Your Thanksgiving Menu Essentials: Sichuan-Spiced Turkey, Aioli M

Our Thanksgiving menu is eclectic, and we like it that way

We love a traditional Thanksgiving spread. We really do.

We love the green bean casseroles and the cranberry sauce unmolded from the can. But we hope that the sweet potato-and-marshmallow stalwarts of the world won't take offense that we're spreading our proverbial wings this Thanksgiving, flavor-wise and technique-wise.

Our menu this year is partially inspired by the eclectic flavors we've experienced at non-family Thanksgivings. If you've spent the holiday without immediate family (gasp!), chances are you've feasted with tablemates from all over the place, with all sorts of backgrounds. Perhaps there's been a friend in town from a foreign country. Or maybe your family isn't from America, so your holiday spread is less about turkey and stuffing than the dishes you grew up with and loved.

So for this year's menu, we've got a little bit of this, a little bit of that, thoughtfully deployed and wonderfully flavorful. It's grounded in traditional dishes but with a whole lot of nods to some of our favorite global cuisines. Because really, where would we be, food-wise, without those cooks—grandmas and otherwise—who came before us?

Don't worry, we haven't totally flown the coop: We've still got a turkey, but this year we went for a spatchcocked bird rubbed with a Sichuan-inspired dry brine laced with coriander and fennel seeds (see the recipe). There are mashed potatoes, too, but these silky, luxurious spuds (see the recipe) take a nod from our French friends, made with dreamy Provençal aioli and laced with piment d'Espelette (a smoky spice from the Basque region).

Italy gets a high-five in the form of lardo, draped and melted over thick rounds of roasted Delicata squash (see the recipe). Food Editor Andy Baraghani also put his California background to work: His root-to-stalk ethos shines through in cranberries laced with beets and their greens (see the recipe), and a super fresh salad of chicories, orange and toasted walnuts (see the recipe) is West Coast simplicity at its best.

The stuffing may be the most traditional thing at our table (see the recipe), but it's got a few cheffy touches: fresh fennel, lots of herbs, good country bread, some white wine.

And we're really not saying that you have to eschew any usual, we've-always-done-it-this-way dishes. Tradition has its place. But maybe you'll find yourself experimenting with some far-flung spices, a new technique, a different garnish or two.

And maybe it'll become one of your new classics.

Get the recipes:
• Delicata Squash with Lardo and Marjoram  

• Chicory Salad with Orange and Walnuts
Sichuan-Spiced Dry-Brined Turkey
• Aïoli Mashed Potatoes with Chives
• Cranberries with Beets and Cardamom
• Country Bread Stuffing 

Delicata Squash with Lardo and Marjoram

Partner Tip:

Serve an elegant glass of Santa Margherita Chianti Classico Riserva with your Thanksgiving dinner this year. With notes of wild berry and spice, this versatile wine is the perfect pairing for your holiday spread. Buy a bottle today.

Chicory Salad with Orange and Walnuts

Sichuan-Spiced Dry-Brined Turkey

Aïoli Mashed Potatoes with Chives

Cranberries with Beets and Cardamom

Country Bread Stuffing