Sure, Thanksgiving is decadent. But that doesn’t mean that it needs to be filled with overly processed, synthetic foods. Maybe it’s because I’m a total foodie – in love with taste as much as quality – but I find that best Thanksgiving recipes are those that require some time in the kitchen with well-sourced ingredients.
Even though you’re bound to run into plenty of Thanksgiving fanfare over the next week, here are my favorite hardcore foodie recipes for the season. If you happen to swing by my place on the big day, you’ll find all these dishes (more or less) ready to go. I guarantee that I will have meal-planned myself a little slice of time…so that I’m not in the kitchen the whole day. And I’m able to spend it with those I love most.
Butter rubbed turkey
Moist on the inside. Crispy on the outside. Food often tastes better when there’s a contrast in texture. Birds are no exception. Of course, the risk in perfectly golden-brown crispy skin is dry meat. But stuff a little butter under said skin? Then you’ve got the winning combination of juicy meat and crunchy skin. Every time.
We all know that the key to good gravy is working up a good flour-based roux. Well, with gluten off the menu and the days of roux long gone – you might have already said a tearful goodbye to gravy. Cheer up, friend. To make the best gravy ever, you need only onions, turkey drippings, bone broth, and a blender.
Green Bean Casserole
As a kid you may have – like me – tried the version of green bean casserole that comes from a can. And like me, you may have quietly regretted each and every bite. I’m happy to say that this real food version of green bean casserole has got me coming for seconds. It’s that good.
Cornbread sausage stuffing
Do you live for stuffing on Thanksgiving? If the thought of a savory, meaty bread pudding makes your toes tingle – try this cornbread sausage stuffing. With a touch of sage and parsley layered on top of sweet cornbread drenched in bacon drippings and chicken stock, you might not have any leftovers.
Simple cranberry sauce
Maybe it’s tradition. Or maybe it’s the lure of sugar. But some folks prefer slices of jellied canned cranberry sauce over the real deal. If this is you, move along. I won’t be able to convince you that a fruity, jam-like sauce is better than a wiggly disk. Or that – unlike its corn syrup-laden cousin who lives in a can – the tart balance you’ll find in homemade cranberry sauce is worth the ten minutes it takes to make it.
Autumn fruit salad
Something fresh. Something light. Something sweet. Thanksgiving dessert doesn’t have to be all pie and cookies. Give autumn fruit salad a place on your table. Even though this treat is loaded with healthy things like fiber and antioxidants, all anyone will know is that its spiced sweetness with a hint of lemon lights up the palate after a rich holiday meal.
About Emily Montes
Emily Montes is the co-founder and CEO of RealPlans.com. She's also an acupuncturist and practitioner of Chinese medicine, a published author, and a mom of two. Emily loves making meal planning easier and inspiring families to share more meals around the table.