Thanksgiving food

Why do most people like white meat better than dark meat? Isn’t the latter juicier and much more flavorful?

Do you have dishes that have been passed down in your family from time immemorial? That you must have, even though no one particularly likes them?

I just learned that someone else shares my taste for what a recipe I describe as “white on white on white on white.” And calls it the same thing! Do any of the rest of you? Do you know what it is?

Use this space to rhapsodize about your favorite Thanksgiving foods.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    “Isn’t the [dark meat] juicier and much more flavorful?”

    Cook the turkey upside down, and the white meat won’t dry out or lose its flavor.

    “… your favorite Thanksgiving foods.”

    For me, the one dish that can’t be missing from the table is cranberry relish. (Come Christmas, it’s fruitcake. Everyone who hates the stuff can mail theirs to me.)

  • Tom Hering

    “Isn’t the [dark meat] juicier and much more flavorful?”

    Cook the turkey upside down, and the white meat won’t dry out or lose its flavor.

    “… your favorite Thanksgiving foods.”

    For me, the one dish that can’t be missing from the table is cranberry relish. (Come Christmas, it’s fruitcake. Everyone who hates the stuff can mail theirs to me.)

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I lived in a fool’s paradise for many years, being almost the only person in my family to prefer white meat. Going out into the wide world, where I had to fight with the other wolves for the bits I preferred, was a shock to me.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I lived in a fool’s paradise for many years, being almost the only person in my family to prefer white meat. Going out into the wide world, where I had to fight with the other wolves for the bits I preferred, was a shock to me.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I’ve pondered that first question all my life. I prefer the dark meat.

    Cooking turkey breast side down may help keep the white meat moist, but it ruins the presentation of the turkey. Another problem is that the white meat is done at 140 degrees, but the dark meat isn’t, so people keep cooking the turkey till the dark meat is done. By that time, the white meat is overdone. Even worse is when the turkey is cooked until the stuffing inside the turkey is done.

    Here’s what is suggested by some: Cook the stuffing in a pan by itself, not inside the turkey. When the white meat is done, bring the turkey out to the table for presentation to your guests, take pictures, whatever. Then cut the legs and thighs from the turkey and out them back in the oven till they are done. Meanwhile, chow down on the juicy moist white meat!

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I’ve pondered that first question all my life. I prefer the dark meat.

    Cooking turkey breast side down may help keep the white meat moist, but it ruins the presentation of the turkey. Another problem is that the white meat is done at 140 degrees, but the dark meat isn’t, so people keep cooking the turkey till the dark meat is done. By that time, the white meat is overdone. Even worse is when the turkey is cooked until the stuffing inside the turkey is done.

    Here’s what is suggested by some: Cook the stuffing in a pan by itself, not inside the turkey. When the white meat is done, bring the turkey out to the table for presentation to your guests, take pictures, whatever. Then cut the legs and thighs from the turkey and out them back in the oven till they are done. Meanwhile, chow down on the juicy moist white meat!

  • Booklover

    Almost everyone I know prefers dark meat except for my son, who can down three dry breasts in almost that many seconds. My husband would sell his truck for a taste of turkey neck oozing with spicy grease I mean tasty drippings.

    Mike mentioned cooking the stuffing in a pan by itself. Soundly agreed. The stuffing is way more delicious that way, forming a nice little tasty crust around the edge of the Corningware dish. The turkey gets done faster, and the stuffing is just the right consistency–never soggy or sloppy. And you don’t have to get up so early to punch that stuffing into the cavity, poking yourself with those awful metal stabbers. AND you don’t have to fight with a fat, steaming, slippery turkey to get the stuffing out when everyone is hungry. Oh, there are so many reasons to cook the stuffing in a separate dish!! Now, if one would just have an extra oven. . .

  • Booklover

    Almost everyone I know prefers dark meat except for my son, who can down three dry breasts in almost that many seconds. My husband would sell his truck for a taste of turkey neck oozing with spicy grease I mean tasty drippings.

    Mike mentioned cooking the stuffing in a pan by itself. Soundly agreed. The stuffing is way more delicious that way, forming a nice little tasty crust around the edge of the Corningware dish. The turkey gets done faster, and the stuffing is just the right consistency–never soggy or sloppy. And you don’t have to get up so early to punch that stuffing into the cavity, poking yourself with those awful metal stabbers. AND you don’t have to fight with a fat, steaming, slippery turkey to get the stuffing out when everyone is hungry. Oh, there are so many reasons to cook the stuffing in a separate dish!! Now, if one would just have an extra oven. . .

  • Booklover

    I might as well admit that my favorite is the gravy, and I could just sit and eat it with a spoon. But I won’t. This year I’m serving at the Rescue Mission. I’ve cooked for a lot of years, and I won’t cook again until someone presents me with a grandchild. :-)

  • Booklover

    I might as well admit that my favorite is the gravy, and I could just sit and eat it with a spoon. But I won’t. This year I’m serving at the Rescue Mission. I’ve cooked for a lot of years, and I won’t cook again until someone presents me with a grandchild. :-)

  • Grace

    I love white meat – and lots of dressing with apple. I too love cranberry sauce -

    Tom, my mother made the best fruitcake in the world, she added rum. That brings back the best memories!

    Happy THANKSGIVING EVERYBODY!

  • Grace

    I love white meat – and lots of dressing with apple. I too love cranberry sauce -

    Tom, my mother made the best fruitcake in the world, she added rum. That brings back the best memories!

    Happy THANKSGIVING EVERYBODY!

  • Booklover

    Here are two delicious and nutritious ways to use up that left-over turkey:

    Turkey Roll-Ups
    Filling:
    Turkey breast chunks
    Cranberry
    Leaves—spinach or romaine
    Nuts, lightly crushed—almonds or pecans
    Grape halves or Apple chunks

    Coat Mission brand tortillas with light covering of Miracle Whip, Ranch dressing, or cream cheese blended with cranberries. Put in filling and roll up.

    Bell Ranch Pizza
    Spread prepared pizza crust with:
    Sparse layer of BBQ sauce (season with pepper and chili paste if desired)
    Turkey breast chunks
    Sparse layer of black beans, drained and rinsed
    Red onion and/or red pepper chunks
    Top with grated cheese

    Cook as you would a regular pizza.

  • Booklover

    Here are two delicious and nutritious ways to use up that left-over turkey:

    Turkey Roll-Ups
    Filling:
    Turkey breast chunks
    Cranberry
    Leaves—spinach or romaine
    Nuts, lightly crushed—almonds or pecans
    Grape halves or Apple chunks

    Coat Mission brand tortillas with light covering of Miracle Whip, Ranch dressing, or cream cheese blended with cranberries. Put in filling and roll up.

    Bell Ranch Pizza
    Spread prepared pizza crust with:
    Sparse layer of BBQ sauce (season with pepper and chili paste if desired)
    Turkey breast chunks
    Sparse layer of black beans, drained and rinsed
    Red onion and/or red pepper chunks
    Top with grated cheese

    Cook as you would a regular pizza.

  • rah

    My grandmother would always make a jello salad whose flavor and mix-ins would vary based on what she had on hand. (She was notorious for her frequent substitutions in recipes.) The “mystery salad” became a shared joke among us grandkids. One of her more edible combinations was orange jello with pineapple chunks, grated carrots, and chopped pecans. As a nod to my grandmother’s memory, I made that very combination today, even though only my sister and I will eat it.

  • rah

    My grandmother would always make a jello salad whose flavor and mix-ins would vary based on what she had on hand. (She was notorious for her frequent substitutions in recipes.) The “mystery salad” became a shared joke among us grandkids. One of her more edible combinations was orange jello with pineapple chunks, grated carrots, and chopped pecans. As a nod to my grandmother’s memory, I made that very combination today, even though only my sister and I will eat it.

  • Leslie4

    My family has always made stuffing out of crackers, not bread. Most people I know have never even heard of making it like this. My Nana says our recipe goes back many generations, to her grandmother or great-grandmother in Boston. My side of the family loves this recipe, while I know my husband eats it only to be polite.

    Any Bostonians out there? Anyone still making stuffing with crackers? (saltines, in our version)

  • Leslie4

    My family has always made stuffing out of crackers, not bread. Most people I know have never even heard of making it like this. My Nana says our recipe goes back many generations, to her grandmother or great-grandmother in Boston. My side of the family loves this recipe, while I know my husband eats it only to be polite.

    Any Bostonians out there? Anyone still making stuffing with crackers? (saltines, in our version)

  • Erik

    Mincemeat Pie. No Thanksgiving is truly complete without real mincemeat pie – the kind with beef in it. I grew up with it served with homemade whipped cream but have recently discovered “hard sauce” (no, not the stuff you drink but a sugar frosting). One of the good things about mincemeat pie is that few people like it. This means that the leftover pie is all mine. Oddly, the reason most people don’t seem to want any of it isn’t because they’ve tasted it but because they are afraid to taste it once they are told it contains beef. Beef in a pie for desert? Yuk. I suppose if I wanted to get them to try a bite, I would simply tell them it’s a cinnamon, apple, raisin spice pie. Yum! But that would eliminate the leftovers.

  • Erik

    Mincemeat Pie. No Thanksgiving is truly complete without real mincemeat pie – the kind with beef in it. I grew up with it served with homemade whipped cream but have recently discovered “hard sauce” (no, not the stuff you drink but a sugar frosting). One of the good things about mincemeat pie is that few people like it. This means that the leftover pie is all mine. Oddly, the reason most people don’t seem to want any of it isn’t because they’ve tasted it but because they are afraid to taste it once they are told it contains beef. Beef in a pie for desert? Yuk. I suppose if I wanted to get them to try a bite, I would simply tell them it’s a cinnamon, apple, raisin spice pie. Yum! But that would eliminate the leftovers.

  • Marian

    We don’t have any of those recipes that seem necessary even though no one really likes them, but plenty that my mother only makes at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other big family celebrations, traditionally helped by me or my sister.

    Stuffing (cooked inside the turkey so the juices infuse it with extra flavor!) with gravy and the “oysters” from the turkey’s back (I don’t know what the official name is for this pair of small round muscles, but my mother and I both think they are the best part of a turkey or chicken). I have no idea how my mother keeps the white meat moist until the dark meat is done (when I cook a chicken, the white meat dries out), but somehow she does.

    Almond puffs. Yeast rolls made with ground almonds substituted for part of the flour, and ground almonds mixed with sugar on top. (Almonds being quite hard, this recipe requires someone to take extra time with a hand grinder so they come out fluffy. Chopping them does not work at all. The end result is well worth an aching hand.)

    Fruit gelatin salad. My mom always made “jello” with plain gelatin, fruit juice, and whatever fresh or canned fruit made a good combination. She had one made from orange juice, bananas, and strawberries that was a favorite. Also one like Rah@#8′s grandmother’s with orange juice, grated carrots, crushed pineapple, and raisins, if I remember right (that one wasn’t as popular since the carrots made it take longer to eat). And there were several recipes with lime and pineapple juice. These don’t really fit the holiday-recipe category since she made them a lot, but one was always present on the Thanksgiving table.

    Dr. Veith, are you ever going to allay our curiosity and reveal the “white on white…” mystery??

  • Marian

    We don’t have any of those recipes that seem necessary even though no one really likes them, but plenty that my mother only makes at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other big family celebrations, traditionally helped by me or my sister.

    Stuffing (cooked inside the turkey so the juices infuse it with extra flavor!) with gravy and the “oysters” from the turkey’s back (I don’t know what the official name is for this pair of small round muscles, but my mother and I both think they are the best part of a turkey or chicken). I have no idea how my mother keeps the white meat moist until the dark meat is done (when I cook a chicken, the white meat dries out), but somehow she does.

    Almond puffs. Yeast rolls made with ground almonds substituted for part of the flour, and ground almonds mixed with sugar on top. (Almonds being quite hard, this recipe requires someone to take extra time with a hand grinder so they come out fluffy. Chopping them does not work at all. The end result is well worth an aching hand.)

    Fruit gelatin salad. My mom always made “jello” with plain gelatin, fruit juice, and whatever fresh or canned fruit made a good combination. She had one made from orange juice, bananas, and strawberries that was a favorite. Also one like Rah@#8′s grandmother’s with orange juice, grated carrots, crushed pineapple, and raisins, if I remember right (that one wasn’t as popular since the carrots made it take longer to eat). And there were several recipes with lime and pineapple juice. These don’t really fit the holiday-recipe category since she made them a lot, but one was always present on the Thanksgiving table.

    Dr. Veith, are you ever going to allay our curiosity and reveal the “white on white…” mystery??

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    “White on white on white on white” is turkey on white bread with mayonaisse and a thickish layer of salt. I described it that way in my family–of course, it’s not much of a recipe–but recently my wife mentioned it to a colleague and she knew just what it was, considered it the ultimate use of turkey, and called it the same thing!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    “White on white on white on white” is turkey on white bread with mayonaisse and a thickish layer of salt. I described it that way in my family–of course, it’s not much of a recipe–but recently my wife mentioned it to a colleague and she knew just what it was, considered it the ultimate use of turkey, and called it the same thing!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    She “considered it the ultimate use of turkey” (@12).

    “Ultimate” as in “the best” (i.e. the tastiest way to eat turkey) or as in “final” (i.e. Day 7 and we’re still using leftovers; after this sandwich, I’m calling it quits)? ;)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    She “considered it the ultimate use of turkey” (@12).

    “Ultimate” as in “the best” (i.e. the tastiest way to eat turkey) or as in “final” (i.e. Day 7 and we’re still using leftovers; after this sandwich, I’m calling it quits)? ;)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Well, probably both!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Well, probably both!


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