Thanksgiving recipes from the Arboretum chef

November 1, 2013

Make your Thanksgiving meal one to remember with these recipe ideas from Chef Jean-Louis Clerc, the mastermind in The Morton Arboretum's Ginkgo Restaurant kitchen. From hors d’ouevres to dessert, Chef Clerc has exciting ideas to complement your turkey--with a French twist. Plus, check out our day-after-Thanksgiving recipe ideas! 

APPETIZER: Turnips with Bacon and Pickled Mustard Seeds

Makes 8 servings


1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 pound thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise ¼ inch thick
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
2 pounds baby turnips, trimmed, halved or quartered if large
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper


Bring sugar, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in mustard seeds. Let stand at least four hours, or cover and chill up to 12 hours.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, eight to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a small bowl and stir in pickled mustard seeds and whole grain mustard; set vinaigrette aside.
Meanwhile, cook turnips in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about three minutes. Drain and pat turnips dry.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add turnips and vinaigrette and cook, tossing, until warmed through, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

SALAD: Fennel and Orange Salad with Lemon-Ginger Vinaigrette

Makes 4 servings


1/4 baguette, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 navel oranges
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, very thinly sliced, plus 1/4 cup fennel fronds
4 ounces mustard greens, center ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces (about 4 cups)


Preheat oven to 375°. Place baguette slices on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for eight to 10 minutes. Let cool and break into pieces. Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, lemon and orange zests, ginger, and pepper in a large bowl; season with salt and whisk in oil.

Using a sharp knife, cut all peel and white pith from oranges; discard. Working over bowl with dressing, cut between membranes to release segments into bowl; discard membranes. Add fennel, fennel fronds, mustard greens, and croutons to bowl; toss to combine.

SIDE DISH: Greens with Bacon, Mushrooms, and Blue Cheese

Makes 8 servings


4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small red onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
1/2 pound chanterelles or crimini mushrooms, cut into pieces
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
8 ounces hearty greens (such as mustard greens, spinach, or baby kale), torn into pieces
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese


Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.

Cook onion in same skillet, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to plate with bacon. Repeat with mushrooms. Remove skillet from heat. Add garlic, vinegar, sugar, and mustard, scraping up browned bits. Whisk in oil; season dressing with salt and pepper.

Toss greens, warm dressing, bacon, onion, and mushrooms in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper and top with cheese.

Root Vegetable Gratin

Makes 8 servings


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for baking dish
1 1/2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan, divided
6 sprigs thyme plus 1 tablespoon leaves
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds celery root, peeled, sliced 1/16 inch thick
1 pound rutabaga, peeled, sliced 1/16 inch thick
1 pound turnips, peeled, sliced 1/16 inch thick
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/16 inch thick
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced


Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs; cook, stirring often, until golden brown, five to 7 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and toss with 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1 tablespoon thyme leaves; season with salt and pepper.

Bring cream, broth, thyme sprigs, and remaining 2 tablespoons butter to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat; season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit 10 minutes; discard thyme. Cover and keep warm.

Toss vegetables and garlic in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Arrange 1/3 of vegetables in dish and top with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Repeat layers; top with remaining vegetables. Pour cream mixture over; place a piece of parchment paper directly on top of vegetables.

Bake until vegetables are crisp-tender and cream is thickened, 50 to 60 minutes. Uncover, top with breadcrumbs, and bake until gratin is bubbling and breadcrumbs are brown, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

SAUCE: Citrus and Peppercorn Dry Brine

Makes enough for one 12- to 14-pound turkey


2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns
2 teaspoons white peppercorns
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup lemon zest
2 tablespoons orange zest


Toast black, pink, and white peppercorns and bay leaves in a skillet until fragrant. Let cool, then crush in a bag using a rolling pin or heavy skillet. Mix with salt, sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest. Apply to turkey and let it cure for few hours in refrigerator. Rinse off and pat dry before roasting.

DO AHEAD: Dry brine can be made three days ahead. Cover and chill. Apply to turkey a few hours before roasting.

DESSERT: Brûléed Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie

Makes 8 servings


Chocolate pie dough:
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
3 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
All-purpose flour (for dusting)

Filling and assembly:
4 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin purée
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground mace (optional)
3/4 cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Special equipment: a kitchen torch


For chocolate pie dough: Pulse cocoa powder, granulated sugar, salt, and 1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour in a food processor to combine. Add butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Transfer to a large bowl.

Whisk egg yolk, vinegar, and 1/4 cup ice water in a small bowl. Drizzle half of egg mixture over flour mixture and, using a fork, mix gently just until combined. Add remaining egg mixture and mix until dough just comes together (you will have some unincorporated pieces).

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, flatten slightly, and cut into quarters. Stack pieces on top of one another, placing unincorporated dry pieces of dough between layers, and press down to combine. Repeat process twice more (all pieces of dough should be incorporated at this point). Form dough into a 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap in plastic; chill at least 1 hour.

DO AHEAD: Dough can be made two days ahead. Keep chilled, or freeze up to three months.

For filling and assembly: Roll out disk of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Lift up edge and allow dough to slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about 1-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and crimp edge. Chill in freezer 15 minutes.

Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line pie crust with parchment paper or heavy-duty foil, leaving a 1½-inch overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is dry around the edge, about 20 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake until surface of crust looks dry, 5 to 10 minutes. Brush bottom and sides of crust with 1 beaten egg. Return to oven and bake until dry and set, about three minutes longer. (Brushing crust with egg and baking will prevent a soggy crust.)

Whisk pumpkin purée, sour cream, bourbon, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, mace, if using, and remaining 3 eggs in a large bowl; set aside.

Pour maple syrup into a small saucepan; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve pod for another use) or add vanilla extract and bring syrup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened and small puffs of steam start to release, about three minutes. Remove from heat and add cream in three additions, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition until smooth. Gradually whisk hot maple cream into pumpkin mixture.

Place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in filling. Bake pie, rotating halfway through, until set around edge but center barely jiggles, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pie dish to a wire rack and let pie cool.

Just before serving, sprinkle pie with granulated sugar and, using a kitchen torch, brûlée until sugar is melted and dark brown.

DO AHEAD: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead (do not brûlée). Cover and chill.