Holiday Entertaining

What Do You Eat on Thanksgiving Eve?

November 14, 2015

The Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving dinner: The calm before the storm.

Photo by James Ransom

AntoniaJames took to the Hotline to ask—what does everyone eat on Thanksgiving Eve? Surprisingly, a few themes stood out—Here’s what the Food52 community eats the night before their Thanksgiving feasts:

To Order In or to Take Out? That is the Question

  • Monica_m speaks from experience: “I used to work in the call center for a local pizza chain—let me tell you, lots and lots of folks make a call for dinner the night before Thanksgiving.”
  • Nicole Otis agrees, calling takeout pizza “a break before the chaos begins.” Bevi agrees, ordering pizza and Indian food.
  • Some favorite pizza joints may not deliver, but AntoniaJames doesn't mind, she picks up a half-baked pizza from a favorite local spot, saying it's "totally worth any inconvenience."
  • Sometimes it's not even for the benefit of the Thanksgiving cook, but for those who are visiting. Inpatskitchen's son comes to visit for the holidays, and the whole family orders his favorite pizza and salad—"He can't find the same pizza in SF!"
  • Sdebrango prefers grabbing Chinese food before the big day.
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Under the Sea

  • Susan W's brother has their family covered, serving abalone (that he dove for!), steamed clams, and nice crusty bread.
  • Rachel's dad's seafood stew is a crowdpleaser—"My niece asked if she could take some with her to work the next day, but it was so good, there was none left!"
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Keep it Simple​ or Chill with Chili

  • Pasta is jamcook's go-to, served with a basic mixed salad.
  • Soup just works for many Food52ers. TobiT likes it because it's easy to freeze, "both to make ahead and to freeze leftovers." Aargersi agrees, and is "not ashamed to say that packaged ramen or Campbell's tomato are viable options."
  • Drbabs and Megan are both looking forward to some delicious chili this year.
  • Calendargirl is thinking of serving lentil soup this year, but adds: "one year I served bagels with sable and chopped liver (both procured from a favorite deli) along with a huge salad. Casual to be sure, but everyone served up just what he or she wanted, there were not a lot of dishes to deal with, and growling stomachs were quieted."
Photo by Alpha Smoot

Straight to Dessert

  • C Sangueza’s family goes right for the sweet stuff: “ family has a many-generation tradition of trying out the pies on Wednesday evening. We don't eat dinner—just pie—sometimes pot pies as well as sweet ones. Then we cook together on Thursday morning and eat the big meal in the evening.” Gotta wonder if they're taking applications for new family members...

Do you have any traditions for the dinner before Thanksgiving? Or do you just nibble on leaves to save precious belly space for the following day? We want to know!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Gabi Benedit

Written by: Gabi Benedit

domestic dilettante.

1 Comment

702551 November 15, 2015
Mentioned in the Hotline thread but not listed here are tacos.

There's often a pint or two of pulled pork/carnitas in my freezer. As a NorCal resident, it's very easy to go to a nearby Mexican grocery store and pick up pre-marinaded meat (beef, pork, chicken) to grill/sauté.

Another superb taco filling alternative is fish since it is not typically served at Thanksgiving. Many longtime NorCal residents actually offer Dungeness crab on Thanksgiving as an pescetarian alternative to turkey, but this year the commercial crab season has been postponed indefinitely (due to domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin), so fish tacos are a refreshing prelude to a poultry and starch-heavy day compared with pizza.

I buy fish that is on sale from a reputable fishmonger, so I have no specific recommendations.

A good vegan taco filling option are grilled/sauteed mushrooms. I like grilled portobellos and cutting them up into long strips to resemble carne asada in appearance. If you stick with corn tortillas like me, you can satisfy gluten-sensitive diners.

A little cilantro/onion, lime wedges, queso cotija, and you're good to go.

Another great thing with tacos is that they bring a bunch of accompaniments that mostly aren't associated with Thanksgiving: beans, Mexican pickles, beer, rice (the latter often present in Thanksgiving). I particularly like pickled jalapeños since spiciness is not a usual Thanksgiving flavor profile.

Of course, here in California, if you're going to fire up the grill and you have a few extra minutes, assembling some seafood or vegetarian skewers is a great option. No, not particularly Mexican, but no one is going to complain. Just sprinkle a little Mexican oregano as part of the seasoning. Onions, late season peppers, mushrooms, shrimp/scallops. All of this can be plopped onto a tortilla. I like going vegetable-heavy on the day before Thanksgiving.

The grill is the best place to warm up tortillas anyhow.