3 Incredible Sides For Thanksgiving

Some say that Thanksgiving is all about the bird. But, we'd like to formally submit our argument that it's really all about the peripherals. Though the turkey may sit front and center on the dinner table, it's the sides that make this day a real feast. So, we spent a day with Vinegar Hill House's executive chef Brian Leth to get some special ideas to officially up our cooking game.
Leth invited us to his restaurant for some one-on-one cooking lessons, and proceeded to demonstrate exactly why we had come seeking his help in the first place. His prowess in the kitchen is nothing short of amazing — especially when we learned Leth had never attended culinary school. But, his extensive on-the-job training, including an impressive stint at Prune, shines through. Not only were the results to die for, but the recipes are totally doable — no Pinterest fails, here. Ahead, Leth's creations for three Turkey Day side dishes that are anything but side kicks — poultry namesakes be damned.
1 of 5
Photographed by Chloe Crespi.
Our instructor for the day, Brian Leth. Is that a Thanksgiving Day game face? We're into it.
2 of 5
Photographed by Chloe Crespi.
Brussels Sprouts

1 1/5 lbs brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
200g palm sugar, grated
400g peanuts, toasted with msg, salt and sugar, then chopped
100g fish sauce
50g lime juice fresh

Get a few sauté pans pretty hot. Squirt a slick of oil on the bottom and drop in enough brussels sprouts to make one thick layer. Repeat with each pan. Put a huge knob of butter on top of the layer and sprinkle lots of salt over the sprouts. Still refrain from tossing or shaking. When the browned edges of the sprouts start to look and smell delicious, give the pan a toss. Divide the grated sugar among the pans. Toss that through, as well. Make sure it melts — be careful it doesn't burn. Add the peanuts and toss. When the sprouts are cooked, remove from the heat and add the lime juice and fish sauce. Toss, check seasoning, serve.
3 of 5
Photographed by Chloe Crespi.

Sweet Potatoes with Poppy Seed Yogurt

20 medium-sized sweet potatoes, washed
2 boxes kosher salt
1 liter greek yogurt
4 tbsp poppy seeds
Lime juice

Make a layer of salt in the bottom of a shallow tray large enough to hold the potatoes comfortably. Nestle the potatoes into the salt, and make sure they aren't touching each other. Completely cover with salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on the size of the potatoes. You can check if they're done by carefully breaking a little of the salt crust and prodding. Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes. Carefully retrieve the potatoes from the salt, brushing them off. Mix yogurt, poppy seeds, and the juice of a few limes. Serve with the hot potatoes.
Note: salt can be cooled, sifted, and reused several times.
4 of 5
Photographed by Chloe Crespi.
Corn Bread Sausage Stuffing

Corn bread
12 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp salt
18 butter melted

Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients. Put in a hot skillet with melted butter. Cook 12 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Turn out, let cool, break into pieces, allow to become stale or hurry the process by putting the pieces on a tray in the oven at 250 degrees for 25 minutes.

2 lbs loose sausage
10 onions, sliced thin
10 celery stalks
1 tbsp celery salt
1 pt dried blueberries, cherries, currants
6 whole eggs, beaten
2 qts chicken stock, hot
1 cup fresh thyme leaves

Cook the two pounds of loose pork sausage in a large pan, breaking up the larger pieces with a wooden spoon. Deglaze the pan with water or stock if the fonds get too dark. Once the sausage is thoroughly browned, add the sliced onions, celery, and celery salt and cook until very soft. Add the chicken stock and dried fruit. Put the stale pieces of corn bread in a large mixing bowl and pour the onion/stock mixture over. Add the beaten eggs, then add the thyme leaves. Mix gently, not destroying the bread pieces. Taste and season with salt. Put it all in a large casserole dish. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Let set overnight. To serve, reheat slowly, covered, then turn the oven up, put a few dots of butter on the top, and carefully brown.
5 of 5
Photographed by Chloe Crespi.
Well, would you look at that. We suddenly don't care about turkey.

More from Food & Drinks


R29 Original Series