The turkey and the wine and the pie are crucial, of course, but some might say that the best part of Thanksgiving is all the delicious side dishes. Here’s how to make yours extra-great from a handful of favorite Seattle chefs.
The bird is the centerpiece, of course, and the wine plays a crucial role (same with, in some homes at holiday dinnertime, the rolls). And let us not fail to recognize the power of pie! But, arguably, the thing that sets Thanksgiving apart — besides the thankfulness, and the love, and the whole day off to eat in celebration, then relax until you’re not quite so stuffed, then eat some more — is the plethora of sides. A regular supper, with its paltry single side, plus maybe a salad: That’s not Thanksgiving. There shall be sides, plural: rich mashed potatoes, and a savory gratin, and a zingy relish, and a crunchy, fresh thing or two … and an appetizer, just because.
More Thanksgiving planning
- The Imperfect Holiday: Your guide to Thanksgiving
- All about the sides: Seattle top chefs share their recipes for Thanksgiving favorites
- My Aunt Edith’s dinner rolls, a no-fuss family favorite
- 5 top tips for fearless holiday cooking
- Bill Hart brings years of piemaking talent to Mount Baker
- Wine picks for your holiday meal
- Planning the Thanksgiving meal: How to get the timing right
- 4 tips for holiday dinner-party ambience
- 6 basic holiday (and everyday) cooking tips
- Holiday-cooking horror stories: 9 lessons we learned the hard way
- This holiday season, skip bartending and serve up punch
- The best for your budget: Wine and beer to bring to your holiday party
- So gross, so good: Thanksgiving dishes we love but shouldn’t
These recipes for sides from great Seattle chefs also represent an early gift guide — each one came from a lovely local cookbook. And each chef talked to us about what they’re most thankful for this year. Thanks to them for sharing.
Heather Earnhardt’s “Big Food Big Love”
At her Capitol Hill restaurant The Wandering Goose, chef Heather Earnhardt earns love with the Southern favorites of her upbringing mixed with ingredients from right here. Her cookbook, “Big Food Big Love,” celebrates family with photos and essays, written so you can almost hear her talking in her rounded-off, welcoming accent — and it celebrates life with suggestions like eating leftover cake for breakfast.
Most Read Stories
- Seattle police fatally shoot man near Ravenna Park
- Drinking alcohol key to living past 90, study says
- Seattle arboretum loop trail opens up new vistas, opportunities VIEW
- Northeast Seattle street project stirs cars-vs.-bikes debate
- With work permits in limbo, spouses of H-1B visa holders worry they’ll lose jobs
This year, Earnhardt says, “I’m thankful my older two boys are still around for Thanksgiving dinner and our nightly family dinner. They’re leaving for college soon, so I’ll take as much of them as I can get now.”
“Not Ruth’s” Pimento Cheese Spread
“Having something for your guests to nibble on while they’re milling about in the kitchen looking over your shoulder is always a good idea. Better yet, put them to work to make it for you! This is a year-round staple in every Southern cook’s pantry, and even better at the holidays. Use any leftovers (if you have them) spread onto a turkey and pimento cheese sandwich. Grilled is the best!”
Makes 4 cups
1 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese (we use Tillamook)
1 ¾ cups mayonnaise, such as Duke’s or Best Foods
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimento peppers
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne
kosher salt (optional)
1. Grate the cheese into a large bowl. Using a rubber spatula, mix in the mayonnaise and pimento peppers with their liquid until incorporated, adding a bit more mayo if necessary to make a soft, moist mixture. Mix in the pecans, pepper and cayenne. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. Before serving, taste and adjust the seasoning; you may need salt, depending on the brand of cheese you used. Leftover spread will keep for 10 days stored in the refrigerator.
— From “Big Food Big Love,” by Heather L. Earnhardt
Tamara Murphy’s “Tender”
“The choices that we make affect our communities and the planet … This is our moment to remember we do have choices,” chef Tamara Murphy writes in her cookbook “Tender.” Choose local and seasonal, she says; choose to support our farmers. Choose to cook food that creates community, she says, providing uncomplicated, delicious recipes to help. (“Tender” also includes the recipe for Murphy’s roast pig, a huge favorite at her Capitol Hill restaurant, Terra Plata.)
About Thanksgiving this year, Murphy says, “I am thankful that I have been graced to get to an age in my life that I don’t worry so much about what people think of me. I’m blessed with a group of friends that support me even when I go off on Facebook … I’m thankful that I can contribute to the betterment of people’s lives in the workplace.
“I’m thankful I have a voice, and with all my might I will fight to help keep that true for everyone. And OMG, I’m so grateful to Linda, who puts up with my spiciness every day.”
“Washington apples are the best this time of year. The kick of the chilies and light smokey flavor of the paprika will perk up any turkey. This relish goes awesome with that riesling or Gewürztraminer or any light red or rosé — or cider, which, in my opinion, you should be drinking with your bird. It’s also delicious on a turkey sandwich. Change it up a little this year. Why not?”
3 Washington-grown apples, cored and diced — approximately 2½ to 3 cups*
2 fresh roasted poblano chilies, skinned, seeded, and chopped**
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup fresh lime juice and the grated zest
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Place the diced apples in a bowl and mix with the other ingredients.
* Murphy especially likes Jonagold, Pink Lady and Braeburn.
** “To roast peppers, I sometimes place a rack over the gas flame and set my peppers on that. Let them char on all sides and then enclose them in a paper bag or pop them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until they cool. Then gently remove the skins and the seeds.”
— From “Tender,” by Tamara Murphy
John Sundstrom’s “Lark”
In his book “Lark: Cooking Wild in the Northwest,” chef John Sundstrom divides our year of eating and living into three, not four, seasons: Mist, Evergreen and Bounty. We’re in “the long gray months of Mist” now, which brings fewer seasonal foods, but, Sundstrom notes in the cookbook, “we treasure them dearly.” It’s a time where cooking local requires, he says, “coaxing, prodding, some tough love … You need to be a rutabaga-whisperer. You need butter too.”
“In what has been a tumultuous year full of hardship everywhere you look in the world,” Sundstrom says this Thanksgiving, “I’m very thankful to have my family near me, to have good health, and to live in a beautiful, dynamic community.”
Pommes de Terre Robuchon
“These are mashed potatoes turned up to 11! The waxy fingerling potatoes, cooked in their jackets then passed through a food mill to make a fine purée, are deep and dense rather than fluffy and airy, and super-luxurious, loaded up with butter and cream. They go with any holiday favorite, from roast beef to turkey to lamb.”
Makes 4 servings
2 pounds La Ratte fingerling potatoes (or other small, waxy variety), scrubbed
4 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon minced chives, for finishing
1. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water. Add 3 tablespoons of the kosher salt. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the potatoes until tender.
2. Drain the potatoes and pass them through a fine-mesh food mill or ricer into a large bowl. Once nearly all of the potatoes have been passed through the mill, add the butter with the remaining potatoes to be passed through with them.
3. Heat the cream in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the mashed potatoes and heat through, stirring frequently. When the cream is fully incorporated, adjust the seasoning with the remaining tablespoon salt. The potatoes should have a thoroughly puréed consistency.
4. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and smooth, and using the curved edge of a small rubber scraper or spatula, feather the top. Sprinkle with the chives and serve.
— From “Lark: Cooking Wild in the Northwest,” by John Sundstrom
Rachel Yang’s “My Rice Bowl”
Chef Rachel Yang’s brand-new cookbook, “My Rice Bowl: Korean Cooking Outside the Lines,” is autobiography and culinary road map intertwined. Her story goes from her childhood in Korea, to New York’s vaunted Per Se, to the struggling start of now Seattle classic Joule — and Revel, and Trove, and Revelry, her other restaurants with her husband, Seif Chirchi. Her recipes will fascinate anyone who’s ever wondered how they make their food so marvelous (answer: genius-level creativity, incredible expertise, a lot of hard work, and zero fear of too much flavor).
Right now, Yang says, “It’s been truly amazing being able to celebrate Seif and my 10-year wedding anniversary, as well as Joule’s 10-year, with the fancy cookbook … that we can share with everyone!” Another thing she’s thankful for: “both of our kids are in school (kindergarten and second grade).”
Butternut Squash Gratin
“This is not your typical sweet pumpkin dish, but savory and spice-forward. You can also make awesome turkey hash with leftover turkey and butternut-squash gratin the day after.”
Makes 4 to 6 servings
For the squash:
1 packed tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground toasted coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground star anise
1 pound butternut squash (from the long part), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoon canola oil
For the lentils:
½ cup lentils
5 curry leaves
¼ small onion
1 piece carrot (about 3 inches)
1 piece celery (about 3 inches)
3 cups cold water
For the vinaigrette:
½ cup sake
¼ cup mirin
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons chipotle purée
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons thinly sliced Italian parsley leaves
1. Roast the squash: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, coriander, cayenne, allspice, cloves and star anise. Put the squash in a medium bowl, drizzle with the oil, then add the spice mixture and toss to coat. Season the squash with salt, then transfer to the baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning the squash pieces once or twice during cooking, or until the squash is fork-tender and beginning to brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
2. Cook the lentils: In a small saucepan, combine the lentils, curry leaves, onion, carrot and celery. Add the cold water, bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the lentils until cooked but still firm, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the lentils, pick out and discard the aromatics, and set aside.
3. Make the vinaigrette: In a heavy-duty blender, whirl together the sake, mirin, pumpkin seeds, chipotle purée and garlic until smooth. Set aside.
4. Assemble the gratin: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the squash, and toss to coat. Add the butter and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, turning the squash occasionally, until the butter has melted and the squash is brown on all sides. Add the lentils and ½ cup of the chipotle vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to warm the lentils. Sprinkle the feta on top, then immediately slide the squash and lentils onto a serving dish, keeping the feta on top, if possible. Garnish with parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.
— From “My Rice Bowl,” by Rachel Yang and Jess Thomson
Renee Erickson’s “A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus”
Growing up in Woodinville when there was still farmland there, chef Renee Erickson picked berries that her mom made into pies; she went fishing and clamming and crabbing at the family cabin near Camano Island. But they also went to McDonald’s: “It’s not like we were perfect,” she says. Her cookbook, “A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus,” laden with gorgeous photos and the recipes that’ve made her local restaurants into all-time favorites, feels pretty perfect, like a look into how you want your life to be. As with everything Erickson does, though, there’s warmth and wit and tons of generosity, as she shares the credit with local butchers and oyster farmers and more.
This fall, Erickson says, “I am thankful for so many things … my family, our health, my incredible Sea Creatures Team and our ability to fight for what is right in this world.”
And it’s not like everything always has to be local: “I’m also thankful for a Thanksgiving in Hawaii with sunshine, my husband, snorkeling and poke!”
Raw Carrot Salad with Currants and Walnut Oil
“Something that is fresh, alive and does not need the oven is a bonus when it comes to Thanksgiving. When I think of the traditional food, brown, well-cooked and brown come to mind! So anything that livens it up a bit is pretty awesome in my book.”
Peel and finely shred 1 pound sweet carrots and set aside. In a serving bowl, whisk together 1 cup whole-milk yogurt, ½ cup walnut oil, ½ teaspoon curry powder, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and 1/3 cup currants softened in hot water. Stir the carrots in and season with flaky sea salt.
Marinated Kale Salad
Serves 2 to 4
Remove ribs from a ¾-pound bunch lacinato or green kale and chop into bite-size pieces, removing all the tough bits. Dress with 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil and kosher salt, and let sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, or in the refrigerator overnight, until the kale begins to wilt. Serve as is, or with toasted pine nuts, soaked golden raisins and shaved Pecorino Romano cheese.
— From “A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus,” by Renee Erickson