8 Top Chefs Teach Us How To Make Their Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

Elizabeth Brown

While the turkey may steal most of the spotlight during Thanksgiving dinner, it’s really the sides that most of us look forward to—melt-in-your-mouth cornbread, rich squash soup, and the comfort food to end all comfort foods, stuffing.

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In the name of celebrating all that we really love about Thanksgiving—those sides—we invited a collection of superstar chefs to contribute their personal favorite Thanksgiving side dish recipes. The result? A meal that’s American because of its variety, and a spread that’s as diverse as the chefs and their backgrounds. And no, we’re pretty sure no one at your Thanksgiving table will blame you if you introduce a recipe from the likes Jean-Georges or Mario Batali instead of one of your standbys.

Jean Georges

Photo: Jean-Georges Vongerichten

JEAN-GEORGES VONGERICHTEN’S BUTTERNUT SQUASH
Vongerichten—whose empire of restaurants includes Jean-Georges with its four stars from The New York Times and three stars from The Michelin Guide—appreciates Thanksgiving, even though he wasn’t born in the United States.

“Thanksgiving reminds me a lot of Christmas in Alsace,” he told us. “Our family always celebrated by spending the day together, eating and relaxing. On Thanksgiving, I invite my family and friends to my house in the country. We spend the day cooking together and enjoying each other’s company.”

His “Butternut Squash with Balsamic and Chile Panko Crumbs” is emblematic of the holiday—it’s tried-and-true, but with a twist. The chef explains, “Since every part of a Thanksgiving dinner is rich and filling, I wanted to do a lighter dish as a side.”

RECIPE
Serves 8

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash (about 2 ½ pounds)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
5 table spoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup panko crumbs
1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
¼ cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add the whole squash and cook, partially covered, until tender, about 45 minutes. (A knife will pierce the flesh very easily). Drain, cool slightly, then remove and discard the stem and peel. Reserve the seeds, removing and discarding the strings. Transfer the flesh to a large serving dish and mash with a fork into an even layer. Drizzle the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the oil over the squash, and season with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons of the squash seeds in a large skillet over medium-low heat until dry. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and a pinch of salt and toast, tossing occasionally.

When the seeds begin to pop, partially cover the pan. Continue toasting until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then transfer to a plate. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, then toss in the crumbs. When well coated, stir in the thyme, chile, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Toast, tossing occasionally until golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and toasted seeds. Spread the crumb mixture over the squash in an even layer and serve immediately.

Reprinted from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Copyright © 2011. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.

anthony main 8 Top Chefs Teach Us How To Make Their Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

Photo (left): Ellen Silverman. Photo (right): Gramery Tavern

MICHAEL ANTHONY’S RED KURI SQUASH SOUP
Anthony, the Executive Chef and Partner at Gramercy Tavern, is a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving: “It’s one of the few American traditional meals that exists—turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, and pie,” he shared with us. “I think it’s worth upholding.”

The chef offers “Red Kuri Squash Soup with Brussels Sprouts and Apples” (which appears in The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook by Michael Anthony with a history by Danny Meyer), “a dish made of ingredients that are at their best this time of year and can be found in the Northeast—a warm and comforting dish with local and seasonal ingredients feels very traditional to me.”

RECIPE
Serves 6

Ingredients

1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
2 cloves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium leeks (white parts), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
5 shallots, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
6 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed red kuri squash
1⁄2 cup finely diced 2 medium carrots, sliced
Salt and pepper
1⁄2 cup orange juice
6 cups vegetable broth or water
1⁄8 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
31⁄2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
Fresh lemon juice
Large leaves from 6 Brussels sprouts
1⁄2 cup peeled, cored, and finely diced sweet firm apple, such as Honeycrisp, tossed with a little lemon juice

Directions

Tie up the bay leaf, thyme, cloves, and coriander in a piece of cheesecloth to make a sachet. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, shallots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cubed squash and carrots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the orange juice, and simmer until reduced by half. Add the broth, allspice, cinnamon, and sachet, bring to a simmer, and cook until the squash and carrots are very tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a small saucepan, cook 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until it melts and the milk solids turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir the browned butter into the soup, along with the honey. Discard the sachet and set aside 1½ cups of the soup broth. Process the remaining soup in batches in a blender until very smooth and creamy, then pass through a fine-mesh strainer back into the pot. Thin the soup as needed with the reserved liquid; I prefer a thin consistency. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, cover, and keep hot.

In a very small saucepan, cover the finely diced squash with an inch of water, bring to a simmer, and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the squash, toss with the remaining ½ tablespoon butter, and season with salt.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat, then add the Brussels sprout leaves and toss for a minute. Add a splash of water and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and season with salt. Ladle the soup into bowls, then top with the diced squash, apples, and Brussels sprout leaves.

Recipe reprinted from THE GRAMERCY TAVERN COOKBOOK. Copyright © 2013 by Gramercy Tavern Corp. Photographs © 2013 by Maura McEvoy. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.

batali main 8 Top Chefs Teach Us How To Make Their Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

Photo: Mario Batali

MARIO BATALI’S BROILED PUMPKIN WITH APPLES
Mario Batali is known for his Italian-style cooking—an influence that he has incorporated into the way he celebrates Thanksgiving: “Growing up in Seattle, our Thanksgiving feasts were classic American,” he told us. “When I started to host Thanksgiving with my own family, I tried to infuse a bit more Italian-ness into it and focus on different regions each year.” One item that has often been on his menu is “Broiled Pumpkin with Apples”—an exercise in the blending of regions (America and Italy).

The chef says, “The dish is full of the fall flavors we love this time of year: cider, apples, sage, and squash. It’s both sweet and savory and goes perfectly with everything—especially the wine.” Chin-chin!

RECIPE
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup apple cider
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, cut lengthwise in half, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 medium granny smith apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into ½-inch pieces
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Maldon or other flaky sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

Directions

Preheat the broiler. Toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash out on a baking sheet in a single layer (set the bowl aside) and broil, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred in spots and beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Toss the apples with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss with the squash on the baking sheet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash and apples are tender. Return to the bowl.

Meanwhile, bring the cider to a boil in a small saucepan and boil until it is syrupy and reduced to 2 tablespoons. Remove from the heat. Combine the reduced cider, fish sauce, vinegar, and sage in a small bowl and whisk well. Pour over the squash and apples, tossing to coat. Serve, or let stand at room temperature for 1 hour to bring out the flavors. The squash and apples can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

john d 8 Top Chefs Teach Us How To Make Their Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

Photo: John Delucie

JOHN DELUCIE’S TURKEY ROULADE
John DeLucie—whose restaurants include Crown, The Lion, and Bill’s Food & Drink—remembers, “My grandparents were immigrants and they made no bones about how grateful they were to have the opportunity to live and bring their families up here in New York.” And that is something that the recipe for “Turkey Roulade” echoes: “It’s taking something very simple and humble and making much more of it,” the chef explains. “I can divide the tasks and work on it as a family group. Someone rolls the turkey, someone makes the stuffing, and so on.”

RECIPE
Ingredients

1 boneless turkey breast half, about 3 pounds
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup small dice sweet onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
8 ounces button mushrooms, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 bunches fresh spinach, tough stems trimmed
3 tablespoons dried unseasoned bread crumbs salt and fresh pepper

Directions

On a large cutting board, place turkey breast on top of plastic wrap and make a butterfly cut. Cover with additional plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness of 1/2-inch keeping the skin in tact. Roll turkey up and transfer to the refrigerator while you prepare the stuffing. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the onions and garlic until soft, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring, until caramelized around the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the spinach, 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted and any juices have evaporated from the pan, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Once cooled, squeeze lightly to release any excess liquid, then transfer to a bowl and add the bread crumbs. Mix well. Lay the turkey breast flat on a clean work surface and remove the top layer of plastic wrap. Season the skin side of the turkey with salt and pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Turn over so that the skin side is on the plastic wrap. Season the inside of the turkey with salt and pepper. Arrange the spinach-mushroom stuffing over the turkey to reach within 1-inch from all edges.

Carefully roll up the roulade. Using butcher’s twine, tie the roulade at even intervals so that it remains tightly rolled. Rub the outside of the roulade with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and transfer to a rack inside of a shallow baking sheet. Roast until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the very center of the roulade registers 150 to 155 degrees F, usually 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes then slice into 1/2-inch slices and serve hot.

christina tosi 8 Top Chefs Teach Us How To Make Their Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

Photo: Momofuku

CHRISTINA TOSI’S CORNBAKE
Christina Tosi, of Momofuku fame, credits her grandmother for the “Cornbake,” saying, “It’s very Southern-spirited! It’s a family tradition that predates me—my grandmother passed it down to my mother who passed it down to me.” Of course, the chef was able to riff on the recipe: “The original version is made with Jiffy corn muffin mix, but once I had a kitchen all my own, I decided to figure out a way to make it from scratch and really turn up the volume on it.” The result? A side that’s corn bread meets corn stuffing meets corn pudding. “The perfect ‘Cornbake’ is still warm and moist in the center, but with a golden-brown caramelization on top and around the edges,” says Tosi. “I love a good salty-sweet balance.”

RECIPE
Ingredients

1 cup cornmeal
1 1/3 cup AP flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons Sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 ½ cup sour cream
1 14 oz can creamed corn
1 cup fresh corn (or frozen or canned corn)
1 ea egg
3 ea egg yolks
2 tablespoons shortening
½ cup butter, melted

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Stir all of the dry ingredients into a bowl together until homogenous. Combine wet ingredients and stir in until homogenous. Grease a skillet or baking pan (approx 6×6”). Fill with batter and bake at 400 degrees F for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm with salted, crystallized raw honey or pour cereal milk over it. Enjoy!

marc murphy 8 Top Chefs Teach Us How To Make Their Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

Photo: Marc Murphy

MARC MURPHY’S BACON AND BRAISED TURKEY STUFFING
Marc Murphy, the son of a diplomat, encourages a European sensibility in the American cooking at his restaurants Ditch Plains, Kingside, and Landmarc. “When I was a kid, living in Italy, we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving the traditional way because it didn’t exist,” explains the chef. “Now, as an adult living in New York, I love the idea of Thanksgiving and celebrating great food with family and friends.” Well, Murphy is capitalizing on the holiday with the “Bacon and Braised-Turkey Stuffing”—a side that is as American as it gets. According to the chef, the recipe is “a delicious combination of flavors with crispy bacon, brined turkey legs, and all the different fresh herbs—it’s stuffing and it has bacon in it, what more could you ask for?”

RECIPE

Serves 10

Ingredients

For braised turkey:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
2 turkey legs
6 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper
For stuffing:
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 loaf Italian bread, cubed and left out over night
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup sage, chopped
Pulled turkey meat from braised legs
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 cups chicken stock

Directions

Preheat oven to 300° F. To make turkey legs heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Place onions, carrots, and celery in pot and cook until they soften, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place turkey legs in pot and cook until legs are browned, about 10 minutes. Add chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and place pot in middle of oven and cook until meat is falling off the bone, about 90 minutes. Remove legs from pot.

When cool enough to handle shred meat and set aside. To make stuffing increase oven temperature to 400° F. Heat a large 12-inch pan over medium heat and add bacon and cook until crispy. Add onions and celery, cook until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl and add bread, parsley, sage, pulled turkey meat, and mix until combined well. Season with salt and pepper. Place mixture into a 13 x 9 pan and pour chicken stock over.

Bake, loosely covered with a buttered sheet of foil for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake until top is browned, about 15 minutes.

Scenes from the National Restaurant, NYC..

Photo: Geoffrey Zakarian

GEOFFREY ZAKARIAN’S CIDER-GLAZED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Geoffrey Zakarian, whose restaurants include the Lambs Club and the National, is known for his French-inspired cooking, which is complemented by the fact that he was raised in New England. According to the chef, the “Cider-Glazed Brussels Sprouts” (which will appear on the menu for Thanksgiving at the National) employ “a few techniques that combine to make a yummy collaboration between cabbage, cream, apple cider vinegar, and fresh apples.” The recipe is “definitely different” and “wildly delicious,” as well as vegetarian—an example of the creativity that resulted in Zakarian being named “Iron Chef” in 2011 by the Food Network!

RECIPE
Ingredients (makes 8 sprouts)

8 Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon crème fraiche
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider reduction

Directions

Blanch for 1.5 minutes, shock, and then roast Brussels sprouts in a sauté pan for approximately 2 minutes until brown. Season with salt and and pepper and set aside. Mix ingredients for mustard crème fraiche in a bowl. Toss Brussels sprouts in mustard crème fraiche mixture Garnish with crisp prosciutto and chives.

clement 8 Top Chefs Teach Us How To Make Their Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

Photo: The Clement

BRANDON KIDA’S MOTHER’S SHIITAKE MUSHROOM GRAVY

Brandon Kida, at the helm of Clement at the Peninsula Hotel in New York City, is the son of a first-generation Japanese-American father and a fourth-generation Japanese mother. He recalls his experience at Thanksgiving, saying, “Los Angeles is an extremely diverse community and the ability to erase cultural and ethnic lines with a culinary experience is amazing. Every year, my father invites what seems like half the town and cooks up a huge feast. If you can imagine a table filled with Japanese, Mexican, Thai, Colombian, Irish, and Honduran friends, then you can picture what Thanksgiving means to me.”

The recipe for his mother’s “Shiitake Mushroom Gravy” is a reflection of an inspiration from beyond the United States, with the shiitake mushrooms adding “a texture, complexity, and, most importantly, umami (or flavor)—mothers seem to always know best!”

RECIPE

Ingredients

1 gallon turkey stock
5 turkey bones
4 onions ¼’d
4 carrots peeled and 1” cut
4 stalks celery 1” cut
4 clove garlic
Salt and pepper
Rosemary
Thyme
2 cups white wine
1 tablespoon soy
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup cream
6 tablespoon butter (high quality finishing butter)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400° F. Place turkey bones on roasting rack. Roast bones till golden brown. While bones are roasting heat canola oil on medium to high heat in a large rondeau. Sautee mire poix, rosemary, thyme, garlic and salt and pepper till golden and rawness has been cooked out. After the mire poix is golden deglaze with white wine. Reduce to sec. Add the turkey stock, turkey bones and soy. Reduce on low heat till 1 /10 of original volume. Check seasoning and add cream.

Simmer for 5 minutes. Check seasoning again. Remove from heat and add butter and sliced shiitake mushrooms. Mix till emulsified and the mushrooms have wilted. Keep warm but do not boil. If you are making ahead of time chill gravy in ice bath till 38 degrees or less.

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