Oregon Chefs on How to Have a Tasty and Safe Thanksgiving

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Prominent Oregon chefs share recipes and encourage Oregonians to celebrate Thanksgiving safely to slow the spread of COVID-19

Editor’s note: Thanksgiving is a holiday that holds a place of importance and meaning for many families. For some, it is a time to celebrate food, family, and football. For Oregon’s indigenous and Tribal peoples, it is a reminder of our nation’s history of colonialism and racism.

Holidays are also a time of great emotional stress for many people, especially this year. For many Oregonians, Thanksgiving is not a holiday that brings comfort and happiness. However, with COVID-19 spreading rapidly in Oregon, Governor Kate Brown continues to remind Oregonians who do want to celebrate that they must do so safely this year.

STATEWIDE – Usually Thanksgiving is about family, friends, and great food; yet spikes in Oregon, and across the country, of COVID-19 mean how we celebrate needs to be different this year. Governor Kate Brown instituted a statewide Two-Week Freeze to limit social gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help conserve hospital capacity. Part of the Freeze is limiting social get-togethers (indoors and outdoors) to no more than six people, total, from no more than two households; it runs through December 2nd, so will affect Thanksgiving.

Though it may feel difficult or weird to not gather with the same crew as usual, award-winning Oregon chefs are coming together to keep this very different Thanksgiving a tasty one at least. Below, they share how they’re celebrating the holiday safely, along with a delicious recipe to make this Thanksgiving feel special.

If you’re not feeling up to cooking a meal this Thanksgiving, a great way to support your favorite local restaurants–many of which are struggling to stay in business during the pandemic–is to do a Thanksgiving Take-Out feast. Restaurants are already well-versed in preparing food according to COVID health and safety precautions.

Chef Vitaly Paley

Portland chef and restaurateur Vitaly Paley is a trailblazer in the American culinary scene. With a James Beard Award for Best Chef Pacific Northwest and a win on Food Network’s Iron Chef America, the Russian-born, New York City-raised, and French-trained chef has been instrumental in defining regional Northwest cuisine. He currently owns the award-winning Paley’s Place and has previously owned Imperial, Headwaters, The Crown, and Rosa Rosa.

To find more information about Chef Paley’s restaurant, visit his website. To place a to-go order from Paley’s Place, click here.

Chef Paley’s Savory Bread Pudding & Sausage

Makes 9×9 inch square

This dish came out of necessity and became the most requested recipe in our restaurant. Some days we have a fair amount of bread leftover at the end of the night and can only make so many bread crumbs. Bread pudding offers a delicious way of using up day old bread anytime of year. We substitute sweet onion for leeks and serve the dish topped with chopped tomatoes with outdoor summer dining in mind. Try bread pudding for your next Thanksgiving celebration and I bet it might become a festive alternative to your favorite bread stuffing. This bread pudding is resilient and only tastes better with age. If you make it a day in advance, gently reheat it in a 350˚ F oven.

The mushrooms and leeks will leach out some water during the cooking process. In this recipe it is important to cook them until all the water has been absorbed so that it does not interfere with the egg to liquid ratio of the custard. The additional cooking required to absorb liquid also allows time for the vegetable to soften texture and to concentrate natural flavors.

  • 3/4 pound loaf day-old sourdough bread, crusts removed, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 10 sprigs fresh winter savory or thyme, picked and finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking pan
  • 1 pound fresh pork sausage (recipe follows)
  • 2 leeks, white part only, halved lengthwise, washed, and sliced in 1/4 inch half moons
  • 1 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms, washed and dried
  • 1 large green apple peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon salt plus more for seasoning 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

-Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. 
-In a bowl toss the bread cubes with melted butter and savory. Transfer to a baking sheet and toast until crispy and golden, about 30 minutes.
-In a 12 inch sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Break up the sausage into a silver dollar sized pieces and cook thoroughly, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
-Pour in the rest of the oil into the same pan. Add leeks and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook stirring all the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the apple and set aside to cool.
-Increase the temperature of the oven to 375˚ F.
-Brush a 9 inch square, oven-proof casserole that you plan to serve the pudding in with olive oil. In a large bowl mix the toasted bread, sausage, and mushroom mixture. Transfer it into the casserole. 
-In a medium bowl whisk cream, eggs, balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup of parmesan, salt and pepper. Pour it over the bread mixture, cover tightly with foil, and bake for about 1 hour. Test for doneness by inserting a small pairing knife into the middle of the pudding. If it comes out clean it is done. If it does not, cook longer checking every 15 minutes for doneness. Uncover the pudding and sprinkle evenly with the rest of parmesan. Preheat the broiler and cook the pudding under it until the top gets golden, about 3 minutes. Any leftovers can be reheated gently in a 350˚ F oven. 

Fresh Pork Sausage
  • 1 pound pork shoulder, ground
  • 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed chile red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

The sausage is best when made one day ahead to let the flavors marry. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine all the ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Gather the sausage in a ball, cover and refrigerate. Leftovers freeze well for up to a month.

Chef Bonnie Morales

Chef Bonnie Morales (née Frumkin), a first-generation American daughter of Belarusian immigrants, grew up in Chicago in a large family that brought with them the distinctive culture of food and drink of the former Soviet Union. In 2014, Bonnie and her husband and business partner, Israel Morales, opened Kachka, their dream restaurant devoted to the food that Bonnie grew up with, inspired by Russia and former Soviet republics. Kachka has received accolades from publications such as Bon Appétit, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Vogue, and Food & Wine. Eater National included Kachka on their list of Best Restaurants in America in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Bonnie was named one of Tasting Table’s “New Originals,” and nominated for Food & Wine‘s The People’s Best New Chef in 2015. In 2018, Bonnie was a finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northwest.

To find more information about Chef Morales’ restaurant, visit her website. To place a to-go order from Kachka, click here.

Chef Morales’ Braised Chanterelles and Potatoes

Serves 4-6 as a main dish 

  • 2 pounds chanterelles
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1½ cups smetana or European-style sour cream
  • 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½-inch chunks

-Fill a large bowl or salad spinner with water, then thoroughly clean the mushrooms by dunking them in and vigorously swishing them around to shake loose any debris. Remove quickly, and repeat the process with fresh water until all the mushrooms are clean. Spread the mushrooms out on clean dish towels to dry.
-Tear any very large chanterelles into halves or quarters. Heat a medium-sized Dutch oven or heavy-sided pot over medium heat, and melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook down, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms give off their liquid and it mostly evaporates, about 10 minutes (you can cover the pot until the liquid comes out, so that the mushrooms don’t scorch, but then remove the cover to help the liquid cook off).
-While the mushrooms are cooking, whisk together the heavy cream, smetana, and salt. When the mushrooms have cooked down, pour in the cream mixture, and stir everything together. Add the potatoes and stir again, coating everything with the braising liquid. Bring the mixture to a simmer and partially cover (leave a small crack to let steam escape), then reduce the heat until it’s just high enough to maintain the gentlest possible simmer. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours, or until the potatoes and cream have both turned a light golden brown, and the liquid has cooked down a bit but is still saucy. Check it once an hour or so to see that things are moving along (no need to stir). Serve hot, with a bit of crusty bread to sop up the sauce if desired.

Excerpted from the book KACHKA by Bonnie Frumkin Morales. Copyright © 2017 by Bonnie Frumkin Morales. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved.

Chef Peter Cho

Born in Korea, Chef Peter grew up in Oregon and attended the University of Oregon. He is the owner, operator and executive chef of Han Oak, a Korean eatery, in Portland. He was a finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northwest. Han Oak has been acclaimed by GQEsquire, and Food & Wine, and is the result of the wisdom Peter gained rising through the ranks of regimented Western kitchens with the traditional Korean techniques he’d relearned after moving back to Portland to be close to his mother. He is focused on opening his new spot, Toki, in downtown Portland’s West End by mid-December.  

Han Oak will be preparing a Turkey Day Meal Kit available through the restaurant. To place a to-go order, click here.

Chef Peter Cho with his two children

“The Cho Thanksgiving celebration will look a lot different than we’re used to so we can slow the spiking cases of COVID-19,” says Cho. “Despite both of my siblings and their families also being Portland residents, this year we will be spending the holidays in our separate homes. We’ll all connect over a Zoom Party streamed on the big screen. 

“Our motto of ‘family first’ guided us back to Portland from New York City six years ago when my mother was diagnosed with stage-4 breast cancer that she continues to battle.  In consideration of her immunocompromised status, our family adopted extra safety provisions to limit her potential exposure to the virus.  Of course, it’s disheartening to not all be together for Thanksgiving, but the risk of infection amongst our family members would be devastating, especially considering the amount of fight my mom has shown through her six years under chemo treatment. 

“We see the light at the end of the tunnel. The vaccine is on the horizon and we just have a few more months to go.  Indulging in our FOMO over missing a few nights of celebration seems short-sighted when we have made it this far already.  When we look back at this time next year, we know we won’t regret the extra bit of work and precautions we’re taking now: staying properly masked and socially distanced, and keeping our social circle tiny.  

“We also want to take this time to give thanks to our community who have been our strongest support since opening, but especially during this time.  Whatever awaits us down the line, we would not have gotten this far without each other.  It is amazing to be a part of an industry whose guests, colleagues, and collaborators have stepped up and showed up. Sending lots of love from the Han Oak Family.”

Chef Cho’s Thanksgiving Juk

Every year we enjoy a pretty traditional Thanksgiving meal, centered around a roast turkey, roasted rib of beef, and all the fixings, including rice, my mom’s kimchi, and some other banchan.

And like a lot of you, our favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the leftovers. In order to host our friends and family, we always close Han Oak for the holidays and therefore end up with tons of food. Although we’re not entertaining this year, I’m sure I’ll still cook too much–which might be the only tradition we get to keep this Thanksgiving. But what also will remain the same is our family’s meal the morning after, a turkey juk (also called congee), a comforting Korean breakfast porridge.  

Ingredients & Instructions:

  • 1x Roast Turkey Carcass (Aromatics for the stock. All optional)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 small carrot, roughly chopped 
  • 1 small piece daikon, halved 
  • 1 piece dried kombu
  • 3-4 cartons of stock (chicken or vegetable) about 16 cups
  • 3-4 cups short-grain rice
  • Leftover turkey meat
  • 2 stalks scallion thinly sliced for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot arrange the carcass of your roast turkey along with some aromatics (onion, garlic, celery whatever you have around will suffice- the goal is to just make a flavorful broth). Next, add the cartons of stock and tap with cold water until the carcass is covered. Bring to a boil on high heat and reduce to a simmer for at least 2 hours. When you’re satisfied with your broth’s flavor, remove from heat and add the sheet of dried kombu to boost the umami flavor of your stock. 

Strain through a fine sieve and into another large pot. You should yield about 7-8 quarts (28-32 cups) of stock (depending on the size of your turkey). Rinse around 3 cups of short-grain rice to your stock (or approximately 1/10 volume of liquid) until the water runs clear. Add your rice to the stock and bring back to a simmer making sure to stir the bottom of the pot with a rubber spatula to avoid scorching. Cook to porridge consistency of your liking and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Top with leftover turkey meat and a sprinkling of sliced scallions. You can add a drizzle of chili oil and/or toasted sesame oil and even a soft poached egg, for additional flavor. 

Chef Gregory Gourdet

Chef Gregory Gourdet was raised in Queens, New York by Haitian parents. Gourdet was a finalist on the twelfth season of the TV series Top Chef, appeared in an “all-stars” season, and will be a guest on the upcoming season that recently filmed in Portland. After serving as Executive Chef and Culinary Director of Departure at The Nines in Portland, he is planning to open his new Haitian restaurant Kann. To learn more about Kann, see this article by the Oregonian.

Chef Gregory Gourdet. Image courtesy of Portland Monthly

“I was planning to travel to Atlanta to see my immediate family for Thanksgiving. It will be over a full year since my family was all together, but due to the nationwide COVID surge, I’m staying home this year,” says Gourdet.

“When I told them I was postponing my trip, my niece cried! But it’s just safer to stay home in Oregon and not risk getting my family–especially my parents–sick,” he says. “I have read too many scary and sad accounts of people getting their families sick. Getting tested once doesn’t mean you aren’t carrying the virus. I would rather stay home and keep my family safe.”

Chef Gourdet’s Butternut Squash Soup with Cashew Cream and Smokey Peppers

Serves 4-6

For the Cashew Cream
3⁄4 cup raw cashews
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Soup
1 large butternut squash (about 4 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks 5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 small fresno chile, stemmed and halved
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup cashews
1 1⁄2 tablespoons kosher salt

For the Smoky Peppers
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and deveined, cut into long 1⁄4-inch strips 10 garlic cloves, cut into 1⁄8-inch slices
1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 small dried red chile, crushed, or 1⁄2 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 1⁄2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Make the cashew cream
Combine the cashews, salt, and 3⁄4 cup of water in a small mixing bowl, and let them soak at room temperature for 1 hour. Transfer the mixture in the blender and blend on high until very smooth, about 2 minutes. It keeps in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Make the soup
In a large pot, combine squash, garlic, onion, jalapeño, stock, cashews, and salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, adjusting the heat to maintain the simmer, until the squash is so tender it starts to fall apart, about 30 minutes. Let it cool slightly, then blend it in batches until smooth, about 1 minute per batch, and return the soup to the pot. Keep warm.

Make the peppers
While the soup simmers, heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Stir in the peppers, garlic, salt, and chile, and cook until the peppers sweat and leach out liquid, about 3 minutes, then reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring, until the liquid and the peppers are very tender, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, stir well, and cook for 1 minute more, so flavors can meld. Stir in the vinegar, turn off the heat, and set aside.

To serve
Ladle the soup into bowls. Divide the peppers among the bowls, then drizzle on about 2 tablespoons of the cashew cream. Serve right away.

Thank you for joining these Oregon chefs in taking steps to keep all Oregonians healthy and safe this Thanksgiving.

About Author

Sarah Dean is Willamette University student and a fellow with the Governor's Communications team.

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