Interested in trying something new for Thanksgiving this year, but still too much of a traditionalist to get rid of the classics? Guess what: You can still mix up the menu at dinner, even if you, your family, or your friends insist on keeping the same traditional dishes on hand. To get inspired, all you have to do is open that spice pantry, as it’s brimming with endless new flavor ideas. Here are a few ways you can make the most of your spice cabinet come November 26.
- Start the occasion off on a spicy note . . . Let your guests warm up to the idea of new flavor profiles by starting off the afternoon or evening on a spicy note. Greet guests at the door with The Barn Nail, a whiskey cocktail that’s laced with a spiced honey syrup made from cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and allspice. Need some snacks to wash down with cocktails and wine? Try a mix of nuts tossed with addictive Indian spices like ginger, cumin, cayenne, and garam masala.
- . . . But put guests at ease by starting off the meal with some classics. To some, the elements in the sit-down portion of the meal are sacred, so be sure to ease your guests into dinner with something comforting and familiar. Then you have more leeway to play around with flavor. For example, pumpkin soup will be a recognizable first course for guests, but they’ll be surprised by a topping of spicy pumpkin seeds scented with cayenne, cumin and cinnamon. (And because the heat comes from just the garnish, you can easily omit the seeds if anyone in attendance is spice-averse.)
- Don’t shy away from chiles! Jalapeño and lime add a Latin twist to traditional cranberry sauce, as does a whole, minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce. The same chipotles also add incredible smokiness and depth to a batch of mashed sweet potatoes.
- Get creative with the turkey rub. We like how barbecue sauce lends sweetness and tanginess to our Spice-Rubbed Fried Turkey, while chili powder, cumin, coriander and two types of ground pepper add plenty of zing.
- Lean on warming winter spices for dessert. Nutmeg, cinnamon, Tahitian vanilla, ginger: when it comes to the sweet portion of the meal, turn to classic fall and winter spices to lend warmth to desserts like these individually-sized Pear-Almond Pies.
Follow along as we continue to gear up for Thanksgiving! Earlier on our Thanksgiving Countdown: