Share Your Thanksgiving Secrets!

What’s on my mind today?

Thanksgiving, with all the trimmings. With a little over two weeks to go, I am starting to think about what I will bring to the house I’ve been invited to and reveling in all the great flavor combinations that the season brings. Roasted vegetables with sage, turkey and rosemary, pie spices. We all know there are certain standards – mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing – but I’m wondering if any of you have any killer recipes or tips you’d be willing to share in the comments? Something you’ve incorporated into your turkey day meal that lends an unexpected kick and adds pizzazz to the good ol’ classics?

For example, I never used to get too excited about sweet potatoes, until my friend made them with a little orange juice thrown in. Now I can’t get enough.  If you are willing to share – what are your Thanksgiving meal secrets?

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About Brie Aronson

Brie Aronson came to Polyface from southern California. During college, she was diagnosed with food allergies and had to begin asking about the source of every single thing she put in her mouth. This led to an interest in all things food and she sought out a way to learn how it can be produced ethically and sustainably. Her desire is to help people shift their focus from counting calories, being intimidated by their kitchens, and being disconnected from the land to one that experiences the life-giving enjoyment of food. Having completed the internship in summer 2010, she now assists with the buying clubs and sales building, leads school tours of the farm, and will be the summer 2012 farm cook.

13 Responses to Share Your Thanksgiving Secrets!

  1. Alison says:

    I confess, I do have a soft spot for green bean casserole. Maybe it’s just a southern thing– I’m not really sure. The secret is that I make it from scratch with steamed green beans, sour cream, a white sauce, sauteed mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and carmelized onions on top. It’s the bomb. 😉

    I really want to try sweet potatoes with oj now!

  2. Amy says:

    We always have Waldorf salad and scalloped oysters. There’s not really a recipe for the scalloped oysters, it’s oysters, saltines, butter, cream, salt and pepper. Pretty much this recipe:,1645,152169-253205,00.html but no Ritz crackers.

  3. I just love sweet potatoes, baked, mashed, any way. In lieu of sweet potato casserole with all the sugar and marshmallows, I make honey roasted sweet potato. With the honey you still get that extra little sweet, but from a natural source. To two pounds of of peeled and cubed potatoes, add 2 T. olive oil, 2 T. honey, 1 t. lemon juice and dash of salt. Toss to coat, bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally. So yummy!

    • Michele Rhodes says:

      SOunds like a delicious alternative to the traditionally too-sweet-for-me recipe. I’m trying it!

  4. Tanya Dehmer Arizona says:

    Hand milled, whole wheat pie crust. My kids go nuts for this crust. I use white wheat spring berries, freshly ground. If you don’t have a mill, most health food stores have one in the bulk foods section. Another tip, use cream or milk in your pumpkin pie, it much healthier and tastes better too. Give it a practice run(:

    Makes one pie crust

    1/2 cup of organic palm shortening (or lard)
    1 1/2 cups fresh white wheat flour
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup of ice water

    Mix shortening, flour and salt with fork until crumbly, like oats. Add as much water as needed to hold crumbles together. Gently form dough into ball, carefully pressing it, refrigerate in wax paper while you clean up. Roll between two sheets of floured wax paper. Transfer to pie plate. This is great with pumpkin, apple, lemon meringue and chicken pot pie.(: Harvest Blessings to all

  5. Holly says:

    About 20 minutes before our bird is done we baste twice with maple syrup. The skin is crisp, sweet, and delicious.

  6. Michele Rhodes says:

    I began making this Red Wine Mushroom Gravy during the 20 years I was a vegetarian and didn’t want to feel deprived at the Thanksgiving table. Although I am no longer a vegetarian, I am still “forced to make it every year by the die-hard carnivores in the family. The recipe may look more complicated then it actually is; and it’s definitely worth the work put into it in any event.

    The Red Wine Sauce:

    1/3 cup dried porcini

    1 TBS olive oil

    1 large onion, diced

    1 large carrot, diced

    2 celery ribs, diced

    5 mushrooms and/or mushroom trimmings

    parsnip tips and cores from the vegetables below

    4 garlic cloves, smashed

    aromatics: 2 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf, 1 (2”) rosemary sprig

    sea salt and freshly ground pepper

    1 TBS tomato paste

    2 TBS all-purpose flour

    2 cups Merlot

    1 TBS soy sauce more or less

    1 TBS unsalted butter

    Fresh wild mushrooms – as varied and numerous as you can find or afford; you may substitute or supplement with button or crimini to arrive at 6C, sliced.

    1. Cover the porcini with 1 quart warm water and set aside. Heat the oil in a wide soup pot. Add the vegetables, garlic, and aromatics. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are well browned, about 20 minutes. Season with 1 tsp sea salt and a little pepper.

    2. Stir in the tomato paste and flour, then pour in the wine plus the dried mushrooms and their strained soaking liquid. Vigorously scrape the bottom of the pot to work in the juices, then bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, about 45 minutes. Strain into a 1 quart measure. You should have about 3 cups. Return it to the pan and simmer until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the soy sauce, then taste for salt and season with pepper. Whisk in the butter. Set aside.

    3. Sauté the fresh mushrooms in a little olive oil or butter on high heat until limp. Add to wine sauce mixture.

  7. Monica Dix says:

    Brining the turkey–worth the extra planning.
    Also, gingered cranberry sauce with orange & clove (search Epicurious). And, just in case it takes longer than you think it will to get the meal on the table, a couple of dishes that could be nibbles before sitting down, like marinated olives & mozzarella (How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman).