When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’m a traditionalist at heart. So when I hear modern day chefs and food personalities begin to talk about “turning up the volume on old classics” and “reinventing grandma’s recipes,” the first thought that comes to mind is that old philosophy, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
On the other hand, I’m always open to trying new dishes and getting creative in the kitchen, but Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a few classic staples like pumpkin pie, roasted turkey and cranberry sauce from the can. Football and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade too! Even if things look a little different this year, I hope we can all still find comfort in the foods we know and love.
I happen to love macaroni and cheese made with mounds of sharp cheddar; the dish needn’t feature Gouda, Asiago and Romano for me to be excited to eat it. And speaking of mounds of sharp cheddar, wait until you try the recipe I’m sharing today! I’ve made homemade cranberry sauce with fresh orange peel before, and the truth is, I like canned cranberry sauce best. There’s something about the flavor that’s nostalgic — those little indentations from the can seem to say, “Hey, it’s Thanksgiving. Good to see you this year.”
If we spend the holiday at a family member’s home, I typically make two dishes to take: a dessert and side dish. This year, I’ll make my slow cooker bacon macaroni and cheese and an old fashioned sweet potato pie. Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and fresh shavings of parmesan cheese will also be on the table. If you’ve never tried roasted Brussels sprouts this way, it’s a must!
This week as part of Georgia Southern University’s Alumni Southern Women’s Speaker Series, I’ll be doing a live cooking demonstration on Facebook of these delectable side dishes. Just be sure to like Some Kinda Good on Facebook for all the details.
In my family, Thanksgiving Day begins with pumpkin spice coffee and a light breakfast, while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade provides background noise. Preparation for the afternoon meal is well underway in the morning. The breakfast table doubles as a work space covered with cooking supplies and ingredients: a cutting board with grated cheese on top, potato peelings, 5-pound bags of flour and sugar, mixing bowls and pie fixings. The stove top is bustling with sweet potatoes boiling, while green bean or squash casserole and potatoes au gratin bake away in the oven. I’m helping Mom stir this and that, while Dad plays the guitar around the house, and my brother and husband talk hunting and football. Many of my cousins sit patiently in a deer stand waiting on that perfect shot at a big buck or pretty doe.
One of the reasons Thanksgiving is such an anticipated holiday is because we look forward to eating and sharing the food we know and love. It’s also a wonderful time of year to consider all the blessings for which we’re thankful. Thank you for reading my column. I hope your holiday is time well spent around a table filled with all your favorites. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.
Some Kinda Good Slow Cooker Bacon Mac & Cheese
This dish is perfect for Thanksgiving because it frees up oven space and travels well. Shred your own cheese, using a food processor or hand grater. There won’t be any leftovers!
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 15 min. Cook: 4 hours
MAKES: 10 servings
1 package (16 ounces) elbow macaroni
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
1 cup 2% milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1/8 teaspoon paprika
4 Slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
Fresh parsley, optional
Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain. Place in a 5-quart slow cooker; add butter. In a large bowl, mix 3 cups cheese, evaporated milk, condensed soup, 2% milk and eggs. Pour over macaroni mixture; stir to combine.
Cook, covered, on low 3-1/2 to 4 hours or until a thermometer reads at least 160 degrees.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cook, covered, on low 15-20 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with paprika. Add bacon and parsley. Yield: 10 servings.
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in-season.
Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.