When it Comes to Thanksgiving Sides, Tradition is Overrated

This is a good year to throw tradition out the window. You might be gathering in different family configurations, moving dinner outside, or celebrating remotely — so why not bring that creativity to the plate and wine glass as well?

Keep the turkey but consider our suggestions for jazzing up your Thanksgiving sides. And of course we’ve got wine pairing ideas, too.

Stuffing

Poblano Corn Pudding
The spirit of stuffing is more textural than a matter of ingredients — it should be moist and rich in the center, a little crispy on the top, and adept at gravy absorption. Our favorite riff uses cornmeal, whole corn kernels, chopped poblanos, and plenty of cream. It’s a smorgasbord of sweet and spicy, and perfect alongside savoury turkey.
Pairing: Choose something with some residual sweetness such as Vidal Blanc to bring out the natural sugars in the cornmeal.

Sage and Squash Stuffing
If you’ve never been one for traditional Thanksgiving sweet potatoes — especially the iteration topped with marshmallows — then this is a great option for getting some color and some sweetness into your meal. Pre-roast cubes of squash and then toss them with cubes of bread (try to cut everything into a similar size), eggs, broth, brown butter, and handfuls of sage.
Pairing: Chardonnay will bring out the buttery richness of the stuffing and the toasted notes in the squash.

Triple-Cheese Strata
This stuffing’s superpower is cheese. Lots of cheese. Oh, and lots of eggs. A strata is somewhere between a stuffing and a quiche filling: You get more of those tender custard pockets to contrast with the toothsome bread. Use some funky Alpine cheese — Gruyere or Comté — along with cheddar and parmesan to amp up the flavor. And we certainly wouldn’t object to some caramelized onions.
Pairing: Look to fondue for inspo and open a bottle of Grüner Veltliner. This varietal, which thrives in PA but originated in Austria, has bright citrus notes and a crisp finish.

Green Vegetable

Honey-Tehina Brussels Sprouts
Ditch the gloppy green bean casserole (which, we’ll admit, can be quite delicious) for something a bit more exciting. Hard roast halved Brussels sprouts until they are brown and crispy, then toss them with a simple dressing: tehina, honey, lemon zest, salt, pepper. Bitterness from the sesame paste is just what your table needs.
Pairing: Play off the sweetness and the citrus zest with a glass of Traminette, known for its honey notes.

Spicy Schezwan Green Beans with Ground Pork
The pork here is just seasoning — cook it in a pan until it is browned and crispy. The rest of the flavors (szechuan peppercorn, fermented chili, ginger) will provide even more punch.
Pairing: You’ll need some residual sweetness to counteract the heat. Look for a Chambourcin on the fruity side. You might even want to chill it in the fridge.

Crudite with Bagna Càuda
You’ve got enough to cook! Provide that vegetal freshness with a pile of raw veggies (broccoli, zucchini, carrot, radish, etc) alongside an umami-rich dip made from garlic and anchovies.
Pairing: A wine with a bit of salinity will be able to stand up to the challenge of the salty little fish. Albariño, an austere, intriguing white originally from Spain, is an exciting option.

Potatoes

Smashed Fingerlings with Fish-Roe Mayo
Mashed potatoes are divine, but they are also something that could grace your table any day of the week. No so with this textural marvel of a dish — boil and then smush fingerling potatoes before browning them up in a pan or the oven. All those craggy parts mean extra crispiness! Create a dipping sauce with mayonnaise, soy sauce, and briney Tobiko fish eggs (the kind you often find on an inside-out sushi roll).
Pairing: Serve up a Pinot Noir — its balance of earthiness and fruitiness will bring out the subtle flavor of the potatoes.

Chipotle-Cream Gratin
OK, so you still want something a bit creamy. How about a gorgeous gratin, silky in the middle and bruléed on the top? To pump up this classic, infuse your milk mixture with spicy, smoky chipotles in adobo.
Pairing: Play up the smokiness with a bold red wine — leather and pepper notes please — such as Petit Verdot.

Potato Latkes with Lemon-Herb Sour Cream
Wrong holiday? No way. Thanksgiving could use something crispy to add texture to the plate. Shred your taters along with some onions and then fry spoonfuls of the mixture in hot oil. Serve them with an amped up sour cream packed with herbs and lemon zest.
Pairing: Fried foods demand a crisp, acidic white. Open a bottle of dry Riesling and allow its perkiness to elevate the dish.