Thanksgiving Two Ways

Last Wednesday morning, I was on the 8:43 train reading Sam Sifton’s story Thanksgiving tips from NYC restaurant chefs, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the picture of Fatty Cue’s Brussels Sprouts. They were roasted and drizzled with a bright red sauce made from Thai bird chilis, crushed coriander seeds, and maple syrup, among other things. I showed the photo to Andy, who was busy reading about some new Yankees catching prospect.

“We should make these next time someone comes over to dinner,” I said.

He did a quick scan of the story. “Why not make them for Thanksgiving?” he replied.

Even though Thanksgiving is closing in on us, and even though brussels sprouts are a mainstay of the Thanksgiving table, and even though the story was actually about Thanksgiving….it didn’t even occur to me to make something like this for the holiday feast. It’s not that my family doesn’t appreciate something different. But something different is for other days of the year. Not for the last Thursday of November, when my mom always wrests the turkey into delicious submission, when my brother always shows up with his well-curated selection of Zabar’s cheese and snacks, when my sister always beautifully arranges the holiday tables (for the kids and the grown-ups), when Andy is always called in to do the ceremonial carving (to which my mom always coos “Oh Andy! You are the best!”), when my father always coordinates the whole effort through emails and clears his work calendar in anticipation of last-minute buttermilk runs to the store.

The brussels sprouts are always cooked with bacon. The potatoes are always made with butter and whole milk. The chocolate pudding pie is always served with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. I don’t know what happens with the turkey — I’ve never been on Turkey Duty, probably a big reason why I adore the holiday so much — but I do know that it tastes the same every year, which is to say, it tastes perfect.

So next week, I’m going to do a day-by-day roll out of the basic components of the feast (not including the turkey — you’ll have to email my mom about that one). I’ll present the 101 version of each dish, which is how my family eats it, and then I’ll round up three or four ideas for a 2.0 version, the recipes I’d be trying out if I were in the other Thanksgiving camp, i.e. The Adventurous One.  Please check back for advice and don’t forget to weigh in on the Thanksgiving Ritual Contest. (The best one wins a $75 gift certificate to CSN stores.) I’m loving the entries so far — thanks to everyone who has participated.

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My family is totally in the unadventurous Thanksgiving Camp. I wouldn’t want it any other way!!