Spatchcocked Turkey and Fresh Wassail: Houston Chefs Have Some Great Cooking Planned for Their Thanksgiving Gatherings

Photo by Molly Dunn
What do Houston chefs put on their Thanksgiving dinner table?
Earlier this week, we spoke with some Houston chefs about their Thanksgiving preparation and cooking advice.

Today, the chefs share with us what they are making for Thanksgiving this year, whether they're planning to spend the holiday at home or in the kitchens of their restaurants.

Joseph Stayshich, executive chef of benjy's in Rice Village: "We're fortunate enough at benjy's in the Rice Village location to have Thanksgiving off. It's been that way for the last couple of years. I know up at Washington we still actually do the Thanksgiving dinner with the multiple courses. I have been lucky enough to be able to spend time with my family for the last few years on Thanksgiving, which is rare in the culinary industry sometimes.

"Generally speaking, what we do is, my wife and I and the kids will go hang out with my parents and my dad does the turkey. I'll do some dishes, or sometimes I'll often make dessert. This year, I'm not sure what I am going to make yet, but a lot of times what I do is a stuffed pasta, whether it be ravioli or agnolotti or something like that, utilizing ingredients you would find on the Thanksgiving table. A couple of years ago I did agnolotti stuffed with sweet potatoes and it has Brussels sprouts on there and pickled cranberries. I kind of keep it within a theme, but I put my own twist on it.

"There have been a couple of times that I have done the turkey as well in the past. But generally my dad likes to take that -- I kind of let him run with it, but I definitely put my two cents in. I've got him brining a turkey now and doing some little different techniques to have it turn out better. That's sort of his gig."

Justin Yu, chef and owner of Oxheart: "I fall asleep watching football and eat a weird mix of Chinese and Americanized food. It's an odd mix generally; my aunts make Chinese food and my mom makes the turkey and ham. I used to cook. There is a cornbread that one of my aunts makes that has like cream cheese and frozen broccoli in it.

"My brother has tried to make pies his thing for the last few years. He is not very good at it, but he is working on it. [He makes] pumpkin pie; it is a nice gesture, at least."

Photo from benjy's in the Village Facebook
Sugared cranberries are available at benjy's, and you can also make them at home.

Dylan Murray, chef of benjy's on Washington: "I always get pork legs from Black Hill Farms and take that home and make like a ham. I always roast some Brussels sprouts with some citrus shaving -- just real simple: olive oil, sea salt, citrus zest; roast in the oven until browned. I love making stuffing with just the leftover bread, dried fruit, fresh herbs, sage...we always try to get our hands on some fresh chestnuts as well. To me that's the harbinger -- the season of the fresh chestnuts -- when those start showing up, it gets me in the spirit.

"Candied cranberries is one thing we love to do here, too. I do that at home. It's super simple. You get fresh cranberries and you get some simple syrup, warmed, just sugar-water solution, then you take your fresh cranberries and dip them in the simple syrup, take them out, shake it off and then toss them with just white sugar. And that white sugar coats them and the simple syrup makes the regular sugar stick to the cranberry; you just set them out to dry, and once they are dry they've got kind of a crust on them, and I'm sure as you know, fresh cranberries are pretty bitter, so the sugar shell makes it a really nice bittersweet combo."

Murray also makes some festive drinks: "I like busting out the holiday drinks. Fresh wassail or cider. The fresh hibiscus is actually in season, so I like doing drinks with that. I mix it with orange juice or apple juice heated up, and a little rum, a little spices -- I like those warm sipping drinks."

Location Info


2424 Dunstan, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


1302 Nance St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Benjy's on Washington

5922 Washington, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Brennan's of Houston

3300 Smith, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen

6401 Woodway Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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where does that remarkable word "spatchcocked" come from? it's a great one i need to use more often around the house


@Nanking "Spatchcock" is also the traditional word for a juvenile chicken (in French, a "poussin"). Poussins or Spatchcocks were generally butterflied in preparation for faster cooking, hence in modern English the word has come to refer to both the bird and the manner in which it was traditionally prepared.  (Wikipedia)

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