Whether you've prepared one turkey or a dozen, cooking a Thanksgiving bird is fairly straightforward. That's why this year we take a different approach to the holiday by providing recipes for some great side dishes submitted by leading restaurants in the region.
From twice-baked sweet potatoes to cranberry citrus relish to a decidedly boozy apple cider, here are four dishes sure to wow your family and friends this Thanksgiving.
Chef Giuseppe Napoli of the luxurious Diamond Mills hotel and restaurant has a sophisticated menu melding ingredients and techniques from around the world. For Thanksgiving, he's come up with a relatively simple dish that will surprise sweet potato lovers.
6 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup of mini-marshmallows
1. Adjust oven rack to low position and heat to 400 degrees.
2. Place potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until fork tender, about 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool slightly.
3. Slice each potato in half lengthwise and scoop potato flesh into a mixer (leaving a 1/4-inch border of flesh to support the potato skin).
4. Using a kitchen or hand mixer, blend the flesh with salt and pepper until smooth.
Stop the machine and add butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, bourbon and cinnamon. Process until potatoes are silky smooth. (This puree and the potato shells can be cooled and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days.)
5. Spoon puree back into each shell; press marshmallows into the potatoes. If not making the crust, bake the potatoes in 400 degrees oven until marshmallows melt.
Topping: Brown sugar and hazelnut crust (optional)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup hazelnuts chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Mix the brown sugar, butter, flour, hazelnuts and cinnamon until the mixture starts to form crumbs. Sprinkle it onto the stuffed potatoes.
Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern is located at 25 S. Partition St. in Saugerties; 845-247-0070; www.diamondmillshotel.com.
A historic inn with welcoming owners, a genuine sense of history, a fine old tavern and terrific food, Stissing House is the kind of place you always hope to stumble upon on a drive in the country. The Provence-born owner Michel Jean and his wife Patricia revitalized this once-thriving hotel and opened the restaurant in 2005. Much of the food is cooked in a wood-burning oven.
Their side dish is something your family may never have tried: celery root and potatoes gratin. Celery root is a gnarly round vegetable, the size of a baseball, with a flavor akin to celery and parsley. It's a fairly easy recipe and will leave people guessing.
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
3 1/2 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon butter
1 lb potatoes (Yukon or Idaho) washed, peeled, dried and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 lb celery root, washed peeled dried and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
large pinch of nutmeg
1. Boil the milk then add the crème fraîche (or heavy cream). Whisk. Remove from the heat, and add half of the Gruyère, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
2. Rub garlic clove over a 9X11 Pyrex or ovenproof dish, then smear with the butter.
3. Arrange the potatoes and celery root in alternating layers, adding a bit of cream mixture between the layers, saving enough for the top. Distribute over the top the remaining Gruyère. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Stissing House is located at 7801 S. Main St. in Pine Plains; 518-398-8800; stissinghouse.com.
Dish: Cranberry citrus relish
This is a delightful, kid-friendly place with a contemporary American menu. The diner-shaped main room is whimsical and relaxed, with colorful undulating banquettes, mosaic tile floors and spacious booths (with paper tablecloths and crayons). We asked owner Bobby Manzi to come up with his favorite relish, which serves four.
1 orange, skin on, roughly chopped (navel oranges have too much skin; use juice oranges)
1/4 pineapple, skinned, roughly chopped
1 cup sugar
1 bag whole raw cranberries (discard soft ones)
1 cup pineapple juice
1. In food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse 5-10 times. Do not process to smooth. Serve relish chunky.
River City Grille is located at 6 S. Broadway in Irvington; 914-591-2033; www.rivercitygrille.com.
Chef Philip McGrath of Iron Horse Grill is among the best-liked and most respected chefs in the valley. In 1998, he took over Pleasantville's dilapidated train station, converting it into a smart and upbeat restaurant serving French-accented American fare. And it's been packed ever since.
As a patriotic gesture, three of his recipe ingredients are made in the Hudson Valley. Comb vodka is distilled in Port Chester and can be found at certain liquor stores in southern Westchester (you can use any vodka). Killer Bee Honey, from Putnam County, can be found at a number of farmers' markets, as can Thompson's Apple Cider.
1 1/2 ounce Comb vodka (or vodka of choice)
1 1/2 ounce Thompson's apple cider (or other fresh cider)
1/2 teaspoon Killer Bee Honey (or honey of choice)
Juice of one lime wedge
1 cinnamon stick
1 thin slice of apple
1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice (or a large glass). Add the vodka, cider, honey and lime. Shake well.
2. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with the apple slice and cinnamon stick.
Iron Horse Grill is located at 20 Wheeler Ave. in Pleasantville; 914-741-0717; www.ironhorsegrill.com.