Your Best Thanksgiving Ever

Forget the Food Network: Five favorite top chefs serve up mouthwatering recipes for a Thanksgiving feast to be truly grateful for.

Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever


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Who needs the Food Network?

This year, use professional recipes and tricks

from our favorite local chefs to cook a feast

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your guests will be super-grateful for.



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Thanksgiving is the most homey of American holidays, conjuring sappy images of apron-clad grandmothers basting the turkey as a pumpkin pie cools on the windowsill.  Insert the apple-cheeked kids, ditto the tail wagging yellow Lab—it’s all very Norman Rockwell.


But let’s face it, most of our grandmothers don’t cook like that and Thanksgiving demands way more kitchen time than most of us put in all year. So this year, we decided to ask the real Thanksgiving pros, the folks who spend their lives working in kitchens.  They know all the labor-saving tricks, and they know how to cook to impress. After all, this isn’t what they do once a year—it’s their livelihood.


Each of the five chefs featured here contributed one (or two) recipes from their holiday arsenal. Taken together, these recipes make an epic Thanksgiving feast.  While we were at it, we asked them for their tricks-of-the-trade, all to help you cook like a Top Chef, too.


Franz Fruhmann

Executive Chef, North Star,

Pound Ridge



Since coming to America 17 years ago from his native Austria, Franz Fruhmann has cooked at many great Manhattan restaurants, including heavy hitters like Bouley Bakery and Lespinasse.  More recently, Fruhmann cooked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns under Dan Barber, and he was also the opening consulting chef for Paul Newman’s Westport haute barnyard venture, Dressing Room: A Homegrown Restaurant. Now he’s taken over executive chef duties at North Star in Pound Ridge, serving seasonal, locally raised New American fare in a casual, relaxed dining room. Here he shares his recipe for squash soup.  


Chef Q&A


Q: What are the origins of this recipe?

Bits and pieces come from other chefs. The basic technique comes from David Bouley. When I was there, we always made soup by boiling the vegetables, reserving the stock, and puréeing the two together.  I put the combination of squashes together because I just love the sweetness of the kabocha squash, and the texture of butternut and the acorn just slots in there nicely.


Q: Where do you shop for turkeys or ham, etc.?

If I buy a turkey, it needs to be free range, so I’d get one from D’Artagnan. I prefer the Berkshire pig that I get at Fleischer’s—a butcher in Kingston, New York.


Q: If you eat out, where and what?

I usually go to restaurants with interesting food and concepts. When I go out to eat now, it’s more just out of curiosity.


Q: What are your current food traditions for Thanksgiving?

We start off with a soup, followed by a root-vegetable salad, then turkey with all the accompaniments.


Q: What did you eat at Thanksgiving when you were growing up?

There is no Thanksgiving in Austria, but I did grow up eating a lot of pig, chicken, and home-grown vegetables; my mother would always grow our own.


Q: What are your entertaining shortcuts?

I’ll have to think about this question because I normally don’t take shortcuts!


Q: Any tools that you couldn’t live without when entertaining?

My cooking spoons, my Japanese knives, a rubber spatula, and my iPod.


Q: Any wine, cocktails, or alcohol to have on hand?

We always pair great wines with our meals!



Autumn Squash Soup

Courtesy of Chef Franz Fruhmann,

Executive Chef of North Star

(Serves 4)



2 acorn squash

2 butternut squash

2 kabocha squash
   (a white/yellow

  Japanese pumpkin)

1 oz brown sugar

1 oz cinnamon

3 Tbsp butter



3 oz heavy cream

grated nutmeg to taste

2 Tbsp dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 375°F. Take one of each squash, cut it in half, de-seed, and place on a baking sheet cut side up. Sprinkle the tops with nutmeg, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Melt butter and drizzle it over the squash. Place the baking tray in the oven and roast until the squash are very soft—this will take about 60 to 90 minutes, depending on their size.

Take the remaining squash and peel, de-seed, and cut into small chunks. Place the chunks in a pot and add just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil as quickly as possible.

As soon as it boils, turn off the flame.  Strain and retain the liquid, which will be your stock for the soup.


When the roasted squash is done, scoop out the flesh, and save. Combine your squash stock and the scooped-out roasted squash and purée in a blender—it should have the consistency of a thick soup.


Whip the heavy cream and add nutmeg and a pinch of sugar. Pour hot soup into a bowl, add a dollop of nutmeg cream, and sprinkle with dried cranberries. Serve.


North Star

85 Westchester Ave, Pound Ridge (914) 764-0200


Dan Barber

Co-Owner and Executive Chef,

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, pocantico hills



What’s left to say about Westchester’s most A-List celebrity chef? After cooking in California and France, Dan Barber conquered New York—first with a catering company, Dan Barber Catering, Inc., then with a modest Greenwich Village restaurant (which he co-owned with brother, David, and sister-in-law, Laureen) named Blue Hill after his and his brother’s grandmother’s home in the Berkshires. After receiving tons of accolades for Blue Hill, in 2004, Chef Barber took his talents north—to operate the showcase restaurant located within the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Philosophies have never been so perfectly matched. With Barber’s skill and back-to-the-farm aesthetics, and the Stone Barns project’s locally-raised, boutique meat and produce, Blue Hill at Stone Barns has garnered a bevy of awards and notices—and put Chef Barber in the pages of the New Yorker, and his writing in Vanity Fair, Food & Wine, the New York Times, and Gourmet.


Chef Q&A

Q: What did you eat at Thanksgiving when you were

growing up?

Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, root vegetables.


Q: What are your current food traditions for


Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, root vegetables. In my family, we value consistency.


Q: Any tools that you couldn’t live without when


A spoon: for basting, mashing, mixing and, when it’s all done, for the cold pumpkin pie in the refrigerator.


Q: Any wine, cocktails, alcohol to have on hand?

Tuthilltown’s Hudson Baby Bourbon (made from one-
hundred-percent New State Corn) or, of course, Wild Turkey.



Brined, Roasted, and Baked Turkey

With Its Own ‘Gravy’ and Mushroom Stuffing

Courtesy of Co-owner And Executive Chef

Dan Barber, Blue Hill at Stone Barns  

(Serves 12)




1 1/2 cups kosher salt

1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp sugar

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs of thyme

7 cloves

1/2 Tbsp whole allspice berries, cracked

1/2 tsp juniper berries

14 lb Bourbon Red turkey—
preferably raised at Stone Barns

1/2 lb butter, softened

salt and pepper to taste


In a large stockpot, add two gallons of water and all the spices. Bring to a simmer and remove from the stove. Cool liquid completely. Add turkey, breast side down, and refrigerate overnight.



On Thanksgiving morning, drain the turkey and let it rest, unrefrigerated, until it comes up to room temperature. Carefully separate skin from the breast meat and rub softened butter onto breast. Season the turkey liberally with salt and pepper, and pre-heat oven to 475° F. Set the turkey, breast side up, on a rack of a large roasting pan. Tie the legs together with kitchen string.

Roast for 20 minutes at 475° F. Lower the oven temperature to 350° F and cover turkey loosely with tin foil. Roast for about 3 1/2 hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the inner thigh registers 150° F.

Transfer turkey to cutting board. Let stand for at least 45 minutes to cool down. Remove legs and thighs, being careful to not take too much skin with you. Place thighs, skin side down, on a roasting pan and continue cooking, 40 to 45 minutes or until their juices run clear. Separately slice breast and thigh and plate while still warm.


Rafael Palomino

Owner/executive Chef,

Palomino restaurant, Greenwich,

Connecticut, and Sonora And

Pacifico, Port Chester



Powerhouse Chef Rafael Palomino did his groundwork with some of the greatest chefs in the world: Larry Forgione at An American Place and River Café, and at Eugènie les Bains in France, Michel Guèrard. He hit Manhattan running with the first iteration of Sonora, which was nominated by New York magazine as one of the 10 Best Places to Eat in 1999. In 2000, Chef Palomino opened Sonora in Port Chester, rated “Excellent” by the New York Times, and followed that with two branches (in Port Chester and New Haven) of Pacifico, a Latin-American seafood restaurant. Aside from running his catering company, Pasión Catering, and completing various cookbook and packaged food projects, Chef Palomino is currently introducing his fifth restaurant—a New American place called Palomino Restaurant, in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, which received four stars by this magazine last month. Here he gives us his recipe for butternut squash and sweet potato mash. “I chose this recipe because it reminds me of the season that we’re in,” he says. “The changing colors of the leaves and the pumpkins and squash are iconic to this time of year.”


Chef Q&A


Q: Where do you shop for your Thanksgiving turkeys or ham?

Stew Leonard’s.


Q: If you eat out, where and what?

If I’m with my kids, Pizza Factory in Greenwich, Connecticut. If it’s just me and my wife, La Crémaillère Restaurant in Bedford.


Q: What do you do for Thanksgiving?

I spend Thanksgiving with my family. We have a roasted turkey stuffed with sweet

plantains, garlic shrimp, ceviche, sangria, dulce de leche cupcakes, and my mother’s lemon pound cake.


Q: What are your current food traditions for Thanksgiving?

Being Latino, I do a vegetable stuffing with quinoa, corn, scallions, and roasted peppers.


Q: What did you grow up eating for Thanksgiving, before you became a chef?

Traditional turkey marinated in beer with saffron shrimp rice.


Q: Any wine, cocktails, alcohol to have on hand?



Q: Any tools that you couldn’t live without when entertaining?

Muddle for mojitos.


Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Mash

Courtesy of Rafael Palomino,

Co-owner and Executive Chef, Palomino Restaurant

(Serves about 10)



2 medium sweet potatoes

1 medium butternut squash

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Bake sweet potato for about 30 minutes and bake butternut squash in halves upside down for 45 min. Both should be soft. Let cool. Scoop out from shells. Mash together with the remaining ingredients. Place in a serving dish, lightly sprinkle brown sugar on top. Bake for 20 minutes and serve. (Garnish shown below is matchstick sweet potato fries.)


Palomino Restaurant

1392 Putnam Ave

,  Old Greenwich, CT  (203) 698-9033


Dan Magill

Executive Chef, One, irvington



Having grown up on Long Island’s North Fork, and having worked in kitchens since age 14, Dan Magill is no stranger to peak local produce and great wine. After earning his degree at the CIA, Magill did stints at Café Boulud and db Bistro Moderne before returning to Long Island to work at Southhampton’s prestigious Plaza Café and Grand Cru Caterers. He then became executive chef at Relish in Sparkill, New York. His move to Irvington was auspicious—One earned an “Excellent” rating from the New York Times, and the restaurant was named Westchester Magazine’s Best New
Restaurant of the Year. Here he gives us his recipe for pan-roasted baby Brussels sprouts. “When I think of fall, the first vegetable I think of is Brussels sprouts,” he says.  


Chef Q&A


Q: Where do you shop for your Thanksgiving turkeys or ham?

Being a chef, I have access to all my restaurant purveyors. However, any home cook can purchase the same heritage-breed turkeys (like Bourbon Reds) that I get through my purveyor, D’Artagnan, at Crisfields Market in Rye.


Q: What are your current food traditions for Thanksgiving?

Simple comfort food is the name of the Thanksgiving game. My current food traditions are pretty similar to the ones I grew up with: there’s the turkey with a mushroom-based stuffing. Some people don’t like to cook the stuffing in the turkey, but for me this is a must.


Q: What did you eat at Thanksgiving when you were growing up?

The day started with Thanksgiving Day breakfast. This was my father’s specialty. The meal was usually an all-you-can-eat buffet, just like at a Howard Johnson’s: there would be eggs, from our own chickens—it was my job to dodge the rooster, and collect the eggs from the hens—sausages, bacon, and pancakes. Dinner usually consisted of one large turkey, barded with either bacon or some kind of fatback. Then the bird would slowly roast with a mushroom-based stuffing. Then the classic gravy made from the pan drippings, my grandmother’s recipe. There would also be whipped turnips, parsnips, or mashed potatoes—but my favorite was the sweet potato-and-apple terrine: sweet potatoes thinly sliced length-wise with alternating layers of sliced green apple. Desserts would consist of a variety of pies.


Q: What are your entertaining shortcuts?

My shortcuts are pretty basic: have a game plan with a checklist and a time line. And clean as you go. Recruit others to help—at One, I make everyone responsible for something.


Q: Any tools that you couldn’t live without when entertaining?

When I am going to be entertaining a large crowd at my house, I make sure that I always have my knives from the restaurant. Sure, I have other knives at home—but these are in my hand every day, and I’m much faster working with them. Another tool is my pepper mill. Personally, I prefer a Peugeot. And, of course, have a good wine opener—chances are it’ll get a workout.


Q: Any wine, cocktails, alcohol to have on hand?

Wine can be paired to fit almost any type of food, including a Thanksgiving Day feast. For that, I would recommend a Pinot Noir.


Pan Roasted Baby Brussels Sprouts

With Smoked Bacon, Dried Cranberries, and Pecans

Courtesy Of Dan Magill,

Executive Chef, One 

(Serves 10)


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