The Carolinas are home to people from all over the country, even the world. So if you’re looking for new traditions to make your Thanksgiving fare reflect this beautiful area we live in, here are some Carolina classics for your table.
According to Garden & Gun magazine, cooks all over the country turn to sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving, but nowhere do they taste more like home than in the Carolinas. North Carolina grows more sweet potatoes than any other state, and locals have come up with plenty of ways to use them. “I never knew the versatility of the sweet potato until I moved here,” says Scott Crawford, of Standard Foods in Raleigh.
If you haven’t tried collards, a favorite in the Carolinas, what better time than Thanksgiving, when you need to add something green to the table, anyway? Cook them this tried and true way and you may be including collards on your Thanksgiving menu every year.
Mashed potatoes are welcomed as well as expected, but in the Carolinas, rice, preferably Carolina Gold grown in South Carolina may also make an appearance at the Thanksgiving table.
Turkey and dressing
The Food Network’s Carolina Style BBQ turkey? Yes, please. First, it’s smoked in a grill with soaked wood chips. But the real Carolina connection is the Vinegar-and-Red-Pepper-Based Barbecue Sauce that goes with it. But plan ahead – it takes 14 hours from start to finish.
If you lean toward the traditional turkey, use the last of the herbs from your garden and try a <brined and slow roasted version> http://www.southyourmouth.com/2012/10/jive-turkey-brined-herbed-slow-roasted.html.
Remember, in the Carolinas, it’s not stuffing, it’s dressing, and when it’s dressing, it’s cornbread dressing. Tweak the recipe to your preference, and you’ll reach perfection over a few years. Some people add country ham, for example, or add cream of celery soup. My mother-in-law was big on “basting “ it with broth halfway through cooking time to keep it moist.
If you just can’t when it comes to cornbread, many Carolinians believe it’s not Thanksgiving without oyster dressing, a delicious way to add a taste of the low country.
And speaking of pecans, you really should considering including a Pecan pie to your dessert offerings. It’s a must-have at many Carolina Thanksgiving tables and a favorite of just about everybody.
What Carolinians say about their Thanksgiving favorites
According to a 2014 New York Times survey, the number one standard at the North Carolina Thanksgiving table is the Pig Pickin’ Cake. Cherry Yum Yum, Chocolate Chess Pie , Pineapple Casserole and Sausage Balls round out the top five responses for Thanksgiving in North Carolina in the survey.