On Your Table: Thanksgiving is not just about the turkey

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You have to go beyond giving them the bird for a great meal

By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent, The Times

Thanksgiving is as much about the side dishes as the star of the dish.

Thanksgiving is as much about the side dishes as the star of the dish.

Everybody frets about cooking the family turkey for Thanksgiving. Butterball even has a hotline (800-288-8372) so that folks can call and ask questions from experts who are on call throughout the holiday. Mind you, turkey is ok. It’s not my favorite meal but lots of people enjoy it.

When I do make it I insert the stuffing inside, which I like because it’s traditional and this preparation absorbs all the pan juices and the stuffing becomes soft, succulent and flavorful. On the other hand, a roast rack of beef of lamb is by far my favorite holiday dish, being intensely flavorful.

In my mind, side dishes make the Thanksgiving meal. Not mashed or sweet potatoes though. Or green bean casserole, although many family members count on these dishes being served on a special holiday.

All summer, when I pick up my share of produce at H.G. Haskell’s CSA near Chadd’s Ford I gather white or bi-color ears of corn, blanch them then strip the ears and freeze the kernels for use at a later date. Now is the time to resurrect those kernels for serving as an Indian Corn Pudding, which feeds a crowd yet offers a light, refreshing alternative to potato dishes.

Although there are many recipes for making Indian Corn Pudding, my favorite preparation is to separate the eggs, reserving the whites from the yolks. The yolks can be incorporated in the batter with the corn kernels, and the whites can be beaten with a clean beater or whisk until stiff peaks form. Then it’s a simple matter of gently folding the beaten whites into the batter and tossing the mixed ingredients into a 9×13 inch dish. The whole thing rises like a soufflé and is quite light. The corn lends a hint of sweetness yet it makes for a savory side dish. The soufflé impersonation will fall as the dish cools, but even when it settles the taste will be outstanding.

While I obtain my own corn from the CSA, it’s quite all right to purchase frozen shoe-peg corn from the grocery and follow many of the same procedures as listed below.

The important thing about a holiday like Thanksgiving is not to stress. Many things like salads and side dishes can be prepared a day ahead and left to rest in the refrigerator until the time comes to enlist help and get ready to serve. And for that matter what’s wrong with purchasing a rotisserie chicken to serve with a simple green salad. It’s poultry after all.

Indian Corn Pudding


4 cups corn kernels, thawed if frozen. Process 3 cups in the food processor, reserving the rest

1 ½ cups milk

1 cup diced sweet onion

1 small can green chilies, diced

½ tsp salt divided into 2 portions

2 cloves garlic diced

4 eggs separated

¾ cup grated cheddar cheese

½ cup sour cream

½ cup flour or corn flour (masa harina)

1 tbs sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 dish with non-stick spray. In the food processor, puree 3 cups of the corn with the milk till smooth. Set aside. In a medium skillet, fry the onion with 1/2 the salt. Add the garlic and sauté till softened. Remove from heat. Combine the onion mix, the chilis, the pureed corn mix, salt, egg yolks, sour cream, flour and sugar. In a separate, clean bowl, beat the egg whites till soft peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the corn mixture, adding the reserved corn kernels at the end. Bake until the center is just set, about 40 minutes. Serve warm.

Cathy Branciaroli writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her award-winning blog Delaware Girl Eats

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