Thanksgiving: It's basically the Super Bowl of cooking. And while a turkey might be the star on the traditional table, top-notch side dishes are essential teammates. And whether you're attending someone else's feast or hosting Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving!) at your place this year, there's a lot of pressure to get every detail just right.
So, how can you create fantastic fare even if your teeny kitchen is a little less than chef-caliber? We dropped in on Dan O'Brien, the chef behind gourmet shop and supper club Seasonal Pantry and the soon-to-open A&D Bar to find out. O'Brien manages it all in a tiny kitchen that is probably even less elaborate than yours — think tiny galley space, a single induction burner, and limited pans and utensils (oh, and the oven is located a flight of stairs away, in the basement). But he still makes amazing food, and proves that good recipes and great ingredients beat a fancy setup any day.
When we told O'Brien we wanted simple, basic side dishes that anyone could manage, he whipped up two holiday-perfect options: buttery drop biscuits that add some Southern charm, and Brussels sprouts with a sweet-and-salty kick. Ahead, we've got the step-by-step on how to make them, and we can promise you this: Bring these along, and you'll snag the meal's Most Valuable Guest status, no contest.
Photographed by Nicole Crowder
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup buttermilk
8 tablespoons butter
Yield: Six to eight biscuits
Heat oven to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir in buttermilk until a soft dough forms.
Roll out dough using a rolling pin — or, in a pinch, use a wine bottle wrapped in plastic wrap. Dice the cold butter, sprinkle the cubes across the flat dough, fold dough in half, and roll again. (This will create melty little butter pockets within the layers — yum.)
Using a biscuit cutter, wine glass, or knife, cut out rounds of dough and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Drizzle honey over the tops before placing in the preheated oven. For an alternative to the sweet version, O'Brien suggests mixing in cheddar cheese and jalapeños, or other savory combinations.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Pickled Raisins
1 stalk Brussels spouts
2 1/2 ounces whole bacon (pancetta works well, too
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons pickled rasins, available at Seasonal Pantry
Yield: Four servings
Clean sprouts and trim off the base. Separate loose outer leaves into one bowl; halve the remaining whole sprouts and place in a second bowl. Blanch the halved sprouts in boiling water for about two minutes or until tender; remove from water and set aside. Blanch the loose leaves for only about 30 to 60 seconds. Sprouts and leaves should be bright green, but not limp. Remove leaves from water and set aside.
Dice the bacon into small cubes.
Cook bacon in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon chunks from the skillet, but leave the rendered fat in the pan. Add two additional tablespoons of oil. Let this smoke for a moment, then add sprouts and cook until caramelized.
Add the bacon back to the pan, along with the sprout halves, and turn heat down to medium.
Add onion and cook until lightly wilted, then add the sprout leaves.
Add butter, red wine vinegar, and raisins, then season with salt and pepper. Continue stirring ingredients until a glaze forms. Once ingredients are coated and heated through, remove from heat and serve.