In How Do You Take Yours?, The Takeout solicits staff and outside expertise for their secret tips on improving one dish.
Thanksgiving sides are insidiously meaty. Chicken broth sneaks into mashed potatoes, or Brussels sprouts take a quick dip in some bacon fat. Even dishes that look to be, you know, vegetables often contain concealed ingredients that make them off-limits to vegetarians. In search of actual meat-free-but-still-100-percent-delicious Thanksgiving sides, we tapped some experts.
And because your time is precious, we’ve asked chefs to explain their recipes in 100 words or less.
Dan Jacobs, DanDan in Milwaukee
Fried Brussels sprouts: Cut the small Brussels in half, and quarter the larger ones. Now do away with any notion that these are healthy, because next, you fry the brussels sprouts in vegetable oil. After, toss them in salt, pour them into a bowl, and top with sweet soy sauce and kewpie mayo, then finish them with some fried garlic, toasted cashews, and chives.
Danny DiStefano, Made Nice in New York City
Cranberry chutney: 3 cups fresh cranberries, 1 3/4 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons orange zest, grated. Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for one hour or until the cranberries begin to break down. Transfer the chutney to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.
Moosah Reaume, Commons Club in Chicago
Glazed carrots: Try to source the best baby carrots that have a super sweet taste. Stay away from the purple ones as they will change the color of your glaze. Peel and clean the carrots, then grab OJ, lemon juice, some Thai red chilis, and orange zest—not too much. Place in the pot and add some honey and salt bring to a simmer until carrots are tender, then add butter. When they are ready to serve, bring to a simmer and reduce to a glaze then with a touch of olive oil. Garnish with torn mint or cilantro.
Greg Biggers, Fort Louise in Nashville
Brioche stuffing: Sauté finely minced garlic, onion, celery, and onion in way too much butter. Once that is cooking, add chopped sage, rosemary and thyme and let that get toasty before adding the brioche, dried cherries and vegetable stock. Throw it in a casserole dish and bake it off (Fat Guy tip: slice off a piece of this the next day and put it on a sandwich with leftovers and cranberry sauce).
Yehuda Sichel, Abe Fisher in Philadelphia
Roasted sweet potato and Boursin: Roast diced sweet potatoes with ground caraway, allspice, canola oil and Kosher salt in a 400 degree oven until tender. Finish by tossing with brown sugar, softened butter, lemon juice, mint and parsley. Take garlic and herb Boursin and mix with sour cream. Spread the cheese onto a plate, spoon the roasted potatoes over, and top with pickled long hot peppers and walnuts.
Bill Kim, urbanbelly and BellyQ in Chicago
Coconut grits: It’s a lighter version of the Southern staple, cheese grits, only dairy- and gluten-free by using coconut milk as a substitute for heavy cream. It’s very flavorful and rich without being heavy and is a great replacement to mashed potatoes. Season them with caramelized onions, garlic and salt. The kick really comes from adding something acidic; I personally love giardiniera or even something as simple as a diced pickle.
John Manion, La Sirena Clandestina and El Che Bar in Chicago
Sweet potatoes with horseradish butter: I learned how to properly handle camote (sweet potato) from a former coworker, a Oaxacan gentleman named Omar. Poke a couple of holes in it and throw it in a 400 degree oven for about an hour. The sugars closest to the skin start to caramelize and the rest steams beneath this layer. The result is nothing short of heavenly. Let potatoes cool, then peel the skin off and whip them with a little heavy cream and butter, then grate in a good amount of fresh horseradish and season with salt. The surprise of the fresh and pungent horseradish plays beautifully against the earthy, nutty sweetness of the humble tuber.
Ben Jones, The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Montana
Pan-roasted Brussels sprouts: Heat equal parts butter and olive oil in a large cast-iron sauce pan. Add finely diced fresh garlic, julienned onion and sauté until onion is slightly tender. Add quartered Brussels sprouts and cook over medium-high heat until the onion and leaves of the sprouts start to caramelize. This browning adds a nutlike flavor, which is a wonderful substitute to using something like bacon for flavor. Add a little water during cooking to keep the Brussels sprouts moist, almost steaming them. Season with salt, pepper and thyme and drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar.
Spiced roasted sunchoke and sweet potatoes: Quarter the sunchokes and chop the sweet potatoes, then toss each vegetable separately in melted butter, salt and few teaspoons of advieh (a Persian spice blend). Roast them on sheet pans at 400 degrees until tender. While that’s roasting, mix together 1/4 cup of pomegranate molasses and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (add a little more melted butter to this mixture if you’re feeling decadent). Once the veggies are roasted, remove from oven, toss together with the syrup mixture, chopped toasted pecans and chopped Italian parsley.