Southern Thanksgiving Recipes
Roasted Corn and Pepper Maque Choux
No one seems to know the exact definition of the popular Creole side dish maque choux, or smothered corn, but it has its roots in the classic southern recipe for skillet-fried corn.
Fried Okra with Sweet Chile Sauce
Howie Velie loves the tender, delicious young okra from Best of What’s Around farm. At Magnolia, he dips it into a cornmeal batter, then fries it until it’s puffy, golden and crusty. Make sure to serve the okra right away since it can get soggy if it sits.
Oysters are a prominent part of many Gulf Coast holiday meals, and they play a big role in New Orleans chef John Besh’s dinner. As a child, he loved when family friend Mrs. Slaughter made little puff pastry cups and filled them with oysters in cream sauce. In this version, he places the oysters in mini tartlet shells, then tops them with a creamy horseradish sauce and crispy bread crumbs.
Slow-Smoked Turkey with Cane Syrup-Coffee Glaze
If you have a grill with a lid and a bag of hickory chips you can smoke a turkey. Braising the bird first in a mix of coffee, apple cider vinegar and cane syrup or brown sugar results in marvelously complex flavors—sweet, bitter and herbaceous.
Cider-Braised Collards with Ham
Sweet Potatoes with Apple Butter
Peppered Corn Bread
John Currence ingeniously uses both naturally low-fat buttermilk and fat-free sour cream to make his tender corn bread.
Spinach and Cheese Grits Frittatas
You can substitute 1 1/2 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese plus 1 cup of sharp white Cheddar cheese for the Spanish tetilla, Manchego and Mahón cheeses.
Corn Bread Stuffing with Country Sausage
Lima Bean and Sweet Pepper Gratin
“This butter bean gratin is based on an amazing flageolet bean gratin that one of my mentors, Frank Stitt, makes. His recipe was originally inspired by one from Richard Olney,” says Hugh Acheson. (“Butter bean” is a common Southern term for limas.) “It's an ode to the marriage of Southern vegetables and French know-how.”
Dill seeds add a pleasant and unusual flavor to these flaky biscuits, which get their richness from both butter and heavy cream. Quick to make and to bake, the biscuits are best served warm with butter.
Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble
David Guas, a New Orleans native, remembers this comforting dessert from his childhood. It’s a spectacularly creamy banana pudding topped with a crumble made from vanilla wafer cookies.
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Ice Cream
Southern red velvet cake is usually a tall layer cake, slathered with cream cheese icing and studded with pecans. In this deconstructed version, the cake is low (like a torte), the pecans are coated in caramel to make pecan praline and the cream cheese icing is transformed into cream cheese-flavored ice cream.
Texas State Fair Pecan Pie
This extraordinarily rich and sweet dessert was the winner at the 1996 State Fair of Texas State pie competition, which Dean Fearing helped judge. “Out of 140 pies, this one was it,” he says. “Her name was Bobby Lee; she never told me her last name.”
Black-Bottom Peanut Pie
This is chef Marcus Samuelsson's take on a classic Southern black-bottom pie. He added a peanut-caramel layer on top as an ode to his favorite candy bar, Snickers. "When I was a kid, I would treat myself to a Snickers bar on the way to soccer practice," he writes in his cookbook Marcus Off Duty. "I don't eat many candy bars these days, but I still love that combination of flavors."
Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potatoes grow in abundance in Alabama, where sculptor Sandi Stevens' family eats them year-round. This casserole is a Stevens favorite: silky pureed sweet potatoes topped with a sweet and crunchy pecan-cornflake topping. If you don't have pecans or cornflakes on hand, Stevens says the topping can be made with whatever nut or cereal is in the cupboard.
Bourbon-Glazed Turkey with Pearl Onion Giblet Gravy
Chef Tanya Holland's secret for a turkey with juicy meat and nicely lacquered skin: Brine the bird overnight, and then baste it frequently with a bourbon-brown sugar glaze as it roasts.
Collard Greens, Blue Potato and Bacon Salad
Kale isn't the only green that's delicious raw: The thinly sliced collard greens in this salad are a delicious vehicle for all the goodies tossed with them, including roasted blue potatoes, bacon, crumbled Stilton cheese, toasted walnuts and hard-boiled quail eggs. Hard-boiled chicken eggs that are cut into smaller pieces would be a fine substitute.
Sautéed Collards and Cabbage with Gremolata
These crunchy sautéed greens from TV chef Carla Hall get big flavor from garlic, lemon and crushed red pepper.
Bacon-Roasted Turkey with Sweet-Onion Gravy
In keeping with his motto that "everything is better with bacon," Robert Stehling makes a bacon-herb paste that he stuffs under the turkey skin to produce an incredibly moist and smoky bird.
Southern Baked Chicken Casserole
This is a slightly modernized take on the very traditional Southern chicken casserole Jennifer Nettles's mother likes to make. The recipe swaps out the usual canned cream of chicken soup in favor of a quick white sauce. A dash of hot sauce is the perfect finish.
This rich and delicious creamed kale from star chef Tyler Florence is an excellent swap for more traditional creamed spinach.
Sweet Potato Spoon Bread
Spoon bread, a cross between corn bread and souffle, is a Southern classic. Robert Stehling likes to add cooked spinach or fresh corn and chopped and sauteed bacon or ham to his plain sweet potato version.