On Thanksgiving, it's really all about the sides. But which sides? There are the standards that appear all over the nation: stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, cranberries (for some unfathomable reason). But there are also some dishes unique to individual locales. Here are some of our commenters' favorites.
Commenter NeverMorePoe tells us that no Thanksgiving in West Maryland is complete without stewed tomatoes:
In Westminster Maryland area stewed tomatoes used to be almost required on the table. Take whole tomatoes peeled stew them in a pot with various spices add raisins and croutons to help absorb the moisture and add flavor. Serve alongside creamed spinach mash potatoes and the turkey.
While in Kentucky they're eating creamed lima beans, and liking them, says GeorgeWindsorVI:
From Central Kentucky, in my case, Lexington: Creamed Baby Lima Beans
Basically this is boiled baby limas served in a heavy cream sauce which is essentially an out of control roux. Whenever I try to follow the recipe my mother gave me, the sauce is always barely present, so I always double or triple it to rave reviews. Hence: an out of control roux.
This pasty from Dan Entwistle may not look like much, but it sure sounds delicious:
The PASTY BARM. Native to my home town of Bolton, England. Basically a Pasty (meat, potato, enveloped in pastry), in a barm cake. While it may look like the most beige food on the face of the planet, it tastes freaking delicious and goes down a reet* treat on a winter's day.
myhandleishandel suggested a different spin on a classic:
Baked corn. Cope's Dried Corn blitzed in a blender, mixed with cream, eggs, butter and creamed corn and then baked. Ends up like corn custard. Add oysters if you're a fan.
While commenter Illex Squid has a dessert addition for us all:
We use a condiment called hard sauce on our pumpkin pie; it's just butter and confectioner's sugar. (Other recipes call for a bit of rum, but ours was nonalcoholic.) I don't think it's regional but it comes from my mother's side. People who've married into the family invariably mock it, but they still eat it.
Holiday travel is always a tricky prospect, but here are some dishes that make the case for getting an airplane in the winter months a little more likely:
I grew up in PR, and being part of the US we celebrate Thanksgiving, but we do it our way.
We usually have Arroz con Gandules with our turkey (that's usually seasoned like pernil), and my mom would stuff it with either picadillo (with bread) or mofongo.
I miss Thanksgiving in PR.
Tourtière du Lac Saint Jean:
Different from the tourtière which you would get in Montreal (which is a meat pie), it is a mix of chopped beef and pork meat, potatoes and onions in a thick crust (i.e. not a pie crust). It is not uncommon to add deer or moose meat if you have any. It is a big dish, so perfec for family reunion. A dozen people can eat on a single one. It also has this weird magical property that makes your grandma's tourtière better than your mom's, which is better than yours.
I won't eat any this year. Damn you Ontario!!!
P.S. It's a Christmas dish. Francophone Quebeckers are not big on Thanksgiving, Quebec being mostly catholic (traditionnaly, now most are catholic in name only) and Thanksgiving being a Protestant holiday. We have the day has it is a national holiday, but it's not a big deal.
In Puerto Rico: Pasteles
The most common is the pork one, followed by chicken. There is also a type that is prepared with yuca (cassava) that have a yellowish color, instead of the brownish color of the one above. They are usually served as a side, along with roasted pork during Christmas or turkey for thanksgiving, and rice with pigeon peas.
Here's a very common sight in Puerto Rico for the holidays: Arroz con gandules, pasteles, lechon, potato salad and macaroni salad.
Several commenters suggested forgoing — or maybe just augmenting the traditional (but, let's face it, pretty boring) — turkey for some other source of protein:
Up here in the Pacific Northwest dungeness crab and some forms of salmon always shows up at my families thanksgiving dinners. Be it a casserole or a pasta or several versions of dips. Love it!
Stuffed Ham, which is apparently only found in Southern Maryland and I've heard somewhere in Ohio (can't confirm that though).
So start with a Corned Ham, remove most of the fat, skin, and the Hock. Cut a series of slits in the Ham.
Now stuff the slits with stuffing, which consists of Kale, Cabbage, and Onion in roughly equal amounts (about 4 pounds of each). Stuffing prep is the key and I'm leaving that out to protect the family recipe.
Wrap it up in a T-Shirt that is tied closed on either end (leaving a double loop of string on the top for the ham stick, more on that later) and put it in a big honkin' pot full of water (preferably the vegetable broth left over from blanching the stuffing) and bring it to juuussstttt boiling and keep it there for 20 minutes per pound of ham after trimming (the one we did last night was 19.5 points after trimming, so around 6.5 hours). Every 10 minutes or so adjust the heat so it's still boiling but not boiling over.
Once it's done (either the time is up or you have the burner down as far as it will go and it's still threatening to boil over), put the pot on the floor between two stools with some books on them, run a heavy-duty stick (usually the handle of a farm implement) through the loops and let it hang for at least 90 minutes to cool and drain.
Wrap it up and put it in the fridge for 24-36 hours. The internal temperature has to drop to 40 degrees within that time or food poisoning is a definite possibility.
Carve the ham and serve cold.
Share the details on what you're planning to serve — or skip — for your holiday meals in the comments below!
Top image: Africa Studio / Shutterstock