We go to a Thanksgiving potluck with family every year. Actually, not sure it was intended to be potluck but you can’t stop people from bringing stuff. As the newest member of my husband’s family–I just earned my 10 year pin–I’ve had trouble finding my annual dish. Appetizers, pies, mashed potatoes, green bean casseroles were claimed when I was still playing with Barbies.
And the Thanksgiving dish is important. I only see most of these people once a year. This dish defines me for the next 364 days. I need to make an entrance with my perfect 2 children, effortlessly set a dish on the table that needs no attention, play the part of the perfect guest complimenting the house, the food, the weather, and then blow people’s mind when they finally dig in to my casserole of awesomeness. All the while saying, it was nothing, oh it’s so easy I’m so embarrassed to have even brought it.
One year I made Martha Stewart’s cornbread dressing. Dry as cardboard. It was also one of four dressings. The only one that had leftovers. Ouch.
Another year I begged for a shot at the mashed potatoes. They’re so boring, I wanted to put my own twist on it so it would be truly memorable. I peeled and roasted 40 cloves of garlic and mashed them in with 3 pounds of potatoes. It was memorable alright. The potatoes were returned to their rightful owner after that.
Then I offered wine. Then I priced buying wine for 20 people. Did not bring wine again.
Finally I settled on vegetables–a perfect fit for me. Not sexy. But pretty good for you and never out of place at a table full of food.
I don’t always bring the same veggie, and that’s ok. In fact, that’s perfect. As it turns out I don’t actually like to be defined by one dish. So after 10 years, I’ve got a whole category of dishes to play with. Roasted butternut squash, swiss chard gratin, collard greens, they all go great with a big Thanksgiving dinner and let the turkey be the star. You may have forgotten during my quest, but this is about Thanksgiving. I kind of did.
So, this year is collard greens.
And here’s a menu of the basics if you’re the one hosting. Hopefully you can assign some of this to the guests and hope they don’t emotionally attach themselves to their side dish.
Thanksgiving Basics Menu: