The Second Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Fantasy Draft: What dishes would you pick?

Categories: The List

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It's that time of year again: Time to gather around a table of people you don't know or don't like, shovel uninspiring food into your face and then retire to the couch and wait for the Tryptophan to get working.

But what if it wasn't that way? What if you could build your perfect meal? Last year, I enlisted both of my friends, Melissa and Vince, for the first-ever Thanksgiving Dinner Fantasy Draft.

Commenters determined that Melissa dominated those festivities; now it's time for redemption. With 27 dishes on the table, we randomly selected a draft order*, then picked foods until they were gone. The objective: Amass the best complement of dishes to help make it through Thanksgiving without stabbing anyone.

Who won? You be the judge.

*In the tradition of fantasy drafts, the order "snakes" -- so while Melissa won the first pick, she'll draft last in Round 2, and so on.

AVAILABLE DISHES
Meat (pick one): Turkey, turducken, tofurkey. Sauces (pick one): gravy, cranberry sauce, apple sauce. Carbs (pick two): stuffing, mash potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie, rolls, cornbread. Veggies (pick two): creamed corn, creamed spinach, Brussel sprouts, green bean/broccoli casserole, butternut squash soup, green salad. Desserts (pick two): apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, vanilla ice cream, cinnamon ice cream, cheesecake. Beverages (pick one): milk, beer, wine

1. Melissa: Turkey

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This year, I'm picking turkey first. It's the most expensive item on the table. The longest and most difficult to cook. Turkey: You are the epicenter of Thanksgiving, and I love you.

2. Joe: Gravy

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What the ...? Have you forgotten the Draft Day Miracle of 2008, when you wisely established gravy as the Adrian Peterson of Thanksgiving foods? Well, I'm glad you did. Gravy, suckers. GRAVY. I can draft nothing but dry rolls and turkey carcasses from here on out and I'll be happy as a fat man in Tuscany.

3. Vince: Apps

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I'm going off the board with my first pick. I know this is "against the rules," but it's not my fault that you guys didn't have better draft preparation. You're so focused on dinner and dessert that you failed to scout appetizers.

I'm going with the bountiful appetizer platter here. Give me 17 handfuls of cauliflower and cherry tomatoes dipped in ranch. Give me the chicken salad on crackers, warm pumpernickel slathered in spinach-artichoke dip, mozzarella with basil and olive oil, and bruschetta. See, I do the cooking for our Thanksgiving dinner, and between the hangover from the night before, the copious amounts of beer consumed the following morning, and staring at all the dinner foods for five hours while I prepare them makes me want to eat anything else in the world for dinner, even Arthur Treacher's. The appetizer platter is where it's at for me.

4. Vince: Beer

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Speaking of beer, that's my second pick. You sober fools can enjoy each other's company. I'll stare at you, nod and pretend I'm listening while little Christmas Ale-festooned angels dance around my head.

5. Joe: Turducken

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Great call, Vince ... if you were drafting a Superbowl Party. But this is Thanksgiving, and at Thanksgiving, there is no room for appetizers. Hell, there's barely room for vegetables.

With that said: I'm drafting Turducken. For the uninitiated, the turducken is a partially de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck (and sometimes -- as in this time -- wrapped in bacon). It's the greasy lovechild of Julia Child and John Madden, and it will be even more heart-stoppingly delicious when floating in my bathtub of gravy.

6 and 7. Melissa: Cranberry sauce and cornbread

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Joe, I could not agree more with your assessment of time-wasting appetizers. Pre-meal, the only warm up anyone needs is serious hydration in whatever form works best for you.

Later in the draft I will divulge my 2009 strategy, but for now I'm taking cranberry sauce and cornbread.

As sauces go, gravy simple drowns whatever it is you are eating. Apple sauce is fine for those with a simple palette. Cranberry, however, mixes the perfect consistency with a fresh and zippy tang that pairs perfectly with any other elements of the feast.

Then there's cornbread. Gritty, sweet, salty, delicious cornbread. Yes, please.

8. Joe: Apple pie

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Time for a safety pick: Being a complete weirdo, I don't really like pecan or pumpkin pie. I've always been an apple man, and on Thanksgiving that's always served me well: While everyone fights over the last piece of pumpkin, I'm on the couch, eating the apple pie straight from the tin and cursing the Lions.

So, to make sure I have something for dessert, I pick Apple pie. What can I say: I'm a patriot.

9. Vince: Tofurkey

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I suppose, by rule, I have to select one option from the "meat" department, and Tofurkey will have to be it, though I have little intention of eating it. At some point during the day I'll get a little too drunk, a relative will go on just a little too long about their garden or their new oven or how often they cut their grass during the summer, and I'll feel the need to throw something. Thus, Tofurkey.


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