Thanksgiving traditions are as important as not forgetting the cranberry sauce. Enjoying recipes that have been passed down through generations is what keeps Thanksgiving special. In my family, I cook up the same dishes that have been passed down through five generations of southern cooks. Although we have tweaked most of the recipes to make them more modern and to suit our tastes, the main part of the recipe stays the same.
This is very true for our Thanksgiving turkey. I have heard stories in our family that date back to the family turkey being a bird that my great-great-grandfather hunted and came back home with. The wild turkey was seasoned simply with salt and pepper and stuffed with potatoes and onions. Now I order the same breed of heritage turkey that he went out and hunted. I add lots of butter under the skin that my great-grandmother started doing, cook it in a baking bag like my grandmother did, add white wine which my mom added, and stuff the bird with garlic, onions and fresh herbs, a tradition I started.
Some family recipes don’t need to be altered though. That is very true for my great-great grandmother’s secret pecan pie. It’s still perfect in every way.
New York Magazine recently asked some of New York’s finest chefs to share their own secret family Thanksgiving recipes. They, too, have added their own personality in some of their family’s recipes to suit their own tastes, while other recipes were perfect as is. Some of my favorites:
Alexandra Guarnaschelli, the chef at Butter, shares her mother’s recipe for Scallop Gratin With Gruyère and Scallions. She says her mother (cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli) was going through a Julia inspired French cooking phase when she created this recipe. Alexandra says over the years she has not tweaked the recipe at all. She loves the old-fashioned way it is served in the scallop shell and the small portion size.
Owner and chef of Craft, Tom Colicchio shares his grandparent’s recipe for sausage stuffing with golden raisins and sage. Tom says it was his grandparents that were in charge of the Thanksgiving feast. His favorite dish they made was this stuffing, and he eventually took over making it himself. He has experimented with the recipe, and now uses a golden raisin and fennel bread to make the stuffing which creates a rich, sweet and crunchy stuffing.
Mario Batali shares his French Canadian mother’s recipe for apple pie. He says his mother would take great pride in creating the perfect all-American apple pie. She used Roma apples in her pie, but Mario opts for Macouns. Mario also replaces the Crisco in the crust for pork lard. He says his mom’s apple pie is still better, but if had to choose a second best pie, it would be his.
What family recipe do you make for Thanksgiving? Has it changed from the original?
For more celebrity chef recipes on Babble check out: