Before we throw on our elastic waistband pants and stuff our maws with more turkey, potatoes, stuffing and pie than is calorically responsible on Thursday, we decided to hit up some of our favorite chefs across the country and have them weigh in on the worst Thanksgiving food, most underrated dishes, and what holiday staple they can make better than anyone else.

Christina Tosi, Chef/Owner of Momofuku Milk Bar



What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
I'll eat just about ANYTHING at Thanksgiving but I just can't do BEETS! I have terrifying memories of being a picky eater as a kid and being served canned beets in the school cafeteria...

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
I think stuffing is the most underrated Thanksgiving food! Most just mail it in, because they feel obligated. But the matriarchs in my family have a history of taking it to another level. They combine and switch up the bread, spice and binder in the stuffing. Their old-school recipes use livers!

Banks White, Chef de Cuisine of Minton's

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Green Bean Casserole. Last year I came back from the Philippines and did my casserole in the traditional Bicolano style to switch it up. It's green beans, coconut milk and shrimp paste with garlic and pork fat. Dish is called Bicol Express -- it's really good over rice and peas.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?

Over the years I've come close to my Grandmother's giblet gravy, but I still bow down to her food.

Jamie Bissonnette, Co-Chef/Co-Owner of Toro

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. It's too sweet and always cloyingly annoying, like Zooey Deschanel.

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Fresh cranberries aren't used enough. I love canned cranberry sauce, but fresh cranberry sauce is so much better. And cranberry bread pudding, and cranberries in pickled oysters.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
I say I do a great turkey, but most thoughtful cooks have their way. We all end with the same best results. I would lean on my stuffing. It's the most important part of the meal, and the best part of the leftovers. Hot moist stuffing, it's hard to keep your fingers out of it.

Marcus Samuelsson, chef/owner of Red Rooster Harlem

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food? 
I don't really like pies bought from grocery stores, they often are too sweet and use high fructose corn syrup. I would rather support a small business with quality pies, or make my own!

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Fresh fruits and vegetables. You can add fresh kale into your mashed potatoes, roast turnips and carrots with your sweet potatoes, and even serve a fresh salad with walnuts and radicchio. Also, I always encourage people to use spices and international influences in their Thanksgiving dishes. It can be really fun to break the mold a little bit, while still keeping the ultimate traditions alive.

Which Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
Leftovers! I love thinking of creative ways to use Thanksgiving food the next day. I'll make a hash with veggies, potatoes, turkey and stuffing with poached soft eggs on top, or make turkey ramen with homemade turkey stock and shredded leftover meat. I also love having leftover red wine around to mull with spices for warm mugs of Swedish Glögg.

Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, Chefs/Co-Owners of Boston's M.C. Spiedo

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
Green beans. Most people serve these completely overdone. It's important to maintain that al-dente crunch. Also anything with marshmallows on them! We know it's trendy again, but  still hate it. Jello molds are not high on our list either.

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Gravy. It adds that necessary element of richness atop the turkey, but also goes great with the stuffing and vegetables! We make a pear rum gravy that is usually the first thing to run out at the table. Also, vegetables in general seem to be absent.  Really, don't we think that the pilgrims would have been pulling a bunch of stuff from their gardens? Maybe it's just our West Coast outlook.
 
What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
We love to make stuffing from scratch, beginning with our own bread, making sure it's not too sweet and drying it just right so it doesn't get mushy. The right Italian sausage is also a must, a little hot sausage with a bit of sweet sausage for balance.

Michael Chernow, Co-owner of The Meatball Shop

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
That's a tough one. I would have to say cranberry sauce. It's good but just not as good as the other staples like turkey, gravy, vegetables and mashed potatoes.

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Soup. I always make a butternut squash soup and it's never expected but everyone always loves it.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
Turkey. I make a compound butter with sage and truffle oil, which I roll into a stick and freeze. Then I massage this butter between the skin and the meat. Then I dry brine it with herbs, salt and lemon zest and let sit for 18 to 24 hours. I cook it for 3 to 4 hours, stuffed with a variety of things such as apples, onions and celery. My real trick is that I cook the turkey until the breast is done then take it out to rest. I carve the breast and put the legs, which take longer to cook, back in the oven.

Laurent Kalkotour, Chef of Atrium DUMBO

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
I'm sure a lot of people say this, but canned cranberry sauce. What is the point of buying processed and canned cranberry when it's so simple to cook your own and add your own flavors?

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
I think using offal in stuffing is something that puts people off. We grind it all for the stuffing so the delicious, hearty flavor is there without some of the off-putting texture.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
The turkey, but I don't cook the bird whole. I cook the breasts separately to get the skin crispy and keep it moist. I stuff the legs and make sure it's properly cooked because the dark meat takes longer than the breast.

Anita Lo, Chef/Owner of Annisa

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
I really don't like homemade cranberry sauce. I don't hate it but I'm not a fan of the texture of the skins, and I find it usually overpowers the rest of the meal.  I grew up with the canned stuff -- sliced with that pretty tin can mould look.  I'll admit, I like the can!

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Definitely the brussels sprouts.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
I think you'd have to ask one of my exes!

Shane Lyons, Chef of Distilled

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food? Why?
Canned cranberry sauce. I am absolutely positive that this stuff was planted on the earth by aliens and is slowly lowering our tolerance to mind control.

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
The crispy onions on top of the American "casserole." They're a nice nod to one of my favorite Chinese ingredients -- crispy shallots.

Joseph "JJ" Johnson, Chef de Cuisine of The Cecil

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
Boiled cabbage. It makes the house smell and it just never had a purpose

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Green bean casserole. You see it on commercials but it's never at anyone's Thanksgiving.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?

Dressing. You can fill it with any flavor you like I like to use corn bread. Bake the corn bread a day before then make my dressing next day.

Daniel Holzman, Chef/co-owner of The Meatball Shop

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
Sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top and candied yam. Too sweet. And I don't want to waste the precious stomach space.

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Chestnuts. They add a richness to every dish and seasonality this time of year. They are a pain to peel but totally worth it. My family makes a mean stuffing with chestnuts.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
Turkey. I have a different method every year but generally low and slow.

Tim Love, chef/owner of Fort Worth's Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Woodshed Smokehouse, Love Shack

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
Canned cranberries. It makes me nervous to eat fruit in a loaf.

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Cocktails. There are so many great flavors this time of year but no iconic cocktails come to mind for Thanksgiving. [Ed note: Ahem.]

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
Turkey. I can make it tons of different ways -- roast it, fry it, grill it, smoke it. Plus I hunt for my family's Thanksgiving turkey each year.





















































































































Photo by Jimi Celeste/patrickmcmullan.com

Jimmy Bradley, Chef/owner of The Red Cat and The Harrison

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
I have no least favorite Thanksgiving food. Really.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
The dish I like to make is called Onions in Onions. It's pearl onions with bacon and cream inside half of a roasted onion with bread crumbs on top.

Eli Sussman, Chef at Mile End Deli and co-author of The Best Cookbook Ever

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
From-the-can cranberry sauce -- or I guess just cranberry sauce in general. I usually always eat just a little bit of it but I think that's only for nostalgia purposes.

What do you think is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
It's gotta be whatever the sweet potato dish that's on the table is. For some people it's in a pie or for others it's in a casserole dish baked with nuts or cinnamon on top. Obviously everyone loves turkey/gravy/stuffing and that's where everyone gravitates toward but a great sweet potato pie can be a stand out, if it's done well.

What Thanksgiving dish do you think you could make better than anyone else?
Each person in my family is responsible for something specific on Thanksgiving and the way that they do it is the way that I want it. I don't even want to try to make it better than them. I want my uncle Ronnie's turkey and I don't want anyone else's turkey. I'm not responsible for anything -- that's why it's a holiday. I just show up and eat until I'm really, really sick.

Glenn Harris, chef/owner of The Smith

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Never underestimate the power of a really amazing pork sausage added into stuffing.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
In lieu of dark meat on Thanksgiving, I'll make a country turkey pate, which is like a terrine with thigh meat, chicken livers, foie gras, brandy, green peppercorn and other herbs and spices. I'll serve a roasted breast for white meat alongside.

Ford Fry, chef/restauranteur of Atlanta's JCT. Kitchen & Bar, No. 246, King & Duke and The Optimist

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving dish?
Pumpkin Pie. I really don't like the texture!

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Fruit in stuffing. For example, this may sound odd, but my mom has always made this pineapple dressing. It is surprisingly really good. It's basically a roasted pineapple, bread, custard binder, baked bread pudding thing, but it's not meant for dessert and it's not overly sweet. It forms a fantastic crust and with the gravy, it is really tasty.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
My thing is the turkey gravy. It starts with a rich turkey broth and gets reduced to intensify. For the extra thickening agent, I make a roux with rendered turkey fat and flour. It just adds that turkey richness. And if I'm feeling fancy, it may get some dry sherry.

Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, chef/owners of Memphis' Hog & Hominy and Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and authors of Collards & Carbonara

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food? 
Michael Hudman: So, when I was younger, my favorite Thanksgiving dish was canned cranberry sauce. Until one Thanksgiving when I ate so much that I threw up. Now, as much as I love it, I can't eat the stuff.

Andy Ticer: I like it all. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite two meals of the year.

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
MH: A simple, classic stuffing with giblet gravy, or frying the turkey.

AT: A really good turkey brine can make all the difference.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
MH: My Thanksgiving cooking doesn't hold a flame to my dad's, so I defer to him and just enjoy a good meal.

AT: I'm told that my sweet potato casserole is pretty tasty, but it's my mom's recipe, so she deserves the credit. We do roasted pecans and rice crispy treats on top, which are pretty damn tasty.

Marc Murphy, chef/owner of Landmarc, Ditch Plains and Kingside

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
Turkey. It tends to be a little dry, in my opinion, and there's nothing worse than dry turkey.

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Homemade cranberry sauce; the sweet and tart flavors really help bring the entire meal together.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
Leftovers! I love taking Thanksgiving staples and transforming them into entirely different dishes like turkey shepard's pie or a brussels sprouts and bacon frittata.

Geoffrey Zakarian, chef/owner of NYC's The Lambs Club and The National and judge on Food Network's Chopped and The Next Iron Chef

What is your least favorite Thanksgiving food?
Dry turkey. People just always overcook it. It's such a shame!

What is the most underrated Thanksgiving food?
Well depending on your heritage of course. But for me, chestnuts and winter squashes are rarely on the menu.

What Thanksgiving dish can you cook the best?
I make a mean martini.