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And the Valley Cooks: Thanksgiving

Here are a few recipes for changing up your Turkey day.

Turkeys Raised On California Farm
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Whether you’re hosting, going to mom & dad’s, family or just getting something together for a potluck at work, we all know that Thanksgiving is really all about the sides.

Don’t get me wrong — if you know what you’re doing, there’s a lot of fun to be had with turkey. But size, prep-work, time and of course, safety, can make it a little inaccessible at times. Hence, the importance of nailing the sides.

The classics are crucial, but there’s never an excuse to screw them up, and there are even fewer reasons to stunt on people and show off a little with some change-ups or just try something different.

We’re getting closed to pie-cutting time on having your menu ready, but if you’re still trying to come up with an idea, here are a few of our favorites that are either directly holiday-appropriate, or at least adjacent:

Oyster Dressing

This is a necessity for me. If I’m at my in-laws, I still insist on making it for myself, if no one else (and I usually have a few takers).

Crawfish & Cornbread Dressing

You can skip the stuffed pork-chops if you want here, and just keep the dressing recipe. Yes, dressing. Only weirdos actually stuff things inside of turkeys. The cornbread/seasoning base here could also easily be altered to include sausage of some kind, if you like. Both this recipe and oyster dressing have their roots in the Paul Prudhomme cookbook, and the big key is browning your trinity (onions/celery/bellpeppers) to the point of near-burning. It really adds so much flavor, especially with the seasoning mix.

Smoked Mac-&-Cheese with Bacon

I don’t think this title needs much expanding upon.

Smothered Green Beans

Keep that canned soup-based sludge away from me please-and-thank-you. Give yourself some time, a little seasoning and some smoked ham, and this recipe is a winner.

Molasses-Stewed Collard Greens

This one will surprise folks a little. It’s on my short-list of my best recipes, and if even if you’ve never been a big fan of greens, give this one a try.

Boudin Pie

Look, not all pies have to be sweet. And while home-made crust is best, if you need to throw something together quickly and have access to the other ingredients, just go ahead and use a store-bought crust. The filling is the star here.

Dirty Rice

A Cajun classic that people like to cheat with instead of using the liver and gizzards like you’re ‘sposed to, but it’s worth it.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!