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At the Thanksgiving Table: A Chef's Feast 

Top Kansas City Chefs Share Their Favorite Thanksgiving Dish

Thanksgiving is synonymous with lavish eating and food that evokes emotion and memories of Thanksgivings past. We asked a few local, prominent chefs to share the recipe of their favorite thanksgiving dish. Enjoy these family recipes from some of the city's best culinary minds.

“Green bean casserole is my favorite side dish, and this is my take on it—a light and delicious stir-fry that pairs well with turkey and other side dishes. Shiitake mushroom adds another layer of texture and aroma to the dish, making it the perfect savory accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner.” —Chef Pam Liberda, Waldo Thai

Stir-Fried Garlic Green Beans & Shiitake Mushrooms with Chef Pam Liberda of Waldo Thai

Makes 4 servings 


1 pound green beans, trimmed 

½ pound fresh shiitake mushrooms 

1 tablespoon oyster sauce 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

¼ teaspoon white pepper 

1 tablespoon canola oil 

2 tablespoons fried shallots for garnish 


Bring a pot of water to a boil, season with salt and add the green beans. Boil 1 minute, drain and rinse with cold water, then place on a kitchen towel to dry thoroughly. (If vegetables aren’t dry when you add them to the hot wok or pan, they will splutter and braise instead of stir frying.) Place within reach of your wok or pan. 

Place the shiitake mushrooms, garlic, oyster sauce and white pepper near the burner. 

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in the oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan. 

Add the garlic, stir-frying for no more than 10 seconds, then add the green beans and shiitake mushrooms. Toss together, then add the oyster sauce and white pepper. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, until the beans are crisp-tender. Remove from heat and place on serving plate. Garnish with fried shallots on top.

“I have an aversion to traditional Thanksgiving foods. For starters, I don’t like squash, but most people love it. People never get tired of gnocchi and turkey meatballs are a healthy alternative to red meat. The dish is loosely based on my popular rabbit gnocchi dish that’s been on the menu since I opened Michael Smith Restaurant and now Farina. The last eight years or so, I’ve been preparing an Italian-influenced Thanksgiving dinner at home and while this dish takes some time, my family wouldn’t be happy if it wasn’t on the menu.”

—James Beard Award-Winning Chef Michael Smith, Farina/Extra Virgin

Chef Michael Smith's Gnocchi with Turkey Meatballs, Squash and Chanterelles 

Makes 8 servings


Gnocchi – 45-50 pieces fresh potato gnocchi  

1 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms, soaked and cleaned  

2 pounds turkey meatballs – 35-40 mini size meatballs 

2 cups diced hard squash (Hubbard, kuri, butternut) 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves 

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley 

1 clove garlic, minced 

1 cup turkey broth 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter 

2 teaspoons kosher salt 

1 teaspoon fennel pollen 

1/4 cup olive oil 


Poach the diced hard squash in salted water until just soft to the point of a knife. Drain and set aside. Place a large heavy-bottomed pan over high heat and add half the olive oil. When oil begins to smoke, add the mini meatballs, and cook until golden brown, then finish in the oven. Set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed skillet add the remaining half of olive oil and heat until just smoking. Add gnocchi to the pan and don’t move it or shake it for 30-40 seconds. Let the gnocchi get a light caramelization then shake the pan to roll the gnocchi around for another minute or two. They will brown naturally on the other sides. Add chanterelles, oregano, parsley, fennel pollen and garlic. 

Sauté for a few minutes, then add turkey stock, squash and meatballs. Bring the pan to a boil and add butter. Stir vigorously with a spoon to emulsify the brothy dish. Add kosher salt and taste to adjust seasoning. Serve immediately. 


2 pounds Idaho potatoes, unpeeled 

2 cups 00 flour 

1 egg yolk 

1 tablespoon kosher salt 


Bake potatoes in a 400-degree oven until soft. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Peel potatoes, discarding skins. Put potato flesh through a fine food mill or potato press. Potatoes should be very warm. Spread them evenly on a lightly floured surface.  

Sift the 00 flour over the top of the riced potatoes. Stir egg yolk with a fork and pour over potatoes.  

Knead potatoes and flour into a soft dough. Don’t overwork the dough…it should come together in about 4-5 minutes. (Dough should not stick to your hands.) Flatten dough quite a bit, keeping it lightly floured. Cover dough and let rest for 15 minutes. Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce heat while cutting gnocchi.  

The technique to cutting the gnocchi all the same size is rolling the dough into thick ropes no thinner than the diameter of a nickel. Cut the flattened dough into 1-inch thick slices. Then separate each slice and roll into a long rope using the palms of both hands. Once the ropes are rolled out, cut the individual gnocchi, approximately 1 inch for standard size. Leave as is (shaped like a pillow) or press-roll on the back of a fork’s tines for a more traditional look. 

Reheat salted water to a boil. Poach gnocchi (about 20 at a time) in the boiling water. (The water does not need to be vigorously boiling.) Let gnocchi cook until they float to the top. Continue cooking for a full minute after rising to the top to completely cook through thickest parts of dough. Use a long-handled strainer to scoop out the cooked gnocchi. Toss onto an olive oil lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. Let cool naturally. When all gnocchi are poached and cooled, coat well in olive oil and store in a covered container in the refrigerator. They will keep well for 4-5 days.  


2 pounds ground turkey 

6 large leaves fresh basil, chopped  

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves  

2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves 

2 cloves garlic, minced 

1 pinch chili pepper flakes  

2 whole eggs 

2 cups fine breadcrumbs 

1 cup milk  

1 tablespoon kosher salt 

2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper 

1 pinch ground allspice 


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Test for seasoning. Roll into meatballs about the size of a quarter.  

Poach meatballs in a favorite sauce or sauté them in a skillet until golden then bake them until cooked through.  

The meatballs can be frozen after cooking or before cooking.

“This dish is a delicious way to use squash in the fall, and it is such a comforting, yet different addition to any dinner.  It's also great because it's easy to make, can be made ahead of time, and you can use up dry bread. Dumplings are a popular addition to many meals in Germany. This recipe allows for a lot of variation and creativity. Using squash makes this a delicious fall treat.” —Chef Martin Heuser 

Affäre Squash Bread Dumplings with Chef Martin Heuser 

Makes 32 servings 


5 ½ cups warm milk 

5 ½ pounds day-old bread, cubed 

1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter 

5 medium onions, diced 

3 bunches parsley, chopped 

20 large eggs 

5 ½ pounds acorn or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and shredded 

Salt and pepper, to taste 

Nutmeg, to taste 


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 12 x 20 x 2 casserole pan. 

In a mixing bowl, pour milk over bread. Set aside bowl and allow bread to absorb most of the milk. 

In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté onion until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir parsley into onion. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool. 

Stir into skillet the bread mixture, squash and eggs. Stir lightly until mixture is combined. Season dumpling mixture with nutmeg, salt and pepper. 

Pour bread-squash mixture into prepared casserole pan. Place pan inside a roasting pan and pour boiling water inside roasting pan until it comes halfway up sides of casserole pan. Bake 1 1/2 hours, or until dumplings register an internal temperature of 180 degrees on a food thermometer. 

To freeze: Allow dumplings to cool completely and slice into portions. Freeze four portions to a package; freezing together will make the dumplings stick.  

To reheat: Thaw dumplings in the refrigerator. Reheat in a covered skillet over medium heat until warmed through, or place dumplings in a casserole dish with a lid at 350 degrees. Whichever method you choose, add a small amount of broth to the skillet or casserole to keep from sticking. 

"This dish is a staple at the Ferro’s Thanksgiving table, my mom’s family. The holiday would not be the same for me without this dish. It is a very unique and savory stuffing—I tend to gravitate towards more savory dishes. This for me is one of those dishes that at about 8 or 9 p.m., after an early Thanksgiving dinner, dessert and a nap, you sneak back for a second helping! My mom’s family is very large—over 75 people at a gathering—so this was always made in a huge quantity!" —Andrew Brancato/Brass Onion

Nani Ferro’s Wild Rice Stuffing with Chef Andrew Brancato of Brass Onion

Makes 10 servings

Poultry Seasoning Ingredients:

3 teaspoons ground sage

1 ½ teaspoons ground thyme

1 teaspoon ground rosemary

½ teaspoon ground marjoram

Stuffing Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef, cooked and drained

1 loaf (1 pound) day old bread (any type you prefer)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 bunch celery, chopped

1 pound mushrooms

2 tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups cooked wild rice

¼ cup grated Romano cheese

2 cups turkey or chicken broth

optional: 1 apple, grated or finely diced


Cut bread into ½-inch cubes, toss in olive oil and half the poultry seasoning. Bake in 250-degree oven until dry (1-2 hours). Sauté ground beef, drain and reserve liquid, and set aside. Sauté onion in reserved liquid until translucent. Add celery and sauté until cooked but still firm. Sauté mushrooms in butter until lightly browned. Cook wild rice according to package directions.

In a large bowl mix together ground beef, onion, celery, mushrooms, wild rice, cheese, bread cubes, poultry seasoning and apples, if desired. Add broth until moist.

Bake 1 hour in a 350-degree oven.

"This is one of my favorite dishes on Thanksgiving Day. My wife Lisa prepares this, and I really think it is one of the highlights of the dinner. "—Chef Jasper Mirabile Jr., Jasper’s Restaurant

Scalloped Oysters with Chef Jasper Mirabile Jr.

Yield: 4-6 servings


1/4 cup Shatto Milk Company butter

4 cups oysters (shucked and drained)

3 cups coarse saltine crackers

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups Shatto Milk Company cream

2 tablespoons sherry wine


Melt butter and mix with cracker crumbs. Sprinkle one-third of mixture evenly on bottom of greased shallow baking dish. Add a layer of half of the oysters.

Stir together the pepper, cream and sherry and pour half of sauce mixture over oysters.

Add another third of the butter and crumb mixture to baking dish and top with remaining oysters. Spoon or pour on remaining sauce.

Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over the top and bake at in a 425-degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until crumbs are lightly browned.

“This dish always reminds me of the change in season, which brings new ingredients and warm flavors for the holidays.” —Chef Michael Foust of Black Sheep

Chef Michael Foust’s Pumpkin Bisque 

Makes 6 servings


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup chopped yellow onion

1 cup chopped carrots

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 quart vegetable stock

8 cups roasted pie pumpkin purée

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Salt and pepper, to taste

Chili oil and salsa verde, to garnish


In a large soup pot, add olive oil and heat over medium-low heat. Add onion and carrot and sauté until onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes.

Add cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin and garlic powder and cook for 1 minute.

Add vinegar and stir the vegetable mixture to combine. 

Add vegetable stock and pumpkin purée and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, allowing the soup to simmer.

Stir in cream and cook until all carrots are softened.

Remove soup from heat, allow to cool slightly, then use an immersion blender to blend into a smooth bisque. Put the soup pot back on low heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Bring soup to a simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Garnish with a drizzle of optional chili oil and salsa verde and serve.

"We love cooking as a family. I made these cookies growing up with my Norwegian grandmother. My fondest holiday memories were made in her kitchen and on her farm." Chefs Jessica Armstrong and partner Ryan Brazeal of Novel 

Ginger Molasses Cookies from Chef Ryan Brazeal and Jessica Armstrong of Novel

Makes 24 cookies

3/4 c butter, at room temperature 

1 c brown sugar 

1 egg, at room temperature 

1/4 c molasses

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 c AP flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground ginger 

1/4 tsp ground cloves

Granulated or coarse sugar 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Cream the butter and sugar for 4 minutes or until fluffy. Add the molasses, cream for 2 more minutes, and scrape down the sides. Add the egg, mix well.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. 

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, slowly mix until incorporated.

Refrigerate the batter for 30 minutes. 

Scoop out 2 tablespoons of batter and form into balls. Coat the balls with sugar. 

Place the balls 2 inches apart on a lined cookie sheet. Flatten with your hand or the bottom of a drinking glass. 

Bake for 12-14 minutes. 

“I like the ingredients in this soup, especially the Jarrahdale pumpkins. They have an unexpected melon aroma and flavor. And when it comes to Thanksgiving dishes, so many people think about pumpkins for sweets—this soup is a great savory option.”

—Vaughn Good, co-owner/chef, James Beard semifinalist, Fox and Pearl 

Jarrahdale Pumpkin Soup with Chef Vaughn Good of Fox and Pearl

Makes 4-6 servings


7 cups roasted pumpkin

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon butter

Salt & pepper to taste

1 medium yellow onion, medium dice

1 tablespoon roasted garlic

1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme

1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake

1 ½ quarts stock of your choice (chicken, pork or vegetable)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut a medium to large size Jarrahdale pumpkin in half. Scoop out seeds. Rub the inside down with 1 tablespoon melted butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 300 degrees until completely soft, approximately 1 hour.

After pumpkin has cooled, scoop out 7 cups.  Reserve remaining pumpkin purée for something else.

In a heavy bottom stock pot, melt ¼ cup butter and sauté onions in butter until slightly brown. Add garlic, herbs and red pepper and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until aromatic.

Add pumpkin and stock to the pot and bring to simmer for 30-40 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Season soup to taste and serve.