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The city’s best chefs share their recipes for standout Thanksgiving sides

Written by
Sarah Medina

We’re not afraid to say it—Thanksgiving is all about the sides. The bird may hog the spotlight, but it’s the heaping servings of potatoes, stuffing and pie that make us salivate the moment the leaves start to turn. With that in mind, we asked San Francisco chefs to give us their favorite holiday side dishes. From nontraditional takes on mashed potatoes to a sherry-infused gravy (inspired by Mom), these recipes guarantee an amazing feast this November.


Illustration: Sarah Tanat-Jones

1. Matt Greco, Salt Craft

Gravy with sherry (makes 2 qts)

A Texas-native, this chef knows a thing or two about gravy. His recipe, adapted from the one his mom used to make, starts off traditional before getting a boozy kick with the addition of a little sherry.


2½ lb turkey necks, roasted,

½ leek, slicked

1½ celery stalks, slices 

½ carrot, slices

½ garlic head, crushed 

½ fennel bulb, sliced

¼ whole ham hock

¼ bunch thyme 

¼ whole sage 

1 bay leaf

¼ bunch rosemary 

¼ Tb black peppercorn 

¼ Tb whole fennel seeds 

¼ Tb whole juniper berries 

¼ tsp allspice 

¼ tsp whole cloves 

¼ cinnamon stick 

2 oz Wondra flour

6 oz crushed tomatoes

3 oz dry sherry 

64 oz chicken stock 

1. Roast 2½ lbs turkey necks on a sheet pan at 425° for 30–40 minutes until golden brown.

2. In a 6 qt pot, roast mirepoix (leeks, celery, carrot, garlic, fennel, ham hock) in a small amount of olive oil until slightly darkened.

3. Lower heat to medium-low and add  spices.

4. Stir in 2 oz Wondra flour.

5. Add 6 oz crushed tomatoes and 3 oz sherry and cook down halfway.

6. Add the browned meat and 64 oz chicken stock and bring up to a simmer.

7. Lower heat to a slight bubble and cook for 2 hours. Skim every 30 minutes.

8. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Add ½ oz  sherry, salt and pepper to taste.


2. Ryan Farr, 4505 Meats

Sides en croûte (serves 4–6)

Whether you make it on Thanksgiving or the day after, this convenient dish combines all of your favorite sides (stuffing, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, yams and cranberry sauce) into one tasty pie.


pie dough
mashed potatoes
Brussel sprouts
candied yam/sweet potatoes
cranberry jelly
marshmallows, the little ones

1. Measure and cut out enough dough to line the terrine mold in one piece with an overhang of 1” the whole way around. Cut a piece to use as the top. Using a ½ inch cookie cutter cut two holes evenly spaced in the top dough piece.

2. Grease the inside of the terrine mold.

3. Gently line the terrine mold with the bottom piece.

4. Layer precooked stuffing, potatoes, sprouts, yams and marshmallows in the terrine mold.

5. Use a blowtorch to crisp up the marshmallows.

6. Fold over the trimmed dough, place the top dough piece on top and brush on egg wash.

7. Bake in a 400° oven for 35–40 minutes.

8. Chill completely. 

9. Warm jelly until just liquefied and using a small funnel pour jelly into the holes until full. 

NOTE: Use a blowtorch to warm the sides of the terrine mold before removing it. 


3. Daniel Patterson, Alta CA

Soy-glazed sweet potatoes (serves 4) 

Patterson included this simple but flavorful dish in his new cookbook, The Art of Flavor, to illustrate how umami can transform the simplest of foods into amazing holiday dishes.


4 sweet potatoes
8 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1. Bake 4 sweet potatoes at 350° until cooked.

2. Cut them in half, then lightly crush the insides with a fork.

3. In a small saucepan, heat 8 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat until it foams and the solids brown.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 4 Tbsp dark soy sauce.

5. Spoon the mixture over the sweet potatoes.


4. Sarah Rich, Rich Table

Baked creamed onions (serves 6)

This is a holiday staple at the Rich house, where family members have been known to freak out if Rich’s dad, Daryl (who created the recipe), doesn’t bring his onions to dinner.


8-12 medium onions (about 3 inches in diameter, yellow, white, or sweet)
chicken stock
8 oz crimini mushrooms, stems and caps, broken into ½ inch pieces
6 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup reserved chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup panko

1. Peel the papery outer layers of the onions; trim off the roots being careful to keep the stem that
holds the onion together intact. With a sharp paring knife, make a small x in the remaining stem.
Trim the top of the onion so that any papery skin has been removed and the top is flat.

2. In a pot big enough to hold the onions in a single layer, boil peeled onions in chicken stock for 15 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking stock, and transfer the onions to a plate to cool.

3. Make the béchamel sauce (see below) and pour it over cooked onions in buttered dish.

4. Sprinkle ¼ cup parmesan and 1 cup panko. With a pastry brush, brush the topping with the remaining 2 Tb of butter that has been melted.

5. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes.


1. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.

2. Add the mushroom pieces, stirring often until the mushrooms are cooked through, have given up their liquid and begun to brown lightly, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the flour and cook for another minute or two. Then add 1 cup of the reserved cooking stock and heavy cream.

4. Stir frequently until the sauce has thickened.  It should be the consistency of a heavy cream soup.

5. Remove from the heat and stir in ½ cup of the grated Parmesan along with nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

6. Pour the mixture over the onions so they are completely covered.


5. Sharon Nahm, E&O Kitchen and Bar

Chinese sticky rice stuffing (serves 6)

Every year, E&O’s Nahm puts together a feast for Episcopal Community Services SF Chefs, a five-month culinary program that trains homeless people for jobs in the food industry. Her nontraditional take on stuffing is always a hit.


1 lb sweet rice
½ lb. Chinese sausage, sliced ¼” thick
¼ lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
1/8 lb fresh waterchesnuts, peeled and diced
1 bunch scallion, white part of the green onion
¼ bunch cilantro minced
½ oz soy sauce
½ oz dark soy
½ oz oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

1. Steam 1 lb sweet rice until tender.

2. Cool slightly and combine with Chinese sausage; shiitake mushrooms; chestnuts; cilantro; scallion; soy sauce; dark soy; oyster sauce and sesame oil.

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