Feast of Thanks: Virginia Growers and Grocers Edition

Make the culinary olympics we call Thanksgiving a success this year with recipes from some of Richmond’s farmers and grocers. They know the food best, after all.

Your New Favorite Thanksgiving Menu

  • Oyster Stew
  • Escarole Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette
  • Beet and Yogurt Salad
  • Oyster Mushroom Pierogies
  • Sweet Potato Quinoa Casserole
  • Kabocha Gratin
  • Sweet Potato Pie


Michael Hild, Anderson’s Neck Oyster Co. via The Little New Orleans Cookbook: Fifty-Seven Classic Creole Recipes That Will Enable Everyone to Enjoy the Special Cuisine of New Orleans

“We bought this cookbook in New Orleans on our first wedding anniversary driving trip through the South. We hit Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, Biloxi, and of course, New Orleans. Happy memories from that trip!”


  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • 3 T flour
  • 6-8 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 (12 oz.) jars oysters
  • 1 quart milk, heated but not boiled
  • 1 tsp Creole seasoning
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Tabasco
  • Croutons or oyster crackers
  • Snipped parsley


Over medium-low heat, melt butter in big, heavy pot. Stir in flour only till blended. Add onions and celery and saute slowly till soft. Add oyster liquid and blend well. Now add milk, then oysters (cut in half if they are big) and seasonings. Simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes, being careful not to let it get to a heavy boil. When oysters begin to curl, it is ready to serve. Ladle into bowls with croutons (or broken Frenchies) and fresh parsley sprinkled on top. Beautiful! Serves 8.


I’m always looking for a salad or two to offset the warm, beige spread of Thanksgiving starches. These two from Autumn Campbell at Tomten Farm use peak fall produce to excellent effect. Pay special attention to Autumn’s tips for using escarole–1. Use the inner leaves for salad and the outer leaves for cooking. 2. Soak the escarole in cold water for 10-20 minutes to lessen the bitterness.


  • 1 head escarole (use the inner 2/3 of the head and reserve outer leaves for adding to soups)
  • 2-4 pieces of bacon
  • 1 medium cippolini or mild onion
  • 1-2 cups homemade croutons (with dense bread, such as Sub Rosa)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 sprigs parsley or dill
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper


Roughly chop the escarole and soak in cold water for 10-20 minutes, reduces bitter pungency, then rinse and dry.

Roughly chop bacon, cook over medium heat until just crisp, remove from pan and set aside. Reserve the bacon fat in the pan and keep at very low heat.

Grate finely or shave ribbons of the cheese and set aside. Mince the onion, put in a large salad bowl, add the croutons, escarole, bacon pieces and finely chopped herbs.

Increase the heat of the pan a little, so the bacon fat is quite warm, there should be 2-3 Tbls fat, season with salt and pepper, whisk in a touch of olive oil, turn off the heat, and add the juice of 1/2 the lemon and whisk some more.

Taste to make sure it does not taste too fatty (add more lemon juice) or too tart (add more salt). When you are happy with the flavor drizzle over the salad and toss together (by hand always works best to work it in fully). Finally toss in the cheese and season to taste. The heat from the dressing should saturate the croutons and wilt the escarole just a smidgen.


From Autumn Campbell, Tomten Farm, via Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. I’m officially making a case for the fact that I think the obligatory pink thing on your Thanksgiving table should be this Pancar Salatasi.


  • 1 pound beets
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley (mint and dill are also tasty)
  • Salt


Boil beets for 30-40 minutes until very tender. Peel and slice them. Mix the lemon juice and oil together, add yogurt and salt, beat well. Then mix with the beets. Pour into your serving dish and garnish with herbs.


This one’s from Jake Greenbaum and Lindsay Hawk, Urban Choice Mushrooms. Forego the traditional mushroom stuffing, and serve these pierogies instead. Make it a new tradition kinda thing! I doubt you’ll hear too many objections.


  • ½ pound oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ onion
  • ¾ cup sauerkraut, drained
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Salt and pepper


Filling: Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add drained sauerkraut, cook 5 minites. Season with salt and pepper and remove to a plate to cool.

Dough:­ beat eggs with yogurt and cream cheese. Stir flour, salt, and baking powder into cream mixture until dough comes together. Knead onto floured surface until firm and smooth. Roll out to ⅛ inch thickness and cut into 3-inch rounds.

Place a spoonful of filling in center of round; moisten dough edges and fold over. Press with fork to seal.
Add pierogies to boiling pot of water for 3-5 minutes, or until they float. Remove with slotted spoon.

Optional: pan fry until brown. Garnish with green onion.


From Janet Aardema, Broadfork Farm. Sweet potatoes are loaded with good things like vitamins A and C and potassium. To get the most out of them, Janet recommends leaving the skin on: “I make sure the sweet potatoes are organically grown and I leave the skin on! Very unconventional, I know. But I haven’t met any complaints. The skin provides extra nutrients and, of course, fiber, so we always leave the skin on.”


  • 2 pounds sweet potato
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 5 cups broth (bone broth is great to use)
  • Smoked ham pieces or bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup onion or scallions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • About 1/2 pound or one bunch of cooking greens (our Hearty Greens Mix, Kale, Escarole, Raab, etc.), sliced into thin ribbons
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of grated cheese (cheddar, Parmesan, or gouda, etc.)
  • Parsley, chopped (optional) (cilantro would also be delicious)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional but incredibly tasty topping: Crumptown Farm‘s Sweet Potato Hot Sauce


Cut sweet potatoes into chunks, leaving the skin on. Boil the sweet potatoes in a pot with the quinoa and broth about 20 minutes or until done. While those are cooking, sauté the onions or scallions and the garlic in an oven-safe skillet (ie: cast iron) with the butter and the ham/bacon until cooked. Add the greens. Add the cooked sweet potatoes and quinoa. Add the cheese and herbs, plus salt and pepper. Break the eggs over top of the entire mixture and stir. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the eggs are set and the cheese is bubbly. Serve with Crumptown Farm’s Sweet Potato Hot Sauce.


From “We love Thanksgiving,” says Erin Wright of Little House Green Grocery. Looking for recipe inspiration/assistance beyond this here article? Know this: Little House has DIY recipe kits for Billy Bread stuffing with dried apricots and pecans, a green bean casserole, fresh cranberry sauce, and a sweet potato bake!


  • 1 medium kabocha squash, cut into 1/2 inch crescents, skin removed
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into thin half rings
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In medium cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and salt, and whisk for one minute until toasted. Slowly stir in cream. Cook until mixture has thickened (about 2 minutes). Stir in cheese all at once, and continue stirring until melted, about another minute. Layer in squash and onions. Season with herbs, salt and pepper to taste.

Bake 50 minutes in the preheated oven or until golden and bubbling.


Did you forget to reserve a sustainably-raised, local turkey earlier this month? It’s cool. JM Stock Provisions co-owner James Lum says they’ll have some available first-come, first-serve at Harvest Grocery and Supply through tomorrow. After that, you’re on your own. James explains if there’s one thing that matters when it comes to turkey, it’s what you do before it gets to the oven:

“Not a year goes by without me speaking to a customer about some horror story of the dried-out bird they had the last year that more closely resembled turkey jerky than anything remotely appetizing,” says Lum.

“Now, I’m not saying there is any foolproof way to prevent you from drying out your turkey. (The first year I had Thanksgiving dinner with my brother-in-law (a seasoned chef) he forgot about the heritage breed, pasture-raised bird that had been brined to perfection until about an hour and a half after it was supposed to come out of the oven. It came out devoid of most of its moisture.) However, a well brined, and well raised, bird is the best way to get a juicy, well seasoned protein that’s going to leave your guests wondering what they had been eating every year prior.

“WTF is ‘brining?’ you ask. A brine is essentially a saline solution fortified with herbs, spices, and other flavors that you inject into meat to season and, in some cases, cure it. Around this time of year, you can find all sorts of kits sold at groceries and butcher shops to make your own brine at home. At JM Stock, we sell our own proprietary blend of herbs and spices packed up and ready to make a 3-gallon batch of brine, which should be plenty of brine for one bird.”

To make brine

Empty contents of your Brine Kit (Hopefully from JM Stock) into a simmering pot of a 1/2 gallon of water and allow to fully dissolve the salt and sugar.

Once the salt and sugar is fully dissolved, add the half gallon of solution to 2.5 gallons of cold water. If you have a large stock pot big enough, then this will work well, otherwise, unused 5 gallon buckets typically work nicely as well.

Refrigerate until it has cooled below 40-45 degrees. Once cooled, you may inject your bird with the brine and fully submerge the bird in your brine.

Typically it is cold enough at night around the week of Thanksgiving that you can safely keep your turkey in brine covered outside over night. I usually just pop it in there before I retire for the evening so that it gets a good 8-12 hours in brine.

Once you pull the turkey from brine, rinse in cold water, and you’re ready to roll. Apply your own concoction of dry spices to the outside of the Turkey, and stuff it as you wish…


We made a pretty strong case for the health benefits of sweet potatoes above. Best to have two servings, at least. Janet Aardema, of Broadfork Farm is back with another helping, this time in pie form!


  • 1 (1 pound) organic sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup organic butter, softened
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg – (We grind this fresh from whole nutmegs)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust – (We make our own)
  • 1 cup cream


To prepare with the skin left on: Cut sweet potato in smallish chunks and boil for about 30 minutes or until soft. Blend into a puree using a stick-blender. Put pureed sweet potato in a mixing bowl. (To prepare without the skin: Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin. Break apart the sweet potato in a bowl.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add butter to the sweet potato and mix well with a mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Whip the cream with a mixer until fluffy. Top cooled pie with whipped cream and enjoy!


From Red Bowler, James River Distillery.

You didn’t think I’d let a family gathering go by without a cocktail recipe, did you? You must not know ’bout me.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Continental Gin
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary Syrup (see below)
  • Ice cubes
  • Cold club soda
  • 1 tsp rosemary sprig and fresh cranberries, for garnish
  • For Rosemary syrup
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 or 5 Rosemary sprigs


To make the syrup: Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit until cool. Enjoy and store any remaining syrup in the refrigerator for up to one week.

To make the cocktail: In a tall glass, stir the gin, lemon juice and Rosemary Syrup.

Fill the glass halfway with ice; top with club soda. Garnish with the rosemary and cranberries and serve.

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None of these appeal to you? Check out Stephanie’s roundup of RVA chef recipes for Thanksgiving 2014.

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Stephanie Ganz

Stephanie Ganz thought there would be pizza.

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