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Turkey? Check. Stuffing? Check. Cranberry sauce? Check.

Most Americans will again consume traditional Thanksgiving food during the annual holiday feast. But The Washington Informer recently set out to find those who might be changing things up a bit, who might be keeping it real with a soul food meal.

“This year, I will be switching up the traditional turkey preparation in favor of something new and different,” said Justus Frank, owner and chef of the soul food eatery Live Oak in Alexandria, Va. “I am going to take a brined Amish turkey and remove the legs, using them as confit meat to go with a turkey and dumplings side dish.

“I will be turning the breasts into a roulade filled with cornbread stuffing and collard greens,” Frank said. “The turkey breast roulade is going to be trussed with butcher’s twine, seared in a braising pan, and then roasted in the oven. It’s a hit-or-miss idea because there are many traditionalists out there who prefer their turkey done the old school way. Wish me luck. It could get mixed reviews, but going South was the way to go for me this year.”

Executive Chef Rosalind “Roz” Tucker, who is known for her delicious take on southern fusion, is also changing things up this year. Tucker has created a cornbread dressing by adding — wait for it — biscuits.

“The biscuit is the key, it makes the dressing rich and moist, and no gravy is needed,” Tucker said.

She’s also added peaches to her cranberry sauce, giving it an unusual but zesty flavor.

Andrew Farinaccio, the head content writer for the online travel agency Hotels4Teams, said one of his biggest passions, in addition to writing, is cooking.

“Back in college, I was fortunate enough to be able to combine both of these passions as the virtual editorial intern for Jersey Bites,” Farinaccio said. “They’re a blog that covers New Jersey-related food news and restaurant reviews.”

As an avid cook, Thanksgiving counts as one of Farinaccio’s favorite holidays, second only to Christmas.

Some of his favorite dishes to make for Thanksgiving include zesty orange-cranberry sauce, bacon-wrapped potato wedges with honey-scallion sauce, and pecan pie.

“Sometimes, I’ll switch things up and substitute one dish for another to try out something new,” he said. “But there’s one dish that I always make, even though it’s not what usually comes to mind when people think of Thanksgiving: mashed turnips. The holiday dinner table just doesn’t feel complete without it.”

Mashed turnips is a dish that’s as simple as it is special, Farinaccio explained.

“That refreshing combination is, to me, the very definition of soul food,” he said. “I got the recipe for it from my mom, who, in turn, got it from her mother.

“My family’s mashed turnips recipe features only a handful of ingredients,” Farinaccio said. “There’s turnips, of course, as well as carrots, milk, butter, salt and a healthy dose of black pepper. I like to add some extra black pepper to mine for good measure.

“It’s a simple dish that’s perfect for cooks of all skill levels,” he said. “If you know how to make mashed potatoes, you already know how to make mashed turnips. The most labor-intensive part, really, is preparing the turnips. But since you can do that well in advance, it’s hardly an issue.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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