Our favorite Thanksgiving recipes

Drunken Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

“Begin with the end in mind.” YES.

I consider Thanksgiving to be one of those great “3F” holidays: Food, Friends, and/or Family. In the last few years, we’ve taken on the cooking for Thanksgiving, a luxury of cooking-from-scratch when any other given Thursday in the year is typically spent cobbling together any old meal or leftovers for a quick post-work/school meal.

These are some of the recipes that we’ll be using – or that I recommend – as a great way to fill out your table with some tasty foods to share with the ones you love. This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the options out there, and there are several items I haven’t included that will be on the table – some made by us (like mashed potatoes) and others made by family (such as squash or pumpkin pie). I just wanted to share things that I know make a really tasty table; you can supplement as you wish with the items of your choice. And, since kids are funny about food, I’ll just say that I only expect ds to eat a roll and a can of cranberry sauce. So…yeah, it’s all about knowing your audience.


For those of us who are omnivorous, Thanksgiving is ALL about the turkey, and we love Cooks Illustrated’s grilled turkey recipe. There are two reasons why this is such as fantastic way to go with a turkey: 1) it produces a really moist, flavorful turkey, and 2) by using the grill, it keeps the oven free for other things!

Since the Cooks recipe is paywalled, I’m linking to the same basic recipe as posted by Seattle Foodshedhttp://seattlefoodshed.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/classic-roast-turkey-on-the-grill/

Rather than buying rolls, I decided to make my own using a recipe from the people at Fleischmann’s. Their Sour Cream Rolls are flavorful and light, and the recipe is super-easy. These rolls disappear quickly once they get to the table, and I consider that a good problem to have.

I started making Stuffing a couple of years ago, and it was so tasty that (while I consistently keep blanking on taking a picture of it) I’m totally making it again. This stuffing is also totally customizable, so if you want to make it vegan or vegetarian, that’s easy as pie.

Mmm. Pie.

A while back, FOR SCIENCE, I tried seeing whether the idea of making a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie was better than the idea of a Bourbon Pecan Pie. In my estimation, the chocolate variation is better than the non-chocolate version, but that’s also because I think chocolate goes with just about everything.


No matter how you celebrate Thanksgiving, have fun – and, if at all possible, great food.

It’s not “Black Thursday”, it’s THANKSGIVING

(With all due apologies to my friends in the Great North, I’m talking specifically about the holiday we Americans observe on the fourth Thursday of every November)

Something is beyond rotten in the retail world.

Once upon a time, it was amusing to watch dh’s cousin rip through the circulars on Thanksgiving, planning her shopping route and identifying where and when she needed to go to get THE HOT ITEM(s) of the season at 4am or 6am on Black Friday. Of course, I thought she was nuts: I just couldn’t see the point in getting up THAT early just to save a few dollars. Over time, there were more and more stories about people getting into fist fights over items, or people getting trampled as the crowds rush into stores when some imagined opening bell rang out at 4am. And then the starting time became midnight.


For those of you who haven’t worked retail before, let me explain how it works in a nutshell: in order for things to be on the shelves and displays so that you can paw through them with abandon, someone has to take those things out of the boxes in which they were shipped, check to make sure that items required to be tagged are tagged (and tag them, if that’s not the case), and then place them in their designated spot. There are no elves that do this for them. It’s not done by robots. And items DO NOT mysteriously, magically appear where they’re supposed to go without someone placing them there.

So, in order for a store to be ready at midnight, typically, employees will have to be on-site getting the store ready (and that’s a minimum of 30-60 minutes). So, you have people coming to a store NO LATER than 11pm on Thanksgiving to make sure a store is ready to go for a midnight open on Black Friday.

Now, let’s say that the stock has to be put out and there wasn’t enough time to get it all out on Wednesday. In that case, the employees may have to be there earlier – maybe even several hours ahead. So, let’s back that 11pm arrival time to…maybe anywhere from 8-9pm.

And now, let’s go even farther and say that you don’t live in one of the states like I do (the lovely Commonwealth of Massachusetts), and you have stores that are open on Thanksgiving. That means these folks are just plain missing it. Dinner with family? Nope. Traditional football watching? Forget about it. 

We celebrate Thanksgiving as a reminder of a time when we were thankful just to have survived even a small time on the land we were beginning to annex, and over decades Thanksgiving has come to be revered by many as a time to pause and visit with friends and family. But with the seeming unchecked consumerism that’s dominating our culture, Thanksgiving is turning into nothing more than an inconvenient holiday that stands in the way of Black Friday. The name used to refer to the fact that it was the day that retailers typically went “into the black” (turned a profit), yet now it’s coming to symbolize the color of our hearts – we’d rather spend our time drawing up battle plans so we can figure out how to get a game console for 50% off.

This is what we care about.

Even better, this is all done in the name of Christmas – a holiday that (if you read your Seuss, as I have) is supposed to be about something more. It’s supposed to be about spending time with loved ones and caring for others, not screwing your fellow man/woman – who makes a nickel over minimum wage – out of one of the few holidays he/she has a decent chance at actually celebrating.

To be sure, the people who work on holidays do get paid for their time, but it’s hard to say that the compensation is really paying them what their time is worth. If we, as a society, felt that it was important that everyone had access to decent wages, we’d probably be far less likely to have those who felt the pressure to take shifts they didn’t want (and anyone who thinks that all people who work on Thanksgiving WANT to work on Thanksgiving is completely deluding themselves). If we, as a society, are willing to say that some things are more important than the pursuit of the outrageously underpriced HOT TOY/CONSOLE/iTHING, then maybe we should give our friends and neighbors a break.

I know that the football I watch on Thanksgiving is put on by network staff, team players, team coaches and team staff who work on the holiday. I also know that the people who work in those stadiums and parking lots are working on the holiday. They signed up for that job knowing that working certain holidays was likely to happen. Police officers, fire fighters, EMTs, members of the military, people who work at gas stations and rest stops…these are also people who’ve signed on for the idea that they don’t get the usual days off that so many of us do. These other folks, the ones who are working retail, they’re doing this primarily because some corporate wonks saw a hole in their profit schedule and the rest of the lemmings followed suit.

So my point is this: we need to stop shopping on Thanksgiving. Just stop it. We shouldn’t have started in the first place. Black Friday is its own unique kind of nightmare that I’m refusing to participate in – and it’ll be a cold day in all the circles of Hell before I think it’s okay to stroll into a store on Thanksgiving to buy a $4 sweater from someone for whom that represented 30mins of their pay. That’s insane. That’s privilege of an order that’s beyond what’s okay.

If we want to declare Thanksgiving the start of the Christmas season, how about we really honor what Christmas aspires to be: a time when we consider the needs of others before those of ourselves. We all deserve better than to have every holiday co-opted in the name of the almighty dollar.

Thanksgiving Stuffing

The funny thing about this recipe is that I actually made it last year for Thanksgiving, as a try-out on a recipe idea, with the full intention of posting it on the blog. And then, er, I just kinda got distracted. Even funnier – I forgot to take a picture of it. So, yeah, I’m two for two. BUT, this is me finally posting it, and when I make it AGAIN for Thanksgiving this year, I promise to update this post with a picture.

Now sure, stuffing is easy as all get-out: just open up the box and pour it into boiling water, right? Well, yeah…if that’s what you want. And while some of the boxed stuffing is pretty tasty, it’s also heavily laden with salt and other stuff, and I really wanted to see if I could control what went into my own stuffing and have it come out easily as well – if not better. I was very pleased with the outcome, and I’m definitely looking at this as a good go-to recipe for big meals. Since we have taken to grilling our turkeys, the oven is typically free for items like this – so bear that in mind when planning your cooking schedule. Also – make sure that you try a bite of it before you put it in the oven so that you can be sure you’re happy with the level of flavor. I don’t aim for super-salty, and if you’re used to that in your stuffing, you may find the need to adjust the salt level. I will note that I don’t call for low-sodium chicken broth here; if you are looking out for salt, I highly recommend using that instead of the “regular” stuff.

Prep Time: 1-1/2 hrs (but can be spread out as you have time and may go faster if you’re a faster chopper than I am…which is always possible!)

Cooking Time: approx. 1 hr

Serves: 8-10


2 loaves of bread (14 cups when chopped into 1/2″ cubes) – ciabatta & sourdough

7 celery ribs (2 cups chopped)

1 small yellow onion (1 cup chopped)

8oz mushrooms (3-1/2 cups minced in 1/4″ pieces)

2 Tb butter

3 Tb olive oil (divided)

1/2 Tb dried chervil

1/2 Tb dried parsley

1/2 Tb dried thyme

4 cups chicken broth

Make it Happen

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Chop all of the items that are noted above for chopping and set aside separately; make sure to have the bread in a large bowl. (Seriously, this is the biggest amount of active time…put on some music and just go with it.)

2. Melt butter and 2 Tb olive oil in a deep pan, adding celery and onion. Stir to combine.

3. In a separate pan, sauté mushrooms in another 1 Tb olive oil for approx. 5-7 min.

4. Add the herbs and broth to the celery and onion pan; stir well to combine.

5. Add the mushrooms to the bread and stir well to combine.

6. Add the broth mixture to the bread/mushroom bowl; stir well to combine.

7. Immediately pour the mixture from the bowl into a greased or enameled roasting pan or a greased large baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350F for 30min.

8. Remove part of the foil and cook for another 15-20min until the stuffing is browned. Remove foil and serve!

Happy Thanksgiving!