Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner or Modern Thanksgiving Dinner? What Do you Choose + Recipes

Thanksgiving dinner for many Americans comprises traditional Thanksgiving meals such as roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and apple pie. The holiday feast dates back to November 1621, when newly arriving Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians met in Plymouth for an autumn harvest celebration, dubbed America’s “first Thanksgiving.” But what was on the menu during the fabled banquet, and what made an appearance at today’s dinner tables? What are the side dishes that are very highly requested at today’s Thanksgiving dinner?

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

Traditional Turkey Roast


Behind the recipe

Making Traditional Turkey Roast

Allow 30 minutes for the turkey to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place 1 oven rack in the lowest position (remove the other racks).

Remove the turkey’s neck and giblets and keep them aside for the gravy. Using paper towels, pat the turkey dry and season it inside and out with salt and pepper. Place the onion, carrot, celery, and sage and thyme sprig in the cavity. Kitchen twine can be used to tie the legs together. Tuck the turkey’s wings under the body and place it on a rack in a large roasting pan.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter; mix in the paprika, sage, and thyme. Allow the paprika butter to cool slightly before applying it to the turkey. Preheat the oven to 350°F and roast for 1 hour. Make Classic Gravy in the meantime.

After 1 hour of roasting, baste the turkey with the drippings. Continue to roast, basting every 30 minutes, for another 2 hours, or until the skin is golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees F. Allow 30 minutes for the turkey to rest on a chopping board before carving; save the drippings for the gravy.

Classic Gravy


Behind the recipe

Making The Gravy

Prepare the stock as follows: In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook, rotating occasionally until the turkey neck and giblets are browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onion, carrot, celery, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring the wine to a boil, scraping off any browned pieces from the pan’s bottom. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the liquid has been reduced by half. Add the broth, lower to low heat, and cook for 1 hour. Strain into a large measuring cup through a fine-mesh sieve; set aside the saucepan. If you don’t have 7 cups of stock, add some extra broth.

In the same saucepan, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the 7 cups stock, then reduce to low heat and cook, whisking occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until thickened. Set aside until the turkey has finished cooking.

Pour the drippings from the turkey pan into a fat separator and set aside until the fat rises to the top. Get rid of the fat (or drizzle on your stuffing). Season the gravy with salt and pepper after whisking in the defatted drippings. Before serving, reheat the dish.

Traditional Apple Pie


Hand-knead the dough. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium mixing basin. Work the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until it resembles yellow cornmeal with little chunks of butter. (If the flour/butter combination becomes too warm to handle, chill it for 10 minutes before continuing.) Add the egg and toss the dough together in the bowl with a fork or by hand. If the dough is too dry, add another tablespoon of cold water to the mix.

In a food processor, make the dough. Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in the machine fitted with the metal blade until well combined. Add the butter and pulse 10 times, or until it resembles yellow cornmeal with bean-size chunks of butter. Pulse 1 to 2 times to include the egg; do not allow the dough to develop into a ball in the machine. (Add up to a tablespoon of additional cold water if the dough is excessively dry.) Remove the bowl from the machine, take out the blade, and hand-knead the dough.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour after shaping it into a disk and wrapping it in plastic wrap.

Fill the shells with the filling. In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice and the olive oil. Apples should be peeled, halved, and cored. Each half should be cut into four wedges. Combine the apple and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Toss in the sugar until it is equally distributed.Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, or until the sugar dissolves and the mixture simmers. Cover, decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 7 minutes, or until the apples soften and release most of their juices.

To catch all of the juice, strain the apples in a colander over a medium basin. To remove as much liquid out of the colander as possible, shake it. Return the liquids to the skillet and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until thickened and faintly caramelized.

Toss the apples with the reduced juice and spices in a medium mixing basin. Allow cooling completely before serving. (You can make this filling up to 2 days ahead of time and keep it refrigerated or frozen for up to 6 months.)

Using a knife, cut the dough in two. Roll each half of the dough into an 11 to 12-inch wide disc on a lightly floured board. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes after layering the dough between parchment or wax paper on a baking pan.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place a rack in the lowest third.

One of the dough discs should be used to line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan, and it should extend about 1/2 inch over the pan’s edge. Fill the pan with the apple filling and slightly mound it in the center. Brush the dough’s top edges with the egg. Place the second dough disc on top of the first.

Bake the pie on a baking sheet for about 50 minutes, or until the crust is brown. Allow cooling on a wire rack before serving. The pie can be stored at room temperature for 24 hours (covered) or refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Behind the recipe

Making Apple Pie

Traditional Cranberry Sauce


Behind the recipe

Making Cranberry Sauce

Combine the cranberries, sugar, and water in a medium pot. To combine the ingredients, stir them together.

Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a low heat and stir in the cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

Stir to combine, then cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Some cranberries will explode, while others will remain whole.

Pour in the orange juice and zest, mix to combine, and set aside to chill before serving.

Traditional Green Bean Casserole


Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.In a large mixing basin, stir together the onions, flour, panko, and salt. Spread the onions evenly on a sheet pan coated with nonstick frying spray. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. During the cooking process, toss the onions 2 to 3 times. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it aside until ready to use. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Prepare the beans while the onions are cooking. In an 8-quart saucepan, bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil. 5 minutes after adding the beans, blanch them.To stop the cooking, drain the beans in a strainer and immediately plunge them into a large dish of ice water. Drain the water and set it aside.

In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper, and simmer, stirring periodically, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms begin to release some of their liquid. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes after adding the garlic and nutmeg. Stir in the flour until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture. 1 minute of cooking Simmer for 1 minute after adding the broth. Reduce the heat to low and stir in half-and-half. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add all of the green beans and 1/4 of the onions. Add the remaining onions on top. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from the oven and serve right away.

Behind the recipe

Making The Green Bean Casserole

Modern Thanksgiving Dinner (Side Dishes)

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon


Behind the recipe

Making Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Bring a big saucepan of water to a boil with a liberal amount of salt. Remove the outer black leaves and trim the bottom end of the Brussels sprouts, leaving the center intact. Cut the core in half. Cook, uncovered, until the Brussels sprouts are tender, about 6 minutes. Rinse under cold running water after draining. (You can do this a day ahead of time.)

Meanwhile, in a very large skillet or stewpot, combine the oil and bacon and cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the bacon is crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and set it aside. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are golden brown and crisp around the edges, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, salt, pepper, and bacon. Serve warm.

Parker House Rolls


In a small saucepan, heat the milk to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter and sugar, and set aside to cool. Allow yeast to dissolve in warm water until frothy. In a mixer fitted with the dough attachment, combine the milk mixture, eggs, yeast, salt, and 1/2 of the flour and beat until smooth. 1/2 cup at a time, add the remaining flour and whisk until a smooth ball forms.

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it by hand for 5 minutes on a floured surface. Location in a greased basin, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 60 to 70 minutes, or until doubled in mass. Punch down the dough and mould it into desired shapes on a floured surface. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cover and let rise for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Before serving, remove the pan from the oven and coat it with melted butter.

Behind the recipe

Making Parker House Rolls

Crispy Potato Stack


Behind the recipe

Making Crispy Potato Stacks

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Set aside a 12-cup muffin tray that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

In a microwave or a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Remove from the equation.

Using a mandoline, slice the russets and sweet potatoes 1/16-inch thick and place in a bowl. Toss the potato slices in a mixing bowl with the butter, herbs, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and a few grinds of pepper until equally coated. 

Stack the potatoes one on top of the other in the prepared muffin tin until they are approximately 1 inch above the top of each muffin cup. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the potatoes’ edges are golden and crispy.

Allow it cool for 5 minutes before using a tiny offset spatula or butter knife to help each stack release. Serve immediately after transferring to a serving plate and sprinkling with Parmesan cheese.

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