With the holiday coming this week, I thought it would be fun to get to know a couple of our Chefs around town and what makes them excited for the big meal. Each Chef tells us what their favorite Thanksgiving dish is to make and then I’ve posted a link to a similar recipe. Just in case you’re interested in whipping up some of these goodies on turkey day too.
Chef Tracy Dempsey of Tracy Dempsey Originals, who just opened the doors of her storefront for the first time last week, tells us about her favorite Thanksgiving dish. “My favorite Thanksgiving Day dish is the dressing! I have never been a fan of the stuffing as it gets too mushy. My grandmother always made a pan of the dressing in addition to the stuffing inside of the turkey. I loved how crunchy the top would get. A pan of drawing was always present at our Thanksgiving table. Of late, my husband and I continue the tradition and have experimented with other variations. My most recent favorite was the cheese and spicy chorizo dressing we made. As you know, it is pretty much savory bread pudding but it is pretty special. Chuck (my husband) makes chorizo at home with meat he grinds himself. He can be pretty heavy handed with the chiles (which I love) so the cheese provides a nice balance. We added some roasted local poblanos to the mix and a sprinkling of cotija. It was a great way to use up some ends and pieces of bread from Noble Bread. This dish and the chile rubbed turkey made for great leftovers, too!”
Chef Gregory Wiener from Top of the Rock Buttes, gives us a little peek inside his childhood memories of Thanksgiving and two of his favorite dishes from his parents. “Thanksgiving was always an amazing meal with my family. We would trek three hours to spend time with my father’s extended family. Meaning all of my cousins, uncles and aunts, grandparents and even people I didn’t know. There was always like 50 ppl there. The kids would go sledding and the men would go hunting. We would gather and play poker for quarters and watch the Packers beat up the Lions every year. So when my parents opened up our family restaurant, Thanksgiving went away with the family and it became a day that we joined everyone’s family. It was always a really busy day with our famous family style dinner. My mother, who managed the FOH, was an amazing baker and she made the best banana cream pie from scratch. It started with the crust which was flakey and buttery. Then the fresh filling was poured over ripened bananas and whipped Chantilly cream finished it off. Man I loved that pie growing up. I have a second dish that reminds me of Thanksgiving and family and that is Waldorf salad. My father made his version with apples, celery, dark raisins, Maraschino cherry’s, and a sour cream dressing. It was good, I hated it back then and since reimagined it into my own creation. I love using Local Honey Crisp apples, Celery Seeds and Hearts, Fresh Cherries, Golden Raisins and a Tarragon Crème Fraiche Dressing with a touch of agave for sweetness. His version was much simpler and humble, while mine a little more luxurious. I only make the Waldorf salad over the holidays, especially for company Christmas or holiday parties.”
Chef Kelly Fletcher from El Chorro, goes into what makes a great potato and how he makes them perfect for his holiday spread. “Potatoes, Idaho, boiled whole, peel and boil them whole. Never cut them into pieces, they take in too much water and end up with a weird texture, so you always boil them whole until they are just soft enough to mash. For every four large potatoes, I use one pound of butter, cut this into very small cubes. While whisking the potatoes, throw in the butter until it becomes this super creamy whip, almost like the most delicate potato you have ever had. I then fold in some dried cranberries that I’ve chopped up and minced thyme. There you have it, an amazing cranberry thyme mashed potato.”
Want that perfect whip potato, here’s a recipe that might get you something almost as good as Chef Fletcher’s.
Chef Stephen Jones from The Larder + The Delta, tells us his fav dish in a few words. “My favorite Thanksgiving dish that I love to eat is my grandma’s braised collard greens. There’s nothing like it, she makes it with lots of onions, smoked pork shoulder and turkey neck too.”
Here’s a recipe for braised collard greens, you’ll have to ask Chef Jones’ grandma for the recipe with the smoked pork shoulder and turkey neck in it.
Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted: “Dale DeGroff shares his uncle Angelo’s eggnog recipe and he uses this nice spiced rum, whiskey, eggs, heavy cream, a little bit of sugar. It’s a multi step process to make the drink, however, it’s actually really executable because you can do it in advance of guests coming over. What happens is you get this lovely base of eggnog and then you whip these eggs whites and it’s kind of like clouds. Then some of the egg whites will melt into the drink, so you have eggs whites on top and you finish it with a sprinkle of nutmeg and it’s amazing, great crowd pleaser!”
Chef Justin Beckett from Southern Rail and Beckett’s Table talks about how to elevate those leftovers: “My favorite thing to eat around Thanksgiving is the “leftover sandwich”. I am a huge fan of crusty bread slathered with mayo, a layer of cold mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing (yes bread on more bread), shaved turkey dipped in gravy, vine ripe tomatoes, lettuce and a slice of sharp white cheddar. If I eat the Thanksgiving feast early enough in the day I will eat this sandwich before bed but more often than not it is a next day for breakfast thing. I love The Noble Bread country loaf or the seeded bread for this sandwich. It can hold up to any toppings or slathering of sauce. I like to get fresh cranberries from McClendon at the farmers market. I stew my cranberries down with orange juice, orange zest, brandy and sugar. For the gravy I like to start with a “double chicken stock,” fortify it with roasted turkey bones and veggies and then thicken it with a medium dark roux.”
All this talk of food is making me hungry! Cheers to the holiday my fellow foodies 🙂