Tuesday, November 15, 2016

An Arkansas Thanksgiving Dinner.

What is the quintessential Arkansas Thanksgiving dinner? That's like asking what's your favorite type of gift... there are so many choices.  From the Delta to the Ozarks, there are just some things that come to everyone's table.

Here are the items that make a spectacular Thanksgiving - including plenty of options on where to get each item.


1.  Ham.  Each year around the holidays, Petit Jean Meats produces, mails and provides in-store 100,000 bone-in hams and 80,000 boneless hams for the dinner table. Grocery stores throughout Arkansas carry those hams, but if you’d prefer the convenience of having your holiday meat delivered straight to the house, place your order this morning it’ll arrive in time — as long as you live in the state of Arkansas. Additional shipping charges may apply.

You can also order a double-Arkansas favorite - Coursey's smoked hams. The Courseys take an already splendid Petit Jean ham, rub it well with their own spices and stick it in the smoker for a while (they also do turkeys and smoked sausages).

2.  Turkey.  Burge's Smoked Turkeys are very popular for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it's not too late to get yours. Jeff Voyles, the owner, says they'll have plenty, but suggests coming in a few days in advance of the holiday, since there's always a day-before rush. The store on R Street in the Heights will be busy, but you'll be able to get your whole turkey, smoked turkey breast and more -- even some side dishes -- there. Burge's sells around 12,000 whole smoked turkeys a year, but the spiral sliced half-ham is the company’s biggest seller.

Hillcrest Artisan Meats carries Freckle Face Farm turkeys as well as locally raised chickens and ducks available.

If you're wanting to get your own turkey, Sim's Barbecue will smoke it for you, but you need to call first and make sure they have room. You drop off your bird in the morning and go fetch it in the afternoon.

Also, check with Cross Eyed Pig BBQ Company -- which does excellent smoked turkeys and hams.

Consider a whole turducken (a hen stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey) from Floyd's Meat And Seafood (this is also where you get oysters if you want to make oyster stuffing).

Other places around the state smoking turkeys:
M & J's in Ozark
Breitweiser's Meat Market in Benton





3.  Dressing. Repeat after me - stuffing is Northern, dressing is Southern.  Dressing is what you want beside your turkey or ham - with or without gravy.

I've bragged before on the chicken dressing from Dan's I-30 Diner in Benton. It's absolutely marvelous and moist, and even if you're having turkey, the chicken in the dressing will be quite excellent.

But it's not the only dressing on the block. If you're in the Lower Delta, arrange to get yourself a pan of the famous Squash Dressing from Pickens and Son Commissary south of Dumas. It's crazy good and yet different.

Or give eggplant casserole a try as your side. Franke's Cafeteria offers many of its popular menu items in family portions for the holidays, including its famed eggplant casserole and whole pies, such as egg custard, pumpkin and cinnamon.

4.  Potatoes au Gratin.  Diane's Gourmet in Little Rock offers a variety of amazing side dishes and desserts, including one of the best renditions of potatoes au gratin around.  You'll also find broccoli cheese casserole, mac and cheese, cheese crackers and baked pies available there.

5. Divine Mac and Cheese comes from Capers, which has an extensive order form from its Market at Capers store. This is also where you can get your Cranberry Jezebel sauce.

6.  Green Beans.  I cannot stand green bean casserole.  Fortunately, my brother usually eats ALL of it over the course of the afternoon, so no worries there.  Plain green beans are all right, but if you're looking for something to pick up that will be light, delicious and particularly wonderful, check with the folks at Catering To You for some of their marvelous Green Bean Almondine.

7.  Sweet Potato Casserole.  Okay, most everyone should know how to make sweet potatoes by now, but if you're really in a pinch, go get a pan.  Terry's Finer Foods does an excellent rendition.

8.  Bread.  My mom makes crockpot cornbread stuffing for the holidays from her own fresh-baked cornbread, usually from War Eagle Mill Cornmeal Mix.  But butterflake rolls from Ed's Custom Bakery are also usually on the table.  Other choices that would achieve the epic rating for your dinner table:  Boulevard Bread Company's Pagnotta (GREAT for sopping up a little giblet gravy), Community Bakery's Pocketbook Rolls.


9.  Pies.  With the demise of Chip's Barbecue, this year my sights are on Honey Pies, the new pie shop on Little Rock's Bowman Road. Six different varieties of Thanksgiving pies are available, including Pumpkin Meringue and Sweet Potato Meringue. And you can purchase the pre-made Honey Pies dough (rolled or unrolled) to make your own at home.

Want to make your own fabulous Thanksgiving dinner from scratch? Check out these Arkansas Thanksgiving recipes.

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