Thanksgiving, for me, is all about creating side dishes that will impress my guests! The turkey is important, sure, but what is that big bird without the garnish? Following, tips and tricks to serve it up with great sides.
THE STORY OF THANKSGIVING
For many of us, Thanksgiving Day is one of the most joyous events of the year; we celebrate with plenty of food, lots of love and gratitude. Since food and stories go together, here’s a short one for you from the 1600s: We owe this precious holiday to the Plymouth Pilgrims who were the first to celebrate Thanksgiving after their arrival to the United States in December 1620. Thankful to be alive, they decided to give a thanksgiving feast in the fall of 1621 inviting the neighboring Wampanoag Indians who were the ones that taught them how to cultivate the land. The feast lasted three days. Fast forward to 1789, President George Washington declared the first national Thanksgiving Day.
Today, similar to how it all started, Thanksgiving is an ‘open’ holiday… friends, relatives, and neighbors gather around the same celebration. Traditional or casual, exotic or rustic…whatever way we choose to celebrate. The soul of the celebration is one and the same for all: to come together and give thanks—being together makes it a strong reason to celebrate and be thankful.
While for many Thanksgiving might be all about the bird, to me it is about the various side dishes that complement the main dish. Lets face it: without good side dishes, there is no dinner. Side dishes are humble, they never say, “here I am, look at me, eat me now!” They just wait to be chosen, to be noticed. And, if you’re going to visit friends or family and bringing a side dish, don’t you want your side to be the star of the show? Side dishes have the huge responsibility to give contrast to the meal and add balance to the other flavors and textures. For that reason alone, whenever you prepare a meal don’t underestimate the power of your side dishes.
Having a holiday like this in front of you can be a bit stressful and challenging. Fear not. You can either have people a dish each, or if you are going to take it all on your own, just choose to have fun. This is how I do it: once I have my main element or the star dish, I go into “seasonal mode,” I let Nature inspire me with what it has. From there the marriage of flavors and dishes come out automatically. Let me share some of my favorite accompaniments with you.
Though I love “everything potato”—garlic mashed potatoes, mashed potatoes with sage and mascarpone cheese, potato parsnip purée, roasted potatoes with sage and rosemary—potato croquettes has been my favorite side dish since I was little.
1 1/2 pound medium Yukon potatoes (organic), unpeeled and cooked
3 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Sea salt and fresh ground white pepper, to taste
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Optional: chives and garlic
1. If potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them with your hands. Place in a large bowl and mash.
2. Mix in breadcrumbs, egg yolks, parmesan, parsley, nutmeg and season to taste.
3. Using a electric mixer, beat egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form.
4. Gently fold whites into potatoes mixture. Form mixture into sticks or patties. Coat them with breadcrumbs; place on baking sheet.
5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add 3 tablespoons oil to the skillet. Add half of croquettes and cook until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheet and repeat with remaining ones.