What’s on your Thanksgiving shopping list? Most likely there’s turkey, potatoes, butter, cranberries, brussels sprouts and other traditional necessities. And maybe there's one item that’s not like the others—something unusual that makes your Thanksgiving meal unique. Here, star chefs share the strangest things you’ll find on their Thanksgiving grocery lists.

By Justine Sterling
Updated May 23, 2017
Credit: Photo © Michael Turek

1. Caviar
“I serve caviar with matzoh. I swear by it,” says Alex Stupak of NYC’s Empellon empire. “It gets weirder when you consider that I’m not Jewish—half my family is Mexican and the other half are New Englanders.”

2. Flour Tortillas and Txiperones (Baby Squid)
“My favorite Friday leftovers snack is a turkey quesadilla with stuffing and cranberry sauce,” says Jamie Bissonnette of Toro in Boston and NYC. “And canned txiperones in their ink are always the best in stuffing.”

3. Boccalone Iberico Lardo and Red Boat Fish Sauce
“I like to serve the lardo with persimmons, walnuts and spicy arugula as a composed salad,” says Chris Cosentino of San Francisco’s Cockscomb. “One year we even wrapped the turkey breast in lardo when we roasted the turkey. The skin was so crisp and the breast was so moist. I use the fish sauce in my oyster sausage stuffing as well as on roasted kabocha squash. It gives both dishes a kick of extra flavor without the guests knowing it’s there. It’s my secret weapon.”

4. Umami Paste and Plastic Sous Vide Bags
“I add umami paste or Maggi Seasoning to gravy,” says Top Chef alum Richard Blais. “And I’m obnoxious enough that I usually cook two birds and sous vide one. I sous vide the legs and breasts at different temperatures, then sear or fry them to finish.”

5. Masoor Daal (Red Lentils) and Brisket
“We have so many vegetarian and vegan friends that I like to make a yummy daal dish so there is protein for them,” says Susan Feniger. “It’s also great with raw cranberry salsa. Also, in my home every holiday we have brisket. What can I say? I do it in honor of my parents. Nothing is better than a turkey and brisket leftover sandwich with cold daal and cranberry salsa.”

6. Coconut Milk
“I love to put a little coconut milk into my pumpkin pie,” says April Bloomfield. “It adds a richness and a little something that makes people think, ‘mmm, what's that flavor?’ It makes them go back for more.”

7. Parmigiano Reggiano
“I use it to make a stuffing for turkey,” says New Orleans chef Alon Shaya. “I mix that with lots of nutmeg, eggs, turkey stock and bread crumbs.”

8. Shrimp, Andouille and Zaatar
“The shrimp and andouille is for making gumbo with the leftover turkey the next day,” says Hugh Acheson. “The zaatar is for the carrots. I love it with strained yogurt on thoroughly roasted local carrots.”

9. Instant Ramen
"I make instant ramen for a fast, late breakfast that doesn't make a mess or take up stove space while I'm cooking all the other food," says Alinea's Grant Achatz.