Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey recipe from Food Network is a marvel. You make a brine out of veggie stock, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice, candied ginger, and salt, naturally. You gently drop your turkey in this bath, let it sit there, picking up flavors, for 8 to 16 hours. Then you roast it, but not without adding more flavor, in the form of a kind of aromatic tea: an apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and some fresh rosemary and sage, microwaved with a little water and stuffed into the bird’s cavity. It yields a tender, juicy turkey, wafting heady holiday flavors. Perfect, right? Except even perfection can be improved on, in this case by a whole tableful of equally amazing sides. Here are 8 that do full justice to Alton’s bird.
Most years, California growers flood the Thanksgiving market with fresh haricot verts (slim, tender green beans). That means November is prime for one of our favorite summer salads. Added bonus: a cool, crisp, vinaigrette-dressed recipe is just the thing to stand up to Alton’s richly aromatic turkey. Get our French Green Bean Salad recipe.
We love cauliflower baked in creamy, cheesy sauces, but this side’s purer, more appropriate for a meal with lots of built-in richness. You boil the cauliflower florets, then fold the pieces into a béchamel sauce flavored with Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, and a bit of cayenne. Bake under panko breadcrumbs, and you’ve got a brilliant side dish. Get our Deviled Cauliflower Casserole recipe.
The best Thanksgiving sides are nuanced and interesting in their own right, but not so outsized that they step on the centerpiece—in this case Alton’s multi-dimensional turkey. Here, sweet potatoes are boiled and mashed, buttered, enriched with a bit of cream, and sweetened subtly with delicious maple syrup. Get our Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes recipe.
Carrots don’t often make it to the Thanksgiving table, but that’s a shame. Their sweetness can be more interesting—subtler—than that of candied sweet potatoes, and, cooked properly, they end up soft-crisp in a way that feels healthy. This is one of the simplest and most satisfying recipes we know. Get our Easy Glazed Carrots recipe.
Parsnips have an old-fashioned quality that just seems right at Thanksgiving, and more than right with Alton’s extravagantly flavored turkey. They deserve to be better known. Here, they’re cut into chunks and roasted in a hot oven with a touch of honey, sherry vinegar, and whole-grain mustard. Get our Honey-Mustard Parsnips recipe.
Brown ‘n’ Serve rolls—the factory-made kind—have nothing on these soft, tender homemade beauties. (If you’re going to put several days into making the best turkey you’ve ever had, you shouldn’t skimp on the rolls, right?) This is a classic yeast dough, enriched with milk, butter, and egg. Get our Classic Soft Dinner Rolls recipe.
The most quietly astonishing fall salad we know. Baby spinach leaves are wilted with shallot, red wine vinegar, and a tough of Dijon mustard, then tossed with toasted pecans given a smoky profile from Spanish pimentón. Standing in for croutons are cubes of sweet potato, light seared and cooked until just tender. Get our Warm Spinach Salad with Smoky Pecans and Sweet Potato recipe.
Think of this as fruitiness squared (or doubled: math was always our week subject). Cranberries are simmered in the usual cranberry-sauce way, with sugar, orange juice, and some orange zest. But—and here’s what makes this recipe distinctive—fresh grapefruit segments are stirred into the cooked, still-warm sauce, to meld flavors and soften. Get our Cranberry and Citrus Sauce recipe.
Header image: AltonBrown.com