Of course, not everyone can be with family for the Thanksgiving holiday. So if you’re not going to be stuffing yourself with mom’s mashed potatoes, why not gather your similarly stranded friends and mix it up a bit? We consulted two of our fave NYC restaurants on how to do an alt-T-Day at each – and even got a couple of exclusive recipes, should you opt to stay home and fire up the stove.
At John DeLucie‘s groovy reboot of Chelsea’s legendary Empire Diner, give thanks for the pleasures of comfort food and old-school cocktails. Start with the buttermilk biscuits and Exec Chef Justin Nuebeck’s cheeky butternut squash bisque, with lobster stock and peekytoe crab; then substitute sourdough pretzel fried chicken for the gobbler…or maybe a prime hanger steak with apple cider roasted brussels sprouts; and ditch the tired old pumpkin pie for a mad decadent signature Empire Sundae with peanut butter ice cream. Sorry mom!
Feeling exotic? Why not do a Middle Eastern Thanksgiving at Tarik Fallous’s Au Za’atar in the East Village? Kick off the feast with grilled halloumi salad; then do Lebanese turkey, in the form of their Fattet Djaj – shredded chicken with chickpeas and yogurt. Or, to make it really feel like a T-Day table, order up a few dishes from the extensive mezze menu (fried & herbed cauliflower, lamb tartar, minced meat with onions) and pass lovingly around. Dessert? Do the nammoura, a semolina and orange blossom cake.
Butternut Squash Bisque from Executive Chef Justin Nuebeck of Empire Diner
1qt butternut squash puree
2qt lobster stock
¼ cup chili pickling liquid
1oz peekytoe crab
2oz shaved delicata squash
Minced chives as needed
1lb butternut squash roasted and separated from the skin
1/4C onion sliced
1tbsp. garlic sliced
2C vegetable stock
Grapeseed oil as needed
Salt and pepper as needed
In a medium size saucepan over low heat sweat onions and garlic till tender and roasted squash and saute for about 3 minutes to cook out any excess water. Add vegetable stock and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes then transfer to a blender. Puree till it has a smooth consistency without any grains of squash. Then transfer back to a clean medium size sauce pot. Over low heat add lobster stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Season the soup with chili pickling liquid, salt, and pepper. Season shaved delicata squash and crab with extra virgin olive oil and heat in a 350F oven till hot. Place soup in each bowl and garnish with squash crab, and chives
Fattet Djaj from Executive Chef Tarik Fallous of Au Za’atar
Image by Liz Clayman
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
3 pita breads, cut into small square
1 cup boiled chickpeas
2 cloves of garlic, mashed
2 cups plain yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts and sliced almonds to garnish
Chopped parsley to garnish
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Toast the pita square until golden brown. Prepare the sauce by combining the mashed garlic and the yogurt. Whisk until smooth. Add the tahini while whisking and, finally, the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Make sure your shredded chicken and boiled chickpeas are warm before assembling the FattetDjaj and work quickly so everything is still warm when you serve it. In a servingplatter, start with the pita squares, evenly distributed in a single layer. The next layer is the chickpeas and finally 2/3 of the chicken mixture. Top with the yogurt sauce and the remaining chicken and finish by sprinkling the toasted nuts, melted butter, chopped parsley and touch of cumin.