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An All-Star Thanksgiving Potluck

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Seven top chefs put their delicious spins on a traditional holiday menu. The result? Your best feast ever.

Although I have nothing against my family’s usual Thanksgiving fare, I do get a little tired of the old reliables. This year, I decided to ask some of the country’s top chefs to contribute a recipe to my dinner—a kind of All-Star Thanksgiving potluck, but with me at the stove.

My dream team chef list started with Alfred Portale of New York’s Gotham Bar and Grill and Tom Douglas of Seattle’s Dahlia Lounge. These two iconic American chefs from opposite coasts provided the meal’s centerpiece: the turkey and stuffing, respectively.

For the side dishes, New York chefs Dan Silverman, formerly of Lever House; Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto; and Andrew Carmellini, formerly at A Voce—along with Mitchell Rosenthal of San Francisco’s Town Hall—put creative spins on the mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, cauliflower, and green beans my family continues to insist upon. And for dessert, Elisabeth Prueitt of San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery enhances the flavor of classic pumpkin pie with freshly ground spices.

The flavors in my dream-team potluck are classic enough to satisfy my tradition-bound family, but different enough to excite us. And that’s something we can all be thankful for.

Download a pdf of this menu, including all recipes, shopping list and timeline.

Menu Timeline

1 week ahead

  • Make juniper-ginger butter.
  • Make the cranberry sauce.

1 day ahead

  • Brine the turkey (morning).
  • Rub the flavored butter under the turkey’s skin.
  • Toast and skin the hazelnuts for the stuffing and the cauliflower.
  • Make the vinaigrette for the green beans.
  • Make the caramelized shallots.
  • Blind bake the pie crust. Fill and bake the pie. Let it cool completely, then refrigerate.

Thanksgiving morning:

  • Prep the baking dish for the stuffing, and combine all the ingredients except the broth.
  • Toast the breadcrumbs for the green beans and combine with the cheese.
  • Prep the ingredients for the cauliflower.

4 hours before dinner:

  • Heat the oven to 350°F

3-1/2 hours before dinner:

  • Put the turkey in the oven to roast.
  • Take the pie, caramelized shallots, and cranberry sauce out of the refrigerator to let them come to room temperature.
  • Peel the potatoes and cover them with cool water to keep them from discoloring.

2 hours before dinner:

  • Add the broth to the stuffing and spread it in its prepared baking dish.
  • If you have two ovens, heat the second one to 375°F.
  • Cook and mash the potatoes. Stir in all but 3 Tbs. of the caramelized shallots, transfer the potatoes to a heatproof bowl, cover with foil, and set over a saucepan of barely simmering water to keep warm.

1 hour before dinner:

  • Put stuffing in the oven. (if you have two ovens, bake it separately from turkey).
  • Slice the pears for the cauliflower side dish.
  • Cook the cauliflower dish and keep warm.

1/2 hour before dinner:

  • Remove the turkey from oven; if the stuffing is in the same oven, increase the temperature to 375°F to finish baking the stuffing.
  • Make the gravy.
  • Cook the green beans and finish them with their viniagrette and breadcrumbs.

After dinner:

  • Whip the cream for the pie and serve.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce:

  • 4 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 lb. fresh green beans
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 lb. oyster mushroom
  • 12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 large ripe pears
  • 5-6 tangerines
  • 2-3 Meyer lemons
  • 1 medium orange
  • 3 bunches fresh rosemary
  • 3 bunches fresh thyme
  • 1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage
  • 1 small bunch chives
  • 12-14 medium shallots
  • Large piece fresh ginger
  • 2 large cloves garlic

Meat, Dairy & Eggs:

  • 14-lb. natural turkey (preferably fresh)
  • 7-1/4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3 large eggs

Other Groceries:

  • 2-1/2 lb. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 lb. granulated sugar
  • 1 cup black peppercorns
  • Loaf of rustic bread (1 to 1-1/4 lb.)
  • 15-oz. can pure pumpkin
  • 2 cups hazelnuts
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbs. brandy
  • Whole dried juniper berries

Pantry Staples:

  • 3 cups chicken broth (homemade or lower-salt store-bought)
  • 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Whole cloves (or 1/8 tsp. pre-ground cloves)
  • Whole nutmeg
  • Table salt
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns

Wines for the feast

When choosing wines to serve at Thanksgiving, don’t feel that you need to pair each dish with a wine; instead, pick a couple of versatile bottles that will complement the meal as a whole. Avoid too much oak, which would overwhelm the more delicately flavored dishes, and tannin, which would taste bitter paired with salty and cream-based foods, such as the turkey and mashed potatoes. Most important, uncork what you and your guests like.

White ideas: Young, fruity German Rieslings are a good choice. Two favorites:

  • 2007 von Hovel Estate Riesling Balduin, $16
  • 2007 Gunderloch Riesling Spatlese Diva, $22

Red ideas: Try a Pinot Noir with medium acidity, such as:

  • 2005 Heron Pinot Noir, Vin de Pays d’Oc, $12
  • 2006 La Crema Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $34

A dessert splurge: Why not? It’s the holidays. Match the spiciness of the pumpkin pie with a late-harvest Muscat:

  • 2006 Donnafugata Passito di Pantelleria Ben Rye, $32

-Tim Gaiser, master sommelier

The Menu


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