10 local chefs share their Thanksgiving side dish recipes

From grilled carrots to oyster stuffing to wild boar mashed potatoes, there's something for everyone.

From oyster bacon stuffing to crab-stuffed twice baked potatoes, these 10 Thanksgiving side dish recipes from Boston-area chefs will add flavor, color, and creativity to your holiday menu.

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Crab-stuffed twice baked potato
courtesy of Rich Vellante at Legal Sea Foods

Crab stuffed twice baked potato by Rich Vellante. —Legal Sea Foods

Chef Rich Vellante adds crab to his twice baked potatoes. Seafood and spuds mixed together? Would you expect anything less from Legal Sea Foods?

Ingredients:

3 Idaho potatoes
1 teaspoon of shallots, minced
1 teaspoon of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, de-stemmed and chopped
1 tablespoon of butter, unsalted
12 ounces of lump crab meat
1/4 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup Romano cheese, grated
2 teaspoons of parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon of horseradish, prepared
Black pepper to taste
Kosher salt to taste
Scallions for garnish
3 cups mashed potatoes (use the recipe below or use your favorite)

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Mashed potatoes:

2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3/4 cup of milk
4 tablespoons of butter, unsalted
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the mashed potatoes:

In a large pot, cover the potatoes and 1 tablespoon of salt with cold water. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer (do not boil) for 20 to 25 minutes until potatoes are very tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife (but not falling apart). Combine milk and butter in a small pot, stirring over medium heat until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and set aside. Drain the potatoes and take the potatoes that were reserved from scooping out the shells (see below) and return them to the pot. Toss over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until moisture evaporates. Using a potato ricer or food mill, immediately press the potatoes and transfer them into a large bowl, but do not let them cool. Gradually stir milk into the potatoes without overmixing, and season them with salt and pepper.

To assemble the dish:

1.) Wash and then bake the potatoes, uncovered, in a 400-degree oven for 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides, leaving enough so that the potato skins remain intact. Reserve the scooped potatoes to incorporate into the mashed potatoes. Cool the potato shells.

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2.) Cook the shallots, garlic, and thyme in butter on low heat until they are soft and translucent. Add the crab meat and mix. Remove the mixture from heat and cool slightly. Fold in parsley, Romano cheese, and sour cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3.) Combine the crab meat mixture with the hot mashed potatoes. Place the scooped-out shells in a casserole dish and fill them equally. Drizzle melted butter in each potato and bake in a 400-degree oven until golden brown and hot in the center. Garnish with chopped scallions.

This recipe serves 6.

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Roasted Brussels sprouts
courtesy of Jeremy Sewall at Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34

Roasted Brussels sprouts by Jeremy Sewall. —Michael Harlan Turkell

Move over, green beans and spinach. Chef Jeremy Sewall’s roasted Brussels sprouts are another great green veggie option for the Thanksgiving day table.

Ingredients:

2 pounds of Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons of Kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, melted
Freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon of canola oil
2 shallots, sliced
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons of grated Pecorino cheese

To assemble the dish:

1.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Trim the root ends off the sprouts and pull off any discolored leaves. Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water and the salt to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts to the boiling water and simmer for 30 seconds. Drain and plunge the Brussels sprouts into the ice water to stop the cooking. When they’re cool, drain them well.

2.) Cut the sprouts in half from top to bottom, and then toss them with the melted butter and spread them on a baking sheet. Season them with salt and white pepper. Roast them for 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the shallots for 4 to 5 minutes, until they are colored lightly. Pull the Brussels sprouts out of the oven and add them to the shallots. Toss them together, then season them with lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. Sprinkle Pecorino cheese over the top. Serve immediately.

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This recipe serves 4.

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Matsutake and milk bread stuffing
courtesy of Tim Cushman at O Ya and Hojoko

Tim Cushman’s matsutake and milk bread stuffing. —O Ya

Chef Tim Cushman puts a Japaneses twist on his stuffing, crafting it with matsutake mushrooms. Mushroom lovers, give thanks.

Ingredients:

1 loaf of Japanese milk bread (or you can substitute brioche)
1 3/4 cup of celery, diced
2 cups of shallots, diced
2 cups of Matsutake mushrooms, broken or cut into small pieces (or you can substitute shiitake mushrooms)
1/2 cup of good quality sake
1 teaspoon sansho pepper, dried and ground (you can substitute schezuan pepper)
1/4 cup mitsuba stems and leaf, chopped (you can substitute celery leaf)
2 1/2 cups dashi, prepared (you can substitute vegetable or mushroom stock)
3 duck egg yolks (you can substitute chicken egg yolks)
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces of Plugra brand butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorn, ground
1 tablespoon truffle oil

To assemble the dish:

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the milk bread into 1-inch cubes and let the bread air-dry overnight. Sweat the celery and shallots in 4 ounces of Plugra butter over low heat, until the shallot is translucent. Add the mushrooms and additional butter to the sauté pan and turn the heat to medium high. Once the mushrooms are soft, deglaze them with sake and continue to cook them until almost all of the sake is evaporated.

2.) Using a large mixing bowl, combine the milk bread, cooked mushroom mixture, sansho pepper, mitsuba, dashi, duck egg yolk, heavy cream, salt, pepper, and truffle oil. Place the stuffing into a greased cast iron or dutch oven-style pan and cover it with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the top of the stuffing is crispy.

This recipe serves 8-12 people.

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Cheddar and squash dumplings
courtesy of Matt Jennings at Townsman

Matt Jennings’ cheddar and squash dumplings. —Townsman

“The dumplings are made with a simple dough that can be filled with many different combinations,” Jennings said via email. “In the fall, I like to stuff them with a combination of sharp cheddar and sweet squash or pumpkin filling. The result is finger-friendly food that makes a great Thanksgiving starter or side. ”

Ingredients:

For the dough:

5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup cold water
1 egg
2 tablespoons sour cream

For the filling:

1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces aged cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons whole milk ricotta, homemade or store-bought
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish
2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds, for garnish
Pure maple syrup, for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Sour cream, for serving

To assemble the dish:

To make the dough:

In a large bowl, combine 5 cups of the flour, as well as the milk, water, egg, and sour cream. Stir them until the mixture comes together into a ball, adding more flour if the dough is sticky. Put the dough on a well-floured work surface and knead it gently with your fingertips, lifting the dough off the counter and dropping it down. (The dropping technique is the key to making delicate and pliable dough.) If the dough seems very sticky, add additional flour by the tablespoonful. Knead it for 2 to 5 minutes until the dough is smooth on the outside and slightly sticky when poked. Gather it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature while you make the filling.

To make the filling:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Put the squash in a medium bowl, add the olive oil and a few pinches of salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Arrange the squash in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes until the squash is tender but not browned. Remove the squash from the oven and let it cool slightly, then transfer it to a food processor. Add the cheddar cheese, ricotta, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and process until pureed. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, season it to taste with salt and pepper, and let it cool.

To form and cook the dumplings:

1.) Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Unwrap the dough and cut it into six even pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time (keep the remaining pieces under a clean, damp kitchen towel so they don’t dry out) and using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut out circles from the dough. Spoon a small amount of the filling into the middle of a dough circle and, with a pastry brush, brush the edge of the dough with water. Carefully fold the dough over to form a half-moon, enclosing the filling inside. Crimp the edges with your fingers to seal. Set the dumpling on a baking sheet. Repeat the process until all the dough and filling have been used, gathering up and re-rolling the scraps of dough as needed.

2.) Add the dumplings to the boiling water and cook for about 90 seconds, until they float. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them from the water to a rimmed baking sheet and let them cool. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add some of the dumplings and fry 4 to 5 minutes, turning frequently until they are lightly browned on both sides. Transfer them to an ovenproof platter and keep them warm in the oven while you fry the remaining dumplings. Just before serving, sprinkle them with chives and sunflower seeds and drizzle them with maple syrup. Serve the dumplings with sour cream on the side.

This recipe makes about 50 dumplings.

Excerpted from Homegrown by Matt Jennings (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Huge Galdones.

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Grilled carrots with salsa verde
courtesy of Brendan Joy at Prairie Fire and Steel & Rye

Grilled carrots with salsa verde by Brendan Joy. —Steel & Rye

Jazz up your carrots this year by grilling them and wrapping them in flavorful herbs, courtesy of this recipe from Chef Brendan Joy.

Ingredients:

2 bunches of baby carrots
1 bunch of basil
1 bunch of parsley
1/2 bunch of mint
1 cup of capers
20 anchovies
5 cloves of garlic
2 cups of cornichon
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 cups of olive oil
Salt and pepper

To assemble the dish:

1.) Wash the carrots and scrub them lightly with a clean dish sponge. Once clean, toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper (as much as you’d like). Place them on a hot grill on the second shelf so that they don’t burn. (As the carrots start to get more tender, you can place them on the main part of the grill.) Once they are tender, place them in a bowl and mix them with the salsa verde.

2.) To make the salsa verde, place all the herbs (the leaves) in salted boiling water for no more than 15-20 seconds (you are just looking to wilt the herbs). Then place the herbs directly into ice water to shock them and stop them from cooking before squeezing the water out of them. Put the herbs in a blender with the capers, anchovies, garlic, and cornichons, and turn it on medium speed while drizzling in the olive oil. (You may need more oil, depending on how much water is in the herbs.) While the blender is on medium speed and the salsa verde is spinning smoothly, add in the hard-boiled eggs (this acts as a thickener). Once all is pureed, chill in a bowl over ice and cool down rapidly by using a rubber spatula to keep moving the mixture around.

This recipe serves 6 people.

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Wild boar bacon and chives mashed potatoes with blue cheese crumbles
courtesy of Brian Poe at The Tip Tap Room and Bukowski Tavern

Wild boar bacon and chives mashed potatoes by Brian Poe. —Tip Tap Room

Meat eaters will appreciate this mashed potatoes recipe that uses wild boar bacon. Chef Brian Poe likes to call it wild boar bacon and chives mashed “Poe”-tatoes.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 teaspoons grated Vermont cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped chives
1 cup diced wild boar bacon
2 pounds peeled Yukon gold potatoes
4 cups of water
1/4 stick butter
Salt and pepper
Blue cheese crumbles

To assemble the dish:

Bring the potatoes to boil in 4 cups of water. Strain them when they become tender. In a separate pan, add butter until it begins to melt and then add the diced wild boar bacon. Cook the bacon and garlic until they begin to brown, then add the potatoes and smash it all up. Add heavy cream and continue to mash the potatoes until all the liquid is incorporated. Fold in the butter and add the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper and then fold in the chopped chives. Top with blue cheese crumbles and serve.

This recipe serves 6-8 people.

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Oyster and bacon stuffing
courtesy of Will Gilson at Puritan & Company

Will Gilson’s oyster and bacon stuffing. —Puritan & Company

New Englanders eager for a seafood fix at this year’s holiday feast can dig into Chef Will Gilson’s stuffing, crafted with a pint of oysters.

Ingredients:

4 quarts of 1/4 inch-diced stale bread (roughly 2 loaves)
5 tablespoons butter
1 pound Applewood or other hardwood smoked bacon, sliced into small strips
1 large red onion, diced finely
3 ribs of celery, diced finely
2 carrots, peeled and diced finely
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup marjoram or oregano leaves
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 whole eggs
1 pint of raw, shucked oysters with their liquid, roughly chopped
2 bunches of scallions, sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

To assemble the dish:

1.) Spread the diced bread on a couple of baking sheets and place in a 250-degree oven for about 1 hour. (You may need to rotate the trays every 20 minutes, depending on your oven.) If you have a gas oven with a pilot, it can go in overnight and be dry the next day. In a large pot or dutch oven, add the butter and heat over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and render (slowly cook the fat out) until the bacon is browned and crispy. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic, and cook until the vegetables are soft but not browned. Remove from the heat and add 1.5 cups of stock. Add the marjoram and let steep.

2.) In a large bowl, add the remaining stock and eggs and whisk or blend until combined. Add in the scallions, parsley, Old Bay seasoning, and oysters and combine it with the vegetable/bacon mixture. Add in the bread and mix with a wooden spoon or your hands until the bread begins to absorb most of the liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer everything to a casserole dish or back to the dutch oven if you are using one. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes until the top is nicely browned. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

This recipe serves 8-10 people.

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Pumpkin passato
courtesy of Ken Oringer at CoppaToroUni, and Little Donkey

Ken Oringer’s pumpkin pasatto. —Coppa

If you’re in search of a festive fall dip to offer your guests before the meal, Chef Ken Oringer’s pumpkin pasatto fits the bill. At Coppa, he serves it on a round plate and garnishes it with salsa verde, chili flakes, and pomegranate seeds.

Ingredients:

1 pumpkin good for cooking (not a jack-o’-lantern) or 2 red kuri squashes
2 heads of garlic
8 shallots
2 cups of thick, Greek yogurt
1 bunch of thyme
2 cups of grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
1 tablespoon of Aleppo chili
3 tablespoons of toasted pumpkin seed oil
1 tablespoon honey
Vinegar (Oringer uses cabernet vinegar) and lemon juice to taste
1 cup of finishing oil (1/2 olive oil plus 1/2 argan oil works well, or any nice oil you have)
Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

To assemble the dish:

Trim the tip off the garlic heads and shallots, but leave the skin on. Toss them with oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange in a single layer in a pan and cover them with tin foil. Roast in a 325-degree oven for 60 to 90 minutes until the insides are well caramelized. Peel and scoop out the seeds from the pumpkin or squash. Cut into large chunks. Heat up your sauté pan until it’s “screaming” hot. Add the vegetable oil and pumpkin and toss and season with salt and pepper. Once caramelized, add in a few sprigs of thyme and toss. Add a little bit of vegetable stock to finish cooking it through. Tip: Do not try to do this in a crowded pan, but instead do it in multiple pans or rounds. Squeeze the garlic and shallot meat out of their skins. Remove the thyme sprigs from the cooked pumpkin. Pulse all of the ingredients together in a food processor and drizzle in the finishing oil. Scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse again until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and vinegar/lemon. Serve the dip with toasted bread.

This recipe serves 3-4 people.

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Biscuit and hot link stuffing
courtesy of Dan Raia at Sweet Cheeks Q

Dan Raia’s biscuit and hot link stuffing. —Sweet Cheeks Q

Why should biscuits be relegated to a bread plate? This stuffing recipe from Chef Dan Raia at Sweet Cheeks Q places them right in the heart of the stuffing.

Ingredients:

1 pound of raw, uncased hot link sausage (or your favorite type of sausage)
2 cups minced celery
2 cups minced onion
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 tablespoon ground sage
2 cups sliced okra (1/2-inch rings)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, picked off the stem
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
2 teaspoons chicken base powder
2 teaspoons ground toasted fennel seeds
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 quart chicken broth (plus more as needed)
1/2 pound butter, cut in small cubes and divided
12-14 Sweet Cheeks biscuits (1-2 day old is best, cut in cubes and left out to dry)
1 bag (12 ounces) of fresh cranberries (optional)
1 cup white wine (optional)

To assemble the dish:

1.) In a large sauté pan, cook the sausage, onions, and celery in a few small cubes of butter on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until it is about halfway cooked. Stir frequently, breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Add the okra and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the thyme, sage, fennel seeds, Cajun seasoning, black pepper, and chicken base powder. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until it’s fragrant and the sausage is 90 percent cooked. Add the white wine (if you are using it) and cook for 1 more minute.

2.) Add the chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. While the mixture is cooking, preheat your oven to 375 degrees (350 degrees if you have a convection oven). Butter the bottom of your favorite baking pan (a deep 9-inch-by-13-inch pan or slightly larger) with a few cubes of butter. When the mixture is cool, mix the remaining butter cubes, biscuit cubes, and chicken broth mixture in a large bowl with a rubber spatula, gently stirring. If you are using cranberries, now is the time to add them.

3.) When everything is evenly combined, taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired. Place the stuffing in your buttered baking dish and cover tightly with parchment and aluminum foil. Bake it for 30 minutes, covered, then remove the top and bake it for another 15 to 25 minutes or until the top is crispy but the bottom is moist and fluffy. If the stuffing seems a little dry, add more chicken broth.

This recipe serves 10-15 people.

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Roasted beets with spicy miso dressing
courtesy of Ben Steigers at PABU Boston

Roasted beets with spicy miso dressing by Ben Steigers. —PABU

This spicy Japanese-inspired beets recipe from Chef Ben Steigers will provide your feast with some kick —  and some color.

Ingredients:

3 large beets
1/2 cup of red miso (aka miso)
1/4 cup of sake or white wine
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes or Japanese 7 spice (a blend of seven Japanese spices)
3 tablespoons of sesame oil
Canola oil

To assemble the dish:

For the sauce:

Heat the sake in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Allow it to simmer gently for 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Turn off the heat. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves completely. Mix in the miso and 7 spice with a whisk. Continue stirring with a whisk, then slowly drizzle in the sesame oil. The oil should incorporate well and not separate. Set it aside for later use. The oil may separate after the sauce has sat for a while, but can be mixed back together before use.
For the beets:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly cover the beets in canola oil and wrap them with aluminum foil before placing them on a baking sheet. Roast them for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the beets are tender. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Use a paper towel to rub off the skin (it should come off easily). Slice the beets into eight wedges. Toss the beats in the sauce and arrange them on a plate.
This recipe serves 4 to 6 people.
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