Thanksgiving: Hors d’oeuvres or Hors don’ts?

I think we all can agree.  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and whatever else makes up your holiday feast is plenty of food.  The kind of “plenty” that results in days of turkey sandwiches.  In my family, if you don’t leave the thanksgiving table feeling stuffed beyond all reason, then you haven’t done it right.

So, as a host, should you offer drinks before dinner? Yes, absolutely!  But, should you offer appetizers on the day of food abundance?  Here, I am torn.  Do we need to offer more food?  Not in the least!  But, do my dad, husband, brother, uncles, and cousins (yes, mostly the men) meander around the kitchen looking for items to sample or graze on while the turkey is finishing its last few minutes in the oven?  You betcha!

Herein lies my conundrum.  Do I offer hors doevres or don’t I?  On one hand, I don’t want to fill guests up on appetizers before the meal even begins – which I am not saying I have ever done (cough, cough).  But, on the other hand,  I don’t want to make the hungry wait in-case the turkey takes a few more minutes than expected.

My solution this year is to offer a couple of very light – appetizers that are set out on petite serving plates so that folks don’t stuff themselves.   I am avoiding my typical go-tos entirely: No filling baguettes and no heavy cheese.  We will get more than enough starchy, heaviness from the meal itself!  So light, bright, acidic flavors are my friends here!

Secondly, Thanksgiving is the most labor-intensive holiday to host, without a doubt.  If you are a brave enough soul to host the masses, then its about coping with this reality not working around it.  Even if you approach the holiday potluck-style, the hosts still bear the brunt of the load!  So adding an additional questionably necessary task or dish to prep is pretty low on my ladder of priorities. So my solution is easy make-ahead items or items of the open and serve variety!

This year we will be serving this impressive looking, but surprisingly simple Mussel Escobeche from Sunset Magazine (LOVE this one by the way!)and these Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans that will serve a dual purpose as a salad garnish.  Both can be made several days in advance.  And, my husband will be making the world’s most simple Smoked Salmon Carpaccio with crostini when the guests arrive!  Recipe below.

Smoked Salmon Carpaccio

  • 4oz. Cold Smoked Salmon, lox, or similar (not hot smoked or jerky style
  • 1 hardboiled egg (make ahead and chill)
  • 1-2 tbl. creme fraiche
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh coarsely ground pepper
  • Crostini (or crackers) for serving

Arrange smoked salmon as one thin layer on serving platter.  Drizzle a little creme fresh over the top.  Discard the whites from the hardboiled egg and crumble the yolk over the top.  Chop and sprinkle some fresh dill and a little ground pepper.  Serve with a few Crostini!

Voilla!  You have a fancy looking but crazy easy appetizer that won’t fill up your guests before the big feast!


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