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Our readers’ weirdest Thanksgiving dishes and traditions

From elk liver pâté to popcorn stuffing to something called “Clown in a Blender,” readers of our Sunriser newsletter share their most interesting Turkey Day traditions.

Photo by Meelika Marzzarella on Unsplash

I asked, and you all really turned out some weird (but occasionally pretty tasty-sounding) dishes that grace your Thanksgiving tables every year.

Plus one tip to use unpopped popcorn inside your bird as a makeshift thermometer (which sounds fun, but please use a thermometer).

In a nod to the power of multigenerational cuisine and America’s strong history of immigration, there is a lot of sauerkraut involved. I suggest reading them all, but you can click a recipe title below to jump straight to it.

YOUR HOMEWORK: What I didn’t get much of were photos of the dishes in action, so your assignment this year is to snap a pic of your family’s strangest, most distinctive dish so we can do this all again next year. (Feel free to send them to me at eric@coloradosun.com as soon as you take them)

Want to join in the fun? The Sunriser is a free, fun, informative walkthrough of Colorado news, sent to your inbox every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Click here to sign up!

 


 

Stoffles (aka stuffing waffles)

Let’s start with the one that I’m most likely to try myself this year, from reader Bay E.:

The day after Thanksgiving, we make “Stoffles” – stuffing waffles. We take leftover stuffing and put it in the waffle maker to turn it into the bread for our leftover turkey sandwiches. Highly recommend. 

 


 

Elk Liver Pâté

This isn’t much of a recipe — though if you have some fresh elk liver handy, you can probably find one. But it definitely screams “Colorado” from WinterPark Jack:

Harvested a 5×5 elk of which I will make elk liver pâté .

 


 

So much sauerkraut

The German heritage is strong in these dishes.

Julia B.’s family kicks up a can of kraut, but pay attention to her serving suggestion:

Sauerkraut. A Maryland custom. Take a can of sauerkraut, add a can of water and half an onion (not chopped) and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Drain. Delicious under turkey gravy and next to mashed potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce, etc. Yes, delicious :)!

 

Ryan S.’s family has a buckwild take on the fermented delicacy:

Our weirdest family dish, whose general name does not illustrate the full absurdity of the thing: Sauerkraut casserole.

Cans of sauerkraut and diced tomatoes go into a baking dish with bacon and loads of brown sugar. It comes out candy-sweet and not altogether agreeable, but it’s said to have been in the family for generations.

It’s been passed-down on photocopy-of-a-photocopy recipe cards whose years-gone penmanship is blessedly less legible every time it’s pulled out of the box at the back of the cabinet.

 


 

Steamed Carrot Pudding

This is a blast from the very English past — including the phrase “add whiskey to taste” from Sue M. in Loveland:

It’s an old English family recipe–four generations and counting including Colorado pioneers!

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup grated raw potatoes
  • 1 cup raisins, cut
  • 1 cup grated raw carrots
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, mixed with carrots

Cream together first 6 ingredients then stir in walnuts, potatoes, raisins, carrots and baking soda. Pour into a well-greased pudding mold or coffee can. Cover the top with aluminum foil. Steam in double boiler for 3 hours.

Top with sauces.

“Lemon” Sauce: Combine the following and boil for 2 minutes 

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons water

Hard sauce:  Blend together as much powdered sugar and butter as you need to form hard peaks, add whiskey to taste. 

Dollop sauces over pudding servings “to taste.”

Then..if you can get up off your chair, head outside for a brisk walk!

 


 

Winter Cranberry Chutney

Vicki F. brings a very tasty sounding upgrade from the can-shaped gelatinous cranberry sauce:

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup white raisins
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup minced or finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped into halves
  • 1 cup chopped Granny Smith apple
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery hearts

Directions

Combine the cranberries, raisins, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves and water in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil, simmer over low heat 5 minutes. Add onion,pecans, apple, and celery; continue to cook, stirring occasionally,until the mixture just begins to thicken, 5 to 10 more minutes.

Serve warm or chilled.

Optional: after the first boil, and for a bit of tang, add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar.

For even more tang, add 1 tablespoon white cooking wine.

And if you dare, add 1 tablespoon bourbon whiskey

 


 

Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushroom Appetizer

Carol P. didn’t understand the prompt, I think. I was asking for weird and unique dishes, not mouthwatering masterpieces like this recipe. (Just kidding, Carol, I’m going to attempt to make this as soon as possible)

  • 30 medium mushrooms (cremini are tasty, but not required)
  • 8 ounces herbed stuffing mix (not cubes)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces blue cheese
  • Butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup cream (or as needed for consistency)

Stem and scoop out mushrooms with grapefruit spoon or similar.  If you wish, bake the mushrooms slightly so that they are easier to stuff. Chop stems and sauté in butter.  Add cheeses, stirring until melted.  Mix in stuffing mix. Moisten with cream.  Rub each mushroom with butter.  Stuff with mixture.  Broil until browned and mushrooms are lightly cooked.

This Thanksgiving appetizer has been in high demand in the family for decades.

 


 

“Clown in a Blender”

Susan C. from Lamar’s family gets the award for Best Dish Name, for sure.

Ours is kind of a traditional thing, but the family name is what makes it weird.

Clown In A Blender

Mix a package or so of coconut flakes with a pint of sour cream, cans of drained mandarin oranges and pineapple chunks, and enough colored mini-marshmallows to make it look jazzy.