We often focus on maximizing time and minimizing effort, especially when it comes to cooking. There's something different about Thanksgiving, though. It's a time when friends and family come together, when deadlines dissipate and experience matters most, and when we savor the joy of making a delicious meal for those we love. If you usually approach cooking as a rushed midweek chore, it's time to switch your mindset. Forget about the end result—real satisfaction comes from relishing the process of creating a dish, not just racing toward plating it up.
This approach is at the core of The Art of Entertaining Relais & Châteaux, a must-read hosting manual that offers dinner party and event inspiration from some of the most admired chefs and entertainers in America. Here, we spotlighted three decadent recipes crafted by top chefs that will turn your casual Thanksgiving into a celebration to remember. It's time to slow down and savor the hours leading up to Thanksgiving. Invite your family into the kitchen to lend a hand in creating this chef-approved Thanksgiving feast. Bon appétit!
Squash Risotto With Chanterelles
It's all about presentation with this creamy, luxurious risotto by The Inn at Little Washington. Go a step further by serving this decadent dish in a hollowed roasted pumpkin—it'll be the standout entrée on your Thanksgiving table.
1 red Kuri squash, halved, seeded, and diced
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 small bunch fresh thyme sprigs
1 tbsp. fennel seeds
1 tbsp. whole cloves
Risotto base and plating ingredients (See full list)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the diced squash in a roasting pan, and season with the butter, maple syrup, sherry vinegar, and salt. Add the thyme, fennel seeds, and cloves; then pour 1/4 inch of water into the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake for one hour, or until the squash is tender.
Remove and discard the thyme sprigs and cloves. In batches if necessary, purée the squash in a blender until smooth. Pass the purée through a chinois to strain, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and reserve.
In a large heavy sauté pan, sear the chanterelles in one tablespoon of butter until lightly colored. Add the candied ginger and nutmeg to taste, and a couple of teaspoons of Calvados. Add the cooked rice (see The Inn at Little Washington for detailed directions) and about one cup of the purée, and heat through. Adjust the texture with stock: You are looking for a loose and creamy consistency.
Over medium-low heat, gradually stir in about 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup Parmesan until the risotto is smooth and luxurious. Adjust the seasoning with additional Calvados, squash purée, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Garnish with brown butter–toasted pecans and microgreens. Serve in a hollowed pumpkin for added impact on your Thanksgiving table.
Sea Island Red Peas
This festive side is a favorite at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. The restaurant's red peas are sourced from South Carolina, but its chef notes that black-eyed peas would make a worthy substitution if Sea Island peas aren't available.
1 cup Sea Island red peas
8 cups vegetable stock or water
1 sachet of fresh thyme sprigs, fresh parsley sprigs, and a bay leaf tied in a bundle with butcher’s twine
1 small carrot
1 celery rib
Soak the peas in two quarts of water overnight. Drain the peas, and place them in a pot with the stock and sachet. Bring to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer, and cook until the peas are almost tender (roughly 30 to 45 minutes). Add the carrot, celery, and onion, and continue to simmer until the peas are tender (about 10 to 15 minutes longer). Season with salt, and cool in the liquid. Remove the sachet and vegetables, and drain any excess liquid. Fold in about half of the chimichurri and serve.
The Wicked Witch's Apple
This divine cocktail recipe by The Inn at Little Washington makes for the perfect Thanksgiving drink, thanks to heady fall flavors like cinnamon, pear puree, and apple cider.
1 lemon wedge
2 tbsp. sugar mixed with a pinch of ground cinnamon
1 oz. Laird's Apple Brandy
3/4 oz. Strega liqueur
3/4 oz. My Amaro liqueur
1/2 oz. pear purée
1 oz. cold sparkling apple cider
2 fresh apple slices
2 kirsch-soaked cherries
Run the lemon across the rim of a classic champagne coupe or martini glass. Roll the rim in the cinnamon sugar. Combine the apple brandy, Strega, amaro, and pear purée in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake quickly to combine, and strain into the sugar-rimmed glass. Add a splash of cider. Garnish with apple slices and cherries.
Shop The Art of Entertaining for more dinner party and event inspiration.