We're only half-joking. Yes, there are three weeks to Thanksgiving, with plenty of time to pull it all together. But if you're hosting a Thanksgiving meal this year, it's also time to start planning.
We try to avoid getting caught up in food hype, but we can't help ourselves at Thanksgiving. We pore through the magazines. We try out a bunch of the dishes. We invite friends over for Fakesgiving (more on this year's event tomorrow).
And each year, we're enamored with the Thanksgiving trends that we see across the spectrum of food magazines we receive. This year, we've closely studied 11 of those magazines, charting their Turkey Day recommendations. As we have in previous years, tomorrow we'll be publishing the 2012 Thanksgiving Index -- a round-up of all the dishes recommended this year by all 11 of those magazines.
But first, here's what we're seeing in this year's trends.
We made nifty little word clouds (using Wordle) based on all the food mags' different recipes. It's a cool way to visualize the most popular keywords for this year's feast. The image at the top of this post represents all the Thanksgiving recipes in this year's magazines -- that's the list we'll be sharing with you tomorrow. Here are some other word clouds tracking different parts of The Big Meal.
Turkey Hits The Grill: Five of the food magazines we track are presenting methods for grilling your turkey or in some cases, smoking turkeys on the grill or in a smoker. Grilled turkey was a non-entity in last year's magazines. It's time to bundle up and take that turkey outside -- a method we've already tried (more on that soon) and highly recommend.
cranberry sauce trends
Trends in cranberry sauces, minus "cranberry,"
"sauce," "compote," etc. [click image to enlarge]
Orange Overtakes Ginger: While ginger dominated the cranberry sauces last year, this year's are all about citrus, with orange being the predominent flavor. Apricot makes a strong showing as well, showing up in a few magazines -- there were no apricot recipes last year.
Sweet Potato Takeover! Unlike in previous years, recipes for sweet potato dishes outnumber those for white potatoes. Mashed remains the most popular preparation. And bourbon is sneaking into quite a few potato dishes in 2012.
Trends in stuffings and dressings, minus
"stuffing" and "dressing." [click image to enlarge]
Leeks! Leeks are very popular as a stuffing add-in, appearing across dishes in at least four magazines. No stuffings last year mentioned leeks as a key ingredient.
Trends in desserts. [click image to enlarge]
For Thanksgiving Dessert, It's Still All About Pie: Thanksgiving desserts continue to be all about pie. Sure, there are cakes, crumbles and cheesecakes, but they're all dwarfed by the number of pie recipes being shared this year.
More Kale This Year: Though it's unsurprising given its popularity and ubiquity this year, kale is showing up in more Thanksgiving dishes than ever before. It's creamed with other greens, braised, served as a salad and even as a main ingredient in stuffing.
Those Parker House Rolls: Four magazines are featuring recipes for rolls this year, especially the ever-popular Parker House Rolls that show up this year in both Food Network and Bon Appetit.
No Soups: Is soup necessary at Thanksgiving? The food magazines don't seem to think so -- unlike in previous years, when we've seen tons of soups in the magazines. Only one magazine, Cooking Light, includes a soup recipe this year.
Goodbye, Vegetarian Mains: Last year we added a whole new category for Vegetarian Mains because four magazines featured vegetarian main dishes. The vegetarians are out of luck this year -- there are no dishes we saw specifically called out as vegetarian mains.
Poor Corn: It happened two years ago and again last year. And now it's happened again this year. Corn just can't catch a break at Thanksgiving. There are only two corn dishes this year. We'll be sharing one of our own with you this month.
What's your take on this? What trends are you excited about this year? And which trends will make an apperance on your table this year?