On Thanksgiving, families across the nation will sit down to plates piled high with potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, turkey and, possibly, a thick slab of ham.
Undoubtedly, the mountains of potatoes will tumble over the meat, and the gravy will seep into the cranberry sauce.
Most diners are happy with culinary collision, and local chefs have taken note.
Many Delaware restaurants now offer riffs on the traditional meal. Some are appealing. Others might make diners cluck with disapproval.
One of the “I-dare-you-to-eat-it” foods is The Gobbler at Grotto Pizza, which is topped with roast chicken, stuffing, turkey gravy and a cheese blend. Instead of tomato sauce, cranberry sauce forms the classic Grotto spiral.
Why chicken instead of turkey? Chicken is already a standard topping, explained Jeffrey Gosnear, vice president of the Rehoboth Beach-based pizza chain.
The pizza has received mixed reviews, he acknowledged.
“I’m impressed,” one Facebook wrote under a photo of The Gobbler. “Not enough to eat it, but I’m impressed.”
Admittedly, a pizza with stuffing and turkey gravy pushes the envelope. Delaware diners are more familiar with Capriotti’s Bobbie sub.
The sandwich shop first opened in 1976 in Wilmington’s Little Italy. Lois and Alan Margolet named the business for their mother’s family, and to differentiate it from competitors, they roasted turkey, shredded it and tucked it into sub rolls. Soon, they were roasting up to 12 turkeys a day.
However, Capriotti’s has made national news thanks to the Bobbie, which is dedicated to the founders’ Aunt Bobbie. Like any good sandwich made with leftovers, it includes roast turkey, mayonnaise, cranberry sauce and stuffing. In 2009, AOL named the Bobbie the Greatest Sandwich in America.
The Bobbie is available all year. Wawa’s Gobbler, however, is a seasonal item.
The original sandwich features hot turkey in a savory gravy with stuffing and cranberry sauce. Mashed potatoes and garlic aioli are optional. Or, substitute mashed sweet potatoes. The mix is also available in a bowl.
Not to be outdone, Thompson Island Brewing Co. in Rehoboth Beach this year debuted a version of Thanksgiving on a roll.
For Burger & Beer Month in November, Chef Doug Ruley seasoned a turkey burger with sage, dipped it in a buttermilk egg wash and dredged it in seasoned flour. On top: mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, crispy onions and cranberry-walnut aioli. The stack sits on a potato bun with pumpkin pie-spiced sweet potatoes on the side.
Some chefs prefer to focus on one component of the meal.
At Two Stones Pub, owner Mike Stiglitz came up with “Hipster Candied Yam Pile,” a heap of sweet potato fries topped with Vermont maple molasses, Fluff crema, natural brown sugar and toasted black walnut gremolata.
With so many options, Thanksgiving Dinner has flavors that keep on giving — before, on and after the main event.