We asked L.A. chefs about the dishes on their menus that they’d bring to a holiday dinner — and how you can make them at home.
It’s Thanksgiving and either you or someone you love is hard at work in the kitchen preparing all the traditional favorites, be it buttery mashed potatoes, gluten-free stuffing or a big tofurkey. But what do L.A. chefs do for Thanksgiving? Surely the people who spend their lives working with food have some clever suggestions for spicing up your Thanksgiving feast. We asked L.A. chefs about the autumnal dishes on their menus that they’d bring to Thanksgiving dinner and how you can make them at home.
Chef/Owner at Sqirl; Chef/Partner at Onda
What dish on your menu would you bring to a Thanksgiving dinner? I love to bring a Brussels sprouts salad with both shaved, raw and pan-roasted Brussels, with a warren pear dressing and pomegranates — the recipe’s actually on page 91 in my “Everything I Want to Eat” cookbook. It’s such a lovely salad and adds a bright freshness to the traditionally heavy meal.
Do you have any tips for how people can make their own variation of this at home? It’s super simple! But note that the recipe includes using a mandoline to shave the Brussels — take your time so you don’t take your fingers off!
Have any seasonal ingredients or dishes inspired your fall menu? Both Sqirl and Onda are super seasonal. What’s inspiring us right now at Onda is the Koji-marinated satsuma sweet potatoes, and at Sqirl it’s Sudachi yuzu, which you can find in our weekend donuts, our Thanksgiving Yuzu Meringue Pie and in many of the daily lunch specials.
Chef at Revelator: Bar Avalon
What dish on your menu would you bring to a Thanksgiving dinner? Roasted winter squash with fresh and charred chicories and a pistachio aillade.
Do you have any tips for how people can make their own variation of this at home? I would roast some acorn and red kuri squash with warming spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice) then dress with olive oil, lemon and salt when it comes out of the oven. With a mortar and pestle or food processor, I would grind pistachios until they become a nice paste. Roughly chop herbs (mint, parsley, tarragon) and add it to the bowl and combine. To brighten, add a bit of citrus and that’s about it.
For the charred chicories, just pull a few leaves and place them on a hot, dry cast-iron until lightly charred. Charred and fresh chicories should be dressed with a little bit of lemon, salt and olive oil. The greens can act like a light salad over the top. For a festive touch, I would add some pomegranate seeds.
Have any seasonal ingredients or dishes inspired your fall menu? Definitely. Winter squashes and citrus are starting to pop up in the markets, as well as pomegranate. It is exciting to see that a personal favorite, puntarelle is still available. We make a savory salad with sliced puntarelle and anchovy you can’t beat.
Executive Chef at Café Gratitude
What dish on your menu would you bring to a Thanksgiving dinner? There is one dish from the Café Gratitude menu that I bring to every Thanksgiving dinner I host or am invited to, and that is “I am Ecstatic,” our baked maple-miso Brussels sprouts. For the last eight years, they have returned to our fall/winter menu by popular demand because they are a delicious, unusual twist on a Thanksgiving staple.
Do you have any tips for how people can make their own variation of this at home? We prepare mountains of these Brussels sprouts daily in our cafes, but this dish is easily adapted for a home cook. Simply whisk together white miso, maple syrup, olive oil and a dash of sesame together to taste. Prep your Brussels sprouts by peeling off any wilted outer leaves, then cut them into halves. Toss them in a bowl until they are liberally coated with the maple-miso sauce and bake on a sheet pan in a 350-degree oven until caramelized and a little crispy.
Have any seasonal ingredients or dishes inspired your fall menu? As a vegan chef, autumn is my absolute favorite time of the year for seasonal produce. Think cranberries, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, wildcrafted mushrooms, apples, pumpkin, chestnuts, heirloom potatoes, persimmons and pomegranates – all of these delicious foods are vegan by nature and provide a medium for endless creative combinations.
ADAM PERRY LANG
Chef at APL
What dish on your menu would you bring to a Thanksgiving dinner? Barbecue brisket. It’s a popular choice for many people’s “Friendsgiving” because it’s a large format item, has a crave-able flavor profile and nailing a great one is a badge of honor.
Do you have any tips for how people can make their own variation of this at home? Cook with a minimum of wood smoke, preferably using fruitwood such as apple. In a 275-degree barbecue, cook with your favorite barbecue rub until an internal temp of 170 [degrees], then wrap with butcher paper and cook until temp. reaches 205-215 degrees.
Have any seasonal ingredients or dishes inspired your fall menu? I love cranberries and can’t wait to get them on the menu. When cooked with sugar, juice and a splash of bourbon, it’s magical. Perfect balance of acidity and a fantastic condiment. I call it a spackle when you get the consistency correct, perfect to spread in most meats.
Executive Chef at H Café and Viviane at Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills; Chef/Owner at Poppy + Rose; Owner of Root of All Food
What dish on your menu would you bring to a Thanksgiving dinner? I would bring my butternut squash risotto (toasted kombucha and delicata squash kale, brown butter, pepita seeds and sage) which will actually be on Viviane’s Thanksgiving prix fixe menu. It’s filled with fall flavors with multiple textures. Hearty, but not too heavy. Smooth, creamy and decadent. It also can appeal to all dietary restrictions.
Do you have any tips for how people can make their own variation of this at home? Pick a base flavor, such as mushrooms, seafood or vegetables. The dish is a blank canvas so you can make it what you want, allowing you to have fun! My advice would be to take your time cooking it. Timing is key when it comes to risotto because it is all about texture, so make sure it’s not too stiff and very creamy.
Have any seasonal ingredients or dishes inspired your fall menu? I have been inspired by the wonderful fall produce we have here such as hard squashes, parsnip, root vegetables. To me, fall is taking your winter dishes — which are super hearty — and transforming them into a lighter, sunny dish for Southern California.
Chef at Castaway
What dish on your menu would you bring to a Thanksgiving dinner? I would definitely bring our lamb bacon to a Thanksgiving dinner for a few reasons. This alternative protein has a lot of big flavors and a great presentation. It’s very fall-inspired and is an interesting cut of meat that is flavorful and really not utilized often. It’s a great showcase dish!
Do you have any tips for how people can make their own variation of this at home? I suggest using a cut that is good for braising like a lamb shank or lamb neck. It’s important to cook it low and slow and a long period of time. At Castaway, we add in some fun Moroccan spices and flavors, which is a great addition to this dish. The whole thing is lacquered in honey and I suggest topping it off with pomegranate seeds to balance the different flavors within the dish.
Have any seasonal ingredients or dishes inspired your fall menu? Every year, we do a baby pumpkin soup, which is my all-time favorite. We present it in the pumpkin itself and utilize the seeds to create a savory-sweet brittle for texture. In addition to the pumpkin, we all add in poached lobster to it so guests are impressed with that addition and the perfect presentation.
Chef at Bar Restaurant
What dish on your menu would you bring to a Thanksgiving dinner? Brussels sprouts with Japanese pumpkin, lebni, Mimolette and burnt-onion dressing.
Do you have any tips for how people can make their own variation of this at home? Most of the ingredients are pretty easy to find at your local grocery store. The only thing that would be hard at home, is that we use an Isi to aerate our labneh so it’s light and fluffy. We also cook our red kuri squash sous vide, so if I was making this at home, I would simply whip the labneh in a bowl with a whisk if you don’t have a whip cream canister at home and for the squash I would blanch it in salted water instead of brining it and cooking it sous vide.
Have any seasonal ingredients or dishes inspired your fall menu? Absolutely. Everything we do at Bar Restaurant is hyper-seasonal, so we’re constantly working with product that’s at its peak in the season. As soon as it’s out of season, we flip it out for something else that is. Right now, we’re using red kuri squash and yams on our menu. Two items that are currently at their peak in flavor right now.