“Nileguide is a travel website,” you might be saying to yourself, “so where’s the connection between travel and Thanksgiving?” And you’d be right to question why we’re posting a list of some of our families’ weirdest Thanksgiving recipes. But we’d also be right to stretch the travel angle as far as humanly possible in order to jump on this red-hot trending topic. Can you blame us?
Ever heard of the Mayflower? Yeah, that was like the first cruise ship (granted, without the shuffle board, bingo nights, and Pop Tarts, but with a whole lot more nausea) and we know cruise ships. Turkeys? Why, they’re Nature’s (flightless and morbidly obese) airplanes! Pilgrims? The world’s first free-wheelin’ jet-setters.
Travel angle: justified.
Now that your doubts about our legitimacy have been cast away, let us take you on a culinary journey through some of our HQ employees’ family histories. We asked our motley crew of travel adventurers to share their unique, weird, or downright scandalous Thanksgiving recipes. Because there’s something about this day that makes you want to eat something you won’t want to eat again for a year.
Zain Iqbal — Cartographer, Falconer
Here’s my recipe. It’s not necessarily weird, BUT IT IS FRAKING DELICIOUS!
In short: Since my mom is of corn-fed Midwestern stock and my dad is of Pakistani descent, we tended to lean toward Mom’s upbringing when it came to Turkey Day. Not to say that dear old Dad wouldn’t have cooked a fantastic dinner, but chicken curry, koftas, raita, and garlic na’an do not a Thanksgiving meal make. Plus, he liked tripping out on tryptophan and passing out in front of the Cowboys game just like the rest of us. However, they did live in California for a while and while here picked up a fantastic recipe for oyster dressing.
This side dish is not to be trifled with. No, it’s not difficult to make, but members of my family would get full-on cage-match aggro trying to nab the last morsels on their second go-around.
One year, I had to distract my sister with an expensive bottle of pinot noir while I raced to the buffet table to grab the last bite. Of course the same angry question comes up every year: “Mom, why the hell don’t you make more? It’s delish and no one eats that tired ol’ regular dressing.” She wavers every year, blaming it on the economy, saying “oysters are expensive this year,” or claiming that stores just didn’t keep enough in stock.
Oyster stuffing: It starts the holiday gorge-fest off on the right foot.
- 2 bags bread cubes – plain
- 2 cups chopped onion – not coarse
- 2 sticks butter
- 3 cups chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tsp dried sage
- 1 1/2 tsp. thyme powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3 lightly beaten eggs
- about 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 or 4 8-oz. jars of fresh oysters. They must be fresh!
- Melt butter and add onion; cook over med. heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add celery and parsley and cook another 5 minutes until all are softened.
- Put bread cubes in a large deep pot or bowl (so you can mix all ingredients well; I use my soup pot).
- Add dry seasonings to cubes.
- Then pour onion mix, eggs, and chicken broth over mixture (I add 1 cup broth at a time but it usually takes 4 cups). Toss lightly until well mixed.
- Taste the dressing for seasoning adjustment if necessary. Seasoning should be subtle.
- After all is mixed, divide the dressing into 2 well buttered baking dishes. (Oysters will go into one)
- Drain oysters, reserving some of the liquid and chop coarsely. Combine w/1 batch of dressing. Pour about 1/4 cup reserved liquid over this dressing for added flavor.
- Bake covered w/foil for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees and then uncover and bake another 20 minutes or so, til lightly browned and bubbly on the edges.
- There is alot of liquid in this recipe but I don’t like dressing to be dry plus some of the liquid will evaporate during the baking. This makes it moist and it will puff up and rise because of the eggs.
Mary Polizzotti — Swami
Ok, it’s not that weird but I’ve never seen it at any other Thanksgiving table I’ve been at.
Garlic soup is the first course my family eats at every Thanksgiving. My mom claims it started “for no special reason other than it was delicious.” Perhaps she makes it to appease my grouchy Italian-American father (she’s Irish-German) or perhaps she thinks our garlic breath will be so bad it will avert the inevitable quarrelling over stories that happened 20 years ago (she’s wrong!). Whatever the reason, it is delicious…
- 3 medium onions chopped
- 15 garlic buds minced
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large can of chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 slices Italian bread cut into bite size pieces
- 1/2 pint light cream
- fresh ground pepper
- fresh ground nutmeg
- In a large 6-quart saucepan, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil for 5 or 6 min.
- Add chicken broth & bay leaf & bread
- Cook uncovered over med-low heat for 30 min. Remove from heat and puree 1/3 at a time, in blender. Return to sauce pan and place over med low heat.
- Add some pepper to taste and a few grinds of nutmeg, heat but do not boil.
Craig Given — Zeppelin Czar
My family makes scungilli (pronounced: skun-jee-lee) in red marinara sauce, served over capellini pasta (in addition to the usual meal of turkey, stuffing, etc.) for holidays.
Scungillli is large sea snail (or conch, or whelk). We cut it into thin slices about the size of a half dollar and add it to the sauce. It has a rubber-ish consistency, similar to calamari. It gives the sauce a particularly fishy taste.
It’s extremely difficult to find on the West Coast, probably because of lack of demand. This dish is Italian in origin. My family is part Italian American and they live on the East Coast, where this dish is more prominent.
I don’t really know how to prepare it, I just eat it. I could ask my Mom though.
Amy Widdowson — Mountie, Alpinist, Resident Scrapbooker
I love stuffing. It’s my favorite part of the meal. And since I am a Canadian living in the States, I get it twice a year. Booyah.
Here it is (and please remember that I tend to do things by taste, not by recipe)
- 2 or 3 loaves whole wheat bread cut into cubes. (you can use other bread, but I think the massive whole wheat presliced stuff from costco not only holds its shape, but the whole wheat adds texture and flavor. Then again, I am a hippie).
- 2 chopped onions (I like big ass sweet onions)
- 1 head celery chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans – this can change, based on how nutty you want your stuffing
- Same amount dried cranberries – see above
- Chicken stock – at least one carton, but if you’re doing Thanksgiving, you should probably get a huge ass value pack from costco
- Canola oil
- Herbs de provence or poultry spice
- Salt and pepper
- You can do this the night before: Salt and pepper and then sauté onions and celery in oil (and butter, if you’re feeling saucy) until translucent (I like to let ‘em cook the night before, then I refrigerate ‘em until I need them).
- Cut up bread into cubes to your liking (I prefer bigger chunks, like 1/2in to an inch). In a HUGE bowl, season bread crumbs with herbs, salt and pepper to taste, and add enough canola and stock to moisten (up to you how moist, but remember that no one likes dry stuffing). Add cranberries and pecans.
- Take thawed turkey, rinse inside and out. Stuff bird and cover opening with a bit of tinfoil. Put remaining stuffing in slow cooker on low (this also keeps the stuffing vegetarian, if you have any of ‘em coming for dinner).
- Cook bird according to stuffed bird instructions and make sure stuffing is fully cooked before you pull the bird. By the time the bird is finished, the stuffing in the slow cooker is ready as well.
- Go mental with happiness.
Alex Resnik — Frogman, Tobacconist
My father is a third-generation American of Russian Jewish descent, and my mother is Brazilian, so we’ve never been all too finicky about tradition. This recipe replaces cranberry sauce on our Thanksgiving table… I guess because none of us ever really liked cranberry sauce, and it goes great with turkey!
The name refers to both my father’s friend, Archibald, who came up with the recipe (from where, we’ll never know) and to the “bowl” shape that it’s prepared in.
- Prepare a black cherry-flavored Jell-O mold (in a ring shape, if at all possible), replacing about half the water with black cherry juice (see below).
- Make sure you have some black cherries (Oregon brand canned variety works well) floating around in there.
- Prepare a sauce made of 2/3 sour cream and 1/3 mayonnaise and a splash of lemon juice.
- Throw a healthy dollop of the sauce in the middle of the “ring” for presentation.
- Don’t ever call it “Jell-O.” It’s salad.
- Enjoy it while you can! (Trust me, you’ll only want to eat this once a year.)
Alexi Ueltzen — Bearded Lady
What it is: dried German sausage
How to enjoy it:
- Live in a family that thinks the pre-Thanksgiving hike is more important than the meal itself.
- Agree with your aunt that no hike is complete without some kind of dried meat.
- Drive with said aunt to Morant’s, a German butcher in Sacramento. Buy bratwurst, liverwurst, headcheese for your Grandpa (headcheese isn’t really a cheese at all, but a meat jelly. That’s right: Congealed. Meat. Jelly.) and, finally, the landjäger that you came for originally.
- Pair with cheese, apples, lindt chocolates, and fart jokes from your teenage cousins.
- Smell like a smokehouse for the rest of the day.
Rachel Greenberg — Bird Fancier, Apiary Tender
Just as I’ve always suspected, our Thanksgiving meal proves my extended family is the sweetest, most vanilla, hippy-Jewish family that ever existed… especially when it comes to food. We’re just not that wild! Since half of us are vegetarians, we always have two kinds of stuffing, one cooked inside the bird and one out. We usually have a Brussels sprouts dish and fat-free mashed potatoes (for grandpa). We don’t have anything made from Jell-O, and if we’re feeling EXTRA wild we have two kinds of cranberry sauce, one chunky and one smooth. Nothing’s particularly delicious. But it’s all healthy and no one spends that much time worrying about the food itself.
Although our feasting traditions are pretty bland, we always go on some epic hike before dinner and have multiple leaf-collecting trips to make sure the table is appropriately decorated. Occasionally we all wear bandanas (if someone decides it’s “Bandana Day”), the dogs run around like crazy, and our uncle tells us long-winded and exceptionally exaggerated climbing stories.
Victoria Gutierrez — Scullery Maid
Every year I look forward to my favorite family Thanksgiving tradition: Green Bean Casserole.
I bundle up in all my winter gear, drive to the supermarket, and buy a can of Campbell’s Cream Of Mushroom Soup (low sodium if you’re feeling saucy). I drive home, turn around the can, and do what the label tells me.