Thursday, January 26, 2023

A definitive ranking of Thanksgiving side dishes

MosaicCreative WritingA definitive ranking of Thanksgiving side dishes

BY ALEXANDRA WEBBER
Staff Reporter




Ah, yes. Thanksgiving. A day to enjoy the company of family and friends, endure obscenely repetitive Black Friday commercials and most importantly, eat a week’s worth of calories in one sitting. 

Because the holiday is fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to create a tier list of Thanksgiving side dishes that is 100% factual and indisputable. Why? Because I said so. The dishes that I’m going to be ranking today are mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, collard greens, rolls, cornbread, stuffing and macaroni and cheese. I’ll be doing this by putting the side dishes in a tier list, ranging from D (the lowest tier) to S (the highest tier). 

Coming in at tier D is cranberry sauce. Electric chair. Whether it’s jiggled out of a can or not, I don’t really understand why anyone would eat it. Granted, I’ve only tried it once, but I remember it leaving a sickeningly sweet, almost medicinal taste in my mouth — something I don’t want to experience when I’m enjoying a savory plate of food.

Speaking of things that are too sweet, sweet potato casserole is next in tier C. I like sweet potatoes. I like marshmallows. I do not want them in the same bite. I say, save the sugar for dessert. Also in tier C are collard greens. They’re okay. A lot of people put some kind of meat in theirs which gives it more flavor, but it’s definitely not the first thing I go to when I’m fixing my plate. I’m more of a bacon and brussel sprouts gal myself, so I am a bit biased.

In tier B, we have cornbread. I feel like you can’t have a good holiday meal without some kind of bread. While it’s a solid side, cornbread just doesn’t scream “Thanksgiving!” to me. In my household, it’s something that’s made throughout the fall/winter to go with dinner, so I don’t necessarily associate it with the holiday.

Next up, in tier A, we have mashed potatoes and stuffing. I like potatoes and bread in pretty much all forms, so this was a no-brainer. I will say that mashed potatoes have the potential to be bumped up to S-tier status for me, but it really does depend on what’s added to it. Regular mashed potatoes with just salt, pepper and butter added is great, but garlic definitely pushes it over the edge.

Coming in a close second in tier S are dinner rolls (specifically Sister Schubert’s Dinner Yeast Rolls). When I tell you this bread will change your life, I mean it. I could honestly eat 10 of these in one sitting if I wanted to. They’re addictive, fluffy little pillows of heaven made of everything that’s good in the world. Plus, they’re good for making mini sandwiches, making them not only delicious, but practical! I’m not going to give them any more free promo, but I definitely recommend these.

Last but certainly not least, the best Thanksgiving side dish of all time: macaroni and cheese. Some might dare to say that it doubles as an entree. I am one of those people. Everybody, and I mean everybody — your mom, your grandma, your auntie, your cousin’s hairdresser’s dog walker — has their own idea of what they think the best mac and cheese recipe is. I am here to tell you that they’re all wrong, and my mom’s recipe is the best. I’m not gonna give it to you because I like to gatekeep like that. Also because I don’t have it written down. But I will share a couple of things I’ve noticed about what makes a good macaroni and cheese.

1) The macaroni and cheese uses elbow pasta. That’s just common sense. 

2) It has a golden brown color on top of it. That’s how you know it’s good. 

3) It has a ridiculous amount of butter in it. If you don’t feel your arteries clogging as you eat this dish, it wasn’t made right. (I’m kidding, but there should be a decent amount of butter in there.) 4) Lastly, the mac and cheese — and I cannot stress this enough — is baked! Not stirred over a stovetop. Baked. I’ll let it slide if it’s the instant or microwaveable kind, but no homemade macaroni and cheese should be creamy. I will die on that hill.

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