By Dana Cowin
Updated March 31, 2015

Thanksgiving is the only holiday meal that my family eats together at home. We’re really more of a restaurant tribe. Maybe that’s why the menu, with a plain turkey and perfect whipped sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, has been remarkably unaltered through the decades. I take liberties, now and then, by making a new side dish, but it doesn’t substantially change the meal. At some point in my family life, perhaps there will come a time to trade in tradition for experimentation. For Barbara Lynch, Boston chef extraordinaire, that moment came this year. Barbara decided to riff on her family’s usual recipes as a way to honor the memory of her mother and also claim the holiday as her own.

Barbara reinvented the entire Thanksgiving menu, but most people seem to want to add just one new dish or, if they’re a guest, bring something delicious yet interesting. "F&W’s Best Holiday Side Dishes" is the place for them to start. Marcia Kiesel, Grace Parisi and Melissa Rubel from our Test Kitchen have devised brilliant recipes like oniony monkey bread and salt-roasted fingerling potatoes with lemon zest and herbs. For desserts, check out the sweets from Chicago pastry chef Kate Neumann, who’s reimagined sticky toffee pudding and chocolate Bundt cake. What a fantastic week we had testing her recipes! To figure out what wines to drink with the Thanksgiving meal, senior editor Ray Isle gives 17 no-fail options—wines that can go with almost any menu.

I always like to remember that Thanksgiving is just one day out of the month. To get ideas for November’s other 29 days, we went to chef Andrew Carmellini of Manhattan’s new A Voce. The F&W Test Kitchen transformed his Italian recipes into fantastic, easy dishes, most of which can be prepared in 45 minutes or less. Who knows? Even my restaurant tribe might come together to try them.

Dana Cowin

Where I’m Coming From

Notes from my recent expeditions.

Alain Ducasse at the Essex House
As a carbs connoisseur, I can say that Ducasse has the country’s best bread basket. Other standouts: black sea bass with hearts of palm and baba au rhum.
DETAILS 155 W. 58th St.; 212-265-7300.

Eleven Madison Park
Adored the wild Scottish langoustines with a crunchy pea–and–pine nut salad.
DETAILS 11 Madison Ave.; 212-889-0905.

One of my favorite dishes of the year was a special here: porcini salad with a stuffed zucchini blossom.
DETAILS 1561 Second Ave.; 212-744-1100.

E-Mail Me
Tell me about your Thanksgiving: Do you cook the whole meal? Is it potluck? Do you ever just go to a restaurant?