Wining & Dining
Bring SWLA Traditions to the Holiday Table
12/1/2020 1:00:00 PM

Holiday tables across Southwest Louisiana usually have one thing in common: they are full of mouth-watering dishes that give a nod to tradition.  

Foods like juicy, tender, mouth-watering turkeys stuffed with Grandma’s cornbread dressing, succulent hams with pineapple rounds and plump cherries perched on top, cheesy broccoli casseroles, candied yams with gooey, melted marshmallows, rice dressing, green bean casseroles topped with crunchy fried onions, mashed potatoes and gravy, buttery, fluffy dinner rolls, and of course, cranberry sauce. 

These are everyone’s favorite comfort foods, all in one day, and nobody cooks up comfort quite like southerners do. 

With down-home recipes that have been honed to perfection through the years, tables decked out in rich colors, and favorite serving platters, the scene is set. 

Holiday tables in these parts are smorgasbords of gastronomical delights offering up bold flavors and dishes to remember. 

Although casseroles of every sort take center stage right alongside the turkey or ham at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, some like to add boudin, crawfish, gumbo, or something caught during hunting season to the tables. This is Cajun Country after all!

Speaking of Cajuns, nobody ever said only turkey or ham could be served as the main dish. For a showstopper, consider a turducken for the main course. Turducken is a dish that consists of a chicken stuffed inside a duck that’s then stuffed inside a turkey, hence the name; a combination of the words turkey, duck, and chicken. It may sound quirky, but it’s tasty. 

In recent years, fried turkey has been all the rage. Deep-frying a turkey makes it crispy on the outside and ever-so-juicy on the inside. 

For those with a sweet tooth, some folks have separate dessert tables laden with decadent pies and other sweet treats. Guests will find everything from pecan and pumpkin to lemon meringue and chocolate pies. Not to mention cookies, fudge, banana nut bread, divinity, and bread pudding. 

All of those things are melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but many have taken to tweaking some menu items over the years to give dishes an added boost. 

For instance, why serve the same old cranberry sauce from the can (even if you’ve been doing it forever) when you can jazz up the dish by using fresh cranberries and adding ingredients such as orange zest, fresh ginger, and cinnamon (a basic recipe is on the bag). Those little berries do a lot more than just perk up your table, though. They are colorful, delicious, and packed with antioxidants. 

Serving up turkey or ham with all the trimmings makes for great leftovers the next day – there’s nothing better than a turkey or ham sandwich with a little dressing and cranberry sauce on the side (or inside the sandwich, if preferred.) 

Finally sitting down to that long-anticipated holiday dinner with family or friends, especially after a difficult year like 2020, is the perfect opportunity to look around the table and give thanks for the special people in your life while recalling memories of ones who are no longer here. Enjoying incredible food while fellowshipping with loved ones is the cherry on top. May everyone find something to be truly thankful for this year, despite the many hardships. 

Happy holidays! 

Posted by: Brooke Lawton  | Submit comment | Tell a friend




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