Some of Texas’ Most Popular Thanksgiving Dishes
By: Ben Carpenter, Contributor
Thanksgiving is a time when family and friends gather to do what America does best: eat! The holiday is filled with historical traditions and recipes that date back to the pilgrims. But seeing as how America, especially Texas, is such a diverse group of individuals and cultures, the holiday is celebrated differently from family to family. From the run-of-the-mill turkey and green bean casserole to the flavorful meals that represent the diversity in Texas, Thanksgiving shows American culture.
Food is a rich expression of who we are and what background we come from, and Thanksgiving tells just that. With that being said, it is impossible to tackle every single dish served on Turkey Day throughout the country, so I have decided to write about the most popular dishes that can be found here in Texas.
I couldn’t write a Thanksgiving article without mentioning turkey. I mean let’s be honest, the holiday even has a nickname after this bird.
Though turkey is served on almost every family’s table, it is amazing to find how many ways people prepare and serve this delicious dish. You can roast it, smoke it, fry it, bake it, stuff it, grill it, and even bury it. In the past my family has roasted the turkey, but recently we have been smoking the meat on my father’s porcelain grill.
Hint: For a more flavorful turkey, brine it using apple cider, salt, sugar, oranges, bay leaves, and water. Delicious!
My mouth is literally watering as I am writing about this dish. Possibly the most unhealthy food served at Thanksgiving (which explains its popularity), yams are one of the traditional Thanksgiving foods that most people cannot go without. I can’t think of a better way to prepare yams than to bake them with crisp, golden-brown marshmallows on top – of course, that’s just my opinion. Some people choose to use canned yams, while others use sweet potatoes. My college professor soaks his sweet potatoes in bourbon overnight and glazes the yams with caramelized apples. But for me, I’ll stick with the marshmallows.
Green Bean Casserole
A Thanksgiving meal would not be complete without green bean casserole. Don’t you love it when you wind up with a dozen green bean casseroles? This dish is famous for its fried onion crisps and cream-based sauce. I was never much of a greens fan when I was younger, but the flavor of the green bean casserole tricked me into eating them. Parents, if you want your kids to eat more greens, you might want to start off with this dish.
Dressing is one of those dishes that is present at every family’s house, but never tastes the same. I have heard of many different dressing recipes, including Cajun sausage dressing, oyster dressing, jalapeño cheese dressing, and even wild rice and goat cheese dressing. The last one is a little less common I think, but may be worth a try. Just go easy on the goat cheese.
Mac n’ Cheese
Okay, enough of the boring items. This meal was my personal favorite when I was a kid, and still is today. Though it may not be the most popular dish served, it certainly is a delicious American favorite. Some people will go with ready-made macaroni, while others prefer the homemade. I prefer the latter. If you want to impress your family, try going homemade this year. Trust me, they’ll love it.
This is one of those dishes that I always forget about until I see it on Thanksgiving. This gravy is a delicious combination of turkey pieces and southern style gravy that makes your taste buds light up. Some people make the gravy spicy, but my family prefers ours more flavorful than spicy. When you dip that freshly buttered roll into this gravy, there is nothing else quite like it.
Pumpkin Pie/Apple Pie/Pecan Pie
Putting all three of these desserts into one category is a no-brainer; I mean, I do the same thing on Thanksgiving with my plate. Thanksgiving would not be the same without these fresh out of the oven pies. With flavors you cannot resist, these desserts are some of my favorite items on the Turkey Day menu. The pumpkin pie is best with a dollop of whipped cream; the apple pie is delicious when served à la mode; and the pecan pie is sufficient on its own. Serving these pies with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate is a great way to end your Thanksgiving dinner.
There are many more recipes and meals that were not mentioned here, but please feel free to share your recipes with the rest of us. Texans are good about many things, but one thing is for sure, we know how to make a Thanksgiving meal.