Michael Symon defines himself as a "porketarian," saying he can’t get enough of the meat. For his luscious chili, he uses incredibly flavorful and succulent pork cheeks—an unusual cut worth seeking out. If pork cheeks aren’t available, pork shoulder (cut into 2-inch pieces) can be substituted.
To jazz up arugula salad and give it a slightly Greek twist, Michael Symon tosses it with chopped fresh dill, briny Greek feta cheese and kalamata olives. He finishes the salad with extra-virgin Greek olive oil, which he says has a pure flavor and is generally more affordable than olive oil from Italy.
Most crab dips are full of mayonnaise, but Michael Symon's lighter version is more like a salsa since it's prepared without mayo and laced with flecks of shallot, cilantro, jalapeño and red bell pepper. "Although I love mayo," he says, "I'm not a fan of it with crab, since it tends to muddle the flavor. If I'm spending big bucks on crab, I want it to be the star."
Instead of combining vodka with flavored Jell-O mix, Michael Symon concocts a refreshing mojito and stirs unflavored gelatin into the mint-and-lime-spiced rum drink to mold a fun and sophisticated version of the lowbrow shot.
Lots of people brine their turkeys. Not Michael Symon, who thinks brining makes the bird a little rubbery. He salts his bird well and refrigerates it overnight to season it. Before roasting, he covers the breast and legs with cheesecloth that's been soaked in a cider-infused butter. For his beer-spiked gravy, Symon recommends the German-style Dortmunder Gold, made by Great Lakes Brewing Company, from his home state of Ohio.
Quinoa is definitely a superfood: A grain-like seed, it's a "complete" protein containing all eight essential amino acids (another plus: it cooks much more quickly than most grains). To create a terrific vegetarian main course, Michael Symon of Cleveland's Lola tosses quinoa with arugula, apple, raisins and fresh herbs, then spoons the salad into a halved baked squash (a great source of iron and vitamins A and C).
Michael Symon usually doesn't make dessert for holidays. Still, his version of this classic is great after a big meal because it isn't too sweet or too heavy. He layers brioche bread crumbs with sliced apples and a cinnamon-citrus sugar, baking everything together so it becomes wonderfully soft.
These crispy chicken wings get their heat from Sriracha, the Thai hot sauce that chef Michael Symon says is his favorite in the world. "We always have a couple of extra bottles at home, because my stepson blows right through the stuff."
Michael Symon begins dinner with this tangle of multicolored vegetables—radishes, golden beet and carrots—tossed with a lemon-dill dressing. Because they're served raw, the vegetables should be sliced very thin, in a food processor or preferably on a mandoline. Symon recommends using a Greek feta for the salad's cheese garnish, because he likes that Greek feta is saltier than some others.
A mix of sautéed wild mushrooms adds lots of texture to this stuffing; lemon juice and zest make it tangy. The mushroom stuffing can be made vegetarian-friendly simply by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock.