So you have your turkey in place, but Thanksgiving dinners aren’t made of just turkey alone. You need something to accent it. You need something to impress those people who have come to your home in search of good food, good company, and great memories. So here, we’re going to talk about some of those classic sides that belong with every Thanksgiving feast: a great cranberry relish, a sweet potato casserole, and gravy that will make your heart sing.
Cranberries Go With Everything, Right?
If there’s one thing that really screams Thanksgiving, it’s cranberry relish. Of course, you can go with just opening some cans and serving jellied red sugar with your feast, but it’s so easy to make a great cranberry relish and it only takes a few minutes. Most cranberry relishes add in some citrus, and this one is no different. What takes it off the charts, however, is the addition of a bit of Granny Smith apple and some toasted pecans. Make extra, because you will definitely want to have some of this on your leftover turkey sandwiches.
Pecan Cranberry Relish
First, take a 12 ounce bag of cranberries (you can use fresh or frozen) into a medium saucepan. Reserve 1/2 cup and set to the side. Into the saucepan, add 1 cup of sugar, 2 Tbsp. of water, and a couple of pinches of lemon or orange zest. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes until the berries soften. Raise the heat to medium and cook until the berries burst. Once that happens, reduce the heat to low again and stir in the reserved berries.
In a food processor, roughly chop 1/4 of a seeded orange and 1/4 of a Granny Smith apple with 1/2 cup sugar. Add in 1/2 cup of toasted pecans and stir into the sauce. Simmer until desired thickness is achieved, stirring frequently. Let the sauce cool and serve at room temperature.
Not Just Potatoes. Sweet Potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are also one of those dishes that it seems like no one eats outside of November. It’s a shame, because this casserole is something that you could eat every week and never regret a single bite. Of course, it wouldn’t be that great for your waistline, so maybe you should only eat it once every couple of months. The sweet creaminess of the toasted marshmallows and the crunchiness of the pecan streusel topping blend with the savoriness of the sweet potatoes, making each mouthful a wonderful holiday treat.
Sweet Potatoes and Pecan Marshmallow Streusel
First, here are the ingredients you’re going to need for this one:
- 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 2-inch chunks
- About 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 stick butter
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 1/4 c. flour
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans
- 20 large marshmallows
First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Boil the diced sweet potatoes until tender. Drain them and then add 1/8 c. brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 2 Tbsp. butter, the cream, and a small pinch of salt. Blend until well mixed and fluffy. Spoon the mixture into a baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
In a separate bowl, combine 4 Tbsp. of cold butter, 1/4 c. brown sugar, the flour, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp. salt, and the pecans. Take the streusel and spoon half of it over the sweet potatoes and top with half of the marshmallows. Repeat with the other half of the two and put the casserole back in the oven for 15 minutes. Broil the casserole until the streusel and marshmallows are browned, being careful not to burn the topping. Serve warm.
Gravy Shouldn’t Be Lumpy
Let’s be frank. If you’ve tried making gravy, chances are you’ve ended up with something that wasn’t exactly a smooth experience. Whether you had lumps the size of peas or potatoes, making a creamy gravy seemed nearly impossible. Even an immersion blender didn’t really help. Making a good lump-free gravy seems like it’s some mysterious magical process that you only learn from your grandmother when she’s ready to pass on the family secret. Well, not exactly. The secret lies in the order that you add the ingredients. You don’t add flour to the stock. You have to start with a roux. Let’s elaborate.
Gravy So Smooth, You’ll Think Marvin Gaye Made It
Good gravy does take a little work. You can open up a can or a jar, but why? You’ve got everything you need to make great gravy in your kitchen right now. And once you’ve tasted this elixir, you’ll never go back to jarred gravy again. Start making this gravy after your turkey has cooked and is out of the pan.
First, scrape all the drippings from your turkey into a large skillet. Add 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock and a glass of wine (whatever type you happen to have on hand). Whisk as you simmer everything over medium heat for about five minutes to let it reduce slightly.
If the pan you made your turkey in is burner safe, then you can do this step in the original pan.
Once you’ve simmered the stock and drippings, pour into a fat separator and let the mix settle for about five minutes. Take out 3/4 cup of the fat from the top and return to the pan. Discard the rest of the fat. Now you’re going to make a blonde roux. Add about 1-1/4 cups of flour into the heated oil. Whisk it together until a rough paste forms. As the roux cooks, the paste will thin and start to smooth out. After about 10 minutes of stirring and cooking over medium heat, the flour will start to smell a little like bread. Once that happens, gradually add in the rest of the reserved liquid, whisking continuously. Simmer the gravy while whisking for another couple of minutes until it’s thickened. The gravy will thicken further as it sets, so take it off when it’s a little thinner than you like.
Salt and pepper to taste and then add in some fresh oregano, rosemary, and thyme (about 1 Tbsp. total).
So there you have the three most difficult side dishes to make for your Thanksgiving feast reduced to easy and tasty recipes. We at Think Crucial are positive that once you try these recipes, you’ll never go back to cans or jars again. We would like to wish you a very happy holiday and hope that your Thanksgiving is filled with love, light, and laughter. From all of us, to all of you, Happy Holidays! And make sure to catch up with us next week when we will have a breakdown of all of our great Cyber Monday shopping deals, including a great Doorbuster.