When planning the annual Thanksgiving menu, Montclairians almost unanimously embrace the turkey as a main dish. But when it comes to deciding on sides, opinions are widely varied and just about everyone seems to have a favorite that it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without.
Aunt Martha’s cranberry relish with granny smith apples and oranges is my personal favorite. She mixes fresh cranberries, cut up oranges (including the rind), granny smith apples (skin on), sugar, and lemon juice together. It’s light and tart and sweet and cold and a great counterpoint to the many heavier, doughier side dishes.
Jessica Troupe has two favorites, both courtesy of her mom. A cranberry relish similar to Aunt Martha’s is an annual favorite, as is her Mom’s Famous Monkey Bread. The monkey bread is “a yeast dinner roll that is light and buttery. She got the recipe out of the New York Times many years ago and it has been a family favorite ever since!”
Twana Davisson looks forward to her mom’s corn bread pudding every year, saying that, “she makes it, so I don’t have the exact recipe, but it’s basically regular corn, creamed corn, butter, sour cream, and Jiffy corn muffin mix. I think the recipe might even be on the Jiffy box. It’s such a great Thanksgiving comfort food!”
“My Momma's potato rolls are the best thing you have ever put in your mouth,” swears Catherine Halbert. “They’re made with riced potatoes. They are very moist and served warm with butter. My mom made these for every special occasion and certainly for Thanksgiving! I have been making them as long as I have been an adult.”
Pam Moed’s favorite side dish is Bourbon Sweet Potato Puree with Pecans, which she makes both because it’s delicious as well as a timesaver. “You can make it ahead and heat in the oven while the turkey is being carved,” she says. “I roast sweet potatoes, peel them and process them in a Cuisinart with butter, bourbon, brown sugar and nutmeg, then spread in a baking dish and top with candied pecans.”
Jon Bonesteel said his favorite “is oyster dressing, which has the side benefit of not being in high demand from the kids. We also have fried our turkeys for the last five years or so. And while technically not a side dish, the side benefit is that we always reheat the oil the day after Thanksgiving and have our neighbors over for 'fryday' where we cook up hot dogs, onion rings, and anything else that can be deep fat fried. There is much beer and wine to help all that along.”
Pam Cytron wouldn’t have Thanksgiving without Challah Stuffing. “I use fresh Challah that I cut into large cubes and let sit for a couple of days in cool oven. I sauté celery and onions in garlic and salted butter, add fresh sage, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. When all that is mixed together, I add my Challah breadcrumbs—using chicken stock to make it moist. I stuff the bird and also make it on the side.” Pam also claims to make “the easiest yams on the planet. Slice some sweet potatoes, rub them with a pastry brush with butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes! They are so yummy and just sweet enough!”
Frances Smith Best makes roasted root vegetables. She uses beets, potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts, but says you can use “basically any root vegetables you want. Coat them with olive oil and kosher salt. Then drizzle with maple syrup and roast at 400 degrees until they look done.”
Jen Dorr can’t have Thanksgiving without “wild cherry pecan rice—it’s Lundberg’s Wild Rice cooked with onions, shallots, and chicken broth, finished with dried cherries and toasted pecans. You can also substitute slivered almonds for the pecans and cranberries for the cherries.”
And for traditionalists like Amelie Tseng, “the hands-down favorite is stuffing that just came out of the turkey bird with gravy. Follow the instructions on the bag.”
No matter what side dishes you serve, or how you make your turkey (if you have a turkey), we wish you a delicious, safe, and happy Thanksgiving!
Tell us your favorite side dishes in the comments section below!
We do this type of Montclair round-up article fairly frequently and are always looking for opinions—if you’d like to be on a list to be asked about upcoming topics, email Shelley@patch.com and write “Round Up” in the subject line. You’ll receive upcoming questions, which you can always choose to answer, or not. Thanks!