Let's give thanks to four local chefs for putting a twist on a traditional turkey day meal.
You may love your grandmother's stuffing, but the fluffy, bready side dish is just full of possibilities. Peachtree Southern Kitchen and Cocktail chef and owner Matthew Mathlage likes to use thick-cut bacon, oysters and seafood stock to create a hearty, smoked dish. "A turkey needs more salt added to it, so the brininess of the oysters usually elevates the turkey pretty well," he says.
1 loaf Italian bread, cut into ¾-inch pieces
½ pound bacon, rough chop
1 medium onion, minced
3 ribs celery, minced
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 cups seafood stock
12 oysters, shucked and chopped
2 large eggs, beaten
Toast bread cubes in 400-degree oven.
Render bacon in a pan over medium heat until crisp.
Remove bacon bits from pan leaving behind the bacon fat.
Saute celery in bacon fat for about 3 minutes.
Mix bread, bacon, onions and celery, parsley, sage, thyme, salt, pepper and broth in a bowl.
Mix in eggs, gently mix in oysters.
Transfer into baking dish greased with bacon fat.
Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 35-45 minutes until top is browned.
Cornbread and Chorizo Stuffing
1 pound Mexican chorizo
1 cup onion, minced
1 cup celery, minced
1 red pepper, diced
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
¼ cup bourbon (optional)
8-10 cups cornbread, crumbled
1 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
½ cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon oil
½ cup butter
1 jalepeno or 4-6 serrano chilies, deseeded and chopped (optional)
Heat oil in a medium pan, crumble in chorizo and brown.
In another pan melt butter add onions, celery, bell peppers and hot peppers (if desired).
Sweat for 10-15 minutes until tender. Stir in garlic and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
Deglaze pan with bourbon (if desired), cook until evaporated.
In a bowl mix all ingredients together.
Stuff mixture into turkey immediately before cooking (not the night before) and bake with turkey making sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Or to bake separately, add another ½ cup of stock to the mixture to form into ½ cup balls and place into a medium casserole dish, brushing the top with melted butter before baking. This will give you a crispy top for each portion. Bake 30 minutes at 350.
Turn up the heat on cranberry sauce by reconstituting 3 cups of dry cranberries in cranberry juice and mixing in a 1/2 cup of whole grain mustard, 1 teaspoon of chipotle powder, 1 tablespoon of chipotles in adobo sauce and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. "The natural tartness and the heat play very well together," says Bar Cento executive chef Andrew Bower, who suggests trying it with a smoked turkey to enhance the flavor.
3 cups dried cranberries
1/2 cup whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 tablespoon chipotles in adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
Reconstitute the dried cranberries in cranberry juice. Then blend 3/4 of them, adding all the other ingredients. Then add the remaining 1/4 whole cranberries to the sauce, heat and serve.
Forget your go-to green bean casserole. Chris DiLisi's twist on the tradition legume dish will win you rave reviews. The Willeyville chef and owner starts by lightly blanching green beans before making mushroom soup from scratch. His secret ingredient? Adding a can of albacore tuna. "Top it off with fried shallots, which are pickled to give it a little bit more bite, and then bread it with rice flour so they're crunchy," he says.
Green Bean Casserole
1 pound green beans, blanched
1 pound snap peas, blanched
½ pound butter
½ pound mushrooms, torn apart, washed
1 cup flour
1 quart whole milk
8-ounce canned albacore tuna
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 can crispy shallots or fry pickled shallots tossed in rice flour
Blanch the beans and shock to keep green.
In a saucepan, melt butter, add mushrooms and saute.
Add flour to make roux, a mixture of flour and fat used to thicken, then cook on medium heat for 2 minutes.
Slowly, add milk while stirring so it doesn't lump.
Cook on low for 30 minutes to get rid of flour taste.
In a mixing bowl, toss beans and soup together then fold in tuna.
Place in a baking dish and top with cheese, then bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Then add shallots and bake 5 more minutes.
Instead of boiling those sweet potatoes and using packaged marshmallows for sweet potato casserole, try roasting the spuds in their skin and whipping up homemade meringue, layering both like you would a lasagna in a baking pan. "Boiling sweet potatoes washes out some of the flavor," says Heather Haviland, Lucky's Cafe chef and owner. "When you roast the whole potato and you saute it with brown sugar, it literally caramelizes, so it has a darker, richer, caramel flavor."
Sweet Potato Meringue casserole
Serves 6-8 people
5-6 medium sized sweet potatoes
1 stick unsalted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
Zest of 2 oranges
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup egg whites
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place potatoes on a baking sheet in the oven and bake until-fork tender or approximately 1 hour.
As soon as potatoes cool, use a paring knife to peel them. Cut potatoes into 1 ½-inch cubes. Some of the potato may be mushy.
In a thick-bottomed skillet melt the butter. Add the salt, dry mustard, pepper, brown sugar, maple syrup and orange zest, and cut sweet potatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally until the brown sugar has melted. Pull off the burner and stir to incorporate with the heavy cream. Cool.
Place egg whites and sugar in a metal bowl over a medium saucepan with 1 inch of water on medium heat. Using a heatproof spatula, constantly stir the whites until the sugar has melted. Don't allow the water to boil during the process. If it gets too hot, remove the bowl and allow the water to cool down.
After the sugar has melted, place the mixture into a mixer. Using the whisk attachment, on medium high speed, whisk the mixture until a firm meringue develops.
Butter a casserole dish for serving. Place 1/3 of the potato mixture in the bottom. Spoon in 1/2 of the meringue. Follow with another 1/3 of the potato mixture. Spoon in more meringue, holding back 1 cup for the top. Add the last of the potato mixture.
Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Pull out and top with small meringues kisses and put back in the oven and broil until the top browns slightly. Serve immediately.
Before you gobble up another turkey sandwich, get creative with your Thanksgiving leftovers says chef Zack Bruell. Use the meat in quesadillas and enchiladas or a Bruell favorite — Japanese soup made with udon noodles, shiitake mushrooms and a seaweed broth known as dashi. Whatever you make, look for ways to build flavor with condiments and toppings. "Turkey the next day doesn't have the same flavor that is has the first day," he says.
If leftover pumpkin pie is taking up space in your fridge, you'll be surprised how easy it is to repurpose the dessert. "It's equal parts sweet and savory, so it's naturally versatile," says Summer Genetti, executive pastry chef for Lola and Lolita. She likes to create a smooth pumpkin spice soup by scooping out the pie filling and mixing it with caramelized onions and chicken or vegetable stock on the stovetop, along with coconut milk and curry powder.