Chefs’ Favorite Side Dishes

While turkey will likely be the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving table, side dishes are where the home cook gets to shine. Here, four local chefs share their personal favorites.

Truffled Lobster Macaroni and Cheese by Executive Chef Anthony Sicignano, The Breakers, photo by Lila Photo
Photo by Lila Photo

Truffled Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

Executive Chef Anthony Sicignano, The Breakers

“Our truffled lobster macaroni and cheese is an elevated version of the childhood classic that takes comfort food to a new level,” explains Sicignano. “At Flagler Steakhouse, we recommend pairing this side with our bone-in filet mignon, but the richness of this dish will complement any holiday meal.” The sauce is a reduction of heavy cream along with Gruyère and Manchego, and the dish is topped with panko breadcrumbs, shaved black truffle, and a lobster claw.

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 cups  cooked elbow pasta

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tbsp. yellow onion, diced

2 cups heavy cream

1 ¼ cup shredded Manchego cheese

1 ¼ cup shredded Gruyère cheese

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tbsp. water

Salt and pepper to taste

½ tsp. black truffle oil

1/3 cup diced Maine lobster, cooked (reserve claw meat for garnish)

3 tbsp. panko breadcrumbs

1 tbsp. butter

2 tsp. shaved black truffle

Cook pasta according to instructions.

In medium saucepot, add vegetable oil and yellow onion; sweat the onions until translucent. Add heavy cream to the pot and allow cream to reduce to approximately 1 ¾ cups. Whisk in 1 cup Manchego cheese and 1 cup Gruyère cheese, reserving ¼ cup of each cheese to add at the end.

In a separate bowl, combine cornstarch and water to make a slurry (a concentrated, starchy liquid). Whisk this mixture into the cheese sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Strain cheese sauce through a mesh strainer, and then add cheese sauce back to the pot. Bring to a simmer and fold in cooked pasta, truffle oil, lobster meat and the ¼ cups of Manchego and Gruyère cheeses that were previously set aside. Taste again, adjusting seasoning as needed.

Toss panko breadcrumbs with butter. Transfer pasta to a serving dish, top with breadcrumbs, and cook in oven until golden brown. Add shaved black truffle and top with a lobster claw.

Papas Bravas Chef Aaron Black, PB Catch, photo by Jordan Vilonna
Photo by Jordan Vilonna

Papas Bravas

Chef Aaron Black, PB Catch

This savory potato dish is a great complement to the richness of a Thanksgiving meal. Potatoes, onions, olives, and garlic are sautéed until golden brown, sprinkled with zaatar (a Middle Eastern spice mix), and garnished with a Sherry vinaigrette. “Thinking back to the Thanksgiving dinners of my childhood, everything was tasty, but the textures tended to be the same,” Black notes. “The Spanish accents in this dish offer another layer of flavor and texture.”

Ingredients (serves 1)

1 oz. butter

½ tsp. minced garlic

3 oz. Idaho potato quartered, blanched, then deep fried

1 oz. red onion, grilled and medium diced

1 oz. Castelvetrano olives cut in half

Pinch of parsley chiffonade

2 oz. Spanish Sherry vinaigrette

½ tsp. zaatar

Optional pea tendril garnish

Sauté garlic in butter until golden brown and aromatic. Add potatoes, onions, and olives. Toss until warmed through then finish with parsley. Serve with vinaigrette to the side and sprinkle with zaatar.

Cauliflower Gratin, Chef Michael Burgio, Pistache, photo courtesy of Michael Burgio
Photo courtesy of Michael Burgio

Cauliflower Gratin

Chef Michael Burgio, Pistache  

“My mother used to buy a frozen version for herself because no one else liked it,” Burgio recalls of the gratins of his youth. “When I became a chef, I thought of that horrible, microwaved dish and created one with her in mind.” Gruyère, smoked gouda, white cheddar, and parmesan cheeses are melted in a bechamel sauce, lightly seasoned, and mixed with the cauliflower in a buttered baking dish. Bake uncovered until bubbling and golden brown, and sprinkle with chives before serving.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

2 heads cauliflower
1 oz. fresh picked thyme
8 oz. butter
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. all-purpose flour
1 gallon whole milk

1 tsp. espelette
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup smoked gouda cheese, shredded
4 oz. parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 oz. chives, minced

Core cauliflower and cut into florets, then blanch the florets in milk with thyme. In a separate pot, melt butter, add onions and garlic, and cook until soft and onions are translucent.

Add the flour to the onion mixture and cook slowly for several minutes while stirring to incorporate, then add milk. Cook on low heat constantly stirring until thickened, essentially making a bechamel sauce. Add espellete and smoked paprika.

Mix all cheeses together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix cauliflower, bechamel, and half the cheese. Blend and season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a buttered baking dish and top with remaining cheese blend. Bake uncovered in 375-degree oven until golden brown and bubbling. Garnish with chives.

Lisabet Summa's Lacto Fermented Carrots, Thanksgiving sides

Lacto-Fermented Carrots

Chef Lisabet Summa, Big Time Restaurant Group

“My grandmother always set her Thanksgiving table with a cut-crystal relish tray,” says Summa. “I didn’t like the pickled items as a child, but as a chef I appreciate the bright, acidic flavors they add to a meal. Making your own lacto-fermented pickles in sterile glass jars is fun, easy, and delicious. All you need is a salt brine, an assortment of favorite vegetables, and pickling spices. Let the jars sit for several weeks for the veggies to ferment completely.”


1 ½ pounds carrots, preferably heirloom

3 cups water

1 ½ tbsp. finely ground sea salt

2 large rosemary stalks

4 garlic cloves, whole

Wash your jars in the dishwasher so they are sterilized.

Wash and peel the carrots. Trim them to fit into two separate pint glass jars, or a two-pint glass jar. They need to be cut in half or quartered depending on the size. The carrots must be close to the same height so that when you pack them in the jars, they are a snug fit. Leave enough “headspace” to have a half-inch layer of water on top covering them. The carrots must be fully submerged, and there should still be at least ¼ inch of air space above the water as well.

Once the jars are filled, stir the salt into the water and allow it to sit for 10 minutes until it is fully dissolved, then pour into the jars. Add a sprig of rosemary and two garlic cloves into each jar.

You can purchase a lid designed to go on the jars with an airlock specifically for lacto fermenting. It allows the gasses built up by the fermentation to escape so pressure doesn’t build up, but it keeps the air from entering the jar. You can also just put a lid on the jars and loosen them every other day to allow the built-up gases to release, then close them again

I like to leave the jars on a shelf in a pantry cupboard where they are not in direct sunlight and check after a few days. You should be able to see a few bubbles as you pick up the jar—your fresh carrots are turning into a healthy and delicious lacto fermented pickle.

Let the jars sit for two weeks and try one of your carrot pickles. If you like a stronger sour or more acidic taste, they can stay out for another week. Otherwise, your pickles can now go in the fridge, where they will easily last a month.

Note: Your brine may become cloudy. This is normal! If there is a rotten smell or mold, then your batch was contaminated; start over and discard that batch.

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