Depending largely on salt, sugar and fat (and perhaps a snip or two of sage, if you’re feeling fancy), the traditional Thanksgiving feast tends to have a rather limited flavor profile. But considering the average New Yorker’s pantry is just as likely to be stocked with garam masala and gochujang as it is dried oregano and ketchup, why shouldn’t the holiday reflect our evolving, increasingly international tastes? That’s why we’ve consulted a few of our favorite chefs for tips on spicing up your tired Thanksgiving spread, from Sam Saverance’s Ethiopian berbere-spiked squash and Alex Raij’s Spanish-style, migas-inspired stuffing to Sung Kim’s Korean kimchi turkey pancakes.
Ethiopian; Sam Saverance of Bunna Café: After devising an Ethiopian-influenced Thanksgiving meal last year, some of the dishes proved so successful, they ended up on Bunna Café’s regular menu!
Duba Wot: Mix sweet kabocha squash cubes with spicy berbere sauce, garlic, ginger, and onion.
Butecha Selata: This festive salad incorporates kale, cranberries, onion, lime juice, olive oil and butecha; a vegan stuffing made with ground chickpeas.
Fasolia: Need a break from string bean casserole cloaked in cream of mushroom soup? This popular, traditional dish features string beans as its main ingredient, enlivened with carrots, garlic, and ginger.
Shai Correnti: This holiday-appropriate hot toddy showcases Shai, a cinnamon, cardamom and clove-spiced Ethiopian black tea, combined with whiskey, brown sugar, and lime.
Spanish; Alex Raij, La Vara: For a taste of Menorca, Alex Raij recommends combining black beans with squash for a tasty salad or side dish. And when it comes to stuffing, forget about that box of Stove Top. Her version of the Spanish specialty, Migas Aragonesa, is a much better use for day-old bread cubes.
Migas Aragonesa-inspired Stuffing: Caramelize onions until sweet but not melted. Raise the heat and add halved seedless grapes. Fold in chorizo that’s been cut into threads. Separately toast torn bread croutons in the oven with olive oil and hot smoked paprika until crisp, and cool completely so they dry out. 1/2 hour before eating, melt butter with sage and then fold all the ingredients together. Cover and keep warm in a medium low oven.
Korean; Sung Kim, The Brooklyn Belly: Personal chef to the stars and owner of the private dinner club, The Brooklyn Belly, Sung Kim often draws from her Korean roots when conceptualizing her sought after suppers. In fact, she’ll be making soy and five spice-brined turkey, and hot pepper, honey and fish sauce-slathered brussels sprouts (roasted and served on the stalk) for none other than Sarah Jessica Parker this year—and here’s what she (and you) will want to do with the leftovers!
Kimchi Turkey Pancake: Make a simple tempura-style batter with rice flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, vodka and water, and combine with shredded turkey meat and chopped kimchi. Fry the pancakes in leftover turkey fat, and serve with a dipping sauce of soy, sugar and rice wine vinegar.
Five Spiced Turkey Buns: Fill steam buns with leftover chunks of turkey, julienned scallion and cucumber, cranberry sauce, and a squiggle of Kewpie mayo.
Spicy Turkey Noodle Soup: Make broth using your leftover turkey carcass, seasoned with gochujang, soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil. Add in vegetables and your favorite Asian noodles, such as udon or ramen.