Thanksgiving Food Secrets

Houston's Thanksgiving food secrets: Making the meal sing has little to do with those overrated turkeys

Houston's Thanksgiving food secrets: Overrated turkeys are not the key

Thanksgiving green bean casserole with french fried onions
A Thanksgiving meal is really about the side dishes, like a crunchy green bean and French fried onion casserole. TasteSpotting.com
Thanksgiving stuffing dressing
Call it stuffing, call it dressing, call it whatever you want, but just don’t call me to the table without it. PlainvilleFarms.com
turkey and dressing stuffing frittata in a skillet
You can also create frittatas using stuffing for a yummy leftover the next morning. FoodNetwork.com
News_pie_pumpkin pie
Even though I’ll be dining out, I’ll still pick up a few sides for leftover. Pumpkin pie is on the list Courtesy photo
Bloody Mary olives celery hot sauce
’ll just stick with the stuffing hash and a regular mimosa or Bloody Mary come Friday morning. Chow.com
Thanksgiving green bean casserole with french fried onions
Thanksgiving stuffing dressing
turkey and dressing stuffing frittata in a skillet
News_pie_pumpkin pie
Bloody Mary olives celery hot sauce

Thanksgiving Day is about family, friends and food. Lots of food.

Most people have their own traditions for the holiday. Maybe you spend hours in the kitchen preparing a feast for extended family and friends. A boisterous meal followed by watching football.

Mine is a little more quiet: A slice of pumpkin pie and a mimosa (or two) while watching the Macy’s parade in my jammies before dressing for a nice lunch out at a local restaurant.

My earliest memories of Thanksgiving Day revolve around being an Air Force brat, meaning that we never lived near extended family so it was only my parents and siblings, and we usually dined at the mess hall where a buffet was set out for the airmen and their families. Which is probably why I am more comfortable eating the holiday meal out than cooking it myself.

 Call it stuffing, call it dressing, call it whatever you want. Just don’t call me to the table without it. 

But whether cooking in or dining out you know turkey day isn’t really about the bird. I don’t care if it’s a turducken, a deep fried Cajun turkey or your grandmother’s roasted bird. No, the meal is really about the side dishes.

And every family has their own favorites. For some it’s really not a holiday without a can of cranberry sauce dumped onto a platter, whole, with those little ridges from the can still visible. Or maybe it’s a Jell-O salad with fruit cocktail. For more foodie folk it may be sides that they’ve spent days making from scratch: Roasted Brussels sprouts, green beans amandine, a pan of jalapeno cornbread or that classic sweet potato casserole covered in burnt marshmallows. Not a fan of the burnt marshmallows, sorry.

Nope, for me it’s all about a crunchy green bean and French fried onion casserole, turkey gravy, mashed potatoes with garlic and Parmesan cheese, and stuffing.

Call it stuffing, call it dressing, call it whatever you want. Just don’t call me to the table without it.

Cook it inside the bird or outside in a pan, it is an indispensable Thanksgiving Day side that no table is complete without. And why stop at just one? There are so many tasty recipes from traditional Southern cornbread to Italian sausage dressing and even oyster stuffing.

On The Side

Even though I’ll be dining out, I’ll still pick up a few sides for leftovers. The aforementioned pumpkin pie is on the list, as is some gravy and the Hatch pecan dressing from Central Market. And maybe a casserole. You know you’ll want snacks later in the day and you can cook up a great Friday morning brunch of Thanksgiving hash.

You pretty much put whatever you’ve got into a skillet with scrambled eggs and potatoes.

Don’t forget to put some stuffing in there. If you top the dish with leftover gravy or cold cranberry sauce you’ve got a complete Thanksgiving meal for breakfast the next day.

You can also bake stuffing into frittatas. Stuff mushroom caps, jalapenos or celery sticks with it or make a biscuit sandwich with stuffing. Fans of state fair food can also roll stuffing into balls, coat them with an egg wash and breadcrumbs and deep-fry them for a tasty snack. If you’re not into kitchen tinkering and need an actual recipe, try this one.

Me, I just like to play in the kitchen, add a bit of this and a bit of that, fry it, bake it, see what comes up. But so far I have yet to figure out how to use leftover stuffing in a cocktail, or make a cocktail that tastes like stuffing. And now that I think about it, I’m not sure I want to.

I’ll just stick with the stuffing hash and a regular mimosa or Bloody Mary come Friday morning.