Thomas Donohoe, Executive Chef at Doris & Ed’s in the Highlands, says, “ I have a very large family and my fondest memories are of spending the holiday at an aunt and uncle’s house with 60-70 aunts, uncles and cousins.” Large is an understatement, for who could even spread out tables for this many in the family? He said that four to six “abnormally large” turkeys were served with the usual accompaniments and the family tradition of rice balls ~ deep-fried balls of short grain rice filled with currant jelly.
When asked what his favorite recipe is at Thanksgiving, he revealed dreading the “black Friday” shopping day, so he perfected a left-over Thanksgiving sandwich: sliced turkey thigh (preferably, but breast works well), cranberry sauce with orange zest, mayonnaise, left-over stuffing, a few leaves of Boston lettuce and hot gravy all generously spread over two slices of a chewy-crusted bread. Yummy! Doris & Ed’s will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.
For Larry Baldwin, Executive Chef at David Burke Fromagerie, who hails from North Carolina, in thinking about Thanksgiving, he thinks about his maternal grandmother Mildred. “My grandma was a fantastic Southern cook. There was always food on the table no matter when,” he reflects. “There weren’t many things that she didn’t put pork fat in. Salt pork went into a lot of things, especially collard greens, one of her specialties. What I remember most about Thanksgiving were those side dishes. I could never get enough of the collards, creamed potatoes and my favorite, oyster dressing, which is very popular in many Southern coastal communities. We consider stuffing, a dressing, if it is not actually stuffed inside the bird.”
Chef Baldwin’s Oyster Dressing
- 1 loaf brioche bread, cut into ½” cubes and lightly toasted or dried in the oven
- 1 pint shucked and chopped East Coast oysters w/ their juices (e.g. blue points)
- 1 cup of diced Vidalia or Spanish onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
- Dash of Tabasco
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- 5 eggs
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Sauté onion and celery in a little butter for a few minutes until nice and tender. Add garlic. Sauté several minutes more until very aromatic.
- Beat the eggs with a little of the stock; then combine all ingredients except the butter and let rest for 30 minutes in a greased baking dish.
- Scatter pats of butter around the top of the dressing and place in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until nice and bubbly, and golden brown on top.
Fromagerie is offering a three-course prix fix dinner at $59 per person exclusive of tax and gratuity, from 1 to 7 p.m., reservations are required.
Executive Chef Bob Belt, Salt Creek Grille, says there will be an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving dinner with salad or soup, entrée with sides and dessert for $26 exclusive of tax and gratuity, $9 for children, from 12 noon to 7 p.m. Reservations are recommended.
As another Southern, hailing from a small town in West Virginia, Chef Belt remembers that every holiday his mother would bring home the homeless, poor or elderly, as well as those who were alone, whom she met at her church. Belt says, “She just liked cooking, pleasing others and sharing what we had. Maybe that plays a little bit into why I became a chef ~ or at least why I enjoy cooking for others and pleasing them.” While he couldn’t locate any old family recipes, he has fond memories of his grandmother’s homemade pumpkin pie.
Matthew Zappoli, Chef/owner of Tre Amici, remembers Thanksgivings as a big get-together with his large family, about 20 including grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. Raised in an Italian family, the holiday started off with antipasti and crudités with all kinds of Italian meats, cheeses, rice balls (arancini), shrimp cocktails, veal spedini and stuffed mushrooms ~ all served family-style. The antipasti would last for a few hours before dining on a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, green beans, a baked ham and occasionally stuffed artichokes. “It was a traditional Italian family dinner,” Zappoli explains, “where the women did all the cooking and cleaning.”
As he grew older, tired of the traditional roast, he and his brother began experimenting with other ways to make turkey. They tried brining and frying the turkey, which he says was delicious. Since that time, he has tried many different ways of preparing turkey, including several different kinds of roulade. His favorite is one where he pounded out a boneless turkey breast, topped it with his Italian sausage stuffing, rolled it up and wrapped it in bacon. He then rolled it in aluminum foil and baked it to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. He would unwrap it and continue baking until the bacon was brown and crispy. Zappoli claims, “It was the most flavorful, moist turkey I’ve ever eaten. Only problem is that I missed that traditional turkey and stuffing.” This year, he will roast a whole turkey filled with stuffing to 150 degrees, then remove the legs and finish them in a baking tray until they reach the same internal temperature. This will ensure a moist turkey breast and the legs will be thoroughly cooked. And, he will also make his favorite roulade. Tre Amici will be closed Thanksgiving Day.
Chef Zappoli’s Italian Sausage Stuffing for Turkey Roulade
- 1 cup white bread, crust removed and cubed
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup Italian sausage meat, no casing
- ¾ cup onion, chopped
- ¼ cup celery, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup Marsala wine
- 2 eggs
- ½ Tbsp. thyme, chopped
- ½ Tbsp. oregano, chopped
- Salt & pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, soak bread cubes in milk.
- In a sauté pan, sauté sausage meat over medium-high heat until crisp and all fat is rendered. Add onion, celery and garlic. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms have released their liquid and are soft, about 4 minutes.
- Deglaze with Marsala and cook 1½ to 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- Squeeze excess milk from bread and place bread in a large mixing bowl.
- Add eggs and mix well, breaking up pieces of bread. Add chopped herbs and season to taste.
And, to restaurateur and humanitarian extraordinaire, Marilyn Schlossbach, her family, staff and volunteers, thank you for your 5th annual Thanksgiving Day providing a wonderful holiday for those who are less fortunate, alone or needy. Langosta Lounge, once again, teams with Pat Sherman of Trinity Church to host Langosta’s Thanksgiving Community Dinner, which served more than 2,000 people last year, and will be serving a wonderful Thanksgiving meal to the multitudes again this holiday.
This is an intimate and sneak peek into the Thanksgiving memories of some of the shore’s best chefs and their favorite recipes. Enjoy and have a very happy, peaceful Thanksgiving with your family and friends!