There is a light at the end of the Blahvember tunnel. Dull or shining, that light is Thanksgiving and it will be here in just a few short weeks. Nothing beats Thanksgiving for inspiring both gratitude and conflict. Think about it. What other holiday inspires joy in some while unleashing fear or dread in others? Host or guest, it doesn’t matter – contrary feelings persist around tables across America.
Thanksgiving fans embrace the day. A good many of them love to cook. For those that prefer life outside the kitchen, they have workarounds like potlucks and restaurants. No matter the circumstance or place, Thanksgiving fans are absolutely delighted to spend the holiday with a tableful of friends and family.
To both borrow and mangle a line from W.C. Fields, Thanksgiving detractors would rather be in Philadelphia. For them, Thanksgiving is a highly combustible gathering of gripes and grumbles. Siblings, cousins, ex-s and in-laws, these relationships can be fraught with rivalry, disdain or both. Add a few too many glasses of wine and an explosion of one kind or another is more or less guaranteed.
Now, it’s upon us. Whether you meant to or not, you raised your hand over Labor Day weekend and agreed to host Turkey Day. That means, it’s time to get organized. And no, you can’t go back and pretend you were kidding or swatting a nonexistent mosquito.
Start by letting everyone know that Thanksgiving is still on and you’re still hosting. Give them an arrival time and turn a deaf ear to complaints. It’s an age-old fact, no matter what time you choose, afternoon – early or late – or wait until evening, some big football game will kick off at just the wrong minute. Ignore the complaints, cue the DVR and have a lovely dinner. By the way, it’s always nice to encourage your guests to bring along any Thanksgiving orphans.
Invitations done; the menu is next. Unless of course, you have one of those families. You know the type. They insist on the same menu every year. A few might even admit that they don’t really like great-grandma Annabel’s stuffing or great-great-aunt Betty’s yams. They just like the sense of tradition that a decades old menu brings.
My family is one of those types. If it wasn’t on Nana’s Thanksgiving table, they don’t particularly want it on theirs. Except for me. Makes you wonder; was I somehow switched at birth? Anyway, I haven’t exactly ignored them – just reinvented an old dish or three. Okay, maybe I have ignored them but I like to think of it as gently nudging my nearest and dearest out of an antiquated food rut.
My reinventions are not all that dramatic. Instead of boiling, I roast the vegetables and have amped up the decadence on the smashed potatoes. No one but no one is complaining about the spuds. That said, although he loves my Roasted Butternut Soup, my brother is still accusing me of heresy for dropping Mom’s stuffing. On a more positive note, everyone seems delighted that pumpkin cheesecake has replaced pie.
If you’ve hesitated to change things up, stop worrying. While they may threaten, your family won’t disown you over a few Brussels sprouts.
Happy planning, happy cooking and bon appétit!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes
- 12 ounces thick cut bacon, cut in small pieces*
- About 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
- About 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large onion, chopped
- Apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon sage
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1-2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- About 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Heat a skillet with over medium, add the bacon and cook until it starts to brown. Remove from the pan and reserve. Reserve the rendered bacon fat as well.
Put the Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and onion in a roasting pan, drizzle with enough equal parts bacon fat and vinegar to lightly coat and toss to combine. Sprinkle with thyme and sage, season with salt and pepper and toss again.
Tossing at the midpoint, roast the vegetables at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Add the bacon, garlic and chicken broth, toss to combine and roast for 15 minutes. Give the vegetables another toss and continue roasting until tender, another 10-15 minutes
Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl, sprinkle with toasted walnuts and serve.
* If you have a few vegetarians at your table, you may want to skip the bacon. Instead of bacon fat, toss the veggies in olive oil. Along with the toasted walnuts, sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and serve.
- One Year Ago – Oven Braised Moroccan Chicken & Vegetables
- Two Years Ago – Cheesy Pumpkin-Sage Biscuits
- Three Years Ago – Butternut Squash Tartlets
- Four Years Ago – Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad
- Five Years Ago – Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing
- Six Years Ago – Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Crostini
- Seven Years Ago – Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Eight Years Ago – Rustic Apple Croustade
- Nine Years Ago – Cranberry Sauce
- Ten Years Ago – Decadent Cheesy Potatoes
- Eleven Years Ago – Broccoli Puree
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!
Do you have a favorite tip for Thanksgiving? Feel free to share!
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019