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by Stephanie Breijo

While friends and family gather each year for Thanksgiving tradition–be it the awkward hugs, the game on TV, catching up in the too-crammed kitchen or lazing around the house–let us all remember what draws us to the table this holiday, nearer to one another and our waistbands. Of all holidays, Thanksgiving is a time for feasting and who better to guide us through with recipes and advice than some of our favorite D.C. chefs?

We spoke to a handful of the District’s best to find out what Thanksgiving is like in their own homes and how we can master the kitchen this holiday season. From cranberry sauce to cocktails, we’ve got you covered.


1.) It’s not Thanksgiving without…
Scotch. At the end of it all–and this is what I look forward to more than turkey, green bean casserole or pumpkin pie–my brothers and I sit on the porch with a few choice bottles of single malt whiskey and cigars.

 2.) The kitchen is always…
Too small. Or maybe there’s just too much food. I generally do the cooking along with my brother, Tom, and, inevitably, there’s a shorter in burners and oven space. It all gets done anyway. Just a bit cramped.
3.) You can always count on…
– On TV: A movie on the TV after dinner. We’re not football fans, really.
– On the table: A whole fish on the table. One of our traditions.
– At the bar: Scotch at the bar. And Irish coffees and wine and champagne and brandy.
Thanksgiving Chefs DC Recipes Photos Brightest Young Things4

Pickin’ Punch

1 1/2 bottles of Dark Rum
1 bottle Applejack
1/2 bottle Blended Scotch
1 lb. Fine Demerara Sugar
2 Peels of Lemon
2 cups of apple cider
6 cups of sparkling water
Garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks

1.) Muddle lemon peels with sugar and then pour in apple cider.
2.) Stir in rum, Applejack and Scotch; chill for two hours in refrigerator.
3.) Serve in bowl over large ice block. Add chilled sparkling water.

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1.) It’s not Thanksgiving without…
Kielbasa and Kapusta (Polish braised sauerkraut). We rock those dishes every year.

2.) The kitchen is always…
Where the party is. Every year, we go to my sister’s house — there’s about 20 of us.  We all make hors d’oeuvres (and this year I’m making soup) but my mom pretty much cooks everything and brings it over (my sister makes the mashed potatoes). We hang out in the kitchen the entire day.

 3.) You can always count on…
– On the TV: Football.
– On the table: Grandma’s rolls.
– At the bar: Bloody Marys.

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Spiced Cranberry Relish

Peel and juice of 1 medium orange
Peel and juice of ½ medium lemon
3 cups port
1 package (12 ounces) fresh cranberries, washed
½ medium red onion, diced
1 ounce fresh ginger, peeled and cut into julienne
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

1.) Cut the orange and lemon peels into julienne.
2.) In a small saucepan, heat the juices and ½ cup port. Over medium-high heat, cook the peels until tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve.
3.) In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, onion, 2 cups port, ginger, brown sugar, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Over medium-high heat, cook until the relish thickens, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4.) Stir the remaining ½ cup port, the Grand Marnier, and the reserved orange and lemon peel mixture.
5.) Cool. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate, covered, until needed.

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1.) It’s not Thanksgiving without…
A tummy ache.

2.) The kitchen is always…

3.) You can always count on…
– On TV:
The parade.
-On the table:
-At the bar:

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Thanksgiving Flamenkuche

In the spirit of the season and for your hungry readers, I came up with a dish that will please for its look and flavor, but most importantly the ease to create; it is possible to serve it on Thanksgiving or the following days using leftovers. At the restaurant, we serve a flamenkuche. It is a sort of wood-fire flatbread topped with crème fraiche, onion, bacon and grated nutmeg; we make our own bread pastry. I recommend it for a quick meal specially after having spent hours in the kitchen the days before!

1 large flour tortilla (or multiple corn tortillas)
1/2 tablespoon butter
Sweet potato puree
Various Thanksgiving leftovers
Nuts, bleu cheese (optional)

1.) At your local grocery, buy flour or corn tortilla, the same that would be served at Mexican restaurant for a quesadilla. Those will crisp…
2.) Lightly butter one side and place butter-side-down between two parchment papers and cook until crisp at 300 degrees. (You could also crisp them in a pan or on a grill.) Shape them before or after into squares, rectangles, circles or leave as-is.
3.) Top with leftover sweet potato puree, broccolini, broccoli rabe,, turkey removed from the bones, cranberry sauce… You decide and be imaginative with your leftovers.
4.) You now have a crisp tortilla. Spread it with sweet potato, just enough to mask the pastry, add your greens and chunks of the turkey (I like the legs better).
5.) Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes and finish with cranberry sauce to your liking. You can also add nuts and blue cheese if you like.
6.) Cut it or serve it as is with fresh crisp lettuce tossed with mustard vinaigrette.

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1.) It’s not Thanksgiving without…
Turkey. It may seem an obvious choice, but as an immigrant to this country there is nothing more iconic. Of course, at Casa Luca we’ll also be serving porchetta, because we can’t change who we are!
 2.) The kitchen is always…
 Full of people, and the aromas fill the house.
3.) You can always count on..
– On TV: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I don’t watch TV but the kids love it.
– On the table: Roasted chestnuts and wine.
– At the bar: Scotch.

Screen shot 2013-11-25 at 10.48.30 AM
(by Greg Powers, Courtesy of Fiola)
Zuppa Di Castagne (Chestnut Soup)
Chestnuts conjure memories of fall nights when I was growing up when, after dinner, we would hang around the table playing cards, nibbling on fresh roasted chestnuts, and telling stories. Those moments have the same spirit of conviviality and family that underlies the Thanksgiving celebration. This chestnut soup is one of the first recipes I ever created as a student, and I still serve a version of it at Fiola every fall when chestnuts are in season.

12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, in one piece
2⁄3 cup chopped shallots
2⁄3 cup chopped peeled celery root
1⁄2 pound button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 1⁄2 pounds vacuum-packed chestnuts, or fresh roasted and shelled chestnuts
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
1⁄2 cup Cognac
5 cups Chicken Stock
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
1 sprig sage
1 sprig thyme
3⁄4 cup light cream or half-and-half

1.) In a large saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the pancetta, shallots, and celery root and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the celery root is tender. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
2.) Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and chestnuts and sauté until the chestnuts are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the saucepan with the pancetta.
3.) Return the saucepan to medium heat and stir until the pancetta and celery root are hot.
4.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and add the Cognac.
5.) Carefully flame the Cognac by holding a match just above the surface of the liquid. Flambéing the Cognac will evaporate the alcohol; when the flame dies down, return the saucepan to medium heat and add the chicken stock.
6.) Tie the bay leaf, sage, and thyme together with kitchen twine and add to the pan. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7.) Remove the pancetta from the soup and discard (it will have given up its flavor to the soup); discard the herb bundle. Working in small batches, transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth.
8.) Return the soup to the saucepan, stir in the cream, and gently heat through; do not boil.
9.) Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Chestnut Soup with Foie Gras, Cotechino, Hazelnuts(Courtesy of Fiola)


  • Douglas Anderson, Seasons at The Four Seasons

1.) It’s not Thanksgiving without…
My big batch of cranberry sauce! Every year at every restaurant I have worked I always make the cranberry sauce!

2.) The kitchen is always…
BUSY every year we seem to do more and more on holidays.

3.) You can always count on…
Charles’s pumpkin pie! Our pastry chef makes the best pies 🙂
-On the TV: Football.
-On the table: Brussel sprouts with smoked pork belly.
-At the bar: Pinot Noir.

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Easy Cranberry Sauce

12 oz bag fresh cranberries
2 cup sugar
1 cup fresh OJ
1/4 cup orange skin small diced
1 tsp fine diced fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick
pinch salt

1.) Add sugar to OJ with ginger, diced orange skin and cinnamon.
2.) Simmer slowly for 20 minutes then add cranberries and cook ’til tender.
3.) Cool and serve.

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1.) It’s not thanksgiving without…
Along nap after the main meal, followed by a Thanksandwich (a sandwich comprising of EVERYTHING that is left over).

2.) The kitchen is always…
Extremely hot and humid, and I say this as a chef. No ventilation at all. Adios Thanksgiving Day sweater.

3.) You can always count on…
-On TV:
Football on the T.V.
-On the table: Cranberry “sauce” straight out of the can on the table (damn right).
-At the bar: My grandmother with a box of wine, hammered.

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Apple Crumb Pie

Filling Ingredients
8 apples peeled and diced, 2 cups of brown sugar
1 tbl spoon vanilla paste or 1 t spoon vanilla extract
2 t spoon cinnamon
1 t spoon mace or nutmeg
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider
2 shots of bourbon (one for yourself because you deserve it)

Filling Procedure
1.) Add half of the apples to a hot pan with a small amount of oil to cover the bottom.
2.)Add all the rest of the ingredients. Cook to a simmer and then reduce the liquid amount by half.
3.) Pour the hot mixture over the rest of the apples and let cool.

Dough Ingredients
1cup shredded (on a cheese grater) cold butter (make sure butter is very cold before mixing)
1/2cup flour
2 1/2 eggs beaten
1.35 oz milk
1oz salt
1 shot of bourbon

Dough Procedure
1.) Mix butter and flour with the paddle on low in your mixer, mix until there are no large chunks of butter and the flour is tinted yellow. Do your best not to over mix though!
2.)  As soon as the butter is to the desired level, add your beaten eggs.
3.) Once these are mixed in (about 15 seconds), add your milk.
4.) Turn off as soon as dough is completely mixed and all flour is removed from the bottom and sides of the bowl.
5.) Refrigerate for at least one hour. Take another shot of bourbon because you are a pie-making master.

Brown Butter Crumb Topping Ingredients
2 cups of flour
3/4 cups of brown sugar
1/2 cups of cold shredded butter
1 shot of bourbon

Brown Butter Crumb Topping  Procedure
1.) Similar to the dough, you want your butter to be very cold so it incorporates into the flour without melting. Place all ingredients in the mixer on low with the paddle attachment and sip on your delightful shot of bourbon because this is gonna take a few minutes.
2.) You’ll know it’s done once you have small little clumps of streusel. If large clumps start to form because you were pouring yourself another shot, immediately place in the freezer for about 20 mins and slowly mix again. Way to save the day, hero.

Assemblage Procedure
1.) Preheat your over to 350. Roll out your pie dough to about an 1/8 of an inch thickness.
2.) Rub one 12″ pie pan with butter, crisco, or pan spray (your choice).
3.) Spread your dough into the pan and cut the edges leaving about a 1/4 of an inch of dough over the lip. Using your thumb and index finger on both hands go around the edges of the pie “crimping” the dough.
4.) Add your chilled apple mix.
5.) Add your chilled streusel top. I like to use a lot but it’s really your call. You’ll want to cover as much of the filling as possible, though.
6.) Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Give it a nice turn and go for another 15.

Ding Ding, drunkey; your pie is done and so is the bourbon. Enjoy.

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