Thanksgiving in the Lowcountry

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A PERFECT HOLIDAY MEAL STARTS WITH GREAT INGREDIENTS

Heritage, heirloom, organic, kosher — these are types of fresh turkeys available in the Lowcountry. There’s a bird for every budget, sure to provide great-tasting meat from animals treated with dignity. Look for a turkey raised with no antibiotics and no animal byproducts in its feed and certified by a third-party animal welfare auditor. Turkeys labeled as organic have been fed organic feed, given fresh air and outdoor access, and raised without antibiotics.

Bakedsweet potatoes and sweet potato pie are Southern staples, but tons of other recipes utilize the South’s favorite root vegetable. Look for locally grown sweet potatoes at Cahill's Market in Bluffton and from Otis Daise Sr. and Son Produce on St. Helen Island; their sweet spuds also are available at Bluffton Farmers Market and the new famers market at Honey Horn on Hilton Head Island.

Thanksgiving food2For many, pieswith fillings made from pumpkin, apple and pecans are the most anticipated food item at Thanksgiving dinner. Locally grown apples come from Marshview Farms and Morning Glory Homestead Farm, both on St. Helena Island. The Coastal Discovery Museum and Four Season Farm in Lobeco offer a selection of locally grown pecans.

Collard greens grow in the Lowcountry from October through April, with a cold greenhouse to protect the greens in the winter months. Organic farming has its challenges, such as keeping pests and grass out of the field and ensuring staggered crop planting to maximize harvesting, but the benefit is better flavor and vegetables free of GMOs. Locally, the Brant Family Farm in Varnville grows organic collards and sells them at farmers market throughout Beaufort County.

Cornbread oyster dressing — sometimes called stuffing — is a quintessentially coastal dish when May River oysters are used. For this recipe, many great cooks add a pinch of sugar to the cornbread and use inexpensive white bread from the grocery store because it breaks down into a smooth texture. Order local oysters from the Bluffton Oyster Co. or pick up this side dish ready-made at The Cottage Café & Bakery in Bluffton during the week of Thanksgiving.