I have a handy Thanksgiving Menu Printable to make creating your Thanksgiving Menu Easier. This printable has three columns, one for your ideal Thanksgiving menu, a second for your planned guests’ ideal menu -I assume you have some idea of what the people you will be serving expect- and the third column is the great compromise that will be your Thanksgiving holiday menu.
Do your holiday meals feel well put together, or do they more often seem to resemble a potluck mishmash of flavors?
While you are sitting down to plan your Thanksgiving menu, keep a specific palette of flavors on your table rather than grabbing any old recipe just because it looks good.
This year, for the great-pre-Turkey Day extravaganza, I created two entirely separate menus.
Well, there may have been a family uprising if I didn’t serve the expected menu, but I’m looking to expand the holiday recipes available here on Home-Ec 101, and so I went with an Italian American theme for this year’s recipes.
This year’s Italian-American theme consisted of (the recipes are coming, don’t worry):
- Antipasti -recipe contributed by my good friend and go-to for all things Italian, Stephanie Coccaro-Smith of MoreCaffeineStudios. This dish is served to keep the circling vultures *ahem* less-helpful guests away from the kitchen.
- turkey -brined in apple cider, parsley, lemon, peppercorns, and salt
- shallot rosemary gravy
- mushroom risotto
- sausage stuffed mushrooms
- tri-color roasted potatoes with rosemary and parmesan
- brussels sprouts with prosciutto and parmesan
- butternut squash with rosemary and balsamic
Do you notice the way the flavor of one recipe relates to at least one other recipe and how they all fall under what many would call an Italian family of flavors? This creates a flow to the meal; one dish complements another, avoiding the potluck syndrome.
My usual Thanksgiving menu has a Southern / Cajun theme which you can find on this Google Spreadsheet:
The Cajun seasoning of the turkey also appears in the sausage of the cornbread dressing. The sausage is also used to flavor the collard greens. I swapped out the usual pecans for almonds in the apple, sage, and cranberry dressing to tie it with both the broccoli salad and the green beans. Cranberries are in the cranberry sauce -surprise!- the apple, sage, cranberry dressing, and in the broccoli salad. Now keep in mind that this flow of flavor works best if there is also a variety of textures on the menu. Crisp turkey skin contrasts with soft dressing or crisp-tender green beans next to the soft-baked, rich feel of the apples in the other dressing.
Is this flow of flavor making sense, or should I explain it further? Let me know.
If your menu is vegetarian, I’ve got some resources from other Home-Eccers just for you:
Last year a Home Ec 101 reader asked for some vegetarian Thanksgiving ideas, and you, the Home Ec 101 community, had some fabulous suggestions. Here are a few of my favorites from that post:
Mark Bittman’s 101 Thanksgiving Side Dishes -not all of these are vegetarian, but Bittman is a go-to for ideas in my world, suggested by Alice Dick
101 Cookbook’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving suggested by Leigh Webber
Note: some of the links had to be removed as the sites no longer exist.
What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipe resources?