All of the Thanksgiving Flavor Without Any of the Thanksgiving Work
On Trader Joe’s Thanksgiving Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips and Thelonious Monk’s “Stuffy Turkey"
Trader Joe’s Thanksgiving Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips
Everyone is wrong about Thanksgiving.
It’s not about the turkey. It’s not about the pie.
It’s not even about “gathering” with “friends” and “family.”
Thanksgiving is all about the sides.
Stuffing, carrots roasted with balsamic vinegar, Brussels sprouts slathered in a tart pomegranate glaze, various cheese-filled casseroles, cranberry sauce, biscuits, corn pudding, deep, rich gravy poured over pillowy mounds of mashed po-ta-toes…
Need to see it to believe it? Fellow Scene contributor and cookbook author Jennifer Justus recently shared this gorgeous example of a perfectly executed #Sidesgiving:
Look at it! LOOK AT THAT PLATE! HANG IT IN THE LOUVRE. (And also buy Bryant Terry’s Vegetable Kingdom cookbook, as it is absolutely perfect and he pairs every excellent recipe with one of his favorite songs.)
Because I have been a vegetarian for nearly three decades, I have become somewhat of a Thanksgiving sides expert, with stuffing being one of my very favorites. It reminds me of childhood. Growing up, the stuffing was always made first because the stuffing had to go in the turkey, and the turkey had to cook for several hours. To me, stuffing is the epitome of Thanksgiving.
Yes, you can make stuffing vegetarian-friendly with vegetable broth, and yes it will taste every bit as flavorful and comforting even if you don’t cook it in a carcass, and proving this point is Trader Joe’s Thanksgiving Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips.
They taste just like stuffing! Really! Truly!
The moment I opened the bag I was transported to the Thanksgiving mornings of my youth when the smell of sauteed onions, carrots, and celery lingered in the air as I helped my mom pour the hot, buttery, herby broth over a giant bowl of stale, oh-so-thirsty bread cubes. Those bread cubes came back to life in that flavorful nectar and I always snuck a few pieces before she put it in the oven.
All those same warm, happy flavors cover every millimeter of these potato chips.
As a vegetarian does it feel weird to be enjoying a snack with a large turkey on the front of it? Yes. But ‘tis the season and as far as I can tell these chips are meat-free, with all the flavor coming from an expertly balanced long list of spices. No bird, just sea salt, dried onions, black pepper, celery seed, dried parsley, dried rosemary, dried sage, dried thyme, turmeric powder, cane sugar, and molasses powder.
And because the chips are kettle-cooked, they’re thicker, crispier, and crunchier than your average potato chip. They’re hearty enough to hold the spices but you still taste the potato, too, as though you’ve piled both a bit of mashed potatoes and a bit of stuffing onto your fork like the genius that you are.
Honestly, with Thanksgiving being an extra small affair at my house this year, I’m tempted to not bother with making the stuffing at all. I might just make dinner out of a bag of these chips and a store-bought pumpkin pie. I’m tired.
“Stuffy Turkey” by Thelonious Monk
Surprisingly, there were a lot of musical options to pair with this week’s post about herbs and spices.
“Spice Up Your Life,” “Scarborough Fair,” “Herb,” “Dear Rosemary,” “Rosemary,” “Rosemary” again, “Rosemary” again again, and, uh, “Rosemary” for a fourth time?
Why do so many men sing songs about women named Rosemary?
But to celebrate my favorite Thanksgiving side, I want to go with a somewhat obvious choice, yes, but a great song just the same: Thelonious Monk’s “Stuffy Turkey.”
The song, recorded in 1964, is Monk’s version of Coleman Hawkins’ and Sir Charles Thompson’s “Stuffy,” which the duo recorded in 1945.
The original is a little faster, a little swingier, and with a lot of big band vibes, and Monk slows things down just a little bit to better explore the playfulness of what Hawkins and Thompson presented. Monk turns the song into a playground, really, almost tripling “Stuffy”’s three-minute runtime to make room for improvised solos from Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Butch Warren (bass), Ben Riley (percussion), and himself. It’s absolutely delightful.
Bonus: This song is a joy to listen to while cooking, so cue it up when you’re about to begin whatever Thanksgiving meal prep marathon you’ve got scheduled over the next few days. In fact, I take back what I said about just eating chips and pie for dinner. This song makes me want to get in the kitchen and fill my table with all my favorites. Stuffing, carrots roasted with balsamic vinegar, Brussels sprouts slathered in a tart pomegranate glaze, and deep, rich gravy poured over pillowy mounds of mashed po-ta-toes…
The winner of November’s Snack Pack is…
Being a part of the Snack and Destroy community doesn’t just mean you get to read about delicious snacks — you get to eat them, too! Every month I pick one paid subscriber at random and send them their very own Snack and Destroy Snack Pack, an assortment of the goodies I am writing about and/or loving that month.
November’s winner is… Laura H.!
Congrats, Laura! You’ve won a bag of these stuffing-seasoned chips, along with some other fun treats! Check your email — I’ve sent you info on how to claim your prize.
Every Snack and Destroy paid subscriber is automatically entered in each month’s drawing and it’s just $6/month or $60/year to subscribe. Paid subscribers also get bonus Snack and Destroy content — Interviews! Recipes! And more! — and commenting privileges on all posts. Delicious!
One more thing: You might have noticed this week’s newsletter came out on Saturday instead of Friday. Well, yesterday I was too pissed (not surprised, but still very angry) about the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict to finish a post about potato chips. It felt like a dumb waste of time in a trash-fire world. If you, too, are angry and want to do something but aren’t sure where to start, consider donating to the Minnesota Freedom Fund.
You can read more about their mission here.