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Thanksgiving Side Dishes That Will Make You a Star
Did you just remember that you promised to bring a "side dish" to Thanksgiving dinner? Don't even think about green bean casserole. People will snicker at you behind your back. I'm sorry, but it's true. I've witnessed it on more than one occasion. Even if you tell them you were being ironic. So here are a few ideas for side dishes that will save your reputation. Bring along a chilled bottle of champagne and you will really outshine that annoying cousin who is always sooooo perfect...
NOBLE'S SOUTHERN GREEN BEANS
A recipe from one of my raddest neighbors ever. Great for low-carb Atkins people, Southerners and other fans of pork. Not so good for vegetarians as there is "hidden" pork.
4 cups fresh green beans, trimmed
2 (14-ounce) cans low-salt chicken broth
Salt pork or ham fat
1 Tablespoon grainy brown mustard
4 dashes Tabasco
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
Boil green beans in enough chicken broth to cover until crisp-tender.
Meanwhile, heat the salt pork or ham fat In a large frying pan to render 2 tablespoons liquid fat (I know, I know. It's worth It. I won't tell your cardiologist If you don't).
Whisk mustard, vinegar, Tabasco and garlic into fat to make a vinagrette.
Drain cooked green beans, reserving some broth. Add Just enough of the broth to the vinagrette to make a sauce.
Add green beans. Stir-fry until beans are desired tenderness. Serve. Don't tell anyone there is pork fat in it unless you have to.
Remember a few years ago when roasted everything was in vogue? These vegetables are still a more modern take on the vegetable medley. If you substiture for the butter, they're also vegan. You can change up the vegetables, just be aware of cooking times so half the veggies aren't black and shriveled. Of course, that's the beauty of roasting. They aren't burnt - they're "caramelized".
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 pounds baby carrots
1 each red and yellow bell pepper, cut once in half crosswise and into 1" slices lengthwise
4 small zucchini, trimmed, cut in half crosswise, then once lengthwise to make "planks" or if they are larger, cut again to make "spears"
2 medium Japanese eggplants, cut just like the zucchini
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound) trimmed and cut in half
3 shallots, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
Kosher salt (or whatever fancy-ass salt you have) and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Melt butter and olive oil in a large, shallow roasting pan or casserole dish. meanwhile, cut up the veggies. You are basically trying to get everything to match the size of the carrots as closely as possible.
Toss the herbs, carrots, and peppers with the melted butter-oil mixture until evenly coated (careful - it's hot!). Return to the oven.
After 10 minutes, add the zucchini and eggplant. Stir everything together until evenly coated and return to the oven.
After another 10 minutes (total cooking time 20 minutes) add the asparagus, shallots and garlic. Stir everything together until evenly coated. If veggies are sticking to the pan, add more oil and butter. Return to the oven
Continue roasting another half hour until vegetables are cooked through and starting to brown and caramelize, but are not too shriveled. The total cooking time should be around 50 minutes. If you don't want to mess around so much you can just toss everything in at once and stir it every 10 minutes. The Japanese eggplant and asparagus may get pretty "caramelized" that way but they are still edible. And sometimes edible is all you can shoot for.
Transfer to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with salt and grind pepper over the top. Add a sprig or two of fresh herbs if you want to be really impressive.
MACARONI AND CHEESE
This recipe is adapted from a cookbook titled "Soul Food". If there are lots of kids coming for Thanksgiving, they will love you forever. And maybe when you are old and alone they will let you come over to Thanksgiving at their family's house. It's like an investment in your future.
1 16-ounce package elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese
3 large eggs
4 drops Tabasco
2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
1 1/2 to 2 pounds sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni. Boil 8-10 minutes, until just tender.
Drain macaroni in a colander. Put butter and cream cheese into the boiling pot. Pour the macaroni back into the pot and stir until butter and cream cheese melt.
Whisk together eggs, Tabasco and evaporated milk. Stir into the macaroni.
Butter a 2-quart casserole dish. Put in half the macaroni, then half the cheddar cheese. Put in the rest of the macaroni, then cover with the rest of the cheese.
Sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 20 minutes covered with aluminum foil. Remove foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes.
This recipe is also kind of old-school, but once people taste it they will go insane. It is a carb-laden feast of Thanksgiving decadence masquerading as a "vegetable". It is your best option if you are pressed for time; it takes just minutes to stir together.
1 (16-oz.) can whole kernel corn (do not drain)
1 (16-oz.) can creamed corn
1 cup sour cream
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup Bisquick
1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
Pour into a large, ungreased glass casserole or souffle dish. Bake for 45 minutes.
If you have to make the entire dinner, here is last year's guide:
Oh, just go out for dinner
Or be an angel and go volunteer
Photo by Chasqui via Flickr