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Fun Ideas for Reinventing the Classic Thanksgiving Meal

Turkey and mashed potatoes are so last 400 years.

Photo by Lauren Jeziorski

Sitting around the Thanksgiving table, some of us might have wistfully mused what it would be like to try a different approach. The Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, greens and cornbread bring us all back to another time, anchoring us to those childhood memories, the bustling kitchen, helping grandma set the table, saying grace. Traditions are great, but sometimes it's appropriate to mix things up. Thanksgiving typically sets the stage for the holiday feasts to come, and inevitably, those imminent New Year's resolutions. So BLAC thought it would be a good time to mix up the traditional menu and give you some ideas for reinventing the beloved Thanksgiving feast.

Chef Elihu Muhammad, owner of Detroit's Cilantro Bistro, knows a little something about constructing and deconstructing menus. "As a chef, I'm always – and have always been – fascinated with food flavors in its many forms it can take," Muhammad says. "I pose a question to you: Have you ever thought of trying something different for Thanksgiving? Allow me to acquaint you with (some) of my favorite dinner items that I love to share with family and friends." Check out some of Chef Muhammad's favorites.

The protein

Atlantic salmon

"Try it oven roasted (with) garlic herb North African couscous and ginger lemon glaze."

Cornish hen

"This tiny foul is great when you still want the bird but not all the work. Stuff this little bird with risotto rice and a little dried cherries or cranberries and thyme."

A little something on the side

Creamed spinach

"I love a good creamed spinach, it works great with any seafood or poultry. Try it with the above-mentioned dishes."

Buttery corn fritter

"There's nothing like a buttery corn fritter. It's a New Orleans classic and will be magical for Thanksgiving."

Cauliflower mashed

"A lovely light replacement for the traditional 'smashed' potato. Here's a quick tip if you still crave that potato texture: add one to three Yukon golden potatoes to your cauliflower. (You'll) cut the carbs but keep all the flavor."

The dessert

Mini apple and blueberry pastry pie

"This can be cut and served as an individual mini dessert, quick and as simple is its moniker. In case you didn't know … this is a play on a classic Native American dessert created by our Native brothers and sisters. To take things to the next level, add oven toasted crushed pecans with a little butter and brown sugar."

Get Chef Elihu's mini apple and blueberry pastry pie recipe, plus one for an Ethopian berbere spice rub and real cranberry sauce!

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