Chicago chefs share their Thanksgiving side dish recipes

These side dishes can add delicious options when it comes to side dishes for your holiday celebrations.

SHARE Chicago chefs share their Thanksgiving side dish recipes
BLVD Steakhouse Chef Johnny Besch’s Brussels sprouts.

BLVD Steakhouse Chef Johnny Besch’s Brussels sprouts.

Courtesy Kinship

Want to add some flair to your Thanksgiving dinner side dishes this year?

How about some stuffed kabocha squash? Greek skordalia? Ground turkey arancini?

Some of Chicago’s best chefs are serving up their favorite recipes to up the ante at your holiday feast.

Chef Joe Flamm’s Cavatelli ‘Cacio e Pepe’ (Rose Mary)

Noodles are a great side dish for you to bring and you’ll become the gathering’s favorite guest. Especially considering you’ll be using “Top Chef” Season 15’s winner Chef Joe’s recipe for handmade cavatelli cacio e pepe.


  • 2 cups semolina rimacinata
  • 1 cup room temperature water
  • 1 pot boiling water, seasoned
  • 1 cup parmesan fonduta
  • 1 oz olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 oz butter diced


  1. Dump flour on a wood cutting board and form a little well with your hand. Add water in the middle and begin to mix flour and water together with a fork until sticky dough is formed.
  2. Fold in the rest of the flour with a bench scraper and then use your hands to form it into a ball.
  3. Roll it a couple of times on the table, then wrap the dough and put into the fridge to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Pull out dough, cut into quarters, and work 1 at a time with the others wrapped. Roll into a long rope about ½ inch thick and then cut into pieces ½ inch wide.
  5. Take each piece one by one and press down dough into a wood cavatelli board. Push and slide down the board, then set on a floured tray. Repeat until all dough is used.
  6. Drop pasta in boiling water.
  7. In a sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil and black peppercorns. Heat until fragrant.
  8. Pull off heat and add 2 oz of the pasta cooking water, and then the pasta. After about 2-3 minutes the pasta will begin to float.
  9. Cook pasta down with water until it begins to thicken. Add fonduta, cook another minute, add butter, and then season to taste. Plate and crack fresh black pepper over the top.

Chef Doug Psaltis’ Skordalia (Andros Taverna)

Andros Taverna Chef Doug’s Skordalia.

Andros Taverna Chef Doug’s Skordalia.

Courtesy Kinship

Is it even Thanksgiving if there aren’t any sides of potatoes? Chef Doug’s Skordalia is the dish you didn’t know you needed in your life and it will for sure be the talk of your family’s gathering.


  • 1 lb gold potatoes
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 3 to 6 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper to taste


  1. Boil potatoes with the skins on until tender and cooked through.
  2. Once cooked, remove from the water and peel the skin off the potatoes.
  3. Crush the tender potatoes with a whisk.
  4. Add the lemon juice, minced garlic and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store in the refrigerator until serving.

Chef Johnny Besch’s Brussels Sprouts (BLVD Steakhouse):

A wise person once said if you don’t like Brussels sprouts, it’s because you’ve never had them prepared the right way, and you’ll learn that’s true when you try Chef Johnny’s recipe.

Serves: Two


  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 lb. bacon
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 lime wedge
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar or pickle juice
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Clean the Brussels sprouts by cutting the bottom off and splitting them in half.
  2. Toss with grapeseed oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 350*F for 10-12 minutes or until lightly caramelized and tender but not mushy.
  3. Dice and render bacon until crispy. Strain off bacon grease and set aside.
  4. Roast red bell pepper over an open flame. If you don’t have a gas range, place whole peppers in a 400*F oven until soft and caramelized. Place roasted peppers in a mixing bowl with a lid and set aside on a countertop until the peppers have cooled to room temperature. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel the skin and scrape the seeds. Discard the skins and seeds.
  5. Transfer the roasted red pepper flesh to a blender and purée until smooth.
  6. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  7. In a saucepot, bring water to a boil.
  8. Add white vinegar or pickle juice to the poach pot.
  9. Crack one egg and gently place in the simmering water. You don’t want the water to boil too rapidly; it might break apart the egg. Give the water a little swirl with a spoon to keep the egg moving and not sticking to the bottom. Cook the poached egg as long as you desire. I suggest 2-3 minutes for a nice runny yolk.
  10. Now you can assemble the dish! Start by placing a few spoonfuls of red pepper sauce in the bottom of your favorite bowl or side dish.
  11. Next, toss the roasted Brussels sprouts with the cooked bacon. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
  12. Place the bacon/brussels sprouts mix over the red pepper sauce and top with a poached egg. Squeeze a wedge of lime over the top for a nice touch of acid and bon appétite!

Chef Noah Zamler’s Fall Stuffed Kabocha Squash Recipe (The Press Room)

Move over Pumpkin, this Stuffed Kabocha Squash recipe is the perfect side dish to serve this Thanksgiving

For the filling:

  • 12 baby portabella mushrooms
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1/2 bunch Swiss chard
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 tablespoons sage
  • 2 honey crisp apples
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cup cooked rice
  • 1 cup feta crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 kabocha squash


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, cut kabocha squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and place in the oven for 30 minutes
  2. Dice eggplant, Swiss chard, shallots, apples and mushrooms and cook over high heat until caramelized
  3. Add your sage and deglaze the pan with white wine. Let sit until squash is done cooking.
  4. In a food processor, blend together the cooked rice and cooked vegetables until smooth, remove the squash from the oven and place the filling in the halved squash, and crumble feta on top, bake at 375 for an additional 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler for 2 minutes.
  5. Garnish with pumpkin seeds. The squash itself is a great option for gluten free and vegan guests alike
  6. Pull out of the oven and serve immediately.

For the sauce:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper


  1. Grate the cucumber and garlic on a cheese grater and lightly season with salt, let sit for about 30 minutes and then with cheese cloth or a towel ring them dry.
  2. Combine the yogurt and cucumber mixture with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and black pepper.

Chef Mark Steuer’s Sausage & Pretzel Stuffing (Funkenhausen)

Funkenhausen Chef Mark Steuer’s Sausage & Pretzel Stuffing.

Funkenhausen Chef Mark Steuer’s Sausage & Pretzel Stuffing.

Courtesy Kinship

The hearty casserole gets its satisfying chew from day-old soft pretzels. While excellent baked until crispy in a skillet or roasting pan, it also makes a fine stuffing for poultry or pork. If using as a stuffing for whole birds, he recommends adding the mixture to the cavity immediately before roasting. I’ve included the full recipe below.

Serves 4

Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes


  • 10 cups (1 lb. 12 oz.) day-old soft pretzels, cut in 1-in. pieces
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 1 cup (5 oz.) carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (4¾ oz.) celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (5½ oz.) onions, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (2 tsp.)
  • ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. bratwurst or other mild sausage, casings removed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • One 11-oz. can condensed cream of celery soup


  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread the pretzels out in a single layer on 2 large baking sheets, then transfer to the oven and toast until the pretzel pieces are until just lightly golden and crispy, 15–17 minutes.
  3. Transfer the pretzel pieces to a large bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.
  4. When the foam begins to subside, add the carrots, celery, onions, season lightly with koshers salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, 12–14 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and poultry seasoning and continue cooking until fragrant, 2–3 minutes more.
  6. Stir in the sage, thyme, parsley, and black pepper, remove from heat, then scrape the mixture into the bowl with the pretzel pieces.
  7. Wipe out the skillet and return it to medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently and breaking the meat apart with a wooden spoon until it is cooked through, 10–12 minutes.
  8. Transfer the sausage and any drippings to the pretzel mixture. Stir gently to combine, then add the eggs, chicken stock, and cream of celery soup.
  9. Use a silicone spatula to fold the mixture together.
  10. Butter a 12-inch cast iron skillet or roasting pan, then transfer the stuffing into it, pressing down gently with a spatula.
  11. Cover with aluminum foil, transfer to the oven and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until golden brown and slightly crispy on the edges, 20-30 minutes more.

Chef John Boudouvas’ Roasted Butternut Squash & Ground Turkey Arancini with Marsala Brown Gravy (Nonnina)


  • 1-1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 5 cups chicken
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 bunch fresh sage finely chopped (about 10-15 leaves)
  • 1 ½ pound Cooked Ground Turkey
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 ounces grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • Canola oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss butternut squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. It should be soft when pierced with a fork when it is done.
  3. While squash is cooking, heat remaining one tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Sauté the shallot and garlic for about 1 minute. Add rice and sauté for about a minute, until the grains start to turn translucent. Reduce heat to low.
  4. Add stock (which is preferably being kept warm in another pan on the stove), a half cup at a time. Stir until the stock is absorbed and then add another half cup until all the stock has been used and the risotto is soft and creamy. This should take about 20 minutes.
  5. When the squash is done, add it to the saucepan and stir until the squash has mostly broken down and is well-incorporated into the risotto. You may need to add a bit more stock to make this happen.
  6. At this point fold in the cooked ground turkey, chopped sage, parmesan, salt and pepper.
  7. Remove the risotto from the heat once the mixture has become quite stiff. Refrigerate the risotto for at least an hour or until it’s cool enough to handle. You could also prepare up to this point a day before completing the recipe.
  8. While the risotto is cooling, Heat the honey very slowly in a small saucepan. Once it’s warm and liquid (about 100 degrees or so) remove it from the heat and add the sage leaves. You might want to muddle the leaves a little to help with the flavor extraction, but you’ll be fishing these sage leaves out later so don’t mash them up too much. Set the honey mixture aside.
  9. When you’re ready to make your arancini get everything set up first. Have a bowl for each: flour, 3 eggs beaten, panko.
  10. Mix 1 lightly beaten egg into the risotto. Use a tablespoon and get a big scoop of risotto. Then roll the ball in flour, then dip in egg and finally roll in panko. Set aside on a tray. Repeat for the rest of the risotto.
  11. On the stove in a deep sided skillet, heat 1-inch of canola oil on medium low to about 350 degrees. Once the oil is hot enough, work in batches, dropping the risotto balls one by one into the oil, turning about every minute or so for even browning. They should be completely done in about 3-4 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Repeat for all the remaining arancini.

For Marsala Brown Gravy:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sage
  • 32 oz. turkey stock or chicken stock
  • ⅓ cup of Marsala wine
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a Dutch Oven over moderate heat, add butter, once it melts sweat garlic and sage, and allow to brown and get a nutty aroma.
  2. Add Marsala Wine, and allow to reduce, then add in flour and whisk vigorously to form a roux.
  3. Add stock to the Dutch Oven and bring up to a soft boil, cook 10 minutes over medium heat. Add heavy whipping cream. Simmer 3-4 minutes. Season to taste.
  4. Ladle the sauce onto a platter and place crispy arancini’s on top and garnish with shaved parmesan and fried sage leaves.

Chef Bill Kim’s Korean Pesto (urbanbelly, Table at Crate, Chef BK’s Pizza & Parm Shop, Chef BK’s Ramen Bar):

We know you’re wondering what pesto has to do with Thanksgiving. But pesto doesn’t have to be exclusive to Italian cooking. It’s just a combination of nuts and oil and herbs and other ingredients, and it can be used in anything from a dipping sauce to a soup to a marinade or to a sandwich. So Chef Bill Kim took Asian versions of these ingredients — like kimchi instead of cheese for a little fermented element—and created a similarly balanced sauce that is distinctly Korean. It adds intensity and will elevate the flavors in your food.

Makes: 1 cup


¼ cup Nuoc Cham Sauce*

¼ cup Lemongrass Chili Sauce*

1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce

¼ cup kimchi, homemade ( or store-bought

¼ cup dry-roasted peanuts

½ cup fresh basil leaves, firmly packed

¼ cup olive oil

**Recipes for these ingredients can be found in Bill Kim’s cookbook “Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces.” The sauces can also be purchased online/in person at area specialty food retailers.


Place the Nuoc Cham Sauce, Lemongrass Chili Sauce, chipotle chili and adobo sauce, kimchi, peanuts, basil, and oil in a food processor and process for about 1 minute, until coarsely blended.

Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months. Or freeze in standard ice-cube trays, then transfer the cubes (about 2 tablespoons each) to plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months.

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