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Simply Thankful

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Simply Thankful
Photos by Andrew Cebulka
From the Turkey to the Trimmings, we have your Southern Thanksgiving Table all Set

“It’s just  nice to be together” is the common refrain we all hear, and perhaps utter, when discussing the holiday meals we plan to share with friends and family. Though possibly true and theoretically a lovely sentiment, we aren’t that magnanimous. Sorry folks, but we only believe that it’s “just nice to be together” when the food we’re eating hits a ten on the edible Richter scale.

Even if you don’t feel as strongly as we do about the fare being fabulous, most who plan to host friends and family for a big meal during the holidays seek to impress guests with beautifully presented, memorably delicious dishes. For this occasion especially, we want to do more than eat. We want our offerings to evoke memories of past Thanksgivings as well as bring new traditions to the table. We need to conjure, from our collective kitchens, dishes that are creative yet still recognizable and comforting. We need a menu of items that complement each other and that elicit compliments from even those of our group with the strangest of dietary predilections. And we need the mashed potatoes to be perfect—neither gluey, nor lumpy—because what is Thanksgiving without a creamy, buttery, starchy mound of goodness? To successfully pull off this whole emotionally charged cooking enterprise is a tall order indeed.

But we’re going to make sure you can do it.

Thanksgiving plate full of sides + turkey
Thanksgiving plate full of sides and turkey

And this is no “chefs only need apply” situation. We realize that on these pages, we spend a lot of time talking to and about the crème de la crème of Southern culinary talents—those chefs, cookbook authors, and others in the industry whose awards and accreditations are longer than our holiday grocery lists. Initially, we did turn to them and asked about their dearest recipes. As always, we loved hearing what they do for their Thanksgivings, all the myriad ways they impress their families and friends. Our ears pricked up and our minds churned with optimism when a few shared that they like “to keep it simple.” We thought, “Simple? We’re good at simple. Our readers love simple.” And visions of a James Beard Award-winner’s spread gracing tables and impressing the pants off of our nearest and dearest warmed our hearts. Then we delved into the recipes and our optimism disappeared with the Champagne we had popped in our fit of glee. Turns out “simple” to many of these talents means something a little different than it does to us humble lay cooks.

So this year, we decided to bring you our Southern Thanksgiving Table. In true TLP style, we’re presenting a menu rife with Southern ingredients, one that is inspired by those celebrated industry leaders but that does not require a house call from one of them to complete. Our menu can be made in parts or its entirety. It is accessible, colorful, customizable, and oh-so-good (we’re talking potato perfection, people).

We know you love your friends and family and maybe it is just nice for you all to be together. We think that’s terrific, we really do. As for us, we’re only coming for those superb potatoes.

The Local Palate
Thanksgiving Menu

The Bird

Herb-Roasted Turkey

Sides

Rosemary Mashed Potatoes
Cornbread Dressing with Andouille Sausage
Wild Rice with Cranberries and Pecans
Green Beans and Beets with Citrus
Broccoli with Benne Seeds
Roasted Butternut Squash with Pecan-Sorghum Streusel