What's Your State’s Favorite Thanksgiving Side?

November 20, 2018 10:56 AM
Of the nearly 1,000 responses six different sides rose to the top: salad, West; green beans/casserole, Midwest; cornbread, South; rolls/biscuits, squash, Great Lakes Region; Northeast; and mac and cheese, Southeast.

Note this is the opinion and statements of the author and not reflective of Farm Journal Media.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s an excuse to unabashedly eat as much as possible. Sides, main, dessert— I don’t care, I want it all.

Analytics company FiveThirtyEight recently surveyed Americans to find out what the most common Thanksgiving side dish is for their region. Of the nearly 1,000 responses six different sides rose to the top: salad, West; green beans/casserole, Midwest; cornbread, South; rolls/biscuits, Great Lakes Region; squash, Northeast; and mac and cheese, Southeast.

Of course, California would call salad a Thanksgiving side—I can tell you my family would be less than thankful if salad took the honored place alongside turkey on Thursday. I live in Missouri where green beans reign king and green bean casserole is a must-have every year. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to make.

According to USA Today, the original recipe for green bean casserole was created in 1955 by the late Dorcas Reilly. She served as Campbell's kitchen supervisor where the recipe’s fame skyrocketed it to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2002. Reilly died Oct. 15, 2018 of Alzheimer’s disease at age 92.

My family joins the millions who will enjoy the side, but admittedly I don’t follow her recipe. I enjoy cooking, so I skip the canned soup and onions and opt for a home-style version.

So, if you’d like to roll up your sleeves and make a mess in the kitchen, here’s the recipe I use. Note, I’ve never thought about it in terms of measurements (I follow the ‘that looks right’ approach) so you might have to play around with some of this to get it perfect for your family.

Green Bean Casserole

For the fried onions:

  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ to ½ tsp garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the casserole:

  • 2 cans green beans (drained)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk or half and half
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ¼ to ½ tsp onion salt
  • ¼ to ½ tsp garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • OPTIONAL: sautéed mushrooms and onions
  • OPTIONAL: add ½ to 1 cup of cheese (because who doesn’t love cheese?!?)

First, make the fried onions. Thinly slice the onions and toss with oil, mix dry ingredients in a separate container and then add the onions (I spray additional cooking oil on top—I think it makes them crispier). Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep an eye on them, you’re looking for a brown finish. You can also fry them in oil if you prefer.

While the onions are baking start the casserole. Melt butter, then add 2 tablespoons of flour to make a rue. Next add milk, chicken stock and seasonings (if you’re using them, don’t add the sautéed vegetables or cheese yet). Let cook to gravy-like consistency (I had to add flour because I used milk, not half and half). After it hits the right texture add the sautéed vegetables.

Finally, mix the gravy with your green beans and add to a 9X13 pan (add and mix in cheese if using it). By now your onions are probably done, put them on top of the mix and pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

***I like LOTS of gravy, but if you don’t, either add another can of drained beans or trim the gravy recipe. Also, if your family isn’t partial to green beans (I have one of those) it’s good with mixed veggies and peas, too!***

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving. If anyone has a killer homestyle roll recipe send it my way sbegemann@farmjournal.com –or let me know how the green bean casserole worked for you!

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