Our Test Kitchen Experts Recommend: 8 New Classic Dishes to Introduce This Thanksgiving
Beyond Plain Mash: Make-Ahead Potatoes
Everyone has their go-to recipes for Thanksgiving, whether it’s Grandma’s stuffing, that fabulous bechamel and greens recipe you made last year, or the pie that just defines the feast for your family. But as a creative cook, it’s always good to add a little something new to the mix. Maybe there's room in your menu for a new salad, or perhaps you’d like to streamline prep with a sophisticated make-ahead potato dish?
"Everyday Food" host Sarah Carey says, “These fancy mashed potatoes are custom-made to hold a pool of gravy in the 'well.'" Best of all, they are also completely make-ahead. They can be frozen up to three days ahead and baked (from frozen) on the big day.
Essential and Easy: Perfect Gravy
Really, it’s just as important as the turkey. So "Kitchen Conundrums" expert Thomas Joseph is focusing on gravy this year. His mantra is “No more lumps.” Watch as he shows you how to build flavor and ensure your gravy boat is filled with silky-smooth, delicious sauce.
Turkey Trade-In: Capon with Fig and Pancetta Stuffing
Deputy food editor Greg Lofts has a stuffing suggestion and a radical recommendation—go turkey-free. “Even traditionalists who might scoff at the notion of a Thanksgiving table without turkey will be swayed by this recipe. For a group of 6 to 8, capon, weighing in at up to 10 pounds, is an undeniably delicious, perfect-size alternative to turkey. The fig and pancetta stuffing is also unusual. It’s scented with sage and orange and pairs nicely with the capon.”
If you want to stick to turkey for your bird, just bake this stuffing in a tin.
Fresh and Seasonal: A Salad for the Holiday Table
“This is exactly what you want to eat after a heavy meal,” says food editor at large Shira Bocar, “especially since fennel aids in digestion. Crisp, crunchy, and mustardy, this salad refreshes your palate. And I love that it can be fully prepped and stowed in the fridge until you're ready to toss.”
Overlooked: The Pies You Need
Martha & Marley Spoon culinary director (and former MSL editorial director of food) Jennifer Aaronson has three sweet picks that are “crazy good and overlooked. They need to be on your Thanksgiving table.” She is not necessarily advocating the dumping of pumpkin or pecan, just suggesting you add these to the holiday dessert mix.
First off, chess tart. “Why? It's gooey, its crust is a crumble of vanilla-flavored crunch, and the topping is sugary and gooey in all the best ways. Guests will literally lick their plates.”
Underappreciated: The Must-Have Pie
“The crust of this pie looks like toasted spaghetti, and the filling is a comforting semolina custard that is sandwiched between two layers of caramelized sliced apples,” says Aaronson. “Each mouthful is to die for.”
Just Plain Wow: The Stunning Pie
Jennifer saves the best for last: “This one's a showstopper. No one will have ever seen anything like this before. It wows with its crisp, crackly phyllo crust that envelops a warm sweet potato souffle-like filling. And did I mention it's scented with cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla?”
And Then There’s More: Use Your Leftovers
Lucinda Scala Quinn, our former executive editorial director of food, is already dreaming of after the big feast: “I do love to make crepes for the leftovers the day after Thanksgiving.” Watch Lucinda and her son Miles show how adaptable crepes are; just about any Thanksgiving leftovers, from turkey to green bean casserole, benefit from the crepe treatment.