Thursday, December 3, 2020
Dec. 3, 2020

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Thanksgiving’s essential food ranked

Celebrate holiday’s glorious gluttony

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Will you pile your plate with mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving?
Will you pile your plate with mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving? (TNS) Photo Gallery

It seems every year, we read the same thing on Twitter from contrarians out to guilt-trip us from swooning over our beloved annual Thanksgiving food comas.

A loud minority insists that Thanksgiving food is bad, and that if it wasn’t, we’d eat it more than once a year. Like our pal Hunter Johnson, for instance …

PGA golfer Justin Thomas and recent “College GameDay” guest picker Justin Thomas echoed Johnson’s sentiments when sharing his “most controversial food opinion,” adding fuel to this unfortunate fire of anti-Thanksgiving dinner glory.

Our response: Their loss.

Thanksgiving food is glorious, and after we pass out for a few hours after our second (OK, third) plates of delicious turkey, dressing and other gravy-soaked splendor, we’ll tell you all about it.

In the meantime, enjoy this hilarious clip from a few years ago of Alabama native Charles Barkley and fellow NBA legend Kevin Garnett narrowing down their favorite foods in a Thanksgiving bracket (https://fb.watch/1PZ7CWnnhv/) before we offer our own rankings.

While you’re arguing politics with your uncles, share your Thanksgiving food rankings with each other and us in our comments section. Or just eat, sleep and talk later. Everybody likes something different, so we understand if this list doesn’t sit too well with you. Read our rankings below, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

13. Rolls

We will not stand for a Thanksgiving without bread. Dinner rolls are an essential cog in the holiday machine that works to make you feel miserable by the end of it, and for that we’re eternally thankful. But they’re also mostly filler, or the thing with which you sop up the rest of your gravy. We didn’t say they don’t serve a purpose.

12. Cranberry Sauce/Salad

I don’t want to give the anti-Thanksgiving food crowd a leg to stand on, but cranberry sauce doesn’t help the cause. At the very least, I can admit it’s not for me and understand the importance it has for others, if not most, during the holidays. Cranberry sauce, salad and otherwise are synonymous with Thanksgiving for some.

11. Ham

The forgotten, and thus less-appreciated, Thanksgiving meat. Don’t lose sight of what this cured beauty brings to the table, even if its gobbling counterpart reigns supreme on that Thursday late November. I don’t typically go for sweeter glazes, but who am I to tell you how to prep your ham?

10. Pumpkin Pie

A major go-to dessert item during the holidays, pumpkin pie certainly wasn’t big in our house growing up. But I respect its place in the traditional lineup this time of year.

9. Sweet Potato Casserole / Yams

Honestly, what is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams? Brown some marshmallows across the top of ’em, and ask questions later.

8. Green Bean Casserole

Normally we’d scoff at anything green on our mound of mostly beige food, but bury it in cream of mushroom soup, French fried onions, bacon and cheddar cheese, and we’ll hear it out.

7. Mashed Potatoes

My friend and colleague Matt is a fool, but he already knows this. OK, we broke our “to each their own rule,” but we take it personally when anyone (even friends and family) comes after our dear mashed potatoes. May our plates resemble Richard Dreyfuss’ in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

6. Cornbread

No offense to the dinner rolls, but homemade cornbread makes a meal that much more special, especially Thanksgiving. Do you like yours sweet at all?

5. Mac and Cheese

While not an exclusive addition for the occasion, good mac and cheese enhances every item on your plate. If cooking from a box, we actually prefer shells to macaroni, but scratch recipes are certainly special. We dig this one:

4. Pecan Pie

Does anyone down here say “pe-CAN?” Regardless, this pie just feels autumnal. Do you put a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream on yours, too?

3. Gravy

Don’t be bashful. Smother everything with it. That’s what it’s for.

2. Turkey

The king. Any meat that causes this much drowsiness (thank you, tryptophan) belongs in the food hall of fame. The centerpiece for any Thanksgiving feast, a roasted turkey delivers a bounty of white and dark meat that can feed a large party, then supply Ziploc bags full of sandwich meat for days thereafter. Who gets a leg?

1. Dressing/”Stuffing”

Forgive the quotation marks around “stuffing,” but down here, we call it dressing. Whatever you want to call it, this side can complete your entire Thanksgiving experience and keep you looking forward to late November almost year-round.

You’ll find countless variations, but our go-to is dried cornbread, traditionally with a healthy amount of stock and chicken that make a savory, warm and comforting dish that’s even better as a leftover.

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