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Side Hustles: Chefs Share Their Go-To Side Dish Recipes

Illustrations by Jori Bolton

It might be time to send your tired old Thanksgiving recipes off to the great cornucopia in the sky. While some people claim the turkey is the star of the day (they are wrong), we firmly believe the holiday season is all about the sides. Stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy, green bean casserole, even that weird can-shaped cranberry sauce. While the classics are great and all, we encourage you to shake things up this year. To help guide the way, we called up some of our favorite chefs from around the country to get their go-to side dish recipe. Give one of these a shot and we guarantee you’ll be the MVP at your next Friendsgiving. 

Charred Sweet Potatoes with Hot Honey Butter and Lime

By Andy Baraghani, Senior Food Editor, Bon Appetit and Healthyish 

Save those marshmallows for S’mores. This take on the mandatory sweet potato dish from Bon Appetit Senior Food Editor Andy Baraghani is a true culinary flex. “Mashed sweet potatoes are so dull, to me,” says Baraghani. “It’s very one-note. You get the same texture over and over again, and you end up developing palette fatigue.” His solution will knock your socks off. Roasted sweet potatoes get a coating of hot honey, pumpkin seeds, and lime, resulting in a mind-melting flavor explosion the likes of which your Thanksgiving table has never seen. With this, you get a lot of different textures, some heat, good acidity, and overall balance,” says Baraghani. “The flesh becomes very creamy, and the sugars become deeply caramelized. Then it’s drowned in this punchy, spicy butter and toasted, crunchy seeds. A splash of lime brings it all back to life.” Uh, yes please. 

Ingredients 

8 small sweet potatoes (about 3 lb. total), scrubbed, halved lengthwise
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature (so the hot sauce can be easily incorporated)
2 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. hot sauce (such as Tapatío or Cholula)
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
Flaky sea salt
Lime wedges (for serving)

Preparation

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 425°. Place sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with ¼ cup oil, and season with kosher salt. Turn to coat. Arrange cut side down and roast until tender (the tip of a knife should slide easily into flesh) and cut sides are browned, 25–30 minutes. Let sweet potatoes cool.

Meanwhile, smash together butter and honey in a small bowl with a fork until smooth. Add hot sauce a tablespoonful at a time, blending well after each addition. Season hot honey butter with kosher salt.

Cook pumpkin seeds and remaining ¼ cup oil in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until pumpkin seeds are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in coriander; season with kosher salt.

Arrange sweet potatoes on a platter and spread with hot honey butter. Sprinkle with sea salt and spoon pumpkin seed oil over. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

Do Ahead: Hot honey butter can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

Get more Healthyish Thanksgiving side recipes at bonappetit.com 

Great Grandma Emma’s Sausage Stuffing 

By Heather Pelletier, Executive Chef at Chumley’s in New York 

Executive Chef Heather Pelletier of the legendary West Village speakeasy Chumley’s credits her North Italian great-grandmother for inspiring her mouth-watering take on stuffing that is bursting with savory, herby flavors, sweet sausage, and a rich touch of Parmigiano. “I like it because it’s hearty and moist with strong flavor from the sausage,” she says. “The recipe below is my version, which just has more sausage, extra seasoning, and additional fresh herbs. I also use really strong homemade turkey stock. These things just boost the flavor while keeping the profile the same.” Chef Pelletier, whose resume boasts some of the best restaurants in town, has been carefully shaping Chumley’s eclectic and decadent menu, which features items like clams casino toast, cannoli with a foie gras mousse, and “Duck & Fawaffle.” Her pro-tip for preparing this dish: “Don’t skimp on the sausage or cheese, and make sure it’s wet enough before baking. Also, dot the top with butter so it gets crispy!” 

2 onions diced
½ head celery diced
1 large loaf crusty Italian bread
1 cup milk 
1 sweet Italian sausage crumbled out of the casing
¼  butter
2 eggs
1 cup grated parmigiano
Fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary
Fresh parsley 
Celery seeds
Coriander
Nutmeg
Black pepper
Turkey stock

Remove crust from bread and cut it into one-inch pieces. Soak it in the milk.

Sweat the onions and celery until soft in the butter with all the fresh herbs. Add the sausage and start to brown until lightly cooked.

Add this mixture to a bowl with the soaked bread, eggs, and cheese. Mix lightly, moistening more with turkey stock. Add spices to taste, plus the chopped parsley.

Pour into 11×9 greased baking dish. Dot the top with chunks of butter.  Finish with some flaky sea salt.

Bake at 350, covered for about 30 minutes, then remove cover and bake for 15 minutes more.

The Bestttt Mac and Cheese

By Kwame Onwuachi, Executive Chef at Kith/Kin in Washington D.C.

Executive Chef Kwame Onwuachi of D.C’s acclaimed Kith / Kin’s has landed on more than one best chef list over the course of his culinary career. Most recently, Esquire cited his work in their 2019 Best New Restaurants in America round up, cementing his status as one of the country’s top chefs (he appeared on Season 13 of Top Chef, by the way). Chef Onwuachi’s take on mac and cheese is a certified hit among his restaurant staff and is always in high demand during the holidays. The core of the recipe is pretty straightforward, but the touch of garlic and blend of five (that’s right, five) cheese results in a rich, gooey masterpiece with plenty of bite. 

Ingredients

½ cup Butter

½ cup Flour     

3 cups Milk       

1 tsp Black pepper

1 tbsp Minced garlic

5 ounces Grated white cheddar                 

3 ounces Cream cheese

5 ounces Grated yellow cheddar

3 ounces Grated gruyere         

3 ounces Grated provolone

14 ounces Macaroni        

Bread crumbs as needed

Salt as needed

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set a large pot filled with salted water on high heat and boil pasta until tender. Remove, strain and cool.

Start your sauce by adding the butter to a medium sized saucepan and melting. Once the butter is melted add the garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add flour and fold together with a rubber spatula. Cook for another 5 minutes on medium low heat then slowly whisk in the milk to incorporate fully. Add the cream cheese, black pepper, and half of each of the other cheeses. We will save that for later! 

In a large mixing bowl, mix the pasta with the sauce and season with salt. Add the rest of the cheese and place in a large baking pan. Usually, 9-13. Place in the oven uncovered for 20 minutes. 

Add the breadcrumbs and cook for another 15 or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into. Enjoy being the star of any potluck or family gathering. Serves 15.