November 13th 2011

The best Thanksgiving side dishes

With Thanksgiving around the corner, we’re undoubtedly planning our menus for our festive feasts. Sure, the turkey is often the main event, but what surrounds it is just as important.

We know what our must-haves are (potatoes, cranberries, and the rest of the gang), but have we perfected the go-to dishes that make for the perfect Thanksgiving dinner?

Luckily, we’re here to bring you the five best Thanksgiving side dishes… so delicious you don’t even need to have the turkey.

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

4 to 6 servings

3 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled
Sea salt
1 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Put them in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with cold water. Add enough salt to the water so that it tastes salty.

Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 12 minutes, until the potatoes fall apart easily when a fork is pressed into them.

While the potatoes are boiling, heat the milk and butter together in a saucepan. Do not boil. When the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander. Fit a food mill with a small blade. Over a glass bowl, process the potatoes through the mill. When the potatoes are smooth, whisk in enough of the hot milk mixture to make the potatoes creamy. Add about 2 additional teaspoons of salt, the sour cream, and pepper.

Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.

The Easiest Cranberry Sauce

Serves 4 to 6

1 (12 ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 strip orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the cranberries in a saucepan, reserving 1/2 cup. Add the sugar, zest, and juice to the pan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. The sugar should dissolve and the cranberries should be soft.

Increase the heat to medium. Cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes longer. Reduce to low and stir in the extra cranberries. Add additional sugar, as well as salt and pepper, to taste. Cool to room temperature before serving.

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Almonds

Serves 4 to 6

Sea salt
3 pounds green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1/2 cup sliced almonds
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring water to boil in a large skillet. Add a couple pinches of salt and the green beans. Cook for 5 minutes. The beans should still be crisp. Drain the beans and run under cold water to stop them from cooking. Set aside.

Add the almonds to the skillet (now empty of any water). Cook until toasted, about 4 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Add the olive oil and butter to the skillet. Heat until the butter has melted. Add the onions, some salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions caramelize, about 25 minutes. Add the thyme.  Cook for another 5 minutes.

Return the green beans and almonds to the skillet. Stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm.

Au Gratin Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
Sea salt
1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems removed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter a 2-quart baking dish.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts. Cook until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Drain the Brussels sprouts. Coarsely chop. Put the sprouts into the prepared baking dish. Toss with the salt, red pepper, and black pepper. Spread evenly in the dish.

Top with the cream and sprinkle with the cheese and breadcrumbs. Dot with the remaining butter.

Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Sausage and Walnut Stuffing

Serves 6 to 8

16 cups 1-inch bread cubes, (recommend French bread)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 medium-diced yellow onions
2 medium-diced celery stalks
2 large-diced cored tart apples (recommend Granny Smith; do not peel)
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Put the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes. Put them into a very large bowl.

Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, apples, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add the vegetable mixture to the bread cubes.

Put the sausage in the skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through. Add to the sausage to the bread cubes and vegetables.

Pour the chicken stock into the mixture. Stir in the cranberries and walnuts. Mix well. Scrape the mixture into a 9 x 12-inch baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until browned and warmed through. Serve warm.

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.