Local Chefs Reveal Their Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

Though the traditional Thanksgiving meal centers around the turkey, it’s often the foods that surround it that are the tastiest at the table.


In fact, turkey is the perfect silent partner to these star side dish recipes from top chefs on the North Shore and in Chicago. There are both simple and more intricate dishes here to entice everyone from the harried home cook to the hobby chef. Dazzle your family this year by serving up one (or more!) of these mouth-watering recipes at Thanksgiving dinner.


  • Parmesan Truffle Polenta Fries, Michael Paulsen of Abigail’s American Bistro
  • Sweet Potato and Chestnut Gratin, Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass Café
  • Perfect Gratin Potatoes, Gabriel Viti of Miramar Bistro
  • Turkey Sausage and Sourdough Stuffing, Bradford Phillips of Guildhall
  • Roasted Apple and Pear Salad, Nicole Pederson of Found Kitchen and Social House
  • Bobby’s Kicked-Up Brussels Sprouts, Bobby Arifi of Bobby’s Deerfield
  • Suppli al Telefono (Fried Risotto Balls with Buffalo Mozzarella), John Coletta of Quartino
  • Holiday Stuffing with Apples and Rub #1, Stephanie Izard of Girl & the Goat
  • Butternut Squash Soup, Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse
  • Truffle Glazed Quail Pot au Feu, Rene Lorenzano of Bistro Bordeaux
  • Corn Bread, Dan Maloney of Market House
  • Granny Smith Apple Salad, Jay Lovell of Lovells of Lake Forest


Parmesan Truffle Polenta Fries
From Michael Paulsen, owner and executive chef at Abigail’s American Bistro, Highland Park 

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 3 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon shallots
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs (chervil, chives, parsley)
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped truffle (canned or jarred)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Brush an 8-inch square baking dish with oil and line with plastic wrap.

2. Combine stock, shallots and garlic in a heavy saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Add polenta in a slow steady stream, while whisking constantly.

3. Once polenta is fully added, switch to a wooden spoon and stir until it begins to pull away from the side of the pan, 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Stir in remaining ingredients until fully incorporated. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to finish.

5. Transfer to prepared baking dish, spreading evenly. Chill dish in refrigerator, then unmold and cut into 3-by-1-inch sticks.

6. Bake or fry in a pan until golden and crispy.

This dish is served on the both the lunch and dinner menus at Abigail’s American Bistro. 493 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park, 847-780-4862.


Sweet Potato and Chestnut Gratin
From chef Sarah Stegner at Prairie Grass Café, Northbrook

Photo courtesy of Prairie Grass Café. 

Serves 6 as a side dish

  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups chestnuts, cooked, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Wash and thinly slice sweet potatoes (leave skin on). Put potatoes in a large bowl with the sliced chestnuts, cream, salt, ground pepper and thyme. Toss well and taste the cream for seasoning.

3. Butter a 9-by-12-inch pan with 2-inch sides. Layer the potatoes and chestnuts into the pan. Pour the cream over the potatoes. Dot with remaining butter.

4. Bake for 45-60 minutes until cooked through and well browned on top.

Chef’s Tip: If you buy raw chestnuts, boil them in water with a little salt and butter. You can buy them at your local grocery store or the Green City Market.

Chef Stegner says this dish is rich and nutty and not overly sweet like many sweet potato recipes. Prairie Grass Cafe will be hosting a special Thanksgiving Day dinner on Thursday, Nov. 27. 601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, 847-205-4433.


Perfect Gratin Potatoes
From Gabriel Viti, proprietor and chef at Miramar Bistro, Highwood

Serves 6-8 as a side dish 

  • 6 russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat bottom of a baking dish with half of the butter and a little of the chopped garlic.

2. Peel and wash the potatoes. Slice with them with a mandoline slicer or by hand but not too thin.

3. Put the cream, milk, sliced potatoes and garlic into a saucepot. Heat at medium heat. You’re not going to fully cook the potatoes; you are just blanching them. When the milk and cream start to simmer, add Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.

4. Pull pan from heat and pour mixture into pre-buttered baking dish. Don’t fill too close to the top of the dish, otherwise the cream mixture will boil over. Sprinkle Parmesan over the top and dot with small pieces of butter.

5. Bake for 40 minutes at 325 degrees. To check if the potatoes are done, take a small knife and poke the potatoes until you hit the bottom of the baking dish. If it slides through the potatoes that means they are ready. Dish should be golden brown on top and creamy and garlicky inside.

Chef’s Tip: You can make this dish in advance and let it cool then reheat from warm or make the day before and after cooling down put them in the refrigerator. Take out of fridge one hour before putting into the oven to heat to desired serving temperature.

This dish can be found on special at Miramar Bistro and on the personal holiday table of chef Viti. 301 Waukegan Ave., Highwood, 847-433-1078.


Turkey Sausage and Sourdough Stuffing
From chef Bradford Phillips at Guildhall, Glencoe

Serves 6-8 as side dish

  • 1 pound fresh ground turkey or turkey sausage of your preference
  • 6 cups chicken stock (or turkey stock if available)
  • 1 pound sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups celery, small dice
  • 2 cups onion, small dice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss bread with half of the olive oil and bake until lightly toasted.

2. In a large skillet, heat the butter until melted and foamy. Add the onions, celery and garlic and cook until very soft but not yet starting to turn brown. Pour into a large bowl to cool slightly.

3. In the same skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the ground turkey or sausage until cooked through and lightly browned. Add turkey to vegetables.

4. Add thyme, sage, parsley, and toasted bread to the bowl containing the vegetables and turkey. Add the stock and season liberally with salt and pepper. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the liquid.

5. Place the mixture in a baking dish that has been lightly greased with butter or olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes until golden brown on tip and an internal temperature of 160 degrees has been reached. Let cool slightly before serving.

Chef’s Tip: Use day-old sourdough bread for even better results.

This dish is a personal holiday favorite of Guildhall’s chef Phillips. 694 Vernon Ave., Glencoe, 847-835-4100.


Roasted Apple and Pear Salad with Quinoa, Fresh Chevre, Ham, Pine Nuts and Arugula
From chef Nicole Pederson at Found Kitchen and Social House, Evanston

Serves 6 as first course or side dish

For pear, apple and preserved lemon vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup onions, small dice
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup blend oil (half extra-virgin olive oil, half canola oil, mixed)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon mint, chopped
  • 2 cups Bosc pears, skin on, large dice
  • More blend oil for cooking
  • 1 tablespoon preserved lemon, chopped with pith and pulp removed
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground
  • Salt


1. Combine onions, apple vinegar, blend oil and salt in a saucepot and place over low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until onions are tender and translucent. Remove from heat and add chopped herbs. Cool.

2. Add small amount of blend oil to pan over medium-high heat. Add pears and roast until just cooked through, and nicely caramelized. Cool on a sheet.

3. Combine onion mixture with roasted pears, preserved lemon, orange zest, black pepper and season with salt to taste.

For quinoa:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt, fresh bay, fresh thyme, garlic
  • Lemon, extra-virgin olive oil, salt


1. Rinse quinoa in water. Add a small amount of oil to a medium-sized saucepot and toast quinoa. Add stock and remaining ingredients then cook until tender but just cooked, about 12-15 minutes (germ ring will show).

2. Strain off excess liquid and season with lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

For cider gastric:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar


1. Combine sugar and honey in a small stainless steel saucepot and place over medium heat until mixture is brown and bubbly. Add apple cider vinegar and reduce to a syrupy consistency, about 8-10 minutes.

Other ingredients:

  • 1 pound thinly-sliced country ham
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 pound baby arugula


1. Mix vinaigrette well with quinoa.

2. Add arugula and toss.

3. Plate on long plate or platter and top with ham, goat cheese and pine nuts.

Chef’s Tip: Make vinaigrette a day or two in advance to save time on busy Thanksgiving Day.

Buying Suggestions: Chef Pederson prefers locally produced Prairie Fruits Farm goat cheese. When buying preserved lemon, she says to look for simple ingredient lists of only lemon, juice and salt. Try L’Epicurien or Mourad’s Moroccan preserved lemons.

This dish currently appears on Found’s ever changing seasonal, locally found menu. 1631 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-868-8945.


Bobby’s Kicked-Up Brussels Sprouts
From Bobby Arifi, owner and chef at Bobby’s Deerfield  

Photo courtesy of Bobby’s Deerfield. 

Serves 6 as side dish

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 thick slices hot/spicy pancetta (can substitute bacon)
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


1. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook, turning occasionally, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Use tongs to transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Let cool. Coarsely crumble.

2. Add Brussels sprouts to drippings in skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until well browned in spots and beginning to soften, 5-7 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to low and add currants, shallot, and butter; cook, stirring often until shallot is soft, about 3 minutes.

4. Add broth to skillet; increase heat and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until broth has evaporated, 1-2 minutes.

5. Stir in vinegar and crumbled pancetta. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

This dish will be served at Bobby’s Deerfield during its annual “Homestyle Thanksgiving Celebration.” 695 Deerfield Road, Deerfield, 847-607-9104


Suppli al Telefono (Fried Risotto Balls with Buffalo Mozzarella)
From John Coletta, managing partner and executive chef at Quartino, Chicago

Serves 10-12 as side dish

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken livers, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 cup ground beef (have butcher ground it fine, twice)
  • 1/2 cup pork sausage (ground twice)
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms, finely minced
  • Generous 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 3/4 cups tomato paste
  • 8 cups Arborio rice
  • 4 cups beef broth, warm
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 3/4 cup Mozzarella di Bufala (Buffalo Mozzarella) cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 8 cups bread crumbs, unevenly grated
  • Vegetable oil for frying


1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, add olive oil and 1/4 cup butter and place over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add the onions and cook until they are translucent and tender.

2. Add the chicken livers, ground beef, ground sausage, dried mushrooms, white wine and tomato paste. Simmer slowly for 5 minutes.

3. Add the Arborio rice and mix well using a wooden spoon. Using a medium ladle, begin to add the beef broth to the rice mixture. Continue stirring the rice mixture while adding the beef broth, allowing the rice kernels to absorb the broth.

4. Once the rice kernels have become tender to the al dente stage, remove the pot from the stove. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add 2 teaspoons butter, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and 4 beaten eggs, and then mix well with wooden spoon. Place mixture into a shallow pan and allow to cool overnight in the refrigerator.

5. The next day, prepare a breading station consisting of 8 beaten eggs and breadcrumbs. Using an ice cream scooper, begin to form the cold rice mixture into small balls.

6. Place a small ball into the palm of your hand and form an oval cradle. Place one or two Mozzarella di Bufala cubes in the center of the rice cradle and cover with a remaining rice ball. Dip the oval fill rice ball into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumb mixture. Allow the breaded rice balls to rest in the refrigerator until needed.

7. Preheat a pot of vegetable oil (deep enough to submerge rice ball) to 325 degrees. Add the completed rice balls to the heated oil. Fry until a light golden brown color is achieved. Serve at once.

Chef’s Tip: The risotto for this dish can be made 1 or 2 days in advance and finished easily on Thanksgiving Day, allowing for an enjoyable and relaxing holiday.

Chef Coleta enjoys this riso preparation because it is approachable and achievable for the hobby or home cook. Suppli were originally sold at Roman friggitore (fried food stands), but today has become popular in pizzerias throughout Italia. This dish is served as a special at Quartino Ristorante and Wine Bar. 626 North State St., Chicago, 312-698-5000.


Holiday Stuffing with Apples and Rub #1
From chef Stephanie Izard of Girl & the Goat for Artizone 

Photo courtesy of Artizone. 

Serves 4 as a side dish

  • 8 cups mixed bread, cut into cubes
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1/2 Spanish onion, small diced
  • 1 Gala or Fuji apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound mild pork sausage
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons Stephanie Izzard’s Rub #1
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat sauté pan then brown sausage until fully cooked. Add celery, onion, and apple to the pan and season with Rub #1. Cook until onion and celery have just softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3. In a small bowl, combine chicken stock, cream and eggs. Whisk together until fully combined.

4. In a larger bowl, combine bread cubes with sausage mixture and cheddar cheese. Pour liquids over and season with 1/2 tablespoon of salt.

5. Place stuffing mix into a baking dish and cook in oven for 35-40 minutes.

Chef’s Tip: Small diced day-old bread works best with some nut bread and a sweeter bread to accent the savory flavors.

This dish by chef Izard is part of the Thanksgiving package she created for Artizone, an online artisanal grocer that features handcrafted local foodstuffs. 


Butternut Squash Soup
From Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, Chicago 


Yields 1 quart

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrot, diced
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 3 cups vegetable stock, kitchen basics
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper


1. Place a saucepot on the stove over medium heat.

2. Add the oil and sweat the vegetables.

3. Add the squash and ginger, cook 5 minutes.

4. Add the stock and simmer until the squash is tender.

5. Working in small batches, place the soup in the blender to puree.

6. If the mixture gets too thick add a little more vegetable stock.

7. Once the soup is pureed, return to the stove and adjust the seasoning.


Truffle Glazed Quail Pot au Feu
From Rene Lorenzano of Bistro Bordeaux, Evanston

For quail pot au feu:

2 quails
  • 1 sweet potato
1 leek
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 bulb of fennel
2 large parsnips
1 1/2 quart of chicken stock
  • 1 cup sauternes

For bouquet garni

  • 2 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme

For truffle glaze:

1 cup sauternes
  • 1/4 cup truffles
  • 1/2 pound butter


1. Prepare truffle glaze: reduce 1 cup of sauternes by half with truffles and mix with room temperature butter.

2. Place quails, chicken stock, sauternes and bouquet garni in a pot and bring to a boil. Season with salt and white pepper.

3. Simmer for 25 minutes and then add large diced vegetables and cook for another 20 minutes.

4. Carefully take quail out. Carefully place quail on a small sheet rack add truffle glaze to quail and place under salamander or broil a nice crust develops.

5. Place glazed quails back to pot and pour melted quail jus and truffle glaze.


Corn Bread 
From Dan Maloney, executive chef at Market House, Lake Forest 

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pound butter, unsalted
  • 4 cups cornmeal
  • 3 cups flour
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vanilla extract
4 cobs fresh corn


1. Mix all dry ingredients and set aside.

2. Heat up the milk and butter in saucepan.

3. Add the milk and butter to the dry ingredients.

4. Add the eggs and vanilla.

5. Sauté fresh corn and add to mix.

6. Spray pan with non-stick spray and cook in oven at 350 for about 15-20 minutes or until brown.


Granny Smith Apple Salad with Amish Blue Cheese, Micro Arugula and Walnuts, Natural Apple Reduction Vinaigrette 
From Jay Lovell, owner chef de cuisine at Lovells of Lake Forest, Lake Forest

Serves 4

For natural apple reduction vinaigrette:

2 cups white wine
2 cups apple juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 apples
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons salad oil
  • 1/2 lemon, to taste


1. Dice the apples and place into a small pot.

2. Add white wine, apple juice and sugar.

3. Reduce to 1cup and strain thru a fine mesh screen.

4. Place in ice bath and chill.

5. Put the apple reduction in a mixing bowl and whisk in the apple cider vinegar and the salad oil.

6. Check for seasoning, add a little lemon if needed.

For salad

  • 6 Granny Smith Apples, medium size
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 ounces Amish Blue Cheese, crumble
  • 4 pinches micro arugula
  • 2 ounces walnut pieces, chopped
8 ounces natural apple reduction vinaigrette


1. Core the Granny Smith apples and cut into small diced.

2. Squeeze the lemon juice on the apples and toss them to prevent them from turning brown.

3. Add the crumbled Amish blue cheese and the walnut pieces. Toss together with the apple reduction vinaigrette.

4. Wet the micro arugula with a little vinaigrette and garnish the top of the salad.


Thanks to Belinda Litchy Clarke for her contributions to this article.

  Who We Are       NFP Support       Magazine       Programs       Donate