We’re counting back the most popular Thanksgiving trends of the last 20 years.
Thanksgiving Through the Years
From the reign of deep-fried turkeys in 1996 to last year’s bruleed pumpkin pie craze, here’s proof that the Turkey Day feast is ever-evolving. What will 2014 bring to the table?
2013: Bruleed Pumpkin Pie
Fire up the blowtorches. Three leading food maps–Martha Stewart Living. Bon Appetit and Saveur–offer up pumpkin pies with the crackling torched-sugar tops.
2012: Creamed Kale
Kale: It’s not just for salad. Kale mania grips the nation, pushing spinach, mesclun and arugula off the plate. Is there anything this super veggie can’t do? We’re still waiting to find out.
2011: Cornbread Stuffing
Southern food is smoking-hot, as reflected in the sudden resurgence of this down-home classic.
2010: Turkeys Glaze Over
Molasses, pomegranate, maple, cider, soy sauce, even malt beer. The foodie press abounds in photogenic glazed birds.
2009: Spatchcocked Turkey
What works for chicken works for turkey. Just when you thought there was nothing new in turkey technique, here comes a method that–by cutting out the backbone and pressing the turkey flat–delivers incredibly fast and even cooking.
2008: Hello, Brussels Sprouts!
We discover the amazing versatility of Brussels sprouts: They’re great whether shaved or shredded into a slaw, or separated into leaves and quickly sauteed.
2007: Heritage Turkey
Those lean, flavorful, pricey old-breed birds, with evocative names like Bourbon Red and Narragansett, are all the rage. By 2008 they show up on Iron Chef America.
2006: Dressing Beats the Stuffing Out of the Bird
Reports of the dangers of undercooked stuffing push more and more cooks in the direction of dressing.
Your bacon-of-the-month subscription? It comes in handy around Thanksgiving.
2004: Dry-Brined Turkey
Salt meat heavily and refrigerate, loosely covered, for two or three days prior to cooking; that’s dry-brining, a technique popularized by the dearly departed San Francisco Chef Judy Rogers, In her 2002 Zuni Cafe Cookbook. By 2004 her justly famous Zuni chicken is the template for countless Zuni turkeys.
2003: Wild Mushroom Stuffing (and Gravy)
Wild mushrooms are widely available, although expensive; the holiday provide the perfect excuse to splurge.
Up from Cajun country flies the turducken, a boneless beast composed of a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey. Three birds in one, requiring virtuoso technique on the part of the butcher.
Balsamic burst into the mainstream in the ’90s, and by 2001 it fully infiltrates Thanksgiving, providing sweetness, acidity and an appealing burnish to carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, winter squash, pears and even turkeys.
2000: Savory Bread Pudding
Better than stuffing? Not necessarily. But folks are giving it a shot.
1999: Truffled Mashed Potatoes
There was a time–before we learned it is 100 percent synthetic–when a little truffled oil seemed the height of sophistication. The year? 1991.
1998: Smashed Potatoes
Here’s a win for rusticity over the smooth refinement of mashed, like driven by the rise of trendy Yukon gold and other waxier potatoes, which smash better than they mash. In the early ’00s, Rachael Ray will usher smashed potatoes into the mainstream on her smash hit, 30 Minute Meals.
1997: Brined Turkey
Cooks IIIustrated magazine shakes the pompoms for giving turkey a salty soak.
1996: Deep-Fried Turkey
Martha Stewart Living magazine gets the (butter) ball rolling on this one, and it’s pushed along by Alton and other food stars.
1995: High-Heat Roast Turkey
Barbara Kafka’s influential cookbook Roasting: A Simple Art has home cooks all over the country revving their ovens all the way to 500 degrees for the holiday bird–setting off smoke alarms nationwide.
1995: Suddenly, Tofurky
Tofurky, a vegan rendition of a roast turkey, stuffing included, is hatched by an Oregon company.
1994: Cranberry Salsa
Regional American cooking traditions, particularly Southwestern, are trending hot; it turns out cranberries have a affinity for chiles.