The Best Side Dishes for a Fried Turkey
Turkey is Thanksgiving’s stellar attraction but the side dishes you serve could make you the compleat cook. Here are food that best complement the turkey. Many Americans stick to the traditional dishes of Thanksgiving, with a few variations borne out of changing tastes and times. The fried turkey has become widely popular, surpassing that of its customary roasted counterpart, because most people find it tastier and cooking time is significantly cut short. But if turkey is the occasion’s main event, its side dishes play just as vital roles in making Thanksgiving dinner an opportune time for bonding and catching up with extended family members and their lives. The southern, northern and Midwestern sides of the United States may have their own peculiar choices but some fried turkey side dishes are universal favorites. Cooked, baked or roasted with preferred flavors, spices and accompaniments, the central ingredient remains the same. Here are the top five side dishes for a fried turkey:
- Mashed potatoes – Mashed potatoes is to turkey as Robin is to Batman – the ever-present sidekick. It may be prepared in its basic form or served in many variants. The possibilities are endless; you can flavor them with sour cream, garlic, your choice of cheese, pancetta, olive oil and sprinkle them with herbs like chives or parsley. You can serve mashed potatoes in a dish or bake them as a casserole. Whichever way you cook mashed potatoes, they seldom leave leftovers.
- Stuffing or Dressing – Stuffing/dressing compete with mashed potatoes as the best adjunct for the fried turkey. There are many recipes for stuffing. The base is a carb – wild rice, sourdough, wheat or rye bread, potatoes and a southern favorite – cornbread. Other elements in stuffing are your choice of meat. Sausage is a popular pick, then there’s bacon or seafood like oysters, crabs or shrimps. Fruits, vegetables and nuts complete this dish. Apples and cranberries, onions, celery, raisins, currants and nuts like pecan and walnut add crunch, sweetness and tang. Enhance with herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme and season with salt, pepper and garlic.
- Cranberry Sauce – A must-have for turkey, cranberry sauce is usually associated only with Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner but there’s no law against having it on other days. Cranberry sauce can be done at home since it is very simple or you can have the store-bought type. Variations of this delightful dish include adding fruits, nuts, raisins, spices and liqueur.
- Green Bean Casserole – The classic green bean casserole is another well-loved side dish for fried turkey. Made up of green beans, cream of mushroom and French fried onions, it makes its presence felt at every American celebration. The green bean casserole or hotdish, as the Midwesterns call it, is both creamy and crunchy as can be assumed from its components. It is a simple enough dish to make at home.
- Squash Dishes – Winter squash dishes and its sub-varieties butternut squash and acorn squash appease the guilt-ridden merrymaking people for their low-calorie, high fiber content that is rich in vitamins and essential minerals. They are cooked and baked as casseroles, cakes, cubed and roasted with olive oil and seasoning, or cooked over the stove.
There are many more great side dishes for the fried turkey with each region having their distinctive preferences and flavors. Recipes are available free online and it’s a test of one’s imagination and creativity to select a menu that will have everyone asking for second helpings.