We asked some of Brooklyn’s chefs to share their Thanksgiving secrets with us, not restaurant food mind you, the sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and other items they want to eat on Turkey Day. We got a number of favorites of grandma provenance, a brine recipe that will turn your turkey out, and some creative twists on classic dishes. All recipes are listed on our blog.
Root Vegetable Vindaloo
Kevin Adey of Northeast Kingdom
18 Wyckoff Avenue, Bushwick, 718-386-3864
A little background info about my Thanksgivings over the past 15 years or so is that I never let them be the same. I change the theme every year because growing up it was the same year after year, and I can’t stand that. This year the theme is New York take-out food.
Grandma Liz’s Candied Sweet Potatoes
Emily and Melissa Elsen of Four and Twenty Blackbirds
439 Third Avenue, Gowanus, 718-499-2917
As kids, we were obsessed with Grandma Liz’s Candied Sweet Potatoes. The Thanksgiving table wasn’t complete until she showed up with a big, warm plate of these.
To buy a Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie for turkey day, check out their special holiday selection (salty caramel apple, honeyed pumpkin) and hours, here — they will be open in Thanksgiving Day for procrastinators, from 8am until pies run out. For their Candied Sweet Potato recipe, click here.
Grandma Winnie’s Spinach Salad
Scarlett Lindeman of Roman’s
243 Dekalb Avenue, Fort Greene, 718-622-5300
My mom, Sharon, does ALL OF THE WORK; or at least did, until I started cooking professionally. Now, when I am released from the confines of the restaurant kitchen, we spend three days in the kitchen making elaborate Thanksgivings. The Thanksgivings of my childhood are full of special dishes–my mom’s incredible biscuits, her homemade pecan, pumpkin, and cherry pie with a perfect lattice, great stuffing, etc. But there are two dishes that stick out–a salad supposedly handed down from my grandmother Winnie, made of spinach, hard boiled eggs, bacon pieces, minced red onion, and slivered water chestnuts in a vinaigrette that contains Worcestershire sauce and ketchup.
And then, there is always a small bowl of cranberry sauce that my mom makes from scratch which she perpetually claims that she’s the only one who eats it. I love the idea of her preparing this huge banquet for a crowd, and having one little dish made only for herself–it kind of reminds you that cooking should pleasurable for yourself as much as it is about nourishing others.
Spaghetti Squash Gratin
Rebecca Weitzman of Thistle Hill Tavern
441 Seventh Avenue, Park Slope, 347-599-1262
Usually I like to cook fun side dishes at Thanksgiving…I like to do either nice composed salads or baked vegetables or gratins. Here is a version of a similar dish I have made the last couple of years.
Thistle Hill will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. Weitzman’s gratin recipe can be found here.
Malted Barley Turkey Brine
Brent Young of The Meat Hook
100 Frost Street, Williamsburg, 718-349-5033
While opening the Meat Hook last November, we got a chance to do some experiments roasting turkeys in preparation for Thanksgiving. Exhausted, loopy and having access to all of the Brooklyn Kitchen’s brewing supplies, we added malted barley to our brine recipe yielding some amazing results.