Smile Politely

Our editors share their ideal Thanksgiving plates

A cooked whole turkey on a metal tray, carving knife alongside it.
Seth Fein

I am very excited about next week. Mostly because I get to bring my first child home from college for the first time since I dropped her off. But in second place is the fact that it is my favorite food holiday ever. The existence of Thanksgiving as a holiday is a very problematic chapter in our generally problematic national history. During this time, I focus on the opportunity to gather with my family and eat good food. In this spirit, I asked our editors to share what their ideal Thanksgiving plate would include. These plates did not need to be realistic representation of what they will actually be eating next week. It’s a little imaginitive thinking of what you would ideally include if you got to make all the decisions. Here is what we came up with:

  • Alyssa Buckley, Food & Drink Editor: “Way too much mashed potatoes, a turkey leg, my sister’s cornbread stuffing, my mom’s boxed stuffing, a spoonful of canned cranberry, corn pudding, and a slice of every pie my sister-in-law baked — plus a big glass of red wine.”
  • Louise Knight-Gibson, Culture Editor: “First course: Cheese board and stuffed mushrooms. Then, fried turkey, bourbon ham, sweet potato casserole (no marshmallows), cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, roasted vegetables, red wine cranberry relish, corn casserole, and my moms rice. Dessert: Sweet potato pie and creme brûlée. I am a maximalist when it comes to Thanksgiving.” 
  • Jessica Hammie, Editor-in-Chief: “A dessert plate with sweet potato pie AND pumpkin pie, don’t forget the homemade whip.”
  • Julie McClure, Managing Editor: “Smoked turkey, my grandmother-in-law’s stuffing, my mother-in-law’s mashed potato casserole, my mom’s scalloped corn, my stepdad’s sweet potato casserole (the kind with with brown sugar and pecans, not the kind with marshmallows), a little homemade cranberry sauce, and a Rhodes roll. Pecan pie for dessert. Starches are very important to me.”
  • Serenity Stanton Orengo, Arts Editor: “Turkey and stuffing made by either one of my chef brothers, corn, rolls, 5 kinds of mashed potatoes and gravy, and my grandmother’s peanut butter pie.”
  • Derrick Phillips, Music Editor: “The biggest turkey that’ll fit in my oven, brined in my foolproof, secret recipe brine for 24 hours. REAL Yukon Gold taters for mashed potatoes, ONLY Stove Top stuffing, and it’s forbidden to alter it. Corn casserole by my fiance’s daughter, green bean casserole (wtih mushroom soup), Beefhouse rolls.
    Optional: black olives and cranberry sauce.”
  • Patrick Singer, Executive Editor: “While turkey doesn’t deserve to be listed first for me, its still central but plays a minor role now. So, some turkey and gravy, my wife’s stuffing or ‘dressing’ as some of the family calls it, mashed potatoes and probably some form of sweet potato, definitely pumpkin pie with whipped cream, mom’s amish noodle recipe, hella rolls slathered in butter, corn casserole, and something cheesy somewhere in there. Skip the green bean casserole!”
  • and a novella by Seth Fein, Publisher: Turkey, dry brined, roasted in the oven in pieces and if you let the breast go above 155 you have ruined your goddamned meal, end of story. Dark brown gravy made from drippings and the neck and carcass of said turkey, I’m into a bernaise-esque gravy with heavy tarragon, roasted garlic mashed potatoes; ginger and honey pan fried carrot, cardamom and shallot sautéed green beans (hard pass on the Lutheran Binder — aka mushroom soup — but big YES on the crispy onion straws added as it’s served). Sweet potato spears, ideally smoked and roasted on the grill and then covered in so many marshmallows and baked that you literally cannot fucking see any orange until you shovel them out like an insane person. Stove Top Stuffing, Beefhouse Rolls, cranberry sauce with heavy lemon / zest + cinnamon, not the jelly, because the jelly is seriously a violation and the sauce is truly a wonderful complement to what else is on the plate; Glen Livet while cooking, Châteauneuf-du-Pape with the meal; pumpkin pie with whipped cream all day. Ideally this is served at about 2 p.m., after some light apps like crudités with spreads and dips and charcuterie of various kinds. At about 8 p.m., when the cigarette butts have been removed from the mashed potatoes, you can build sandwiches on the leftover Beefhouse rolls, and go to bed feeling both sad and happy, angry and joyous, alive and dead.

So, what is your ideal plate?

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