Thanksgiving may be a national holiday, but there is one region that does it better than anyone else: the Northeast. If you want to throw a delicious and traditional holiday feast, then you have to learn how to do a Northeastern Thanksgiving, because the truth is, we started it all, and after almost 400 years of practice, we have perfected the annual festivities — football, turkey, and all.
Every family and every region has its own holiday traditions, and I'm not saying there is anything wrong with a deep-fried turkey (because how could there be anything wrong with deep-fried anything, really) or Thanksgiving burritos, but the customs of a Northeastern family's Thanksgiving meal top them all. Like most other parts of the country, the Northeastern Thanksgiving menu centers around local ingredients, and from Cape Cod cranberries to Vermont maple syrup, it just so happens that the Northeast has some pretty great regional offerings. Not only is the food amazing, but the Northeast is blessed with the beautiful fall season, which means guests can wear big sweaters, drink hot apple cider, and play football in the leaf piles in the backyard. Doesn't that sound like the most perfect Thanksgiving of them all?
It's time to loosen your belt, pull out your baggy sweater, and study your touch football rules, because here is how to do Thanksgiving the Northeastern way. Trust me, once you've done it, you won't be able to Turkey Day any other way.
1. Invite Everyone You Know
No, seriously. One of the biggest parts of the Northeastern Thanksgiving tradition is to have a house filled with friends and family. Invite your coworker who just moved to town, make sure your cousins book their flights early enough, and make extra name cards for your childhood friends, because in the Northeast, there is room for everyone at the table. If your Thanksgiving feast doesn't have attendance in the double digits, you're doing it wrong. It is a holiday about togetherness, after all — just ask the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags.
2. Roast Your Turkey
Though it may be tempting to try and deep-fry or smoke your turkey, the only way to serve a traditional Northeastern bird is to roast it. It may take hours — or if you are my father, an entire three days, including brining — but nothing beats a slow-roasted turkey. It's juicy, tender, and perfectly golden brown. Plus, it looks picture perfect on your perfectly set dining room table.
Not sure where to start? Try Half Baked Harvest's herb and butter roasted turkey, complete with pan gravy and all. Is your mouth watering yet?
3. Incorporate Seafood
Whether it's seafood chowder before the meal or oyster stuffing for the turkey, no Northeastern Thanksgiving meal is complete without the inclusion of seafood. Even the first Thanksgiving included mussels, clams, lobster, and more, so it's only right that the tradition continues. Besides, who doesn't love a piping hot bowl of chowder with fresh New England clams?
For your Thanksgiving menu, try A Cozy Kitchen's New England clam chowder, complete with corn and pancetta for your eating pleasure.
4. Apples, Apples, And More Apples
Forget serving wine with dessert, because in the Northeast, we use what we have. Apples are a staple fall food anywhere, but in the Northeast — especially in Massachusetts and New York — there are apple orchards just about everywhere you turn. In fact, the first apple tree in the United States was actually planted by the Pilgrims in Massachusetts Bay Colony, so it should go without saying that these are a must-use ingredient for any true Northeastern Thanksgiving.
Instead of going the apple pie route, offer your guests an apple-based drink, like this hot apple cider rum punch from the Brown Eyed Baker.
5. Get Ready To Play Football
Yes, you have seen it in every Thanksgiving rom-com, but it doesn't mean it can't happen in IRL. A Northeastern Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving without a game of backyard touch football. If you want a true Northeastern experience, you have to be ready to throw on an extra sweater, lace up your sneakers, and pass the pigskin around with your friends and family. Enjoy the leaves crunching under your feet and a nice fall breeze outside before the snowpocalypse strikes again. You can even make your own version of Geller Cup — that is, if you're as competitive as Monica and Ross.
For more Thanksgiving ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.