In my experience, the quintessential Southern Thanksgiving Feast is like the ultimate pot-luck. Every memory I have of this special meal involves the attendees proudly armed with their very best dishes. Sides are so versatile…they can be simple or complicated…savory or sweet…understated or embellished…they can be whatever you want them to be!
I am going to choose three as my focus…these are the sides that, in my humble opinion, you cannot have a true Thanksgiving meal without…Cornbread Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, and Sweet Potato Soufflé. Yes, there are countless others, but these are what make this meal a feast.
Cornbread dressing…an integral part of a Southern Thanksgiving! As I have mentioned before, the recipe I now use was passed down through my Mother-in-law’s family. It is unique and delicious. The texture is like no other I have tried. The ingredients are simple and not surprising, but I assure you the result is nothing short of amazing. Every family has their own way of making this dish…my family includes biscuits (we’ll cover those another time 😉 ) in our recipe. I have never known a recipe that did not include good ol’ poultry seasoning. I’m sure you could substitute fresh herbs, but somethings are sacred…meant to be done the way generations past did them. Nostalgia…isn’t that what these special meals are all about?
Cranberry sauce…it just has to be there…everyone knows this to be true, like it or not. This often lack-luster side, found molded in the shape of a can, can be perked up with little time and effort. Now, I’m not knocking the stuff that comes out of a can…my kids LOVE it! All I’m saying is that cranberry sauce can be fresh and delicious. I use Martha’s recipe (yes, THE Martha). It is quick, simple and absolutely delicious. It is a great make-ahead dish that just gets better after a day or two.
And last, but certainly not least…the dual threat…Sweet Potato Soufflé. If you want to knock their socks off, this is the side for you! The vegetable that eats like a dessert…oh the deliciousness! The smooth texture of the sweet potatoes…the hint of carmelization from baking them…all topped with the crunchy, toasty goodness of brown sugar & pecans. This will soon become your signature dish (if someone hasn’t beat you to it!). Quick, pick up the phone & stake your claim…tell your hostess this is what you’ll be bringing! You better double the recipe…it vanishes! And if you are fortunate enough to have some left behind…you can polish them off yourself when you revisit this glorious meal during round 2 (or 3 or 4 if you plan it right!).
I will be adding the recipes here shortly…or just click on the recipes tab of the main menu!
Today’s secret revealed…you have to have a fabulous supporting cast, the star can’t do it alone. Without the proper sides, turkey is just turkey.