The Thanksgiving Traditions and Recipes Our Food Editors Swear By
Plus picks for wine, appetizers, sides, and more
Follow food editors Ellen and Maya as they share what they’re eating, drinking, and cooking each week. Subscribe to The Sunset Pantry newsletter.
At some point after college, I stopped going home for Thanksgiving. My new life as a young professional meant fewer vacation days, less of a budget for expensive plane tickets, and a very profound, newly obtained sense of freedom. The new tradition: Driving up to Brooklyn from Washington, DC, where I was living in my early 20s, to my sister’s loft in Bushwick. Most of our friends were in the same boat at the time, so we banded together on Turkey Day. We experimented ambitiously with dishes, including classic turkey alongside roast leg of lamb, and presented our family’s own signature dishes proudly to the assembled crowd. We borrowed tables and chairs, crowded around, and feasted. We also drank copious amounts of wine, both good and bad, sourced equally from bodegas and darling boutique wine shops. The feast usually lasted all day and into the evening, when the dance party began.
These days, Thanksgiving is a little tamer, and the evening dance party is more likely to be led by small children bopping to the Frozen soundtrack. But, there’s still wine, friends, and more food than is truly necessary. This year, even though I’m not hosting, I’m still in charge of turkey and wine. Here are three wine picks that will take you from start to finish this year.
- An easy-drinking liter of Tuscan red: Ampeleia Unlitro, $21
- A bright, Sonoma County take on Beaujolais Nouveau: Scribe 2019 Nouveau of Pinot Noir, $32
- A sturdy sparkling from Oregon: 2015 Argyle Brut Rose, $50
—Ellen Fort, food editor
Creative Commons photo by pchow98 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
We Don’t Eat Stuffing on Thanksgiving, We Eat Chinese Sticky Rice
Don’t get me wrong: I love stuffing. Especially crisp-top sourdough stuffing, and specifically when it’s slathered with gravy. I can eat that warm, mushy side dish until I’m uncomfortably full and have absolutely no regrets. But still, it never makes it onto the menu for our family Thanksgiving. Instead, we reserve our 9- by 13-in. glass baking pan for my grandma’s signature Chinese sticky rice.
Every year, my grandma—who is a 90-year-old rolodex of Chinese recipes, from simple winter melon soup to hearty oxtail stew—spends her morning slicing Chinese sausage, soaking dried shiitake mushrooms, chopping dried shrimp, and mincing ginger for this dish. All of this (plus soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine) gets mixed into mounds of notoriously sticky glutinous rice before simmering in broth until every grain is puffy and soft. If I’m lucky enough to be in the kitchen when she’s looking for a “taste tester” (a.k.a. her favorite grandchild of the moment), my feedback is usually, “Let’s just add another five sausages in there for good measure.” If you’ve ever tried this slightly sweet Chinese sausage (lap cheong), you’ll understand. This year, I’m hoping to do more than just give tasting notes by actually learning her recipe—which of course isn’t written down and is more about eyeballing than exact measurements—so I can overstuff myself with her sticky rice for every Thanksgiving to come. I’ll have absolutely no regrets.
—Maya Wong, assistant editor
- These are the Sunset recipes our editors are actually making for Thanksgiving this year.
- Turkey skin isn’t crispy? Stuffing is too soggy? Here are 10 Thanksgiving hacks to save your holiday feast.
- 18 potato side dish recipes, because no plate is truly complete without a buttery starch.
- 14 show-stopping stuffing recipes, from buttermilk cornbread to wild mushroom with butternut squash.
- Add crunch, color, and greens to your table with these 18 Thanksgiving-approved salads.
- Even the picky eater of your family will like these crowd-pleasing appetizers, from tarts and fancy toast to dips and lots of pumpkin-flavored starters.
Thomas J. Story
More to read this week:
- How to make a perfectly Instagram-worthy cheese board, according to someone who does it for a living.
- The 12 new cookbooks to give home cooks this year, from Gabriela Cámara’s Mexico City-inspired collection to Alison Roman’s modern, approachable guide to dinner parties.
- Chill out your entire family at Thanksgiving with this cannabis-infused gravy.
- Our new favorite weeknight dinner using only six ingredients: Caramelized Satsuma Potatoes with Black Sesame
Looking for more inspiration? Head over to Sunset Recipes for our fall cooking highlights.