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It’s out with the old, in with the new for Thanksgiving 2020

A roasted turkey surrounded by side dishes on the Thanksgiving 2020 table
The Thanksgiving 2020 table: Classic flavors, new forms.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times; prop styling by Kate Parisian)

This week, we officially kick off the holiday season with our Thanksgiving recipes, in print today and online. My menu is all about disrupting the typical — a 2020 theme, if ever there was one — bringing you new ideas about how to shake up the traditional holiday fare. If you’re a traditionalist, our archives have you covered with decades of recipes available via our recipe site. (Psst, there’s no paywall!) But if you’re down to give some new kids on the block a chance at building a legacy at your Thanksgiving table, here’s what you have to choose from:

For the turkey and gravy, I keep the treatment as simple as possible, so I can focus all my flavor attention on a crunchy sourdough bread salad that, this year, takes the place of a soggy stuffing. I blister green beans and mushrooms together in a Sichuan-style stir-fry topped with sizzled onions that’s a much lighter and tastier take on the classic casserole. Mashed potatoes get topped with their fried skins — frugal and delicious — while very slow-roasted yams get two toppings: some maple and rosemary walnuts for the sweet-toothed and a German seven-herb sauce for those who like their yams with a savory tang.

Instead of cranberry sauce from a can or even a homemade relish, I instead opt for a smooth membrillo-like fruit preserve that is as much at home on the Thanksgiving plate as it is on your breakfast toast. And my yeast rolls get a strong hit of fresh bay leaves, their unmistakable scent perfuming butter that bathes the rolls throughout their proofing and baking.

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For dessert, I call for you to take a break from making pie crust this year. Instead, take one of these new desserts for a spin: a crisp-edged apple cake, glazed in butterscotch, that tastes like a giant apple fritter; a pecan pie that’s made creamy and nutty with sweetened condensed milk and malted milk powder; or my Pumpkin Nemesis, which eschews crust in favor of a smooth, rich pumpkin custard.

No matter what you make, I hope these dishes will inspire you to try something different for Thanksgiving, in a year that’s all about adapting to the new and not-yet-normal.

Butter-Crisped Turkey With Roasted Bread Salad

Time 1 hour 15 minutes, plus 1 day and 6 hours, largely unattended
Yields Serves 8

Roasted in the turkey’s rendered pan drippings, sourdough bread is crispy and flavorful in a crunchy salad.

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Dry-Fried Green Beans and Mushrooms With Sizzled Onions

Time 35 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

A blistering singe infuses green beans and mushrooms with tons of flavor in this holiday stir-fry.

Cranberry and Clementine Membrillo

Time 50 minutes
Yields Makes 2 cups

Instead of quince, cranberries and clementine juice combine to make a smooth, sweet jam-like paste.

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Once-Baked Mashed Potatoes With Fried Sage Skins

Time 1 hour, 50 minutes
Yields Serves 8

Save those skins and fry them with sage leaves to add crunch to these rich mashed potatoes.

Pumpkin Nemesis

Time 1 hour 20 minutes, plus 1 1/2 hours unattended
Yields Serves 8 to 12

All creamy pumpkin custard and no mediocre crust — it’s the superior pumpkin dessert you want for Thanksgiving.

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Ask the cooks

Have a Thanksgiving-related question for me?

Email me at ben.mims@latimes.com anytime during the run-up to the big day — even the morning of — and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible with answers so you’re set and ready to cook for the holiday.

L.A. Times Dinner Series

The dinner series returns Nov. 22 with a takeout dinner from chef Jeremy Fox (Rustic Canyon, Birdie G’s). The multicourse menu will include cucumber half-sours with kimchi miso; beet, apple and pecan “charoset”; noodle kugel with pumpkin butter and sage; flatiron steak; and chocolate malted cake. The event also features stars of “Fargo’s” fourth season. Showrunner Noah Hawley and actors Jason Schwartzman, Timothy Olyphant and Glynn Turman will participate in a conversation while diners enjoy their meals. Tickets are $95 per person, and dinners will be available for pickup on the day of the event. Get more info here, and get tickets here.


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