Angelenos share their essential recipes for Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving contains multitudes. Although we may all share a love (or distaste) for turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie and insist that they be on the table, there are just as many family dishes that don’t fit in with a “traditional” Thanksgiving as there are stereotypical staples.

In addition to my classic Thanksgiving recipes, which were developed to give you a solid foundation for the holiday basics, I also wanted to highlight home cooks in L.A. who do Thanksgiving in a totally different way. Each cook has a dish that is special to them or their family and that carries history and memories collected throughout their lives. These dishes speak to how individual cooks veer away from the expected at Thanksgiving, inspired as much by their life experiences as by the sentiment of the holiday.

Real estate broker Hythum Kiswani makes Maqluba for his Thanksgiving every year — a massive layered dish of rice cooked over chicken and vegetables before being turned upside down to serve. It’s a dish that honors his Palestinian heritage and the compromise his family made with him for a more “American” meal.

Documentary filmmaker Fabienne Toback bakes up a simple but stunning Gratin Dauphinois inspired by time spent with both of her grandmothers — one in Brooklyn and one in Switzerland. Thin slices of potatoes bubbling in cream and brûléed with Gruyère cheese, it’s a dish so good, she’s sometimes been asked not to bring it to gatherings for fear of upstaging the other guests’ dishes.

Artist Sorina Vaziri reflects on her time in college with friends by making a Winter Salad With Hare Krishna Dressing. The dressing, a mix of almonds, nutritional yeast and liquid aminos, is nutty and savory and, in Vaziri’s words, “makes everything you pour it on taste amazing!”

Designer Cara McConnell eschews turkeys in favor of smaller, tastier Roast Pheasants With Double Cranberry Sauce. She learned to cook the birds — brined in honey and aromatics then roasted under a blanket of bacon — from a mentor while living in Chicago who sparked her love of cooking.

Pâtissière Fuyuko Kondo bakes up a refined Apple Galette that has few ingredients but technique and elegance to spare. She first made the dish to honor her mother’s apple pie — one that her mother made from memory to celebrate Thanksgiving when living in Japan — but it then evolved over time into a sophisticated version of the rustic American staple. She even sells them via her website if you want to try one crafted by her own hands.

And finally, chef Karla Subero Pittol riffs off the ubiquitous French fruit tart — one that she pick up from the grocery store en route to her father’s house for Thanksgiving — to make her Creamy “Fruit Tart” Pie. The crust is made with ground Ritz crackers and galletas Maria then filled with a luscious vanilla pastry cream that’s topped with seasonal fruit like persimmons, figs and grapes spiked with a bright lemon syrup.

All of these dishes have special meaning for the cooks who made them and contribute to that holiday feeling at Thanksgiving more than any “traditional” dish could. Whether you go the classics route, or chart your own path with a dish that speaks to your own past, I hope you enjoy the Thanksgiving meal for what it is: sharing and gathering with family and friends in celebration of great food.

Maqluba (Palestinian Upside-Down Chicken and Rice)

Spiced chicken, fried vegetables and rice are layered into an elaborate full-pot meal in this classic Palestinian celebration dish. Making the dish takes some time; prepare all the parts ahead so you can assemble and finish cooking the dish just before serving.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 3 hours 20 minutes.

A pot holds a dish made of chicken and rice, with small bowls of condiments on the side.

(Katrina Frederick / For The Times)

Gratin Dauphinois

Potatoes and cream transform into a bubbly, rich casserole in this classic French side dish. Use the best cream and Gruyère you can find for the best flavor. Using a mandoline makes quick work of slicing the potatoes, a pro move because the potatoes will oxidize quickly once they’re cut.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 2 hours 30 minutes.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 10, 2022: Potato gratin prepared by cooking columnist Ben Mims

(Katrina Frederick / For The Times)

Winter Salad With Hare Krishna Dressing

Almonds and nutritional yeast lend this creamy dressing an addictive nuttiness that makes it great to pour on not just salad greens but also roasted vegetables or grain bowls. If you have time, make the dressing up to a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 20 minutes.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 10, 2022: Salad prepared by cooking columnist Ben Mims

(Katrina Frederick / For The Times)

Roast Pheasants With Double Cranberry Sauce

A honey-sweetened brine and a blanket of bacon help give roast pheasants lots of flavor in this warm fall dish. Cranberry juice and dried cranberries bolster a rich sauce to spoon over the tender poultry.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes, plus 1 day to brine.

A platter holding sliced pheasant.

(Katrina Frederick / For The Times)

Apple Galette

Two forms of apples — a sweet, caramelized compote and soft whole wedges — make up this simple, fragrant galette. The tartness of Granny Smith apples in the compote balances the sweet apples and buttery pastry dough wonderfully.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 2 hours, plus 3 1/2 hours unattended.

A tart with slices of apples sits on a wooden board.

(Katrina Frederick / For The Times)

Creamy ‘Fruit Tart’ Pie

An array of glistening fall fruit blankets the top of this creamy custard pie, a riff on the ubiquitous French fruit tarts sold in bakeries and grocery stores. Use persimmons, plums, figs and kiwi for the best balance of tartness and sweetness and color.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus 7 hours unattended.

A pie with no top crust consisting of various fruits.

(Katrina Frederick / For The Times)


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