The Evolution of the Thanksgiving Menu (Plus Recipes!)

The Evolution of the Thanksgiving Menu (Plus Recipes!)

turkeyAmerica has a “Traditional Thanksgiving” menu. This usually includes a turkey, roasted, or (in more recent times), deep-fried; mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and perhaps yams or sweet potatoes. Of course we can’t forget the pumpkin or pecan pie for dessert. Sound familiar?

What many modern Americans may not realize is that the first Thanksgiving, the one we commemorate on the 4th Thursday in November each year, was vastly different. The menu has evolved over the past 150 years to the “traditional” meal we celebrate. Here’s a look at what might have been on the menu on that very first Thanksgiving, and since.

The First Thanksgiving
Wild turkeys and wild fowl (goose, duck, swan or pigeon) and venison (deer meat) would be the main course.
The goose probably took center stage and may have been stuffed with herbs, onions, and chestnuts.
The venison and duck may have been baked into pies.
There was also probably shellfish and smoked fish on the menu as well.
Corn, beans , pumpkins and squash rounded out the meal with a pottage made of the broth from cooking the birds.
No potatoes or pumpkin pies were likely served. Cranberry sauce was also absent. Those came about 50 years later.

pumpkin pieOfficial Thanksgiving
The holiday became official in 1863 at the request of Sarah Hale who campaigned for over 30 years to make it so. Hale also published cookbooks so that women would know what to make on this new national holiday. The menu included turkey with sage stuffing, creamed onions, mashed turnips and mashed potato dishes as well.Many of the dishes we enjoy today originated with these recipes that were published in the mid-19th Century.

Today’s Thanksgiving can be anything you desire. Whether you deviate from the traditional to make ethnic dishes or simply gather with friends and family over everyday fare, you can’t go wrong. The American tradition of celebrating gratitude has evolved into a multi-cultural event due to the makeup of our great nation. The influences of all cultures can be seen, smelled and tasted at tables all over the country.

Source : Smithsonian.com

Enjoy these recipes and your Thanksgiving holiday!

Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash
acorn-squash
Easy and delicious!

  • 2 whole Acorn Squash, Cut Into 8 Wedges Each (slice in half and scoop out seeds)
  • 4 dashes Olive Oil
  • Salt To Taste
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar (lightly Packed)
  • 2 Tablespoons Rosemary (minced)
  1. Place wedges in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Sprinkle lightly with salt, then roast in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes.
  3. Combine butter, brown sugar, salt, and rosemary in a bowl and mix into a paste.
  4. Remove squash from oven and use a spatula to apply the paste to the squash.
  5. Return to the oven for 30 minutes, until brown and caramelized.
  6. Halfway through roasting, brush sauce over the top of the squash and then continue roasting until time is complete.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie CreamerThanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Creamer
This creamer is always a hit with dessert. Recipe doubles easily for larger parties.

  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp allspice (optional)
  • 1 cup non-dairy creamer
  1. Combine all ingredients into a quart jar.
  2. Seal tightly and shake to blend well.
  3. Use in your favorite hot or iced coffee

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