RVA Chefsgiving

Five Richmond chefs share recipes and memories from their Thanksgiving tables.

Chefs get a bum deal when it comes to holidays, pulling the most grueling shifts on days when it seems like everyone else is sleeping in, watching parades, and generally sharing in cozy merriment.

I’d like to think that if chefs could have their own special Thanksgiving, it would be the ultimate feast, surpassing even my own beloved family traditions. This Thanksgiving menu, compiled from recipes from chefs at The Rogue Gentlemen, Postbellum, 821 Cafe, Pasture, and L’Opossum is exhibit A in this argument. From PARKER. HOUSE. ROLLS.; to a real honest-to-fowl Turducken; to a sweet, unexpected Reisling-poached pear; this is the menu from which to find inspiration for the holiday ahead.

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Herbed Parker House Rolls

Drew Thomasson, The Rogue Gentleman/The Lab
Adapted from Peter Reinhart

“Thanksgiving has always been a big deal in my family. We always start really early in the morning, cooking all the traditional favorites. In my opinion, though, the best part is all the leftovers afterward. Nothing beats a turkey and mayo sandwich the next day.”

Herb Compound Butter

  • 1 cup Softened butter
  • Large handful of fresh herbs, minced

In a food processor, process the butter and herbs until thoroughly mixed. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to let it firm up. Reserve 1/4 cup for the bread dough, the rest will be for brushing and other uses.

Bread Dough

  • 3 3/4 cup bread (or other high gluten) flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup herb compound butter, softened
  • 10.5 fl oz buttermilk
  • Coarse sea salt

In a large metal mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and baking soda. Add butter and buttermilk and continue mixing until you have a rough dough. If it gets too dry, add more buttermilk, as needed. Turn it onto a table and knead by hand until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Return to the bowl, cover loosely and let rise for about one and half hours, or until roughly doubled.

Turn the dough out onto a floured table. Gently cut the dough into about a dozen small pieces. Round all the pieces into balls and let them rest for about five minutes. While they rest, brush a cast iron skillet or baking pan with softened butter. Gently push down each ball into a flat oblong shape. Brush with butter and fold over. Place the rolls in the prepared pan and brush the tops liberally with butter. Cover loosely and let rise for about 45 minutes, or until puffed up.

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Once risen, bake the rolls for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. When they come out of the oven brush with more compound butter and a generous sprinkle of sea salt.

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Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad

Jennifer Mindell, Postbellum

“We serve this dish at the restaurant quite often for private parties and it always goes over well–even with the picky eaters. I didn’t actually make this at our family Thanksgivings as a kid, but I wish I did. Growing up vegetarian was a lot different then. Tofu was barely a thing yet at the grocery store in Vermont, and I remember my poor mom scrambling to make hummus or falafel just so there was something festive on the table. This salad is a great remedy for that empty spot in your spread–flavorful, toothy, festive, and totally at home next to a bird.”

  • 4 cup cooked Brussels sprouts (steamed, blanched, leftover)
  • 1 cup golden raisins or dry cherries
  • 1 cup julienne carrots
  • 1 each red onion, sliced paper thin
  • 3/4 cup toasted or candied pecans
  • 3/4 cup shredded smoked cheddar
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic dressing, ginger dressing or a simple French vinaigrette

Quarter the Brussels sprouts, toss in a splash of olive oil and salt, and roast on a sheet tray at 400 °F until edges are golden and crispy.

Cool to room temp and mix with remaining ingredients. Add more dressing and salt to taste. Let sit at least one hour before serving so flavors can meld and raisins can plump up. Give a quick toss before serving

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Roasted Turducken and Greek Stuffing

Kate Koyiades, 821 Cafe
Modified from “The Ultimate Turducken”

Serves 18-­24.

People love the spectacle of the Turducken, because of how silly and awesome it is. It is also super delicious if you get it right. Poaching the chicken and duck makes it a lot easier to get them to come to temperature without overcooking the turkey meat. Resist the temptation to overstuff the birds, or you will risk tearing your turkey’s skin when you try to sew him up. If you want, you can ask your butcher to bone the birds for you, as this is the most time-consuming part of the process. You will most likely need an assistant to pull this off, especially for sewing up the turducken.

Greek Stuffing

This recipe has been in my family for 4 generations. It’s been modified from “The Art of Greek Cookery.” Greek dressing is delicious on its own, and even better the next day with leftover gravy. You can make this a day ahead.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 lb. lean ground beef (sirloin)
  • 1⁄2 can tomato paste
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1 cup Uncle Ben’s converted white rice
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups of turkey/vegetable stock
  • 1 lb of chestnuts roasted, peeled and rough chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, add your olive oil over medium heat and add your onions, saute for about 10 minutes to soften. Add your ground beef. Turn the heat up and brown while stirring constantly. Drain ground beef. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add rice and stir to coat, toasting rice for about 1 minute. Add the wine, raisins, chesnuts, butter, stock, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.

Cover, lifting lid to stir occasionally until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice and the raisins are plump and soft. Do not overcook the rice.

Adjust seasoning as needed, add stock by the tablespoon if too dry. Allow to cool.


  • 1 small chicken (about 4 lbs) bones removed
  • 1 duck (about 4­-5 lbs) bones removed
  • 1 medium sized turkey (about 13-­16 lbs) bones removed except for wings and
  • salt, pepper, smoked paprika to taste

Season chicken evenly on all sides with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Lay chicken flat, skin side down, on cutting board. Shape cold greek dressing into a log roughly 2 inches in diameter and place in the center of the chicken. Lift one side of chicken and wrap tightly around dressing. Lift the other side, allowing the skin from both sides to overlap and form a seal. The chicken should now be wrapped around the log. Wrap tightly in several layers of plastic wrap so that chicken forms a tight cylinder. Alternatively, chicken can be tightly trussed with butcher’s twine. Wrap in a million sheets of plastic wrap or place in a vacuum sealed bag.

Place sealed/wrapped chicken in a large stockpot and cover with warm water. Place over medium high heat and heat until bubbles just begin to rise from the bottom. Reduce heat to lowest setting and cook until chicken feels firm to the touch and an instant-read thermometer inserted through the plastic into the center of the chicken registers 140 to 145 °F, about 45 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, season the duck on all sides with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Place a 36­ x 12 inch piece of plastic wrap on the cutting board. Lay duck flat, skin side down, on plastic wrap. Spread a thin layer of Greek stuffing evenly over surface of meat. When chicken is cooked, remove from bag and plastic wrap and carefully pat dry with paper towels. Place hot chicken directly on top of duck, aligned along the center. Using the plastic wrap to aid you, carefully shape the duck around the chicken. Roll into a tight cylinder in several layers of plastic wrap. Alternatively, duck can be tightly trussed with butcher’s twine.

Place chicken/duck inside a vacuum sealer bag and seal (or use a million layers of plastic wrap.) Place in a large stockpot and cover with warm water. Place over medium-­high heat, and heat until bubbles just begin to rise from the bottom. Reduce heat to lowest setting and cook until Duck feels firm to the touch, about 30 minutes.

Remove duck from water. Remove plastic wrap or vacuum sealed bag, then tightly truss the duck with twine. Dry exterior thoroughly with paper towels.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet (preferably non­stick) over medium-­high heat until shimmering. Add duck/chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until well-browned and crisp on all sides, pouring off excess rendered fat as necessary (you can reserve this fat for basting), about 15 minutes total.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 400°F. Place turkey skin­ siddown on a cutting board and season exposed surface with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Remove twine from duck/chicken and place in the center of the turkey, aligned along the center. If necessary, trim duck/chicken roll so that is is the same length as the turkey breasts. You can serve the excess duck/turkey as well.

Carefully lift one side of the turkey to cover the duck/chicken, then lift the other side, letting the skin overlap by at least 1 inch. Use metal or wooden skewers to secure the skin in 5 to 8 locations. Lace the Turducken up around the skewers like a corset with twine, pulling tightly but not ripping the skin. Remove skewers, or leave them in if you’d rather. Carefully transfer turkey to a V­ or U-­rack set in a roasting pan, seam side down.

With the turkey’s legs facing you, place a long piece of butcher’s twine behind the breasts, tucking it into the wing joints. Pull it around the breast along its base to the bottom of the breast, then allow the ends to cross over. Wrap each end around the end of the drumstick, and pull them tightly together. Loop the ends of the twine around both drumsticks a few times to secure, then tie a knot and trim the excess. Rub your rendered duck fat all over turkey and season with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Cover wing tips and drumstick bones with foil to prevent burning. Transfer to oven and roast for about 45 minutes until golden brown. Reduce heat to 325 and tent turducken with foil. Roast another 1 1⁄2 to 2 1⁄2 hours, until turkey breast meat registers at least 150°F on an instant-read thermometer, and thigh meat registers at least 165°F.

Transfer to cutting board and allow to rest for 20 minutes to an hour. Cut off twine. To carve, remove legs and wings. Split breast in half lengthwise down the center to create two boneless halves. Slice crosswise into serving slices.

Serve any leftover Greek stuffing alongside your Turducken with gravy.

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Chestnut and Sage Cornbread

Brian McClure, Pasture

“As far as Thanksgiving traditions, my family doesn’t really do anything the same each year. Sometimes we go to my aunt’s house, sometimes to my grandmas house. One thing we always did growing up, was the day after Thanksgiving, my mom would always make Turkey a la king using leftover turkey. That and turkey sandwiches with way too much mayo and tabasco.”

  • 15 oz. cornmeal
  • 7.5 oz. all purpose flour
  • 7.5 oz. chestnut flour (may substitute almond flour)
  • 1 oz. baking powder
  • 1.5 oz. kosher salt
  • 8 large eggs
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 1⁄4 cup honey
  • 1⁄2 lb. butter, melted
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted chestnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F and place a large cast iron pan in oven to heat.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, honey, and melted butter in a separate bowl.
  4. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
  5. Fold in chopped sage and chestnuts.
  6. Add 2 tbsp butter to preheated cast iron and pan, then pour in cornbread batter.
  7. Bake at 350 °F for 30-45 minutes.

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Spiced Pears In Riesling

David Shannon, L’Opossum

“These days I am always thankful to be off on Thanksgiving. We were always open at The Inn, and it was the longest and most stressful day of the year. Every year I remember how grateful I am to be off on Thanksgiving. I am very lucky to be able to close on holidays for my staff so that they can have the day off too.”

  • 12 seckel pears
  • 1 Bottle “good” dry Riesling (e.g. Brandborg 2011)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 lemon slices
  • 3 orange slices
  • 12 pieces of whole star anise
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (not split or scraped)
  • 1 T whole cloves
  • 1 T allspice
  • 1 med cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole bay leaves
  • 2 oz of fresh ginger, peeled and split lengthwise
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • Optional: teeny-tiny pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all except for the pears in a stainless or non-reactive pan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat to steep.

Meanwhile, peel the pears and split in half lengthwise. Remove seed core with a parisienne scoop and nick out the base core with a paring knife.

Add pears to poaching liquid and bring just to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and let all stand until pears are tender to the tip of a paring knife. Remove pears with a slotted spoon and let all cool, reserving the poaching liquid. Once cool, return pears to liquid and store in the fridge.

Note: Cook time of pears varies depending on their ripeness. They will overcook very quickly.

This is great for special occasions because you can do it up to a week in advance and keep refrigerated until you are ready to use.

Serve at room temp.

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Bonus: Dilute your family with the finest wines!

Booth Hardy, Barrel Thief

Tenuta Roveglia 2013 Lugana

Lombardy, Italy; $19.99

With Thanksgiving, wines should be as versatile as possible because flavors on the table cover the entire flavor spectrum. Bone dry whites end up tasting thin and sour with dishes like sweet potatoes, so wines with a hint of residual sugar tend to do very well. This northern Italian Trebbiano has lush fruit, a soft texture, and just enough mild sweetness to match everything from turkey and gravy to stuffing and sweet potatoes.

Folk Machine 2013 Pinot Noir

Central Coast, California; $22.99

If you’re one of those folks that only drinks American wines with this quintessential American holiday, the Folk Machine Pinot Noir should be what you choose. Former pro skateboarder Kenny Likitprakong is my favorite California winemaker right now for food friendly and refreshing wines grown in cooler climates like the Central Coast and Mendocino. With turkey and ham, full bodied, tannic reds from warm climates are harsh and overwhelming, so lighter bodied reds with clean fruit like this Pinot Noir or Beaujolais from France are perfect.

Photo by: sueanddanny

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Stephanie Ganz

Stephanie Ganz thought there would be pizza.

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