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Pickin’ Sides!

By Paula Deen

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it brings together two of my most favorite things—family and food. I don’t mind cooking for just Michael and me, but you add a dozen more Deens, Groovers, Pauls, and Hiers to the mix (just to name a few), and I’m over the moon!

That said, I know all too well that us cooks have a lot riding on our drumsticks come Thanksgiving. I just can’t stand a dry turkey. And an undercooked bird is worse yet because it means dinner has gotta wait. After already waiting four days for the turkey to thaw, and another four hours for it to cook, my boys are chompin’ at the bit.

But with all that worrying over Mr. Turkey, we sometimes forget about the side dishes that truly make a Thanksgiving dinner unique. Y’all can probably remember a side dish you loved so much growing up that you wouldn’t come to the Thanksgiving table unless it was there. Maybe it was string bean casserole, rice and gravy, or good old fashioned mashed potatoes. For me, it was always Southern Cornbread Stuffing. But the more I get talking to folks about their favorite sides, the more I see how their recipes are as unique as their families and the places they live. Take Southern families for instance. We’re more likely to serve up Mashed Sweet Potatoes than white potatoes, but that just may depend on what “side” of the South you’re living in: Did you know that most Coastal Southerners prefer white rice over potatoes? I say cover all your bases by making both.

Now, if all this talk about pickin’ sides has you thinking about scrapping the whole thing and ordering in, let me assure you that I’ve got a ton of great recipes to help out. Some are more traditional sides, but others put a new twist on an old standby, like my Sweet Potato BallsBroccoli Casserole and Mrs. Hoggle’s Stuffed Cranberry Sauce. And as we like to say down South, “They’re all so good they’ll make your tongue slap your brains out!”

Sure, serving up a Thanksgiving meal is a load of work. But when all is said and done and my family’s full and happy, it’s all worth the trouble. With just a little prior planning in these weeks leading up to the big day, y’all can expect to have the most memorable Thanksgiving meal, leaving time for what matters most: family.

Super Southern Sides
Southern Cornbread
Aunt Peggy’s Sweet Potato Soufflé
Squash Casserole
Oyster Dressing
Apple Cranberry Stuffing

Paula Deen - As a young girl growing up in Albany, Georgia, Paula Deen never dreamed she would become an American icon. As a young mother, Paula was living the American dream — married to her high school sweetheart and raising two adorable boys — when tragedy struck. Her parents died, her marriage failed and she began a prolonged battle with agoraphobia. With her boys in their teens and her family near homelessness, Paula took her last $200, reached deep inside her soul and started The Bag Lady, a home-based catering company that marked the start of Deen's professional cooking career. With sons Jamie and Bobby delivering lunch-and-love-in-a-bag, beginning in June 1989, Paula turned her life around by sharing what she knew best, traditional Southern cooking.