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Food 0

Top 10 Thanksgiving Dishes

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Boy, do I love Thanksgiving! It’s a time to be thankful, enjoy a day with friends and family, and eat some amazing food. Regarding that last point, I’m a firm believer that certain dishes must show up on the Thanksgiving table. And while I enjoy them all, I do have my favorites. Here are my Top 10 Thanksgiving Dishes in ranked order.

10. Cranberry Sauce

I get that cranberry sauce, especially the stuff out-of-the-can, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But it does serve a purpose, including adding a pop of color, tartness, and sweet flavor to the plate. Truth be told, we do a comparable spiced cherries side dish each year that serves the same purpose but tastes a lot better.

9. Mashed Potatoes

Number nine seems like a low ranking on this list for mashed potatoes, but just hear me out. I love mashed potatoes, truly, I do, but on Thanksgiving, there are other starches (as you’ll soon read) that vault over this classic dish. Still, the creamy, extra buttery mashed potatoes are critically important on this most glorious of holidays.

8. Green Bean Casserole

Ah, green bean casserole, quite possibly the most divisive of all Thanksgiving dishes. There’s no middle ground with this one, as most folks either love or hate it. And while I understand that sentiment, let me make a case for green bean casserole. For one thing, it’s green, a color sorely lacking on a Thanksgiving plate typically filled with brown, orange, and a variety of tans and yellows. If you’re a hater, try ditching the canned green beans in favor of the fresh ones. Huge difference.

7. Rolls

Every year I tell myself that I’ll cut back on a few carbs and not load up on those insanely delicious yeast rolls. And then I eat two rolls. Two hours later, I take two more rolls, cut them down the center and make mini sandwiches with leftover ham and turkey. My point? Rolls are very important, not only during the meal, for the next few days after.

6. Gravy

Gravy, the glue (poor choice of words) that holds this entire Thanksgiving ship together. Good gravy can be a Turkey Day gamechanger. When it’s on and done right, the pour will be heavy. I’m talking about dousing everything on my plate with it. Heck, I might even add more a few minutes later.

5. Turkey

Listen, I know this sounds crazy, but turkey is a little overrated. I mean, it’s fine, but rarely have I sat around on the holiday and raved about the bird. With that said, if you have the time, brining makes a huge difference.

4. Sweet Potato Casserole

I’m a huge fan of desserts disguised as side dishes. Don’t kid yourself; sweet potato casserole is a dessert. Remember, this is Thanksgiving, a time to eat marshmallow and brown sugar-topped potatoes with reckless abandon.

3. Pecan Pie

When done right, a pecan pie sits near the pinnacle of my pie mountain. The crunchy texture, rich Karo flavor, gooey interior, and overall traditional nature of the dessert vault it way up my list of most important Thanksgiving dishes.

2. Ham

If turkey is overrated, then ham on Thanksgiving is vastly underrated. Heck, my wife and I have had debates in years past on whether or not the protein should reside on the table, of which I am a staunch supporter. How could you not love a thick-cut slab of honey ham next to your mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and …

1. Cornbread Dressing

The best of the best—cornbread dressing. Is it occupying my #1 spot even up for debate? Also, this is the South, and as you know, there’s a huge difference between cornbread dressing and white bread-based stuffing. Always, and I mean always, opt for the cornbread dressing. Side note, I am a Thanksgiving mixer, so everything on my plate touches. People who don’t allow different food on a plate to comingle kind of freak me out. Take a huge scoop of cornbread dressing, add some cranberry sauce, then finish off with a heavy pour of gravy. Perfection!

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Kevin Shalin is a food writer living in Little Rock with his wife, Sara, and two daughters, Natalie (12) and Sydney (7). He started his own blog, The Mighty Rib, seven years ago while living in Houston. Six months later, he began writing for Eating Our Words, a Houston Press food blog. After a year in Boston, he moved to Little Rock, where he’s been for almost five years. During that time, he’s written for Little Rock Soiree, Rock City Eats, Treatsie, and Bourbon and Boots.

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