Photo Courtesy: Dmitry Fomenko via Flickr
By Marisa Morrison
As we all know and have prepared for, Thanksgiving Day 2020 will be drastically different compared to other years. The intense desire for a return to normalcy in a year of masks and social distancing has kept everyone anxious for the future. But that does not mean the preparation for Thanksgiving Day meals needs to look any more different than previous years. Traditional meals and dishes can provide holiday cheer, especially when shared with close friends and family. Pandora’s Box offers you a list of the most commonly served dishes to cook for this unusual Thanksgiving which includes many favorites along with some tips on using nifty and innovative ingredients that may spice up your menu.
Turkey Wings / Full Carved Turkey
As anticipated, one of the most traditional staples of the Thanksgiving feast definitely includes parts of the turkey. Of course, a standard meal can include a sizable whole turkey that has been stuffed with ingredients such as onions, garlic and thyme, coated with butter, pepper, salt and roasted in chicken broth. Though if you may prefer a more controllable alternative, look no further than cooking roasted turkey wings instead of the full turkey. You can bring out the same seasoned taste by coating the wings with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, parsley flakes, seasoning salt, or minced onions, all cooked with chicken or turkey broth.
Macaroni and Cheese
If you’re in need of a perfect side dish or starch to go with your meats, the classic Macaroni and Cheese is a definite choice to consider. If you are interested in adding a flair to the dish, consider adding ingredients such as yellow finely diced onions, fresh black pepper, paprika, or a bay leaf and top it with panko bread crumbs. The more macaroni and cheese you make will ensure that everyone at the table can get a good portion and even sign up for seconds.
If you are less into turkey and more into seafood, consider adding a flair of baked, roasted, or grilled choice of Alaskan sockeye salmon fillet to your menu. Some extra ingredients can include black pepper, lemon, sea salt, dried parsley and a few teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. The inclusion of some seafood can provide a choice for your guests and give a creative touch to your variety of dishes. Instead of using gravy as a side dish for the salmon, you can also consider using lemon slices with a bed of brown or wild rice below the salmon.
Rice and Beans
Rice and beans is a reliable and great use of starch as well as a savory side for meats. Some ingredients you could consider adding to amplify the taste include chopped bell peppers, chopped large onions, bay leaves, a large piece of smoked ham for seasoning, dried thyme leaves, garlic, with red and black pepper as well as salt to taste. This side goes well with almost any meats you may have prepared and can be served in large quantities to ensure that your guests have enough to satisfy their plates, as well as wanting to come back for seconds. And of course, if you’re having a downsized Thanksgiving as many are this year, you will always have a surplus of leftovers to last for the next week!
Ham on Thanksgiving and Christmas serve as another staple of traditional meals and dishes. Just like the other meat dishes, ham can be cooked and served in different ways, including glazed, coated in brown sugar, baked with pineapple and more. Some ingredients involved in cooking glazed ham, in particular, can involve apricot preserves, Maraschino cherries, ground mustard, sliced pineapples, whole cloves, and ground allspice. This juicy and meaty addition to the menu can give an alternative to those who may prefer a more thin slice of meat than a thick one.
Need more crunchy and crispy options for Thanksgiving? The classic dish of fried chicken can introduce a new variant of golden-brown goodness to your feast this year. With simple ingredients to add the perfect punch of taste and savor, such as paprika, ground black pepper, coarse salt, and Canola oil for frying, including such a classic dish can make all the difference in your spread. As usual, making large portions and trays of chicken breast, thighs, or legs will increase the satisfaction of those who love fried chicken and help ensure they fill their plates and come back for seconds.
Mashed potatoes come as another regular side for large meals, though putting a twist on it with making roasted garlic mashed potatoes can involve more of a creative and unique dish. By using ingredients such as extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling, sliced garlic, kosher salt, melted butter, warmed heavy cream, teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, and chopped fresh parsley for a garnish, this starchy dish comes out more seasoned and savory than usual. This side classically goes well with gravy on top, though with or without, the inclusion of the garlic and melted butter can still include that rich and even taste.
The sweet soft fluffy goodness of cornbread makes common appearances in most households on Thanksgiving, possibly because of its good use as a side as well as a savory addition to any plate. Common accompanying ingredients in the making of the dish include butter, white sugar, buttermilk, and salt, combining to recreate that fluffy warm, and moist taste.
Still have some leftover pumpkins from Halloween? You can always use them for a delicious recipe that makes pumpkin pie. Deciding what kind of pie to use for dessert seems to be par for the course at the Thanksgiving table, whether it be pumpkin, apple, sweet potato, or other kinds. For pumpkin-flavored pies, some extra ingredients can include canned pumpkins instead of the usual use of fresh pumpkins, heavy cream, or cornstarch. Such a dish is easy to be given out in even portions, and making two pies instead of one can keep everyone satisfied with leftovers and second plates.
Finally, almost no one can forget to add the traditional taste of stuffing, whether it be served alone, in a turkey or a casserole. Typical ingredients in the making of stuffing include sourdough bread, olive oil, unsalted butter, diced onions, minced garlic, diced celery ribs, freshly chopped parsley and sage, thyme, rosemary, and chicken stock. Stuffing incorporates a combination of aromatic ingredients to create a tasteful and savory melody of flavors, one that can be enjoyed with almost any dish.