Mess with Thanksgiving? What heresy is this? Delicious heresy, it turns out, if the people doing the messing are Daniel Boulud, Wylie Dufresne, and David Shea. To give the most traditional of holiday meals a fresh spin, we asked the masters of French, cutting-edge American, and Brooklyn-homey cuisines to reinterpret Thanksgiving dinner, each in his own way. To keep the participants from straying too far afield, we insisted they center their meals around the classic ingredients: oysters, turkey, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin. To keep their creations realistic for the home cook, the cost of the main ingredients couldn’t exceed $150, and the dinner had to go from uncooked to on-the-table in three hours. The dishes found on these pages prove it is never a bad idea to question things.
Not to exceed three hours
Not to exceed $150
Daniel Boulud gives turkey and all the trimmings gourmet élan.
Boulud loves his adopted homeland, but “let’s not kid ourselves,” he says. “Turkey is bland. You need bacon, spices.” His flavorful turkey two ways keeps the breast from drying out before the legs are done. His simple oyster recipe puts the focus on the briny mollusk, while Brussels sprouts fricassee brings a dash of esprit to the mini-cabbage. Crème brûlée in a tiny pumpkin isn’t just dessert; it’s an argument for year-round French and American cuisine overlap.
• Oysters Danish Style With Cucumber and Pickled-Shallot Relish
• Brussels Sprouts Fricassee
• Roasted Turkey Ballottine Wrapped in Bacon and Braised Turkey Legs With Sweet Potatoes, Rosemary, and Orange
• Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
Turkey spaetzle, flattened oysters, and pumpkin-and-seaweed custard, à la Wylie Dufresne.
Who better to turn Thanksgiving inside out than the culinary mad scientist Dufresne? Classic oyster stuffing became paper-thin crudo with savory topping. The turkey? “I originally thought of turkey tetrazzini, making noodles with the turkey, but that needed special equipment,” Dufresne says, so he simplified to spaetzle—then tossed most of the rest of the meal in with it. The pumpkin is blended with—what else?—seaweed-derived carrageenan to create the creamy custard finale.
David and Laura Shea make Mom’s versions—only better.
David and Laura Shea, Applewood’s husband-and-wife team (he’s the chef, she runs the place), heap seasonal favorites upon seasonal favorites: oyster-and-leek soup, stuffing with chestnuts, Brussels sprouts with bacon, pumpkin pie with pecan-caramel sauce. All market-driven, and aided by an old-fashioned secret: lots of butter and cream. It’s Thanksgiving, David says. “Why count calories?”
• Malpeque-Oyster-and-Leek Soup
• Roasted Turkey With Toasted-Chestnut Stuffing
• Sweet-Potato Gratin
• Caramelized Brussels Sprouts With Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Lemon, and Brown Butter
• Pumpkin Pie With Pecan-Caramel Sauce and Sweet Cream