Coming from a solid 300-year Southern heritage, and having been partnered with a renowned metropolitan chef for many, many years, people are always asking me how to “spice up” their traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with unusual or particularly tasty additional or alternative dish recipes. I’ve collected some of my favorites through the years and each of these recipes can individually add flair to your traditional fare course-by-course.
However, as a radical departure from the same old and often boring “Dinde retie” with all the traditional (and fattening) trimmings, try compiling this complete menu for your Holiday feast and truly WOW your guests. Each one of these recipes is hand selected and tested personally and have proven to be exquisite in taste, presentation and memorability. And after all – isn’t that the point of a festive holiday feast?
Sea-Salted Roasted & Buttered Pecans
What is Thanksgiving without roasted pecans? I can’t imagine the feast with out them. When introducing these tasty morsels to my friends in Manhattan, they went wild for them and immediately incorporated them into their Holiday season array of condiments. Some of the more daring guests even used them as a garnish on their traditional cornbread stuffing or dressing.
*Although this printed recipe is very close to that of my great-great-great grandmothers, it is not hers. For her recipe, we prepare it by “feeling” the measurements of the ingredients instead of using measuring devices. The original recipe called for “5-cents worth of pecans” to make the entire serving!
Lemony Avocado & Brussels Sprouts Salad with Bacon
I first made this salad for my extended family of in-laws, ranging in age from 7 to 94. I must admit, that I was concerned that this wide range of ages may not have the sophisticated palate or even the hearty digestive system to handle such a stout raw-vegetable dish. But my fears were allayed when I saw the empty bowl so soon into the “seconds” rounds of my persnickety guests.
* The interesting and unusual combination of ingredients, along with the unexpected texture on your palate, will command kudos, and the beautiful presentation of color will delight the eyes.
Three Ingredient Prime Rib Roast
“Heresy!” you may say. No, not heresy. Creative augmentation, I say! Many families already have alternative entrees for a variety of reasons, and the choice of a Roast Prime Rib is sure to please almost all of your male dinner guests. I mean, think about it – real men like beef! So consider adding a second meat entree to your Thanksgiving Holiday menu – or even ditching the turkey altogether!
*This simple three-ingredient recipe means great big flavor and little to no “fuss.”
Patti LaBelle’s Mac & Cheese Casserole
Not only can she sing to make you weep, Patti LaBelle can cook like nobody’s business! Uh-Huh! You better believe it! She shared this “Over the Rainbow Mac & Cheese” recipe years ago on a television program and absolutely stole the show! Twice! The idea of combining eight (8) different cheeses all blended together in America’s favorite creamy casserole ratcheted-up my dinner game and it’s been one of my favorites ever since.
*Be sure to send Miss LaBelle a “thank you” note after you make it yours! She won’t mind if you steal it, but it will make you feel better about doing so!
Green Bean Almandine with Garlic and Blue Cheese
Anyone who lived through the 60s and 70s remembers the classic green bean almandine dish. Well, for 2017, kick it up two notches by adding hearty amounts of both garlic and bleu cheese to bring this baby back into the “star-quality” it deserves!
* This combination of yester-year sentimentality and millennial “pop” is sure to delight even the most critical culinary participants, and with the new additions to the old recipe, it will satisfy everyone at the table — from the youngest to the eldest!
Southern Sweet Vidalia Onion Pie
I first made this dish to serve at a “widows and orphans” Connecticut Thanksgiving feast for 40 or so people back in the late 80s, who for some reason or the other couldn’t or wouldn’t go “home” for the Thanksgiving holiday. Several friends flew in from the Southern states, and were certainly aware of the charms of Vidalia onions. But the visitors from the West were stunned at the idea of an onion pie — especially served as a side dish. It’s been a faithful oddball side ever since for almost every Thanksgiving dinner ever since!
*My serving suggestions are that you make it in a glass pie pan and only use a crust on the bottom only — it makes a prettier presentation for platting.
Bundt Pan Herbed Corn Bread Dressing
Regardless of the entree meat that is served, one must always, always, always serve some form of dressing or stuffing with a Thanksgiving dinner. Try this new twist of preparation with familiar flavors, but different visuals.
*This dish, plated alongside the onion pie, tricks the eye into believing that dessert is mistakenly being served with the main course. Of course it’s not! And, boy, are they in for a surprise! This is absolutely wonderful with a doubled recipe of brown poultry gravy!
Harvest mousse with Spiced Almond Tulles
Admittedly, this is one of the newer additions that I’ve added to my repertoire for the holiday. As a Southerner, it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a pecan pie. But if your guests are living within today’s populist society, they absolutely have-to-have something with allspice and nutmeg or you will risk bad reviews.
* This amazing squash dessert is to die for as is, but if you simply have to have something pumpkin, you can substitute either fresh or canned pumpkin — both are delicious!
So there you have it — all of my favorite Thanksgiving Holiday Surprise Sides that, when added to yours, will definitely “up the ante” for next years host. Use one or all, or even use this entire collection as your complete menu for your feast. Either way, I guarantee you will lively chatter at your holiday table.
All items available at amazon.com. Click on title for information.
Thanksgiving Recipes: 150+ Delicious Family Holiday Recipes (2017 Edition)
by Hannie P. Scott
Friendsgiving: Celebrate Your Family of Friends
by Alexandra Shytsman
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