I used to cook the full meal, with a dozen or so classic dishes. It was full throttle and though I never fully screwed anything up, nothing was spectacular. Now, I specialize. I do four dishes and I nail them: potatoes au gratin, sage-sausage stuffing, homemade ice cream with sweet potato pie, and molasses corn bread. I’ll probably make a gravy too, because it’s important to me and who knows what the person assigned gravy will do.
In fact, all sides are pretty important to me. Turkey, I could take or leave, but a good cranberry sauce? That feels crucial. Which made me want to ask our writers how they felt about different Thanksgiving side dishes. Not surprisingly, they had strong opinions.
Vince Mancini: Screw turkey…AND mashed potatoes
My first food rant would be against turkey, which, even under ideal circumstances, carries with it a pound of dry, worthless breast meat (I wouldn’t even know where to begin this argument with anyone who liked white meat better than dark, sad bastards who’ve probably never orgasmed). I know, I know, brine it, fry it, drown it in gravy — I’ve heard all the arguments. Bottom line, turkey breast is always going to be something you have to prepare twice in order for it to be any good. A prime rib or any standing rib roast is just so much better. “But turkey is great!” Yeah, but would you choose it over prime rib? “Well no, but…”
Exactly. Turkey is great, as long as you don’t factor in opportunity costs. Anyway, I’m pretty sure 10 people have already written that rant, so I’m going to serve you up another magma hot holiday hot take instead: F*ck mashed potatoes. No, I know, much like turkey, mashed potatoes are sacrosanct on account of you eat them every year and they taste great as a vessel for butter and gravy. Look, you’re not wrong. But would you honestly rather have mashed potatoes than scalloped or au gratin? Mashed potatoes are baby food. Four bites and you’re tired of them. Cut ’em up. Add some sauce. Add some cheese. Throw them in the broiler and give them a nice crust. Give those things some texture and flavor, prove you don’t hate yourself. This isn’t Edwardian Ireland, you can do better than textureless potatoes boiled in water.