. “Same as always,” she replied. “Same people, same place, same food.” She went on, “My uncle would throw a hissy fit if the tiny marshmallows weren’t atop the sweet potatoes or the pecan pie was replaced with a Linzer torte.”
There’s something about the foods and aromas of Thanksgiving that make us feel secure, comfortable, even grateful. Last month Huffington Post did a 1000-person survey in which they asked people which side dishes they preferred most at Thanksgiving. Stuffing led the way with 32%; mashed potatoes, 22%; sweet potato casserole,13%; and green bean casserole, 8%.
That got me to thinking about my own holiday meal. I pulled up the menus for the past umpteen years and found a lot of repetition.
Getting Attached to Old Recipes
I ran my finger down the menu items of years past and stopped at the Carrot Persillade. It was the recipe of a dear friend of my mother’s given to her in the 60s, when neither of them had any idea what the French word meant. (A persillade is a mixture of parsley, breadcrumbs, and herbs). I serve the vegetable every year, or someone brings a version of it. I’ve even learned to pronounce it: pehr-see-yahd.
Also on the list was Garlic Cheese Grits. Grits are a southern delicacy made more tolerable to Yankees by the addition of garlic and cheese. Actually, the dish is my substitute for Spoon Bread, an eggy, fluffy, bit of awesomeness I remember from my childhood. It was always the last dish out of the oven and a sign that we should gather about the table for the annual feast.
As I moved along my menus of yore, I came to Cornbread Sausage Dressing. I got that recipe in the 70’s from my long-time hairdresser in Rolla. Everyone has their favorite, but this one suits me. I stuff all I can inside the turkey and the excess goes into a casserole dish. Of course, the part that cooks with the turkey is better, because it benefit from the drippings.
Previous menus also included such old favorites as Homemade Applesauce, Shredded Brussel Sprouts, Parker House Rolls, and Corn Pudding. I noticed that I had marked Collard Greens with an asterisk, indicating a small portion would do. Among my guests, I have very few appreciators of cooked greens. But “we few, we happy few,” find room on our plates to snuggle a spoonful between the mashed potatoes and corn pudding.
Not a Salad Day
I don’t serve a leafy salad on Thanksgiving even though I use over-sized plates, that I reserve for this once-a-year-gorge. It takes up too much room. Besides, as we all know, Thanksgiving is for carbs. A green salad is what you eat the day before Thanksgiving; turkey soup is what you have the next day. It evens out the meals 🙂
Pass the Mashed Potatoes
I make a mountain of mashed potatoes. They form a perfect well for Turkey Gravy, that would otherwise overrun the Cranberry Relish. Besides, I have an abnormal fear of running out, because you never know when several mischievous kids will decide to make that their entire meal.
I now use a potato ricer, since they’re back in vogue again. Fortunately, there are more agile hands than mine to manage this old contraption. But the extra work does give a nice consistency to the spuds. Hmm. . . or do these Garlic Mashed Potatoes benefit most from the addition of light cream, butter, Boursin cheese and a whole head of roasted garlic? Could be.