The Night Before Thanksgiving, Dinner Is an Underdog

This anti-feast can be more fun, no matter what it is

Melissa McCart
Published in
3 min readNov 25, 2020


Sausage and bowties in a pan
Photo: Robin Gentry/EyeEm/Getty Images

It’s the night before Thanksgiving and the last thing most of us want to do is cook dinner. In any year besides 2020, the Wednesday before the holiday is one of the biggest bar nights of the year, which means wings, burgers, tacos, and drinking snacks.

Since the sensible among us won’t be hitting bars, it’s an opportunity to get creative, whether it’s a takeout spread or any dish that’s a Thanksgiving antithesis. By virtue of the fact that it sidles up to the turkey feast, tonight’s dinner is an underdog meal that’s more casual and just as celebratory. Whether you’re solo, paired up, or enjoying your pod of family or neighbors: If you hadn’t thought of making tonight’s meal special, I’d suggest you come up with a plan to make it so. You deserve it.

Here’s a shortlist of what we’re eating (or drinking) the night before Thanksgiving.

1. Burgers or Sichuan?

For me, the only criterion for my day-before-Thanksgiving dinner is that it bears absolutely no resemblance to Thanksgiving food.

No poultry, no butter, no bread, and nothing that’s ever even been in the same room as a bunch of sage. This tends to be my M.O. when there are big eating occasions on the horizon. (For instance, my sister and law and I do a yearly “burger tour,” and before the last installment a few weeks ago, we abstained from burgers for the whole year. An extreme example, but you get the point.)

Anyway, I think this year’s prime-the-pump-for-turkey/stuffing/gravy-dinner is going to be a Sichuan-y stir-fry: Tofu, bok choy, leeks, bean paste, lots of chile, lots of garlic, lots of fermented black beans. Should do the trick.

Daniel Meyer

2. Sausage and bowties

Every year, for whatever reason, my mother cooked the Wednesday meal ahead of schedule, threw it in the freezer, and thawed it out that morning. It’s easy enough: Brown Italian sausage stripped from its casing. Remove from the pan and set aside. Sweat garlic and a diced onion. Add the sausage back to the pan and pour in diced plum tomatoes, season to taste, and serve over…



Melissa McCart

Editor of Heated with Mark Bittman on Medium. Dog mom. Pho fan. Send me your pitches: