Some cooks like to change up the Thanksgiving meal. But on a holiday dedicated to tradition, innovation can spark revolt.
“Know your audience,” says Jack Bishop, editorial director of America’s Test Kitchen. “The turkey is the turkey, and there’s not really a lot you can do there.”
Here’s a brief guide to knowing how far you can push things.
Mashed potatoes: Go classic, period. If you must play, go no further than casserole.
Stuffing: Go classic on the foundation, innovate on the add-ins.
“If you want to experiment, stuffing gives you the most leeway,” Bishop says. “You can add apples, fennel, sausage, bacon, nuts and dried fruit.”
Sweet potatoes: Go classic on the concept, modern in the execution.
Bishop suggests a sweet potato purée topped with a streusel of brown sugar, butter and spices.
If your guests can handle it, he says go nuts and take the dish Indian with cashews and chilies. Maybe even some coconut and cilantro.
Vegetables: Do a classic green bean casserole, or go completely off the rails.
“I can’t stand green bean casserole,” Bishop says. “There, I just said it.”
Instead, he suggests roasting green beans with red onions and walnuts or tossing them with a maple-mustard glaze.
Pie: Stick with the classic assortment, but jazz up the ingredients. Apple pie can make friends with cranberries, Bishop says, with crisp apples atop a base of cranberry jam. “It’s kicking-it-up-a-notch apple pie,” he said.