How To: Make Thanksgiving Dinner Like a Chef
In charge of preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year or simply looking for recipe inspiration? Our chefs are here to help with fresh and unique recipes, riffs and tips. If cooking isn’t your forte, let us do the cooking for you or dine in the comfort of our restaurants.
Bird is the Word
Preparing Thanksgiving turkey can be intimidating, so we chatted with Chef/ Partner Doug Psaltis, whose restaurants RPM Steak and Bub City both prepare incredible Thanksgiving meals. From smoking to deep frying and roasting your turkey, here are a few recipe ideas and tips:
Bub City Whole Smoked Turkey – View the smoked turkey recipe here
“Brining the turkey before smoking or frying ensures a moist, cooked bird and extra added flavor. Let the finished turkey rest for an hour before carving to allow the juices to redistribute. It will still be warm come dinnertime, we swear.”
Bub City Deep-Fried Turkey Legs – View the fried turkey legs recipe here
“Heard too many horror stories about deep-frying a whole bird? We recommend frying just the legs. If you’re still keen on deep-frying an entire turkey at home, look to YouTube to see what not to do.”
RPM Roasted Turkey – View the roasted turkey recipe here
“Simple is best when choosing seasoning for turkey: butter, salt and pepper. Add in a compound butter like garlic-sage if you’re feeling adventurous.”
The chefs of Bub City & RPM Steak are here to lend a hand with take home specials from Bub City (River North | Rosemont) and dine in specials the day of Thanksgiving at Bub City River North and RPM Steak.
Now you’ve got some recipe ideas, here are tips on how to best prepare your turkey:
What and how much to order: order a fresh, natural turkey in advance. Don’t order a frozen turkey. Plan on 1.5 lbs. of turkey per person when determining size of bird. Chef recommends two, 12-14 lb. turkeys rather than one large 24 lb.
Prep the bird:
Brining the turkey for 24-hours is key in keeping it moist. Boil salt, sugar, bay leaves and peppercorns with cold water in a large stockpot until dissolved; cool. Submerge the turkey in a large container or cooler (adding ice helps) for 24 hours. Remove, bring to room temperature and dry completely before roasting.
To add even more moisture (and flavor!), rub the turkey all over with butter or olive oil. Take it up another notch by placing seasoned butter under the bird’s skin.
Cooking the turkey:
Cooking the turkey on a rack will increase the hot air circulation, yielding an evenly cooked and crispy skin all around.
The best way to get crispy skin? Butter. Brush the bird with butter a few times during roasting, but be careful not to open the oven door too much — escaping hot air means longer cooking time.
Cook turkey, breast side down for 25 percent of the total cooking time, then carefully flip over for the remaining roasting time.
As an alternative, prepare your turkey on an outside BBQ grill with indirect heat to save oven space.
Let it rest: allowing the turkey to rest after cooking locks in the juices. At least 20 minutes is recommended, and you can go up to an hour.
Carve it up: The best to carve a turkey is to start from the legs and thigh and work your way up. Remove the leg and thigh on one side, then cut the meat off the bone and slice it on a bias; repeat on the other side. Remove the breast meat from the breastbone and slice. Make sure the wishbone has been removed before doing so!
You’ve mastered your main, now let’s move onto side dishes.
Stuffing: 3 Ways
Wildfire Executive Chef/Partner Joe Decker shares three ways to make the always-popular side dish – stuffing. Whether you’re looking for something a little more classic or something with a kick, we’ve got you covered.
Gluten-free Kale & Apple Stuffing – View the kale & apple stuffing recipe here
“I was so pleased by the outcome of this stuffing that I will be serving it at home this Thanksgiving! Gluten-free or not, this is sure to be a hit!”
Cornbread Stuffing – View the cornbread stuffing recipe here
“A stuffing created from our ever popular homemade cornbread. The smoky flavor of the bacon complements the sweetness of the cornbread.”
Classic Turkey Stuffing – View the turkey stuffing recipe here
“This is the one we serve at Wildfire on Thanksgiving Day that people ask for second and third helpings of!”
You’ve got the turkey, you’ve got the stuffing, now let’s get to the sides! Wildfire’s sides lend an air of nostalgia and round out your Thanksgiving meal perfectly.
Sweet Potato Casserole – View the sweet potato casserole recipe here
A classic combination, with toasted, chewy marshmallows atop on-season sweet potatoes.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts – View the Brussels sprouts recipe here
A little green is required on the table, and what better way to spice up Brussels sprouts than with hazelnuts. Plus, your house will fill with the smell of hazelnuts for hours as you toast them up!
End it on a Sweet Note
There’s only one person we can go to for expert tips as it comes to baking pies, and that’s Associate Partner & Executive Pastry Chef Yasmin Gutierrez. Yasmin oversees the pastry program at all three Beatrix locations, Beatrix Market, Foodlife, Foodease and Mity Nice Bar & Grill. To say she’s an expert is putting it lightly. Follow along as she walks us through how to construct the perfect pie.
Step by Step
CRUST: To make the perfect holiday treat, choose from two popular options:
Graham cracker crust – usually used in Pumpkin Pie or Cheesecake. PRO TIP: Pat this dough tightly in the pan so that it doesn’t crumble!
Sugar dough – usually used in Pecan Pie or nut based pies. PRO TIP: Roll this dough out really thin. It makes cutting the pie easier after baking.
*Always par-bake your crust. It helps keep the pie structured, together and keeps it from crumbling apart.
FILLING: Simply mix all your ingredients together, pour in the batter, and bake! This is where you can be creative; add chocolate to pecan, and spices to your batter, use different nuts for more flavor — think outside the box!
*If you’re looking for a TRUE holiday sweet treat, look at your recipe and make sure it has an ingredient, like heavy cream, buttermilk or sour cream. Those ingredients have more fat, which means more flavor and moisture! Hey, it’s the holidays after all, right? —that’s where you’re going to get your moisture from.
SIGNS YOUR PIE IS READY TO TAKE OUT OF THE OVEN: The outside of the pie will rise and crack, and the center will be “jiggly.” When you see that, it is time to take it out to avoid overbaking and keeping your pie full of moisture!
LET IT COOL: Because of the high heat, allow 30 minutes for your pie to cool, and put it in the refrigerator overnight. PRO TIP: Never serve your pie the day you baked it!
TOPPING: Once the pie is completely cool and has rest overnight, it’s time for a topping like whipped cream, chocolate mousse, or crumbled nuts & spices. PRO TIP: Don’t over whip your whipped cream; it will start to separate and get watery!
HOW TO GET THE PERFECT SLICE: Always cut with a clean, warm knife. Between each slice, dip your knife in hot water to ensure a clean, smooth cut every time.
Or let the restaurants supply the sweets for your family: Beatrix (Fulton Market | River North | Streeterville), Foodease and Mity Nice Grill or dine in at Mity Nice Grill.
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Now that you’ve got recipes on deck for Thanksgiving, it’s time to think about wine. Our trusted Wine Directors have curated a guide to selecting the perfect Thanksgiving wine.