Give Thanks, But Make It Extra
For the longest time, one of my go-to interview questions was, "What's the one thing that absolutely has to be at your table to make it a holiday?" Prior to 2020, it was almost guaranteed that the chef or celebrity or whomever would launch into a reverie about their aunt's legendary casserole, a soliloquy on cranberry can ridges, or a near-religious recitation of pies. Thanksgiving, though notionally tied to a "traditional" menu of turkey and sides (sing it with me: stuffing/dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, pie) is actually a deeply personalized holiday, with a meld of regional recipes, handed-down family dishes, and random whims that some guest had one year and ended up becoming canon. Families and friends and stranger cross-pollinate, and something new and delicious blooms and by God, it's beautiful.
I counted on the answer to be a dish, a drink, or possibly, a quirky piece of tableware that bore the weight of a really good story. It was as consistent as clockwork: Ask question, get juicy anecdote.
And then time stopped.
Last year's Thanksgiving felt almost like a cruel joke. Thanks for what, exactly? The thing that makes a holiday table is the people around it. In isolation, the very notion of gathering, generous portions, or celebration of the circumstances felt alien and almost profane. None of this was what we wanted or needed, and even if we could assemble without fear, it would just just shine a wan light on the absence of the cousin who took her yam recipe to her grave, or the meager portions afforded by economic struggles or supply chain strain. You could hardly blame someone for wanting to just bolt down some cereal in their sweatpants and pass out on the couch watching Netflix.
This year, we're making up for it with extra helpings of EVERYTHING. Not that we don't need to be mindful of one another's wellbeing—quite the opposite, and that stuff should be rote by now. What we owe to ourselves and one another is acknowledgment of the fact that despite it all, we're still freaking here, and that we get to huzzah and holler about it. This is not a time for restraint, and it certainly doesn't mean that said festivities need to cost a lot. A rhinestone sparkles just as brightly as a diamond, and they can be in greater abundance. A cork popping off a prosecco bottle is as whoooooooooo! a sound as a vintage Champagne, so we might as well get loud.
My colleagues and I have assembled a spread of the dishes and objects and even outfits that make us feel at most sparkling, both inside and out. These are the ways we have always celebrated the season, but with an extra layer of opulence to make up for last year's deprivation. It matters so damn much that we can commune again, because at least for me, my soul has been even hungrier than my stomach. Like millions of you, I'm one of those people who lost someone to this pandemic. My mom, Dottie, devout and abstemious to the point that she considered becoming a nun, was never really one for dazzle and fanfare, and definitely not for cooking. But it pleased her tremendously to light the candles and lay the settings for the people she loved, and even she was known to roll out the holiday tablecloth and bust out her wedding china and gravy boat for its once-a-year sail around the table. And I can with no difficulty (if still some pangs) close my eyes and picture her smiling as she sat down to lunch the next day, a plate heaped with cold leftovers. Because she knew it was important to always make extra.—Kat Kinsman
Senior Editor Kat Kinsman has known the pleasures of a gravy fountain, and invites you to meet her in her bliss. And yes, there are some handy tricks to making it work, but don't you deserve your own personal gravy Versailles? Read More.
Get the Recipe: Thanksgiving Gravy Fountain with Holiday Hors d'Oeuvres
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Get the Recipe: Chipotle-Spiced Smoked Turkey Legs
Staff Writer Bridget Hallinan suspected that most of us might be out of practice with menus and recipes fit for a fabulous crowd, or even the idea of preparing a dish that isn't just the standard stay-at-home fare of the stuff-on-toast or haphazard meals we're so burned out on making. She's got recipes galore for indulgences like Crab Pithivier with Scallop Frangipane, Creamy Swiss Chard Gratin with Crispy Gnocchi, Cornmeal Cake Trifle with Sabayon and Candied Kumquats that may just become your new holiday staples. You're totally worth it. Read More.
Social Media Editor Nikki Miller-Ka is a legendary hostess and she'll go out of her way to make you feel warmly welcomed and lavishly fed when you're her guest. But don't you dare show up with a dish full of mac 'n' cheese without her say-so. That's a sacred dish, and in her words, you must prove your worth and be "anointed" to bring it to the table. Read More.
Get the Recipe: Southern-Style Mac 'n' Cheese
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Get the Recipe: Cranberry-Orange Sparkling Wine Gelatin
Editor-in-Chief Hunter Lewis toiled in professional kitchens for a good chunk of his adult life, but found himself freezing at the notion of trying to replicate his grandmother's holy gravy. "Gravy can smell fear," he says, and after he absolutely succumbed to it one year in the company of his in-laws, he vowed to get over it. Now the man is a gravy master, and he's spilled his secrets. Read More.
Get the Recipe: Mushroom-and-Herb Gravy with Apple Brandy
Senior Editor Maria Yagoda grew up assuming that everyone celebrated the holiday with a luxe, luscious stuffing featuring canned oysters and buttery crumbled Ritz crackers like her family did. Imagine her shock when she discovered that most of us have been cruelly deprived of this particular pleasure—and what its origins are. Read More.
Get the Recipe: Oyster Casserole with Cracker Crumbs
Ecommerce Editor Megan Soll eternally awes us with her excellent taste, so who better to turn to for advice to create a over-the-top table? If it glitters, shimmers, or just plain delights, she's got you covered, from coasters and candlesticks to serving vessels, utensils, and dishware that make our knees quake with desire. Read More.
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