Weekly Top 5: Wallace Family Thanksgiving Essentials
Variety truly is the spice of life and Thanksgiving at my house is no exception.
I love Thanksgiving…the family, friends, the traditions (more on that later), and the sides... What’s Thanksgiving without the sides?! I’m convinced my daughter Coco anxiously awaits the Thanksgiving meal not for the turkey, but for the mashed potatoes, which are so enriched with butter that they glisten on the table with beautiful, soft golden hue.
It’s not uncommon for us to serve at the very least two kinds of turkey. I can’t help it, I’m a turkey fiend. One year after a pre-Thanksgiving trip to the Arkansas State Fair I was so inspired by the plentiful turkey leg vendors there that I added copycat state fair turkey legs to our dinner spread. They were a hit, alongside boudin stuffed-smoked turkey breast, traditional roasted turkey, red wine braised turkey thighs and crispy turkey wings. As I type this, I realize that I have a problem.
My name is Levon, and I’m a Turkeyholic.
But wait! There are more Wallace Family traditions that must be recognized. If the abundance of turkey weren’t enough, we also have a post-Thanksgiving dinner tradition at my house where we make sheet pan nachos with the feast leftovers after everyone else has gone home. On the same night! And in the days that follow, we concoct yet another edible tradition affectionately known as “the gobbler.” This is a glorious sandwich made entirely of leftovers. In order of construction, “the gobbler” consists of thick cut-butter toasted bread, cold gravy (don’t judge), mashed potatoes (cold, again, don’t judge), turkey, stuffing, cranberry, and mayo. Somehow, this sandwich tastes more like Thanksgiving to me than the actual meal itself and I’m pretty sure I subconsciously overprepare for the main event just so we can have our fill of gobblers in the days to follow.
I love the Thanksgiving meal and all of its tryptophan-induced euphoria.
But all that fun aside, the real main event is the is the opportunity to give, share, and spend time with each other — family or not. We give thanks for what we’re blessed to have and generously give to those who don’t. But it doesn’t have to be a holiday thing either; we could all use some more random acts of kindness in rotation. Pay for the person behind you when you’re getting coffee or hold a door open for somebody next time you’re at the gas station.
In the words of Abraham Lincoln in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: “be excellent to each other…and party on.”
Check out my Five Wallace Family Thanksgiving Essentials to make sure you do exactly that.
1. Please Give, Thanks.
Donate food, clothes, hygienic products, your time, or whatever else you have to spare that others don’t. There are plenty of opportunities to do so, especially at this time of year. Below are a few suggestions for Metro Nashville Area:
Whether you’re pregaming the main event or making a post-party snack, this king of queso has got you covered. Although available year-round, Pancho’s stays in heavy rotation at my house all throughout the holidays. With a cultish following, there are some unspoken rules among Pancho’s purists: 1) It is much better consumed cold and not hot; preferably straight out of the tub it came in. 2) Gold round chips are the preferred dipping medium. And 3) The yellow Pancho’s cheese has a far superior flavor to the white variety. FYI, Pancho’s is proudly made in Memphis, so you can boast that it’s sort of #local.
This has to be by far one of the best recipes ever created for home cooks and professionals alike. My pal (and one of the best pastry chefs in the galaxy) Stella Parks rocked my world this year when she dropped this approachable, easy, and delicious yeasted bread recipe. I’m always looking for recipes to keep in my back pocket and after whipping this up one afternoon, I permanently put it on my list of go-to’s. I can’t wait to make “Gobblers” with this earthy, slightly sweet, fine-crumbed loaf.
Need dinner rolls for your spread this year? This dough is perfect for that. Like sweets? I’ve tossed rough cut dough scraps in cinnamon sugar and baked ‘em in buttered tins for insanely delicious pumpkin monkey bread. And this holiday season I’m planning to use this dough recipe for cinnamon rolls — I can’t wait to try the results!
4. State Fair Turkey Legs on the BGE
If you’re thinking of really doing it up this Thanksgiving, a big ol’ bucket of turkey legs is a great way to fill out the offerings, add variety, and have some fun! Go ahead and ask the butcher at your local meat counter or butcher shop to set some drumsticks aside for you. You’re gonna want at least six. The best part about this is that by using the Big Green Egg, you can feel confident about leaving these guys somewhat unattended while you’re whipping up the rest of the feast. Click here to get my recipe for State Fair Turkey Legs on the Big Green Egg.
5. The Best Mashed Potatoes, Ever. (According to my daughter)
These are the real star of the show. Especially since I’ve found that perfect ratio of potatoes to butter 2:1.