Unusual Ingredients To Boost Your Thanksgiving Flavor

Unconventional add-ins to boost your Thanksgiving meal

Butter and salt have traditionally been our flavor crusaders during Thanksgiving cooking.

Add extra of either and the meal was bound to be fine. This year, though, we assembled our flavor-boosting ingredients into a full-on utility belt. With these unexpected add-ins in your arsenal, your meal has no chance at blandness.

Seaweed: Thick, briny kombu makes an ideal base for homemade broth, which we use in dishes from gravy and stuffing to Friday's leftover turkey soup. Or whip nori into butter and lace it under the skin of your bird for maximized umami.

Bitters: Think these tiny tinctures are only for shaking or stirring? Wrong. Add a few drops to grandma's pie recipe for heightened flavor: They go particularly well with apple pie. Sweet potato casserole will also benefit from a few dashes: Try orange or cardamom-flavored bitters.

Fish sauce: Taking a cue from inventive San Francisco chefs, we brought the Southeast Asian workhorse into our Thanksgiving stable by adding it to dressing and gravy. Its salty sweetness puts other flavors in silhouette.

Whey: This protein-rich liquid is a spud engineer. It provides structure and velvety texture to classic mashed potatoes.