Miami chefs dish on what's hot for Thanksgiving dinner

Tis officially the season. We spoke with five leading Miami chefs about Thanskgiving trends, foodie favorites and insider info. Get all the holiday details from Giorgio Rapicavoli (Eating House), Michelle Bernstein (Michy’s), Sean Brasel (Meat Market), Simon Stojanovic (TIKL) and Timon Balloo (Sugarcane)…

What’s hot for Thanksgiving 2012? Anything new this year or different from years past?
GR: Fried turkey has always yielded the best and most flavorful results…now with indoor electric turkey fryers it’s much easier and safer than it was before.
MB: What I love most is that I’ve been seeing more varied cultures and flavors come out more in classic dishes; for example I added miso to my Brussels sprouts with bacon.  It adds a twist but still embraces the flavors you’re looking for on this very American holiday.  I also love roasting different game birds alongside my turkey, such as goose and squab.
SB: This year I am mixing more shellfish in as stuffings and replacing sausage with pork belly. We’re offering a Bell and Evans fresh Turkey leg Roulade stuffed with brioche, Asian pear and lobster served with a spicy aji pumpkin sauce, a, Bell and Evans fresh Juniper and white cranberry Marinated Sous Vide turkey Breast and a house made “ham” kurobuta pork belly with orange and king crab salad
SS: PORK!  At TIKL I’m serving a Robata Grilled Pork Chop Sautéed with Kale that would be perfect for Thanksgiving.
TB: Turkey!!! its back I think everyone has been changing it up the past two years with pork, game & off cuts that the good old bird is back!!

What’s the “hot” side?
: I’m always a fan of yams and sweet potatoes. For a flavor a little closer to our Miami roots, mash in some caramelized sweet plantains.
MB: Roasted, smashed, vanilla-infused sweet potatoes with candied pecans and brown butter.
SB: Sweet potato flan
SS: Celery root mash.  It has the consistency of potatoes but healthier, lighter and has such a great flavor.  It’s a unique and delicious alternative.
TB: Sweet mashed potatoes, etc? Smashed sunchokes as opposed to potatoes or sweet potatoes because they are potato-like, just a little sweet.

Is there a trendy or “hot” ingredient and how do you incorporate it?
: Kale is everywhere! Make a kale salad with dried cherries, toasted pecans, maple vinaigrette and some good sharp cheese.
SB: I don’t think there is any hot and trendy ingredient. I am just using solid local ingredients like local braised beet greens, and spiny lobster stuffing.
SS: I’ve noticed kale has become incredibly popular and is currently showing up in a variety of dishes that would be perfect for Thanksgiving such kale salad with fresh chives, celery leaf, Italian parsley and citrus dressing.
TB: Bacon, always!!! in a stuffing or even to wrap the bird

What’s the easiest way to make a dinner that’s fancy with minimal fuss?
: Watch some good food television…with the amount of knowledge out there on these Thanksgiving-themed shows you’ll be sure to learn a few tricks. If all else fails make a few purées. They hold up well have a lustrous mouth feel.
MB: Cook what you can ahead of time and prep as much as possible before the actual day.  That way, on Thanksgiving, all you have to do is heat, serve and enjoy.
SS: Select side dishes that are elegant, yet extremely quick and easy to make, such as roasted root vegetables that are simply tossed with olive oil, fresh thyme and rosemary, then baked in the oven for about 25 minutes.
TB: Roasting pan all in one or crock pot

If you don’t want to make a turkey, what other protein can you use? What can vegetarians do?
: Cornish game hens work really well and you can serve them individually. They’re delicious and cook a lot quicker too. Another great option is taking squash or calabaza and roasting big pieces of it in a high oven so the skin gets crispy and brown…the squash can be eaten like a “steak.”
MB: Capons are amazing; so juicy and better than chicken.  Prime rib is also yummy but be careful not to overcook.  For veggies: marinate tofu or seitan just like you would your turkey.  Make lots of delicious sides and stuffing with vegetable broths; for raw, a shaved vegetable salad is perfect. 

SB: Pumpkin risotto stuffed in coconuts or spaghetti squash and roasted.  You can add enough goodies to the risotto like mushrooms, green onions and dried fruit bread cubes that it will resemble a stuffing.
SS: Dishes such as Roast Porketa, Lamb Leg, and for the more adventurous, Goat Leg, are great, non-turkey options that will still compliment traditional Thanksgiving flavors and side dishes. For vegetarians, Stuffed Squash baked with vegetarian stuffing is an option.
TB: Again for this season we like bold meats such as goat & boar. We also love off cuts i.e heart, tongue, cheeks. Vegetarians can do tofu or seitan.


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