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Articles / What We Talk About When We Talk About Thanksgiving

What We Talk About When We Talk About Thanksgiving

Published November 17, 2022

Bread sauce, lasagna appetizers, adobo turkey tails, and holiday contemplation

“Please, no marshmallows.” — Tom Colicchio

I don’t know how many times I’ve complained about having to do Thanksgiving articles on the Wednesday before the holiday. I started doing said articles in probably 1981; by 1984 I was tired of it and was doing stories about how to avoid turkey at Thanksgiving.

Still: I like Thanksgiving. I like turkey, for that matter. And Food with Mark Bittman wouldn’t really be a food podcast if we didn’t acknowledge Thanksgiving. It’s a weird holiday, for sure; for many reasons, including its problematic history and the fact that many of us have to have conversations with relatives that we’d rather not have.

But despite it all, we still do it. And hopefully, for many of us, it’s evolved into something warmer, happier — a tradition to look forward to. Regardless of how you feel about the holiday, you probably do it! And no one can deny that the foods that are tied to Thanksgiving are some of our favorites — and really, represent autumn in a way that not much else does. Except maybe … leaf peeping in Vermont.

When I was growing up, we took the subway to Astoria, to my grandparents’ house. And we did eat turkey. But nothing else on that table had anything to do with what most people in America talk about when they talk about Thanksgiving.

When my kids were kids, we used Thanksgiving as an excuse to travel, often abroad. Or we celebrated it the traditional way — with some groaning and moaning — usually with extended family.

Recently, though, I’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving every year, and have come to enjoy it more. To ring it in this year, we’ve gathered some of our favorite past guests to talk with us about what they cook, how they celebrate, their memories of holidays past — plus, we got some really incredible cooking tips.

We talked to so many people that we’re splitting the Thanksgiving show into two parts, one today and one next Wednesday, which we can hope you listen to as you cook. So! With us on today’s episode, we have Tom Colicchio, Stephen Satterfield, Sheldon Simeon, and Nigella Lawson (we mention on the episode that Nigella is doing a huge US book tour right now; those dates are here).

Please listen and subscribe, and please review on Apple, as it really helps. Recipes below — my Brussels Sprout Salad, and Tom’s Sausage Stuffing With Caramelized Onions.

Thank you, as always. — Mark

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Brussels Sprout Salad

What’s usually the crunchiest thing on the Thanksgiving table? Stuffing crust, maybe? A turkey wing if you’re lucky? Point is, it’s kind of soft meal; not a ton of different textures happening. That’s why raw Brussels sprouts can be a welcome change of pace. The trick is to shred them finely, “bruise” them a bit, and dress them at least an hour before serving. The longer the salad sits, the softer and milder tasting the leaves become.


Tom Colicchio’s Sausage Stuffing With Caramelized Onions

I love Thanksgiving and this is a stuffing I have been making for years. I make it at home. We make it at our restaurants. It’s like savory bread pudding. You can make it vegetarian without the sausage. You can bake it in a casserole for dressing or stuff the bird as I like to. The recipe is below with some tips & pointers in the video. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving! — Tom Colicchio