News & Politics

Chef Recipes: It’s Not Thanksgiving Without My…

Chefs like to tinker with recipes. But on Thanksgiving, there’s usually at least one dish that’s a tradition not to be messed with. Here are family favorites of local chefs—and one new tradition for a first-generation American.


Serves 12

Diana Davila-Boldin, chef at Jackie’s in Silver Spring, didn’t grow up celebrating Thanksgiving because her parents are Mexican, so she created this spiced-up stuffing after she got married. She serves it with turkey sauced with mole.

2 links Mexican chorizo sausage (not cured), casings removed
1½ cups diced celery
1½ cups diced carrot
1½ cups diced onion
½ cup diced jalapeño peppers
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups white wine, such as Chardonnay
2 cups chicken stock
10 eggs
Splash heavy cream or milk
24 ounces corn bread, large dice
1 loaf rustic Italian bread, large dice
1½ cups shredded Chihuahua cheese (fontina or mozzarella may be substituted)
Chicken stock if needed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the chorizo until it comes apart and crumbles, about 5 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, onion, jalapeño, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are al dente, about 2 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and add a splash of heavy cream or milk. Place the diced breads in another large bowl. Add the whisked eggs and wine/vegetable mixture. Add the cheese and combine with your hands.

If the stuffing isn’t moist enough, add a bit of warmed chicken stock. Butter a 9½-by-14-by-4-inch pan and fill with the stuffing. Bake for 30 minutes.


Serves 12

Chef Rob Weland of Poste in DC’s Penn Quarter makes this welcome alternative to canned cranberry sauce with his mother each year. “It’s a nice way to get the house smelling festive,” he says. “But I do wind up drinking most of the port.”

6 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup dried cranberries
1½ cups cranberry juice
1½ cups ruby port
2 oranges, juiced and zested
1 lime, juiced and zested
½ lemon, juiced and zested
2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
½ star anise
2 cloves

In a large pot, add half of the fresh cranberries and half of the dried, the cranberry juice, the port wine, the citrus juices, and the sugar. Tie the cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves in a cheesecloth bundle and add to the pot. Cook over medium heat about 20 minutes or until reduced by half. Discard the bundle. Push the cranberry mixture through a fine-mesh strainer or food mill. Return the mixture to the pot, add the remaining fresh and dried cranberries, and cook over medium heat until the fresh cranberries pop. Remove from the heat, stir in citrus zests, and cool until ready to serve.


Serves 6

Pastry chef Kate Jansen of Willow in Arlington says this recipe has been handed down from her great-aunt in Iowa since 1925. “It’s so easy, most family members don’t follow a recipe,” Jansen says.

1 cup sugar
¼ cup softened butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups diced apples, such as Gala, Fuji, or McIntosh, skin on
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the sugar and butter with a mixer on medium speed. Add the egg and vanilla and continue mixing until fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until combined. Stir in the apples and walnuts by hand. Bake in a 9-inch pie pan for 45 minutes.

Cider Sauce

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup apple cider
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter

Place the cornstarch in a small bowl and add ¼ cup of the cider. Stir to dissolve. In a small saucepan, bring the cider/cornstarch mixture, remaining cider, sugar, salt, and vanilla to a boil over medium heat and cook until thickened. Add the butter and stir until melted. Serve warm, drizzled over cake wedges.

For a southern-Maryland girl like Majestic chef Shannon Overmiller, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without her family’s simple but stunning crab soup.


Serves 8
2 cups butter, divided
1 cup small-diced onion
½ cup small-diced celery
½ cup flour
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
½ cup sherry
2 quarts half-and-half
1 pound jumbo-lump crabmeat, preferably from Maryland
Old Bay seasoning to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large pot set over medium heat, heat 1 cup butter with the onions and celery. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the onions sweat until they’re translucent and tender. Stir in the flour and cook until it turns a blond color and reaches a smooth consistency. Add the Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces and season to taste with Old Bay. Add the sherry, then let reduce for about 5 minutes. Add the half-and-half and crabmeat, raise the heat, and let the soup reach just below boiling (don’t let it boil). Stir in the remaining butter and check the seasoning. Serve.

This article appears in the November 2010 issue of The Washingtonian.