Five Thanksgiving Dinners for A Most Unusual Year

Posted by Jen Datka

Nov 22, 2020 7:31:16 PM

Since I can’t enjoy the big spread of food at a table crowded with my nearest and dearest this year, I’ve decided to maximize the one thing I still can do: I can plan and prepare a Thanksgiving dinner.

Five of them.

asian tgiving

I’ve waxed rhapsodic about my love for Thanksgiving on this blog before. I love the planning, the multiple days of preparation, and the smell of roasting turkey. But the real joy comes from gathering friends and family around the table to feast and celebrate.

Of course this year those plans are canceled. And honestly, the early displays of stuffing, canned pumpkin, and Christmas-themed chocolates at my local grocery store were starting to depress me.

Since I can’t enjoy the big spread of food at a table crowded with my nearest and dearest this year, I’ve decided to maximize the one thing I still can do: I can plan and prepare a Thanksgiving dinner.

So I’ve been doing that every weekend in November. 

It’s especially exciting because I’ve had some fun ideas for creative menus--taking cues from Asian or Mexican cuisines, say--that I’ve never made because my desire for the nostalgic classics always wins out. When you’re making Thanksgiving dinner five times, however, you definitely have a license to experiment a little.

My first Thanksgiving happened on November 7th and I was so impressed with how well my Asian menu evoked the flavors of the holiday. The meal consisted of:

  • a slow-smoked turkey breast brined with Chinese spices
  • roasted squash and pork dumplings
  • sauteed brussels sprouts with bacon and soy sauce
  • meaty maitake mushrooms with chiles and cilantro

Since it was “Thanksgiving,” skipping dessert would’ve been frowned upon, so I made Thai-style pumpkin coconut custards. I served them with apple Sujeonggwa, a delicious Western twist on a classic Korean tea brewed from dried fruit, ginger, and spices that I would recommend everyone add to their Thanksgiving menus immediately.

pumpkin custard

I don’t usually cook with black vinegar, Szechuan peppercorns, or soy sauce for Thanksgiving. But at this meal, the flavors of turkey, pumpkin, brussels sprouts, and caramelized mushrooms come through with enough confidence to erase any doubt that these dishes were meant to be eaten on the fourth Thursday in November.

All of this doesn’t mean that I’m not disappointed to skip my usual holiday dinner plans this year, but it is heartening to find a creative way to (with apologies to Marie Kondo) spark a little joy for myself during a troubling time.

You can check out all of my Thanksgiving menus (from classic to exotic) on a special Pinterest board I put together. I created seven themes including the five I'm making:

Asian Thanksgiving

Mexican-Inspired Thanksgiving

Millionaire's Thanksgiving

Southern Thanksgiving 

Indian-Inspired Thanksgiving

Italian-Inspired Thanksgiving

And for the traditionalists: Elevated Classic Thanksgiving

 


However you’re celebrating this year, all of us at Dialogue wish you a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving!

Go deeper:

Learn how organically optimizing Pinterest for search increased website traffic  to Honey Baked Ham.

 

Topics: Unplug : Recipes