Thanksgiving Recipe Swap: Side Dishes!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It’s our Thanksgiving recipe swap! Ruth Reichl of Gourmet magazine, as well as a few listeners, join Leonard to talk about side dishes. Tune in for tips on what to serve with the turkey.

Here are some of Ruth Reichl's favorite side dish recipes:
Baby Brussels Sprouts with Buttered Pecans
Jeweled Rice with Dried Fruit
Wild-Mushroom Bundles
Parmesan-Roasted Butternut Squash
Haricots Verts with Bacon and Chestnuts

Weigh in: What do you serve with turkey? What's your family's favorite recipe, and what's the story behind it?


Ruth Reichl

Comments [33]

Judy Siegman from Brooklyn, NY

Someone described a cheese ball made of mozzarella, blue cheese and port wine to stoke appetites before the main Thanksgiving meal. Alas, I didn't pay full attention, but I'd love to have the recipe now. Can you help/direct me?


Dec. 05 2008 12:29 PM
danielle from upper west side - the suburbs

I am responding to Alice from Manhattan re:broccoli souffle. I don't know if your dish will be big enough but I don't suggest reducing the recipe. i don't use an authentic souffle dish - it's a corningware 2 qt. dish that works fine. Though the souffle rises it never has that crown that rises above the dish like you see in photos of dessert souffles - maybe it is because I don't use the proper dish. It doesn't affect the lightness and taste though. Sorry I can't be of more help - go ahead and try it - it may form a beautiful crown! Good luck!

Nov. 19 2008 03:03 PM
Mimi from Park Slope, Brooklyn

I would like to try Laura Schecter's Sweet Potato and Apple recipe - but I'm wondering if the potatoes are peeled, and the same for the apples. Skins on or off?

Nov. 18 2008 06:07 AM
Alice from Manhattan

Is it possible to ask questions about the recipes that are given? I want to make the broccoli souffle but my souffle dish holds only 1.5 quarts rather than 2 quarts. Should I adjust the amount I put in, or build up the height of the dish with aluminum foil? Thank you.

Nov. 13 2008 07:17 AM
George from Bay Ridge

My cousin Debbie had some biryani for Thanksgiving. Sadly I don't have the recipe.

Nov. 11 2008 02:43 PM
BF from Queens, NYC

2 cans of whole cranberries
1 large can of crushed pineapple
2 small cans (or one medium can) of mandarin oranges
walnuts- amount is up to your taste (I use 1/2-1 cup coasely chopped)

1.Drain all cans
2.Mix thoroughly in large bowl
3.Add chopped walnuts
4.Combine all ingredients

Tastes best if you cover & leave over night in the refrigerator. Drain off excess liquid the next day.
Delicious as a side dish with turkey/chicken.
So simple to make & very delicious!
Can stay in the refrigerator up to a week.

P.S. A tablespoon of the relish in plain yogurt is very refreshing as a snack!

Nov. 11 2008 02:19 PM
Mark from westchester

we're vegetarians, but we eat fish occasionally. We always missed turkey on thanks giving until we found this barbecued salmon recipe:

BTW: I use our ovens broiler to cook it.

My wife asks me for it almost every time I even mention making fish for dinner.

Nov. 11 2008 02:01 PM
Joe from Park Slope, Brooklyn

Your previous guest was incorrect in saying that the cranberry originated in England. It is indeed one of the only commercially important fruits native to North America (NOT England!). The Native Americans ate the fruit and used it as medicine and probably brought cranberries to the first Thanksgiving meals

Nov. 11 2008 01:59 PM
Meaghan from New Jersey

We always do turnips fried in bacon fat - Yum! First peel, cube and boil the turnips (the round, purple and white ones) until fork tender but not falling apart. Then melt at least two tablesppons of bacon fat (collected from previous breakfasts) and fry the cubes until dark brown and slightly crusty - Trust me, its great

Nov. 11 2008 01:58 PM
isa kocher from kucukcekmece istanbul turkey

in Turkey, pumpkin squash is so big you can feed he whol russian army with one. you buy it by the kilo and they cut it with a saw.

I made whole wheat crepes and a pumpkin gateau

the filling was simply cooked pumpin, honey, ginger,cinamon, and some bulk garam masala, eggs, milk and cornstarch. Pumpkin spices are too hard to find. The sauce was cooked over a bain marie.

Nov. 11 2008 01:58 PM
shelley matheis from nj

I'm making a pumpkin gratin tonight!

A favorite side in my family is brussel sprouts and walnuts in a maple syrup vinagrette.

Nov. 11 2008 01:40 PM

Last week I bought and roasted every root veggie I could find (at a market serving mostly Asian, Spanish, Italian and Arab palates).

Discovered a kind of yam or sweet potato MUCH drier than a Russet! As I write this I hear RR referring to it...I'll add that as exquisite as it was that night, like corn the sugar seemed to quickly turn to starch over the next couple of days.

Nov. 11 2008 01:39 PM
Margaret S. from Fort Greene, Brooklyn


Serves 10

2 bunches fresh mustard greens
2-3 bunches fresh dark kale
1-2 bunches fresh purple kale
2 bunches fresh red chard
(mix & match these any way you like; this combo gives a lovely color combination)

8 T balsamic vinegar
8 tsp honey
4 T Dijon mustard
about 8 tsp vegetable oil (i use canola)
about 3/4 cup roughly chopped pecans

Wash greens & remove long stems. Dry, but not all the way as the water will help in the cooking process.

Begin placing the greens in a large wok or skillet (you should not try to get them all in right away or you will not be able to cook evenly) and drizzle vegetable oil throughout. Toss around (veg tongs help.) Turn heat on medium and keep the greens moving so they do not scorch. As they reduce in size you can remove them to a serving bowl and then add more of the greens. Continually toss (and add a bit more oil) so that they never burn. When reduced, add to the serving bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey & mustard. Heat the oil in a small skillet or saucepan until hot, but not smoking. Add the vinegar mixture and whisk until it combines and looks sauce-like, about 2-3 minutes. Toss in the pecans at any point along the way ~ so that they are warmed, but not cooked. Drizzle over the greens and toss to combine. Serve warm.

Nov. 11 2008 01:39 PM

When you roast, rather than boil, sweet potatoes, should you roast it whole or cut into pieces?


Nov. 11 2008 01:37 PM
Sharyn from Jersey City

Regarding the pounds of butter you buy before cooking for Thanksgiving--growing up in a kosher house, if there was going to be turkey, then there was NOT going to be butter. Of course our mashed potatoes were made creamy by tablespoons of jarred chicken fat. But more often than not, our side dishes tended to be Jewish style, as if Thanksgiving were any other holiday dinner: kasha varnishkas, derma, and stuffing made with a matza farfel base.

Nov. 11 2008 01:37 PM
jess from astoria, ny

I acquired this recipe from relatives in Louisiana; only when you look for 'mirlitons' at the grocery store up here they are referred to as 'chayote'. so so good!

Here's the ingredient list, from Emril's recipe here (

1 teaspoon unsalted butter
7 pounds mirliton (chayote), peeled and cut into 1-inch thick slices
1/4 cup vegetable oil
11/4 cups finely chopped yellow onions
1/3 cup finely chopped garlic
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 pound Gruyere, or mozzarella, finely grated

Nov. 11 2008 01:29 PM
j from nyc

nothing too complicated - turkey legs and wings with Shake&Bake, crispy version preferably.
seriously, more meat on a bone than chicken wings and legs, and far tastier. prepare the same way, except use a larger bag to prepare. if you want to be totally economical/environmental, use a biodegradable bag, or a roasting bag, rinse and reuse for later cooking/roasting. good eats.

Nov. 11 2008 05:48 AM
Laura Schecter from New York City

Sweet Potato and Apple Roast with Thyme and Spiced Pecans

Sweet potatoes:
4 medium sweet potatoes, cut into roughly 1 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 T fresh thyme
2 granny smith apples
2 T lemon juice
2 T cold butter, divided into pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place potatoes in a roasting pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. In a small saucepan, stir together the apple cider, brown sugar, cinnamon, and fresh thyme over low heat until it reaches a simmer. Remove the apple cider mixture from heat and pour it over the sweet potatoes. Stir, cover with tin foil, and place potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes.
4. In the meantime, core apples and cut into 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and set aside.
5. After 20 minutes, remove potatoes from the oven and stir in the apples. Re-cover and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through and apples are just starting to soften. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, remove the tin foil.
6. Remove from the oven, stir in the butter and the pecans, and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Nov. 07 2008 12:37 PM
Laura Schecter from New York City

Sweet Potato and Apple Roast with Thyme and Spiced Pecans
Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Spiced Pecans:

Tip: These can be made well in advance and stored in an airtight container for 5 days. You might want to double the recipe and set some out for your guests to snack on before dinner. They are absolutely delicious.

1 cup pecans
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 T lightly beaten egg white

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, combine: salt, pepper, sugar, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin, and nutmeg. Stir to combine and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until foamy. Add pecans and toss to coat, then transfer to sugar mixture and toss to coat.
4. Spread in one layer on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until very fragrant.
5. Remove from the oven (it's okay if they are slightly sticky at this point, though they should not feel wet) and allow to cool on the baking sheet. Once cool, break up any chunks and set aside.


Nov. 07 2008 11:39 AM
danielle from upper west side - the suburbs

2 cups cooked finely chopped broccoli
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs, separated

Melt butter;stir in flour and 1/2 teas. salt. Cook afew minutes. Add milk alittle at a time to prevent lumping. Cook and stir still thickened.Stir in cheese till melted. Stir in broccoli.
Beat egg yolks until thick and lemony colored. Slowly stir into broccoli mixture.
Beat egg whites till stiff peaks form. Fold into broccoli mixture
Turn into ungreased 2 quart souffle dish. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or till knife inserted is clean.
This is delicious believe me. Everyone will love it - even kids and people who don't like broccoli. One Thanksgiving it was the only thing my friends 3 kids would eat. I never fail to make it every Thanksgiving and Xmas - if I didn't my family and friends would be disappointed.
P.S. You can use any veggie you like;the original recipe was with brussell sprouts!!!

Nov. 06 2008 07:10 PM
Leslie Cerier from Shutesbury, MA

Orange-Scented Yams with Chestnuts
Presoaking the dried chestnuts results in a delicious smoky flavored stock in which to bake these orange-scented yams. Dried chestnuts are available in most Asian markets, specialty shops, and natural foods stores.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1/3 cup dried chestnuts
2/3 cup water
6 cups yams, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped oyster or white button mushrooms
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions
3 tablespoons dried orange peel
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried cardamom

1. Place the chestnuts and water in a small bowl, and let sit several hours or overnight until the chestnuts have softened.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
3. Transfer the chestnuts and soaking water to a large mixing bowl along with the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
4. Place the ingredients in a covered baking dish and bake 45 minutes, or until the yams are tender. Adjust the seasonings, if desired.
5. Serve immediately.

Nov. 05 2008 07:23 PM
Andrew Burman from New York

I grew up in DC the middle child of five, and my mom cooked dinner for us every night. We didn't really deviate from a rotation of ten dishes overall, and interestingly enough Thanksgiving and Christmas actually have the same menu (Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and stuffing).

It's pretty basic, and after I graduated from culinary I started adding new side dishes, getting creative. My brothers hated it, and vociferously requested the classics, down to the cranberry sauce in a can. What can you do?

Most-Requested Mashed Potatoes
10 pounds Idaho potatoes, skins on
2 sticks butter
1 quart cream

1. Put potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Salt water pretty well; bring to a simmer and simmer until they are cooked (20 - 25 minutes). Peel, halve, and push through a ricer, back to the pot in which they were cooked.
2. Add butter and cream (I guess you could use half and half, whole milk, or buttermilk to make it less fattening, but my brothers would detect it), and season with salt to taste.

Nov. 05 2008 05:07 PM
Sherri Brooks Vinton from NYC orbit

Preserved Cranberry Sauce
This recipe was inspired by one I found on Epicurious years ago--Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Honey. I've changed it around a bit so eaters can preserve it, using the boiling water method of home canning, and enjoy it all year-round with roasts, on sandwiches or as a tasty addition to a cheese plate. Make a little extra to give as a holiday treat!

1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup honey, preferably wild and local
1 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
zest and juice from one orange
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 cups fresh cranberries

Combine all ingredients, accept berries, in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Add berries and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes until berries burst and sauce thickens. Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to a week.

To preserve cranberry sauce ladle into clean, hot canning jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles with a clean chopstick. Wipe rims. Screw bands and lids on fingertip tight. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Cool for five minutes. Using canning tongs, remove jars from canner and cool. After 24 hours, remove bands, wipe lids and check seals. Store at room temperature for up to a year.

Makes about 6 cups.

© 2008, Sherri Brooks Vinton

Nov. 05 2008 11:49 AM
Sheila Karaszewski from New York

This side dish began its legacy as a vegetarian main course I created for myself to eat on Thanksgiving while others ate turkey. The first year I made it, everyone was at first suspicious of it, but they ended up devouring the whole dish! Although I am no longer a vegetarian, but rather a caring carnivore, this dish remains firmly planted at out Thanksgiving table. It’s so addictive, we actually eat it all through the season!

Butternut Squash Gratin

2 butternut squash
2 Spanish onions
1 cps sage-fresh is essential
2 cps parmeggiano-reggiano (pecorino romano; asiago work too)
1 pint cream
4 tbsp butter
1 cp breadcrumbs
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 425
Peel and seed squash, slice into approx. ½ in. pieces
Toss with olive oil, S&P to taste in bowl; transfer to baking sheet. Roast until fork tender, 20-30 minutes
Heat 4 tbsp butter in non-stick pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened and translucent, 15 minutes. Add 3/4 cp sage, season with S&P, remove from heat

Drizzle oil in baking dish. Layer onion mixture lightly and cover with single layer of squash-slices close together. Sprinkle cheese generously, add S&P, drizzle evenly with cream. Repeat until dish is full. Use extra cheese and cream on top of last layer and finish with light coating of breadcrumbs and sage. Drizzle with cream.

Bake until cream is bubbling-about 15-25 minutes. Remove from oven, cool slightly and serve.

Nov. 05 2008 11:40 AM
Bob Perry from Kentucky

Mad Dog Sweet Potatoes

3-4 sweet potatoes, or about 3 lbs
1 T vegetable oil
½ Cup Pure KY Sorghum
½ Stick unsalted butter
Splash of KY Bourbon
1 tsp kosher salt

Wash sweet potatoes and rub on a small amount of oil to coat their skins. Place in a baking dish and cook in a 350-degree oven for about an hour like a regular baked potato.

Allow the potatoes to cool slightly then peel and discard skins and roughly chop.

Place chopped sweet potatoes into a mixing bowl and add the sorghum, butter, bourbon and salt. Mix slowly then on high speed to blend all ingredients. Turn into a serving bowl, top with marshmallows and brown under the broiler.

Mad Dog is something I grew up with, especially during summer visits to Rough River Lake at my Uncle Byrtle & Aunt Gladys’ place on Little Clifty Creek. Put a big pat of sweet butter on your plate, cover w/ a large spoon of sorghum and mash together with a fork. Spread on warm biscuits and eat!

Bourbon always has a hint of vanilla from aging in the charred oak barrels and can be substituted for vanilla in many recipes.

Both sides of my family made sorghum for generations; it was the country syrup. I remember going down to Grayson County with my dad and watching them cook it outdoors in a long divided metal trough over a wood fire. Dark and sweet, it is simply made by reducing the juice from the stem of the sorghum plant to thick syrup. One tablespoon has as much potassium as a banana!

Nov. 04 2008 07:42 PM
Lisa Stanley McIndoo from Memphis, TN

BBQ Cornbread Dressing

1/2 stick. butter, melted
Bacon drippin's (2 tbs?) to grease cornbread and dressing pans
2 lg. onions, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 c. chopped celery
4 tbsp. chopped parsley (optional)
8 c. crumbled corn bread made in an iron skillet with bacon drippin's
4 c. bread cubes from stale baquette
2 tsp. sage or poultry seasoning
1/2-1 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. salt
3 eggs
2-3 c. chicken or turkey broth
1-2 c. pulled pork shoulder BBQ from Neely's or Gridley's, Central BBQ, or Corky's (if you live in Memphis---if you don't, good luck!) It needs to be real smoked pork.

Crumble breads into large bowl or pan. Add all ingredients. Mix thoroughly, adding enough broth until mixture has the appearance of unbaked corn bread. Place in greased baking dishes or large pan. Bake at 325-350 degrees about 20-30 minutes (or until slightly brown around edges). Pour a little hot broth over dressing before serving.

Nov. 04 2008 04:00 PM
Christine Napolitan a/k/a/ Locavore Lunchlady from Martha's Vineyard

Greens in season include Kale, Russian Kale (very peppery) and Red or
Rainbow Swiss Chard. While healthy and colorful, if steamed gently,
this green provides a great counterpoint to wild fowl and
fresh veggies. Trip stems off leaves, cut into one inch strips and
steam with cover on in olive oil and butter just until wilted. Dress
with olive oil and S&P.

Nov. 04 2008 03:03 PM
Timothy Cipriano from New Haven, CT

Squapple Crisp
Chef Timothy Cipriano a/k/a Local Food Dude
Recipe taken from my book: Locally Grown Recipes for "Not your Average Lunch Lady"
4 cups Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 pound (about 3) Baldwin apples, peeled and sliced
4 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup flax flakes, crushed
Roast squash until tender. Mash with 1 Tbs. butter, 1/4 cup Maple Syrup, and spices. Melt remaining butter, mix with
flax flakes and remaining syrup. Layer squash and apples in baking pan, top with cornflake mixture. Bake at 350° for
15-20 minutes.
Enjoy!!! Serve as a side dish or top with Ice Cream for dessert.

Nov. 04 2008 02:39 PM
Wayne from Ridgewood, Queens

Pennsylvania Corn Pudding

1 cup of flour
1 cup of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp of melted butter
1 cup of milk
4 eggs (lightly beaten)

2 cans of creamed corn
2 cups of frozen whole kernel corn (thawed)

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients, fold in creamed and thawed corn. Mix the wet ingredient with the dry. Do not over-mix. Pour mixture into a glass baking dish and bake for 350-400% for 45 minutes or until firm.

[This is adapted from a family recipe. We make it as a side for all holiday gatherings. I've also taken this to a few office pot-lucks and it's a hit. Believe me you can't go wrong with this one.]

Nov. 03 2008 04:02 PM
Susan Veronica Rak from Somerset NJ

Candied Sweet Potatoes/Yams*

6 large yams or sweet potatoes
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick of butter
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

9x13 (approximately 3 quart capacity) baking dish
350o oven

Par-boil potatoes/yams; they should be cooked but not mushy.

In a food processor, mix butter and sugar until smooth. Add corn syrup, lemon juice, spices and process until smooth and well blended.

Peel cooked potatoes and slice lengthwise ¼ inch think.
Spread a thin layer of butter mixture in bottom of baking dish. Arrange potato slices to cover bottom as completely as possible. Spread 1/3 of the mixture over layer and top with rest of potatoes and the rest of the butter mixture.

Bake uncovered 45 minutes or until bubbly and cooked through.

[*This is a recipe copied from a Cuisinart advertisement in the mid-1980’s. It is sweet, but not overly so. The lemon and cinnamon offer a nice contrast to other sides. I’ve made them every year, using less of the butter mixture when it seems over-much, or making three layers of potatoes and butter. I’ve sometimes omitted the corn syrup and used maple syrup, or a teaspoon of molasses, for a different flavor.]

Nov. 03 2008 01:58 PM
NC from NYC

I cooked Barefoot Contessa's recipe for Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup last year. It was excellently received!!

Oct. 30 2008 01:29 PM
Jesse Hackell from Suffern, NY

Cranberries in Port

1 c. sugar
1 c. tawny port
zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 cinammon sticks
3 nickel-size pieces fresh ginger root, peeled and crushed lightly
1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries

1-Put all ingredients except cranberries in a saucepan, and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves.
2-reduce heat to simmer, and add cranberries.
3-cook, stirring frequently, at very low heat until most cranberries have popped, and sauce thickens. It will thicken further when cooled.

Will keep in refrigerator for up two weeks--if it lasts!

Oct. 29 2008 02:18 PM
Andrea Sandvig from NYC

This side was much beloved by my husband's family in the 70's in a small city in Minnesota.It is a very Midwestern kind of dish - quick, tasy and based on Jello!

Mystery Salad

2 8oz. packages cream cheese softened
1 package lime jello
1 can pears in juice(not heavy syrup)drained(reserve juice) and pureed
a few drops almond extract(no more than half a teaspoon)

Make jello with half the amount of water. Cool to lukewarm and add pears, cheese and extract.Taste and if you would like the mixture sweeter ,add pear juice a spoonful at a time.

Traditionally this is molded in a plain round bowl and served like a bombe with a dollop of sour cream on top. The color is a lovely pale green. Part of its charm is asking newcomers to identify the ingredients!

Oct. 29 2008 01:28 PM

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