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Thanksgiving 2010: Coloring Outside the Lines

It’s beginning to look a lot like Thanksgiving. Ev’rywhere we go.

Turkey. Cranberries. Sweet potatoes. Heavy cream. Already all the familiar Thanksgiving ingredients are practically toppling onto us as we wend our way through the insanely crowded grocery aisles and are tumbling onto the kitchen floor each time we open the already crammed fridge.

Ah, tradition. It’s the same each autumn. Reliably, unsurprisingly, inevitably the same.

Or is it? Even though the ingredients that make their way onto our Thanksgiving table the last Thursday of November tend to remain unchanged, their incarnation doesn’t need to be the same. Sometimes coloring a little outside the sage-tinted lines isn’t such a bad thing. Nope. Not a bad thing at all.

We’re not suggesting you go rogue, strewing things with lavender and chiles and dubbing it a Texas Thanksgiving dinner. Nor are we saying forsake the familiar. We’re merely saying consider incorporating a little less black and white in the day, allowing for shades of whimsy to color your tradition this year.

All of the usual culprits are here, each with a slight quirk, from sweet potato casserole turned inside-out to pumpkin pies that aren’t exactly made with pumpkin. A mashed potato far easier than any you’ve had before. Vegetables with a bit of Spain to them. Brussels sprouts you honestly won’t recognize. Old-fashioned cornbread, but with a hitch. And dessert sprinkled throughout the meal, with cookies to go with your cocktails, sorbet as a tart interlude, as well as that unpumpkin pie.

As for the turkey, well, we don’t like to mess with tradition too much. So we’re offering you a single foolproof approach. And because we understand that the art of turkey roasting is rather subtle, not to mention tricky to recall from one year to the next, we’ve created a cheat sheet of essential tactics, just to ensure there aren’t any unintended aberrations to custom this year. (Psst. Don’t forget to remove that plastic bag of giblets before roasting. David’s been there and done that.)

It’s a Thanksgiving-palooza, whether you choose to orchestrate it as a menu, as we have here, or divvy it up and draw upon only what you please.

One last thing. It’s perhaps best to introduce guests to this approach to Thanksgiving dinner with a celebratory cocktail in hand, both yours and theirs. It colors the Thanksgiving dinner—and the family dynamics that accompany it—with a certain casual insouciance. Again, not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.—Renee Schettler Rossi

Our Colorful Thanksgiving Dinner


Thanksgiving Cosmopolitan Cocktail

Sweet and Savory Pistachio-Orange Cocktail Cookies

Deep-Fried Inside-Out Sweet Potatoes


Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Aged Pecorino, and Prosciutto

Roasted and Braised Thanksgiving Turkey

Roasted Root Vegetables with Marcona Almonds


Fork-Mashed Potatoes
(with Add-ins)

Southern Corn Sticks with Sweet Butter

Sweet-Tart Cranberry
Sorbet

How-To Thanksgiving Turkey Videos and Info