Turkey Or Bust: Chefs Reveal Their Thanksgiving Dealbreakers
McSweeney’s may make a great case for “Chinese Turkey”, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, some things are sacred. Which is we asked some of our favorite chefs what their Thanksgiving dealbreakers were — which dishes must be served, which rules could not be broken — and here’s what they told us.
Bottega in Yountville, CA
"I have to have panetone stuffing."
Restaurants: Uchiko and East Side King in Austin, Texas
"Turkey takes the cake!"
Go Fork Yourself: Thanksgiving 2012
"I have so many! I am still a son -- and a dad, too -- so we have a lot of opinions from the male Zimmerns... and that’s not including my wife's side of the family. My father-in-law even brings his own sausage stuffing with him if the bird meal is taking place outside of his home!
"For me, its oyster chowder to start, chestnut stuffing, pan gravy with lots of little burnished onions scraped from the bottom of the roaster, squash with brown butter vinaigrette, twin 14-pound birds, my wife’s amazing cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, my mother-in-law’s potato boats and, of course, her Raspberry 7-Up Cool-Whip Apple Sauce Jello ‘salad’. I never knew anything like that existed before moving to Minnesota and marrying into my wife’s family. Growing up in NYC, we all thought the whole Jello salad thing was just a farm country legend -- a Minnesotan version of urban myth. I love it so much these days that my wife's mom always makes a separate small one to leave behind for me. Love that stuff. It's a guilty pleasure for sure."
Talula’s Garden and Talula’s Table
in Philadelphia, PA
"A turkey. But I also would say that mac and cheese has to hit my belly that day. And going too sweet with the wine is out of the question. Finally, I’m anti-microwave for heating things up. Slow and steady wins the race on this holiday."
Perilla and Kin Shop in New York, NY
"Stuffing! Not dressing. Dressing goes on salads."
Restaurant: Executive chef at
DBGB in New York City, NY
"I take the stuffing very seriously. This year at the restaurant, we made it completely from scratch. Baked our bread, made our own sausage, confit gizzards, and made a special stock just to pit together the stuffing. The stuffing is my favorite because it requires of all these disparate elements-meat, bread, veg, stock -- to all come together in one form."
Image credit: Paul Wagtouicz
TAG and TAG Raw Bar
in Denver, CO
"Always stuffing, gravy, turkey, of course, and mashed potatoes! I could actually eat that once a week."
Delicatessen and macbar in New York, NY
“The Turkey Tortellini Soup with Parmesan is always made by my father, and it became an unspoken rule. It’s served for Thanksgiving every year with the whole family -- including my brother, nieces, and nephews. Being a first-generation American, this dish represents my Italian roots with America.”
Salinas in New York, NY
"In my view, turkey is the iconic meat for Thanksgiving and should be the center of the dinner. The side dishes are all about culinary creativity. I’ve seen people from different cultural backgrounds preparing different side dishes. I would serve tapas since I'm from Spain, and I would replace the green beans with a watercress salad with avocado, walnuts, and yuzu sauce. I’d also use roasted apple and sherry vinegar relish instead of cranberry sauce. But I've seen Mexicans serving guacamole and arroz a la mexicana, and Koreans serving their kimchee and radish pickled in soy sauce. However, for me, one side dish is a must, no matter what: mashed potatoes!"
Marble Lane at Dream Downtown in New York, NY
“Mashed potatoes and gravy. No matter how dry the turkey is, a good mashed potato covered in gravy seems to hide many a culinary sin.”
The Mildred in Philadelphia, PA
"Cranberry sauce has to be pure: Cranberry, sugar, orange juice. No apples, pears, grapes, chunks of fruit or anything. Clean and unadulterated. Also, mashed potatoes cannot have any lumps; I like them to be smooth and buttery."