In a lifetime of meals, here are few more seminal for Americans than Thanksgiving each year. Even for chefs, the pressure of crafting the perfect spread is a lot – and Anthony Bourdain was not immune to that feeling when setting down to plan this important family meal.
If you can believe it, we’re just about six weeks out from Thanksgiving, and that means it’s time to start planning – and looking forward to enjoying the meal once all the dishes are prepared.
Part of the pressure any Thanksgiving Day cook feels comes from living up to expectations: everyone can imagine their favorite Thanksgiving dishes, and how they want them to taste. As Tony says:
Thanksgiving is not the time for innovation… Give the people what they want, and make sure it’s consistent with what they remember.Anthony Bourdain, Appetites: A Cookbook
Over the course of his career, Anthony Bourdain shared both tips and recipes to allow others to create a Thanksgiving meal inspired by him. If you want to start a new tradition of enjoying an Anthony Bourdain Thanksgiving feast, below you’ll find all you need: recipes, commentary, wine pairings, and even a schedule of how to manage it all with minimal drama.
An Anthony Bourdain Thanksgiving Menu
Everyone’s Thanksgiving menu is a little different, but there are some key dishes that most of us include. Obviously, you need a turkey. Definitely gravy and stuffing. Probably a few starches and sides. And don’t forget the cranberry sauce, in whatever format you prefer.
But we’re not here for what you prefer – this is all about what Bourdain loved to make for his family that we might also try too. Here’s a list of all of the Anthony Bourdain Thanksgiving recipes in one place – bookmark this one if you want to celebrate Turkey Day, Tony style.
A Turkey… or two?
Okay, let’s start with the most important dish of Thanksgiving: turkey done right.
Naturally, Anthony Bourdain had thoughts about how to properly make a Thanksgiving turkey – but perhaps his most revolutionary idea was to actually prepare two turkeys. One, which he called The “Show” Turkey, was as the name describes: to show off with all the frills and lovely presentation, as the other bird cools from the oven before being carved.
He called the second turkey The “Business” Turkey, which was prepared the same but carved and served up for enjoyment. Here’s how to do it.
Gravy, of course.
Even the best turkey is made better by gravy, right? It’s almost inconceivable to let all those good drippings and flavors go to waste when they can be drizzled all over the rest of the plate.
Here’s Anthony Bourdain’s turkey gravy recipe, which also adds a few unique flavors of red wine, Asian fish sauce, and Worcestershire sauce for a particularly Tony twist.
Stuffing with the Nasty Bits
Okay, the bits you’re including in Anthony Bourdain’s Thanksgiving stuffing recipe aren’t exactly nasty, but most people don’t use them in their stuffing recipe – or at all in the rest of their menu.
This is by far the most complex recipe you’ll prepare if you follow all of Tony’s recipes; it takes two days – which means you definitely want to consult the three-day schedule he recommends below. That said, it’s definitely going to be the most interesting and complex stuffing you’ve ever had!
(If you’re looking for a simpler stuffing recipe, Bourdain also shared one with Travel Channel that seems much more manageable.)
Cranberries: Jellied or Whole? Neither
I’ll be honest: I’m not a fan of cranberry sauce, though I do love the way it plops out of the can… and there I’ve revealed the kind of Thanksgiving chef I am.
This year will be different: we’re going to try Anthony Bourdain’s cranberry relish recipe (below). This recipe sounds delicious and interesting, despite the simplicity of the ingredients and prep. So if you’re ready to settle the debate of “jellied or whole” once and for all, the answer is: neither.
Two Chefs, One Pot of Mashed Potatoes
For a simple dish, it’s astonishing how many different ways people make their mashed potatoes – just try having Thanksgiving dinner with another family and you’ll see what I mean.
In any case, French chef Joël Robuchon was famous for his beloved mashed potatoes (which Tony had during his visit to Paris), and Anthony Bourdain suggests a modified take on that popular buttery, creamy dish.
Spiked Sweet Potatoes
While we’re on the topic of starches, you might be like me – one of those people for whom Thanksgiving doesn’t feel complete without mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Anthony Bourdain has a recipe to help, and boozes it up for extra flavor.
This is another recipe I plan to add to my family’s holiday repertoire this year; here are the mouth-watering details.
After the basics – turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry, and potatoes – the world is your oyster when it comes to Thanksgiving sides. After a bunch of research, I found that Tony recommended a few sides in particular, and these are a great addition to your Anthony Bourdain-inspired Thanksgiving meal.
Brussel Sprouts & Bacon
First up, a classic in my house all year long – and maybe yours too. However, making them around Thanksgiving allows you to take advantage of Brussel sprouts at the peak of their season. Don’t be surprised if you’re able to convert a few people who aren’t normally fans of this tiny cruciferous veg.
This is a recipe you can partly prep in advance, in line with Tony’s three-day schedule below, making the day-of a little easier.
Next up, a classic recipe I found from a different source, in this case, a Travel Channel article originally published in 2012 following his No Reservations “Holiday Special” in late 2011.
If you’re not familiar with the term, “Vichy” refers to a style of cooking where food is cooked with a small amount of water, butter, and sugar, and then sprinkled lightly with minced parsley – so this carrots Vichy recipe is relatively simple but delightful if you get it right.
Creamed Pearl Onions
Here’s one Thanksgiving dish you might not have ever tried before – I certainly haven’t. Anthony Bourdain recommends this creamy dish with pearl onions to add different flavors and textures to an otherwise traditional meal.
This recipe is a bit more complex so might be best left to the top chef in the house, but we’ll be trying it in advance of the holidays this year to see if it makes the cut.
Tony’s Suggested Wine Pairing
If you like to enjoy a glass of wine with your Thanksgiving dinner, Tony has a suggestion for that too. As part of his Business Turkey recipe over on Food & Wine, he recommends the 2013 Syrah from Piedrasassi out of Santa Barbara County in California. You can’t find this wine anymore, and Piedrasassi only produces limited amounts of each year’s Syrah, so I recommend getting on their mailing list as you’re reading this so you can be notified when new vintages are available.
You can also potentially find past years through online retailers too.
What About Pumpkin Pie?
If you’ve spent any time watching Anthony Bourdain’s shows, you probably have already caught on that he didn’t have much of a sweet tooth – and absolutely hated the “pumpkin spice craze.” I obviously wasn’t there for all of his Thanksgiving dinners (I wish), but I’m guessing he probably didn’t much prioritize making pumpkin pie – maybe he went for a cheese course instead of dessert (as in Marseille).
In any case, there is no “official” Anthony Bourdain pumpkin pie recipe – despite what some bloggers might have published.
If you want to follow Tony’s primary advice to “give the people what they want,” you’ll have to seek out another recipe to make it happen.
Your New 3-Day Thanksgiving Schedule
You might look at all the recipes above and wonder: how on earth do you do that all in one day and enjoy the day with your family and friends around the table? Uncle Tony’s here to help – he also shared advice on how to manage all of these recipes and have them ready to serve at the same time. It’s a three-day schedule!
- Double-check the ingredients you need and have
- Create your shopping list
- Make your turkey stock, if needed for the recipes you plan to make above
- Leave bread out to stale, if making the stuffing recipe above.
- Make your gravy
- Assemble your stuffing and bake, covered so it doesn’t brown yet
- Make the cranberry relish
- Prep the side dish veggies, like halving Brussel sprouts and slicing carrots
- Roast your Show Turkey and prep it on the platter
- Finish your side dishes while the turkey cooks, and peel potatoes
- Make your potato dishes
- Roast your Business Turkey
- Finish the stuffing with turkey grease and brown in the oven
- Show your Show Turkey
- Remove and serve your Business Turkey
And there you have it: everything you need to make an incredible Anthony Bourdain Thanksgiving meal for your family and/or friends. Have any questions about the recipes above or other aspects of making your meal special with Tony’s advice? Let me know in the comments below!