For many of us, Thanksgiving is just not the same without turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. In other words, tradition tends to trump trendy.
Yet food magazines always encourage going beyond the usual suspects. And who among us has time to try them out in advance of Thanksgiving?
Zack Patton and Clay Dunn, that’s who. They’re the married couple behind the food blog, The Bitten Word.
The two surveyed 11 food magazines and came up with word clouds to show what’s trending in Thanksgiving fare. Overall, they found some creative new recipes that shine on the plate, but overall, classic dishes are holding steady.
Among their findings: Mashed potatoes are making something of a comeback. “The last couple years,” Dunn tells All Things Considered’s Melissa Block, “sweet potatoes have been far outnumbering the number of regular white potato, mashed potato dishes.”
Kale and cauliflower, Dunn says, which in recent years had earned a spot on Thanksgiving tables (at least according to food magazines), also fell off the list this year.
But the sides weren’t the only thing going back to basics, Dunn says.
“This year we’re back to more tried-and-true roast turkeys,” says Dunn. The crazier takes on turkey from years past, like tandoori turkey or turkeys prepared on the grill, got less attention.
“The flip side to that is things like Cornish game hens, duck, ham or even barbecue ribs,” which appeared as turkey alternatives, says Patton. Food & Wine, he says, even has a Thanksgiving menu featuring sushi.
To figure this all out — and test what’s yummy — the two concocted “Fakesgiving.” It’s a full day of cooking as many dishes as possible. Friends are invited over to help judge.
One of those Fakesgiving dishes tested was sausage pear stuffing from Martha Stewart Living. The two described it on their blog as “boarding the train to blandville.” They admit that might’ve been a bit harsh.
But by far, says Patton, “the runaway hit” of Fakesgiving was a carrot mash with orange and mint from Fine Cooking. “We didn’t expect too much out of it. But everyone loved it.”
And the king of dessert this year? Patton says the brûléed pumpkin pie from Martha Stuart Living. “It’s a pumpkin seed crust, so it’s kind of a few of the trends coming together.”
So would any of these make it on their Thanksgiving table? Patton says he’d “love an excuse” to make the carrot mash again and certainly the brûléed pumpkin pie because, he says, “there’s never enough.”