Thanksgiving Menu

It is that time when thoughts turn to what to eat on the major feasting day of the year. So I thought I’d share with you my planned Thanksgiving menu. For the most part, it’s pretty traditional — with one exception that I’m sure you’ll notice immediately.

So let me explain. Every year, I have two Thanksgivings: one with my in-laws, where I don’t have much say over the menu on the day itself; and one on that weekend, when we gather with my mom, stepfather and all the brothers and stepbrothers who are around at my mom’s timeshare in the mountains. But a timeshare kitchen is not really conducive to cooking turkey, so we always try to think of creative alternatives, usually seafood. This year, I decided on salmon because a) it’s fast and easy; and b) it’s just as American as turkey. In fact, I remember reading that salmon were once so plentiful that the Native Americans used them as stepping stones when crossing rivers. Whether that is a myth or not, it is conceivable that salmon was on the table at the first Thanksgiving.

Last year, our weekend Thanksgiving was poorly timed and ended up being grilled on a painfully small hibachi by the glow of a teensy flashlight, so this year my mom insisted on pre-planning. So I have timed our traditional Thanksgiving feast to the minute, and here it is:

  1. Bread — to be supplied by local bakery, which can do a much better job than I
  2. New York-Style Cheesecake
  3. Because dessert must come first, we will start this either the day before or the morning of to give it plenty of time to bake, cool and chill. The recipe is from The New Best Recipe and is guaranteed to add 1 pound to each thigh.

  4. Cranberry Sauce
  5. This comes second because it can set while the rest of dinner is being cooked. Recipe from The New Best Recipe again, to minimize the number of cookbooks I have to tote up there.

  6. Appetizers for munching on when watching football and making the rest of dinner:
    • Cheese Straws (recipe from The New Best Recipe)
    • Salami and mustard
    • Hot dogs in a blanket — my husband’s “original” recipe for wrapping tiny hot dogs in puff pastry
  7. Salad — to be supplied and made by Mom, but which certainly can be made ahead
  8. Green Bean Casserole
  9. This is a really delicious-looking update of the classic, recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, the November 2006 issue. The sauce can be made first and then then the whole thing will bake while preparing the…

  10. Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  11. For 8 side-dish servings, peel and cube 4 large sweet potatoes. Simmer over medium-low with ¼ cup heavy cream and 4 tbsp. butter until tender, 40-50 minutes. Mash with 2 tsp. brown sugar, white pepper and nutmeg to taste.

  12. Roasted Salmon with Butter
  13. For 8 plentiful servings, buy a 3-pound salmon fillet. Dot with butter, and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 450 degrees for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, rotating once halfway through cooking time. Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon slices.

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