Broccoli Salad, Thanksgiving or Tailgate Side. I simply couldn’t help myself thinking about it, for although many folks across this country shall don their tables for the big roasted turkey with stuffing set upon tablecloths with fine china, crystal, and shiny polished silverware, still, there are plenty of others, including those in warm weather states, whose celebratory gatherings on Thanksgiving Day features football, perhaps even with a fried or smoked turkey at a big ole tailgate.
Certainly festive enough for any occasion, I prepared this Broccoli Salad for Christmas Dinner at my sister-in-laws last year and it went over well, warming the bacon dressing just a bit and tossing throughout around fifteen minutes before serving which might also then be easily transferred to the Tailgate table, including the added convenience of advance preparation. One of the guests last year had inquired for the recipe which I had been certain to post shortly afterward, but the photo didn’t quite turn out as I had wanted and then as in any Post, once the photo is done… the field kick is over… until next time… which is sometimes not until something like the next preseason when I go into my incomplete file on the drafts screen.
One of the clinchers with this Broccoli Salad is that it has bacon. And bacon grease.
Come on now, just like any game, one should always know what the competition is doing, and, bacon, well bacon is bacon, and it sure seems to be popular in the Tailgate scene, including when used liberally.
Now you don’t think I was going to make a big Broccoli Salad with only 5 pieces of bacon did you? Actually I used a total of 12 slices of bacon for this salad plus bacon grease, but getting back to photography, 5 just fit on the plate nicer.
And then it has cheese. Bacon. Bacon Grease. Cheese.
Resuming to the healthy: fruit plus vegetables. Tackle that. Broccoli, Cheddar, Bacon, Dried Cranberries Salad, perfect for a Thanksgiving side, or, your Tailgate Table. Either way may your blessings be many and your food be abundant. Happy Thanksgiving.
- 9-10 cups broccoli, approximately 3 large sized crowns
- 1 medium sized red onion, chopped finely
- 2 1/4 cups dried cranberries
- 2 1/4 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
- 12 strips crisp cooked bacon, chopped, grease reserved
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 plus 1/4 cup white vinegar
- couple pinches coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Cut broccoli into small florets and drop into a large pot of boiling, salted water. Cook five to six minutes until broccoli is just tender through, drain, refresh in ice water to stop from further cooking, drain again, let dry. Cook bacon in batches, transfer crisped strips to paper toweling. After each batch use a spatula to scrape bacon grease into a small bowl. Chop cooled bacon. Place broccoli in a large serving bowl, tumble in onions, dried cranberries, and bacon, stir gently throughout. Return reserved bacon grease to cooking pan on medium low heat, once warm, add in sugar and white vinegar, stir to blend, cook until sugar has dissolved, taste, check to add a bit more sugar or vinegar if desired. Turn off heat.
- If serving shortly after preparation, stir cheese throughout broccoli salad, pour over dressing one third at a time gently folding throughout, using just enough dressing to fully coat the mixture. Sprinkle in salt, stir, check seasoning, adjust to taste.
- If serving the following day, combine all ingredients except the cheese and dressing, cover and refrigerate until one hour before serving. Heat dressing in microwave around 35 seconds until barely warmed. Blend cheese through broccoli salad, pour in dressing one-third at a time stirring gently throughout and using just enough dressing to fully coat the mixture. Sprinkle in salt, stir, check seasoning, adjust to taste.
- For Tailgating: Prepare broccoli salad one day in advance combining all ingredients except the cheese and dressing stored in separate containers. Before transport place dressing into microwave around 20 seconds, just until bacon grease is not congealed. Keep at room temperature. Toss cheese through broccoli salad, keep chilled until one hour before serving. Fifteen minutes before serving pour dressing one third at a time into broccoli salad, stirring gently throughout using just enough dressing to fully coat the mixture. Sprinkle in salt, stir, check seasoning, adjust to taste.