1. Victoria Phelps: Stuffing
American culture celebrates the underdog. It’s understandable that, in this environment, we’d draw your attention to side dishes and neglect desserts. What kind of heathen would call turkey their favorite Thanksgiving food, after all? It’s like saying Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter are your favorite characters from their respective franchises.
My favorite Thanksgiving food is the ultimate sidekick: stuffing. Without stuffing, turkey would be a bland hero. Sure, your host may spend days preparing him for greatness, but that turkey is nothing without the secondary character that helped him conquer the holiday table.
My family is full of underdog types. You know those families with all the allergies and health complications? That’s us. Our combined allergies and sensitivities include shellfish, gluten, dairy, onions, berries, eggs, citrus and tomatoes. For this reason, we often have multiple types of each dish. One stuffing may be dairy and gluten free, for example, while another is free from onions, eggs, and sugar. It’s complicated, but it fits the holiday’s theme of inclusion.
As you embark on Thanksgiving adventures, just remember that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has some important guidelines on stuffing when it’s used in meat. Even as we enjoy our holiday heroes, we can’t forget to be on the lookout for the perennial Thanksgiving villain – foodborne illness.
2. Kyra Hill: Green Bean Casserole
I find green bean casserole (GBC) has a select audience. People either love it or hate it. For all of you GBC fans out there, come revel in this paragraph of why it is the best thanksgiving food. Created in 1955 by the gurus at the Campbell’s test kitchen, green bean casserole is now pretty much served at every Thanksgiving table. I am sure you remember eating French’s fried onions out of the can while your dad mixes everything together, and minutes later, when he reaches for the onions, there are none left. The crunchy string beans soaked with the cream of mushroom soup with a little tang from that Worcestershire sauce. If you have never had it, you should try it, and if you are in love with it (like I am), then make sure to make extra ahead of time.
3. Maria Ranger: Pecan Pie
There is truly no Thanksgiving food more delightful than pecan pie. While the age-old debate of ‘apple pie or pumpkin pie?’ never seems to end, pecan is the real winner in my heart. Pumpkin pie and apple pie are both tasty, but sometimes, you just want something a little bit different, and that’s why pecan pie is so good. A few years ago, I had the best pecan pie ever around Thanksgiving. My aunt had bought two pies, and she also made a pecan pie from scratch. She thought no one would eat the pecan pie she made because it didn’t look as pretty as the store-bought ones, but it was the best pie I’ve ever had. I told her that her pie had “inner beauty.”
4. Madison Savard: An Original Recipe
It’s time to step out of your comfort food comfort zone and think about adding some variety to your Thanksgiving meal this year.
There is a dish I started making a couple years ago that I think trumps the traditional Thanksgiving foods. The dish is unnamed, but it includes puff pastry, brie cheese, caramelized apples, onions and mushrooms. Even if the combination of flavors seems uncommon, I can guarantee your taste buds will begin to celebrate. The brie is a great complement to the caramelized apples, onions and mushrooms, and the puff pastry provides the bread element that we all love.
Next time you’re creating your Thanksgiving menu, think about straying from the ordinary and see what new flavors you can add alongside your turkey and potatoes.
5. Mariah Turner: Sweet Potatoes
My all-time favorite Thanksgiving food hands down is sweet potatoes. Truly, potatoes in almost any form are great, but there is something special about sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes provide the perfect side dish to the main event of turkey. But let us be clear: The proper sweet potato has brown sugar mixed inside and small marshmallows on top, gently browned in the oven. Although it is true that there are a lot of many wonderful dishes included in the traditional Thanksgiving feast, none offer as much sweetness and (slight) healthiness, so perfectly balanced.