Thanksgiving tends to be a time of tradition — from the people who sit around the table to the food served and even the stories told. That makes sense because it pre-dates most of the other holidays we commonly celebrate in America. Seriously, pilgrims loved them some trees, but there was no Arbor Day. Strongly espoused opinions about the quintessential menu items for a proper feast largely revolve around those nostalgic dishes that bring us back to times when we just thought Uncle Danny was funny, and didn’t realize he was a full-on drunk. Even the grossest yam and marshmallow monstrosity can conjure up the feel of a pile of freshly raked fall leaves, and grandma’s perfume lingering on your sweater after a hug. Sense memories, yo!
It was no surprise that the chefs we asked about their favorite Thanksgiving sides did, in some cases, go for homey and wistful remembrance. However, given what mavericks these men and women are in the culinary world, it was awesome to receive responses that spoke of experimentation and the integration of ingredients from other cultures, which lay the foundation for new traditions and memories. Believe me, there are some stunner call-outs here that will make you wish you had an invite to a chef’s table this holiday.
Plus, some of them even included rough instructions for the side, so you can try making them at home.
Chintan Pandya — Chef, Rahi (New York, NY)
I love macaroni and cheese because it’s pure comfort food, which is what Thanksgiving food is all about. My favorite recipes use macaroni, cream and loads of cheese. The best part is you can use different kinds of blends of cheeses that you like, and it always comes out good.