Food News

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips from 18 of Dallas' Best Chefs

My excitement runneth over. With the best holiday of the year just a few days away, it's about time to start getting prepped. But it's hard to know where to start.

That in mind we asked some of Dallas' best chefs for some Thanksgiving cooking tips.

Omar Flores, Driftwood "Thanksgiving for me is all about turkey. I like to brine my turkey the night before in a 40-quart cooler full of an aromatic brine and ice. Also, fried is the only way I eat turkey, so you'll also need a deep fryer and some peanut oil. Last year I also picked up some nice East Coast oysters, they were perfect! I just shucked them, had a cold beer and watched the Cowboys game."

Jason Boso, Twisted Root, Truck Yard and Tacos & Avocados "Spend some money on great mushrooms to use as a side or in the stuffing. Oyster, morels, chanterelles, cremini and my personal favorite, hen-of-the-woods, which should be readily available at Central Market."

Nathan Tate, Boulevardier "I love splurging on an oyster stuffing. I like to add andouille sausage, fresh-shucked oysters, and cornbread. Of course, then you have oysters for the half shell too!

Also, being from a ranching family, I usually make a prime rib. Wood-seared and then put it in the oven at 200 degrees. It produces a nice medium to medium rare almost throughout the entire roast."

Susan Matta, Village Burger Bar "All home cooks should invest in anything that is REAL like heavy whipping cream, butter, sugar and vanilla. And for a little more indulgence, purchase a small ice cream maker so the ice cream will also be as fresh and tasty! Invest in real china -- it makes everything tastes better!"

Gene & Julie Gates, Battuto Italian Kitchen "Nueske's Bacon is a must. Lay the strips like shingles over the top of the breast for the last 20 minutes and then use it in the mashed potatoes. A little more expensive but worth every penny! Also, REAL cranberry relish. Don't buy the can, use fresh berries to make your own."

Norman Grimm, Kitchen LTO "Chefs secret weapon at Thanksgiving is a food mill and a tamis (drum sieve). They ensure creamy potatoes or any puree you wish to serve at your Thanksgiving feast. Both those items will run you $100 for good ones. Spend the money for quality."

Andre Natera, Village Kitchen and Toko V "Slow braised roasted brisket stuffing. Braise the meat overnight in a crock-pot and save the liquid. Shred the beef/pork and add that to your stuffing along with sausage and use the braising liquid to make the stuffing. Awesome."

Chef Dean Fearing, Fearing's at the Ritz-Carlton "If you're going to splurge on something important for Thanksgiving, get a really good, natural turkey.

Next, if you plan to make stuffing, splurge on the time it takes to create a really great stuffing. Also, it's worth it to practice ahead of time, rather than to experiment on day of.

And third, use fresh ingredients. The fresher the better. As one example, buy real cranberries and make real cranberry relish, like you grandmother used to make. It is so delicious that it's absolutely worth the extra effort."

Matt Balke, The Rustic "I believe that going all out on cooking equipment and dishware is an absolute must for Thanksgiving. It's a holiday that mainly revolves around food and spending time in the kitchen, so having the proper equipment and vessels to serve and eat off are imperative. A few items I have splurged on for Thanksgiving are a stainless steel roasting pan, a stainless steel stockpot, a vita mix blender, and a commercial kitchen aid mixer. Next year maybe a Robot Coupe and an ice cream maker!"

Juliard Ishizuka, Dee Lincoln Steak and Burger Bar "If you are making chocolate desserts splurge on a high-quality chocolate with high fat such as Valhrona. A little goes a long way in a recipe since it is such a sweet and rich item.

"And if you plan on just serving cheese, go with something nice that's not a grocery store item that belongs in a sandwich. Go with Cowgirl Creamery brand out of San Francisco, or go to Central Market where they have endless selection of great cheeses. All you need is some fruit, lavish on crackers and you have a simple easy appetizer."

Andrew Bell, Bolsa "For me Thanksgiving is a lot like any other dinner, stay away from any can goods. If you can't find it fresh it might be time to rework you menu. A nice commercial roasting pan will pay for it self through out the year and will make Christmas dinner so much easier and will be one thing you don't have to worry about next Thanksgiving. If you do not have a nice chef knife, now might be the perfect time for an early Christmas gift for yourself. And like the roasting pan, it can work for you all year long."

Patrick Russell, Max's Wine Dive in Dallas "I always buy foie gras. I love it, personally, but my family isn't into it, so I put it in my stuffing. I get the satisfaction of that rich deliciousness, and they all love it too -- only they don't know it."

Douglas Wagenhauser, Cook Hall "For me, I have several items that I think are essential to the perfect Thanksgiving. Spend the money on a quality made turkey pan. Don't get the cheap foil one at the grocery store. Spend the $80 on a nice one and it will last 20 years. Also, don't forget to add plenty of butter, cream and salt. Those things can almost fix any problems. If you're not fat and happy, it's not a holiday. "

Kent Rathbun, Abacus, Jasper's, Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen "Go for the fresh turkey instead of frozen. And I always make a foie gras wild mushroom stuffing that is INCREDIBLE."

Brad Phillips, Asador "I think Thanksgiving is the ultimate foodie holiday, it's my favorite holiday of the entire year. The quality of the food is the most important aspect of making a memorable meal and it all starts with the turkey. We are sourcing ours from Hudspeth farm this year, which is the best free-range poultry I've ever had. The turkey is the centerpiece of the table and should be of the highest all-natural quality you can find. That being said, you don't want to skimp on other ingredients like fresh green beans, local carrots, fresh Brussels sprouts, home-made bread for stuffing, home-made turkey stock for gravy, and fresh cranberries for sauce."

Stefon Rishel, Max's Wine Dive in Fort Worth "I always make my own butter from scratch. It makes a huge difference in recipes from mashed potatoes to pies. The flavor and richness is worth the time spent making the butter."

Antonio Marquez, Lazaranda Modern Kitchen & Tequila "To me the best thing is to prepare items in advance -- try not to cook everything on the same day. Also, using seasonal and fresh ingredients is a must. If you are using cinnamon try to buy one or two sticks instead of using last year's cinnamon left in the pantry. If using pumpkin, try to use in a different way, like a chowder soup or a sauce for seafood raviolis or grilled pumpkin for garnish (previously blanched). If you're cooking for a small group, just buy a breast and cook the stuffing separately. But, cook with love. That's the secret."