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November 23, 2021
The Semi-Phoned-In Approach to Thanksgiving

You may not have a whole uninterrupted week to track down ingredients and cook a masterpiece. You may only have two days. But you can still bring something thoughtful and unexpected to the table this year.

Being a mindful and gracious Thanksgiving guest can be a delicate balance. You don’t want to throw off the menu your host has spent the last month curating, and you never want to demand counter space and oven space that has already been claimed by a pie or a 20-pound turkey. But you also don’t want to show up empty-handed, or with nothing more than a bodega bouquet of carnations.

Thankfully, there’s a good measure of middle ground here, and it’s filled with luxuriously low-maintenance scalloped potatoes and fizzy amaro sodas. Were you charged with bringing a side but don’t want to be the third person at dinner toting a roasting pan of squash? Make a bright leek and lemon confit, or a pan of miso butter-roasted onions that could bring any plate of food to life. Or, simpler yet, bring a really great jar of crunchy, spicy salsa macha.

If you want to start the party out right, consider showing up with a bag of ranch-flavored fire crackers (even when all of the Brussels sprouts and potatoes have sold out at the grocery store, there will still be saltines and ranch seasoning). Or bring a pitcher of tart, pineapple-sweetened agua de jamaica that can be sipped on its own or mixed with rum and poured over ice. And if every course of the meal is already accounted for, consider bringing the gift of some after-dinner entertainment.