Chatelaine Kitchen

How to throw a Thanksgiving potluck

When hosting a potluck I like to do the main course. Turkey doesn’t intimidate me anymore, in fact it’s one of the easiest main courses in my repertoire. But I also love a roast pork, beef bourguignon or even our school favourite, lasagna.

Although turkey isn’t in my Top 10 favourite foods, I love traditional Thanksgiving dinner because of my mom’s stuffing. And because a roast turkey has the inevitable conclusion of turkey sandwiches, turkey pot pies and turkey-rice soups (three of my favourite things).

But Thanksgiving always seems like a chance to do something different. When I was in university I lived too far away from home to make the trip for a three-day weekend, so my friends and I started a new Thanksgiving tradition that I’ve carried on almost every year since. We called it “orphans’ Thanksgiving” because we seemed to be the only people left in tiny Sackville, NB after all the other students (whose families lived closer) had gone home. We were a weird clutch of vegetarians, carnivores, cooks and novices…and we were all living on shoestring budgets. So our potluck Thanksgiving feast was usually a spread of vegetarian lasagna, spinach salad, a lentil curry, some store-bought cookies and a loaf of bread. Definitely no turkey – it was too expensive and seemed too complicated to attempt without my mom around.

In the years since, I’ve often re-created the event – but with better food! When hosting a potluck I like to do the main course. Turkey doesn’t intimidate me anymore, in fact it’s one of the easiest main courses in my repertoire. But I also love a roast pork, beef bourguignon or even our school favourite, lasagna. I ask my friends to bring appetizers, sides, dessert and wine. It might seem bossy, but it’s best to ask for specific items, “Candice, can you please bring a green salad? Adam, could you bring an appetizer that won’t need to go in the oven?” That way you’re assured of having a complete menu, and Adam won’t show up with a hot dip that needs to go into the already-stuffed oven!

But speaking of doing something different, this year (since we live just a few hours away) we will head to mom and dad’s for a big dose of celery and sage stuffing — and turkey and pumpkin pie. And when we pack up the car to come home, fingers crossed that mom will hand over a pot pie, a stack of sandwiches and half the carcass for soup!