Monday, November 24, 2014

11 Things To Pick Up For An Epic Arkansas Holiday.

Panicking over putting together the perfect holiday dinner here in Arkansas?  Here's some advice on the 11 things you should consider for your family dining traditions.  Click the links provided for ordering information. Be sure to order early -- and if you can't be early, call ahead and make sure what you need and want is still in stock.

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.

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).

Butcher and Public offers a variety of holiday meats -- from turkeys to hams to lamb and even more.  Check with Travis for your meat needs -- and while you're at it, pick up some sorghum breakfast sausage.

3.  Dressing. You cannot beat 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.

4.  Eggplant Casserole. 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.

5.  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.

6.  Cranberries.  Honestly, I can't stand most cranberries (too many slurping solid chunks from cans as a kid, I suppose) but I can eat the tar out of the cranberry orange relish at E's Bistro in North Little Rock.  Elizabeth's also carrying green bean bundles, dressing and pies.

7.  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.

8.  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.

9.  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, Silvek's European Bakery's Hallah Bread.

10.  Pepper Jelly. Wait, what?  Okay, you can have your cranberries... I like pepper jelly as a condiment with my turkey.  I'm a big fan of Liz and Linda's Pepper Jelly, but anyone who makes a good one is AOK in my book.

11.  Pies.  This year, a lot of fantastic pies have come onto the scene.  Order yours in advance from your favorite pie shop -- or consider some of the new offerings for the crop -- such as  Bourbon Pecan Pie at Local Lime and Big Orange; French Apple Pie from Terry's Finer Foods; and all sorts of pies at Sweet Love.
There are of course many chain operations offering made-and-done turkeys and Thanksgiving dinners at places such as Cracker Barrel and Copeland's -- and of course you can still pick up a Thanksgiving dinner from Kroger or Edward's Food Giant. These will run you anywhere from fifty to eighty dollars.


  1. I'm with you on the whole green bean casserole thing, but my mom makes what she calls "Italian green beans"... onion soup mix, butter, and mozzarella cheese baked with the beans. THAT I can eat the tar out of!

  2. Looks like a perfect Thanksgiving spread to me!

  3. Never heard of Eggplant casserole, but that sounds so good!

  4. We'll have to teach @SarahShotts about eggplan casserole! She's missing a little piece of nirvana! I make a mean Cranberry Habanero Jelly that you'll have to try:)


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