While the turkey often gets all the glory at Thanksgiving dinner, it’s the side dishes that turn the turkey into a full meal. From creamy mashed potatoes and classic green bean casserole to roasted vegetables, cranberry sauces and buttery, flaky breads, the seemingly second-string dishes can indeed take the spotlight at your holiday feast. Below are Food Network’s best-of-the-best side dish picks, the tried-and-true winners that will surely garner praise from your holiday guests.
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Be honest: Is turkey your favorite part of Thanksgiving? No matter if you answered yes or no, chances are you’ll be cooking up a bird this holiday, as it’s arguably the most-important element of your Thanksgiving dinner table. As the centerpiece of the feast, a winning bird will bring balance to the seemingly never-ending buffet of veggie side dishes (and provide the leftovers for must-have turkey sandwiches), whether you fry it, roast it, stuff it or brine it. Check out some of Food Network’s best-ever turkey recipes below, each chock-full of good-to-know tips from your favorite chefs.
Perfect Roast Turkey: The tried-and-true staples are beloved for a reason, and Ina Garten’s top-rated turkey is no exception to that rule. Ina stuffs the bird with fresh thyme and a halved lemon to gently flavor the bird from the inside out.
I can’t believe the holidays are right around the corner! Where has the year gone? I could’ve sworn Thanksgiving was just a few months ago.
Cooking for two on Thanksgiving seems daunting. You want to celebrate the holiday, but you also don’t want to be stuck with leftovers for a month. This Turkey Shepherd’s Pie for Two gives you an alternative to a large Thanksgiving spread. You still get all the sides that are classic for Thanksgiving, but without all the leftovers taking up your refrigerator space. Perfection! This recipe is also great if you happen to celebrate with family or friends and you get sent home with a bunch of leftovers. The turkey and mashed potato leftovers can be used in this recipe, and it’s like having a Thanksgiving meal all over again. Get the recipe below, then check out more of my Party of Two picks.
Presidential Turkey Grower Joe Hedden Takes Our Questions, Plus: Did You Know That Turkeys Like Country Music?by Amy Reiter in Holidays, News, November 9th, 2015
The pardoning of the presidential turkey is a Thanksgiving tradition as familiar and beloved as ogling giant parade floats and eating way too much pie. But how much do we really know about it?
Some say the POTUS turkey pardon traces its origins back to Abraham Lincoln, who, legend has it, once pardoned a turkey destined for his family’s Thanksgiving table after his son Tad made an impassioned argument that the bird should be allowed to live. Maybe.
What’s more certain is that handpicked Thanksgiving birds have been presented to presidents since 1893, that the National Turkey Federation took over the honors in 1947, and that, in most cases, the turkeys ended up on the presidents’ holiday tables, served up with all the trimmings. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy unofficially pardoned the turkey presented to him — “We’ll just let this one grow,” he said — and sent it back to the farm from which it came. Subsequent presidential turkeys were then sent on to a local petting farm, and in 1989 President George H.W. Bush made the presidential turkey pardon official.
Historically, the pardoning ceremony takes place shortly before Thanksgiving in the White House Rose Garden, although inclement weather has, on occasion, prompted a change of venue, as in 2009, when President Obama had to move it to the North Portico. Perhaps the location change made the president peckish, because he remarked that he had been tempted to eat the “good-lookin’ bird,” named Courage, but, “thanks to the intervention of Malia and Sasha,” the turkey’s life would be spared.
This year, the presidential turkey will be chosen from a flock of 50 toms currently being raised expressly for this purpose by Foster Farms, a family farm in California’s Central Valley, which also provided the presidential turkey in 2010.
The food may just be the most-important thing on your Thanksgiving table (next to your family and friends around it, of course). But that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up the space to make it more seasonal and fit for the feast. Check out these easy, inexpensive ideas and good-to-know tricks to trim your table with a fall-focused spread, no matter if your plans include hosting kids or throwing an elegant celebration.
Repurpose Existing Goods
You know that wine bottle you have left over from the other night? That could be your Thanksgiving centerpiece. Save a few bottles and fill them with grains to create an easy yet impressive display.
In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, every food-oriented magazine you flip through, cookbook you earmark and website you scour is bound to have one recipe at the helm of it all: the turkey. But what if you don’t eat turkey? What if you don’t want meat at all? And what if you still want to, well, eat? Thankfully, we’ve got game-changing vegetarian and vegan recipes to have at your Thanksgiving table, whether it’s you or one of your guests who has a special diet. Even if people at your table don’t have dietary restrictions, they’ll go back for seconds on these hearty recipes.
Though classic stuffing gets its delectable moistness from chicken stock, it’s possible to reach that luscious state without adding any trace of meat to the equation.
Vegan: If you’re going without animal products altogether, go for Food Network Kitchen’s Vegan Stuffing (pictured above) that’s made without butter, eggs or stock. In fact, this recipe nixes stock altogether (even the vegetable kind) and uses earthy green tea as a replacement.
Vegetarian: Tyler Florence’s savory Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding is a delightful riff on stuffing that’s made without any meat. Bring toasted chunks of bread, sauteed mushrooms and rosemary into a casserole dish and then soak it all in a creamy egg custard before baking.
The air is beginning to get crisp and chilly, and you know what that means … don’t you? All the best things! The coziest knitted sweaters, hot lattes and cider at any and all times of day, and warm, hearty soups. Not to mention stepping on all those crunchy leaves while wearing those favorite boots getting fresh air for the first time in, well … a while.
I’ve been frequenting the apple orchard nearly every weekend recently, and I just cannot seem to leave without a bottle of apple cider and a bag of fresh doughnuts. Have I mentioned that I love this time of year? I remember going to apple orchards as a little girl with my family and always being so eager to get lost in the corn maze with my brothers. After the relief from the hot weather of summertime, the little girl in me wanted to spend all day, every day out there. Fortunately, living near an apple orchard made my fall-loving dreams come true nearly every weekend. It was always necessary to warm up afterward with a steamy cup of hot apple cider.
The child in me is always game for a long walk in the orchard on those crunchy leaves, but the adult in me prefers warming up after a long day of fall activities with a big scoop of apple crisp and a yummy adult drink. Enter vodka and cranberry cocktail with apple cider ice cubes.
This is dangerously easy and delicious. Make it for any and all get-togethers this time of year, and of course plan on it for Thanksgiving. Not only does it taste sweet and spicy, but just look at it! Those colors! The ruby-red cranberries cover the surface, and the perfectly cubed apple cider cubes are the best additions and amp up the flavor. If you are feeling overzealous, you could create an entire tablescape to match: Spread those little cranberry cuties across the table, and add some glittery gold pumpkins. Always a good idea.
With plenty of time left to prepare for your holiday festivities, you can watch your favorite Food Network chefs reveal their best ideas during all-new Thanksgiving-themed episodes. Get ready for a brand-new spread of indulgent recipes, timesaving tips and creative hacks to make this year’s feast easier and more delicious than ever.
The Kitchen, The Pioneer Woman, Valerie’s Home Cooking, Brunch at Bobby’s and Southern at Heart are all proving that Thanksgiving can be reinvented every year with new recipes. Guy Fieri is doing double duty with two new turkey-themed episodes of Guy’s Big Bite, while Bobby Flay joins Ina Garten for A Barefoot Thanksgiving in the barn with a dazzling spread and foolproof strategies for the busy day.
If you’re in the competitive spirit, Guy’s Grocery Games, Cutthroat Kitchen, Beat Bobby Flay and Chopped Junior all have a turkey-day twist. Looking to indulge outside the house? Top 5 has the season’s best Thanksgiving comfort food, and a special episode of Guilty Pleasures will have chefs and stars spilling their favorite holiday eats. Head to Thanksgiving Central for all the details, and don’t forget to watch the Food Network Kitchen turkey roast, live on FoodNetwork.com/Thanksgiving starting at 10a|9c.
While some celebrations call for hours of slow grazing (those tailgate snacks are an all-afternoon affair, right?), Thanksgiving is often set up into distinct parts: appetizers, the main spread, dessert and leftovers. Since you’re likely spending most of your time prepping the bird and its fixings, keep the starter game simple, for both you and your company. After all, you don’t want to serve hors d’oeuvres that are so filling that your guests are not craving turkey. The key is to whet their appetites with a few seasonal bites that will only prime them for what’s to come, and these go-to picks surely fit the bill.
The all-important turkey, the creamy potato side dish, the golden-brown roasted vegetables, the tart-sweet cranberry sauce and the buttery rolls (not to mention the desserts) … there are surely multiple pieces of the meal to contend with come Thanksgiving, so it’s understandable if you’re feeling some pre-holiday jitters. And if you’re a newbie to turkey-day cooking, there’s likely the added pressure of the unknown. That’s where these tips come in. According to many of your favorite Food Network chefs, there are indeed ways to make the celebration simpler, so much so that you won’t have to stress. The key takeaway? You don’t have to tackle the entire buffet on your own. “Do a potluck!” Giada De Laurentiis recommends. “Do not try to do it all yourself.” Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli adds, speaking to both Thanksgiving novices and returning hosts alike, “The best thing to do is write out your whole menu and then cross off at least two things.”