The countdown started long ago, but Thanksgiving is upon us. If you’re looking to spice up the traditional feast, some of Philadelphia’s famed culinary experts have shared their favorite recipes with us. For whatever you may be responsible — be it the star of the show (turkey), its trusty sidekick (stuffing) or any other traditional fare — there’s a good chance these recipes will take your meal up a notch (or two).
Maybe more than any other holiday, Thanksgiving and food are inseparable. And on any given Turkey Day table, the variations on staples reflect the personal history of those who made the dishes. Philly’s top chefs’ inspired takes on these dishes can help expand your palate (and your stomach).
- Craig LaBan’s barbecued turkey is a tradition inspired out of ease and, most of all, a desire for a great-tasting turkey. After submerging a turkey in a brine for 24 hours, the Inquirer restaurant critic recommends letting a charcoal grill produce a delectable melding of sweet and tangy flavors not often tasted at the Thanksgiving table.
- This recipe from the chefs at Hungry Pigeon will put the Queen Village haunt right in your dining room with their cider-brined turkey. Chef Scott Schroeder uses a dry hard cider to give the turkey a little boost.
- Sylva Senat’s Haitian coffee-brined roast turkey will give your Thanksgiving a Caribbean feel. Senat, a native Haitian and executive chef at Maison 208, recommends a pairing of his coffee turkey with Haitian rice and beans.
Stuffing and other sides
- Joe Cicala’s sausage and polenta stuffing elevates the side dish to new levels. Cicala, formerly of Le Virtù, grew up “five minutes from a turkey farm” and calls Thanksgiving his favorite holiday.
- Hungry Pigeon’s roasted broccoli and delicata squash with warm rye berries is a “knockout vegan side,” according to Inquirer critic Craig LaBan.
- Jason Cichonski’s olive oil mashed potatoes are a reinvention of the classic dish, but classic can often be best, according to the chef at Ela in Queen Village.
- Samantha Kincaid’s double-crusted shoofly pie puts molasses and maple syrup at the center of attention. The pastry chef at High Street Hospitality Group (Fork, High Street on Market, and a.kitchen) has built a formidable pie to rival classic apple, pumpkin, and pecan.
- Angela Ranalli’s walnut cake is surprisingly easy to make. Ranalli, the former pastry chef at Brigantessa and chef at Le Virtù, adds sweet ricotta and Montepulciano-poached pears to the moist olive oil cake.
- Hungry Pigeon’s pie crust. Pie crust can be bought. But it’s always more fun to make your own with a 12-step recipe that includes some nontraditional touches, such as lemon juice.