A Squared: Thanksgiving 2012 Menu: All About Sides - Part 1

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 Menu: All About Sides - Part 1

My apologies if you have been looking for my post about "starch sides" recently.  I'm not sure what happened, but if you viewed the blog via Internet Explorer lately that post was messing everything up!  So, let's try this one more time...

Now I love a Thanksgiving turkey, but there is nothing I love more at a holiday dinner than some carbs.  Seriously.  You could take my turkey away all together, but I could eat leftover stuffing for days on end afterward.  And I usually do.

In years past I have always prepared a cranberry walnut stuffing that's a big hit at the Thanksgiving table.  In typical fashion though, I got a little bored with my standard recipe and decided to change things up this year.  We served an apple-cider glazed turkey (more to come on that tomorrow), so I decided it might be nice to play off those flavors and add apples and pecans to the stuffing.  And then I decided to add bacon.  Because bacon just makes everything better.  This would be a great side dish for any holiday dinner and I imagine that the flavors would work really well along with a roasted chicken or pork loin too.

Apple, Bacon & Pecan Stuffing


  • 8 oz. center-cut bacon
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 celery ribs with leaves, diced
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, diced
  • 10 cups sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and dried in the oven overnight or at low heat for several hours
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large skillet cook bacon until crispy.  Drain cooked bacon on a paper towel until cool and dice into smaller pieces.  Add butter to the pan and combine with leftover bacon grease.  Add onions and celery to the pan, stirring often. Cook until the onion is golden and add apples to the pan.  Stir to coat the apples and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Scrape the entire mixture into a large bowl and add cubed bread, parsley, and pecans.  Stir in enough stock to moisten the stuffing (about 2 1/2 cups).  Season with poultry seasoning, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Place in a greased baking dish, drizzle with additional chicken stock, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 15-25 minutes or until the stuffing begins to brown.  Note: Test the stuffing for dryness halfway through baking and add more stock if needed.

When it comes to mashed potatoes I am most definitely a purist.  I've tried fun add-ins and seasonings, but I find that simpler is usually better.  This is a great Martha Stewart-inspired mashed potato recipe that is simple enough that you can serve it with dinner year round.

And a tip for you: To save time and space in my little kitchen, Emma peeled these potatoes Thanksgiving morning and we stored them in a pot of water in the fridge.  Once we were ready to make them we drained the existing water, refilled it, and then continued boiling.  You can do this up to one day in advance too.

Traditional Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup 2% milk, warmed
In a large pot, cover potatoes with 2 inches of salted water.  Bring water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender-- about 12 minutes.  Drain thoroughly and return to pot.  Mash with a potato masher until potatoes reach desired texture.  I like to leave a few small chunks to give it a fuller texture.

Over low heat, add butter and stir until melted.  Continue to cook and stir constantly until potatoes are stiff, about 1 minute.  Gradually stir in the milk.  You may also want to add a little more if needed to get to desired consistency.  Season potatoes with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Original recipe courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

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