Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Newbies

Despite how much of a traditional Southerner I tend to be, there are times that changes and new things have their place.  For instance, this year is the first that Neil, Vivi and I had Thanksgiving all to ourselves.  Yep...Neil's dad and significant other were in Charleston and my parents went to Florida with my sister and her husband to visit his family.  So, the three of us were left here in Columbia...left to our own devices.

Several years ago, Neil was proclaimed the official turkey king of the family.  He brines it overnight then roasts it slowly.  The result is a ridiculously tender & juicy turkey that tastes fantastic. Frankly, until I tasted a turkey by Neil, I didn't like it.  I'd eat it because that's what you do at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it was never a favorite and certainly not something I would have requested.  But all that changed when I tried his. So, as traditions go, Neil's brined turkey is simply what we do around here.  

But, since it was just the three of us this year, I decided to change things up a bit. You see, it's not always easy to sneak a new dish in on a holiday because the rest of the family looks at you incredulously and asks something like "What is this?" even though it's freakin' obvious that it is still, in fact, a sweet potato.  In 1988, I was living with a French family for a semester.  My family called me and they all passed the phone around to say hello to me.  Well, as two members of the family informed me, my mom made the sweet potatoes that year, instead of Aunt Jennie.  They were not pleased.  Not one damn bit. My Uncle Tommy actually sounded pissed off about it.

So, as you can see, this was my golden opportunity to try out some new twists on our Thanksgiving meal.  First, you simply must have dressing.  I cheated a bit by buying the ol' Pepperidge Farm dressing in the blue bag.  After all, this is what my mom has always used.  (Tradition) But, I took a few recipes as inspiration and jazzed it up by using sweet potatoes, onion, thyme, bacon and a touch of O.J.  

Bacon cookin' up!

Gotta have sweet potatoes

Finished product!
Next, you have to have green vegetables.  Viv loves green beans, so I just steamed thoseThen, I added my piece de resistance...Brussels sprouts slaw.  I got this from www.BonAppetit.comI will say again to those of you who turn your noses up at the sprout, open the mind and try this one out.  I am waiting to be hungry again so I can have a plate of this stuff!  

Shredded Brussels tossed with a lemon/Dijon dressing and maple glazed pecans. To round out our meal, we made mashed potatoes (I've said it before & will again...if you don't own a ricer, go out tomorrow and get a Black Friday deal on one) to go with Neil's gravy and rockstar turkey. 

Traditions are important to me and pretty much everyone else in this Southern corner of the world.  Long live the traditions!  But, don't be afraid to introduce some new characters to the show once in awhile.  There's nothing like my Aunt Jennie's sweet potatoes, Neil's turkey and a nice, gooey green bean casserole, to be sure.  However, Brussels sprout slaw and weird dressing can shake things up (in a good way) from time to time. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!   



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