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Vail Daily Thanksgiving: Starring side dishes

Caramie Schnell
cschnell@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyGrouse Mountain Grill executive chef David Gutowski mashes up sweet potatos to create a roasted sweet potato and goat cheese puree Monday at the Beaver Creek restaurant. Gutowski would make the dish as a side with Thanksgiving dinner.
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VAIL, Colorado – Call it the starch trifecta: green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and of course, stuffing. The turkey might be the browned, buttery star (if you’re lucky) of the T-day feast, but great chefs know it takes a village of dishes to raise a truly great Thanksgiving Day meal.

And while I love the crispy onions lounging atop the green bean casserole, and the smooth, buttery mashed potatoes nearly make me swoon, maybe it’s time to add a new recipe to the mix this year. Like Chef Steven Topple’s decadent smoked cheddar mac and cheese, which is not only easy to make, but “very tasty with turkey,” he said.

Or start your feast with pumpkin soup that combines not one but three autumn squashes with fragrant spices.



“Roasted pumpkin soup is a great way to begin Thanksgiving dinner,” said Mark Ferguson, executive chef of Spago. “A seasonal dish well-matched to a variety of ingredients and garnishes, it retains traditional flavors that can be accented with a personal twist.”

And instead of bathing the sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows again, try pureeing them and adding goat cheese and fresh herbs, like David Gutowski, executive chef of Grouse Mountain Grill does with his.



“I love sweet potatoes,” he said. “I always cook them at home and they are loaded with beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin B6.” In his recipe, “the goat cheese is complemented by the sweetness of the potato.”

Go ahead, branch out a little. You never know, you might just discover a new can’t-live-without tradition.

Courtesy of David Gutowski, executive chef of Grouse Mountain Grill in Beaver Creek



Two large sweet potatoes

4 ounces Haystack Goat Cheese

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 tsp chopped thyme

1 tsp chopped chives

Rub potatos with olive oil salt and pepper and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake in a 375-degree oven for one hour or until tender. Unwrap and cut a slit in the skin lengthwise. Let cool, then peel. Puree potatoes in food mill or food processor. Fold in the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Serves: 4

Courtesy of Mark Ferguson, executive chef of Spago at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch

1 onion, diced

6 ounces butter

2 whole butternut squash

1 whole kabocha squash

1 whole acorn squash

1/4 tsp cardamom powder

1/4 tsp ginger powder

1/4 tsp. nutmeg, fresh ground

salt to taste

white pepper to taste

sugar to taste

2 cups heavy cream

1 quart chicken stock, vegetable stock or water

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the squash in half. Place on roasting pan and season with salt, pepper, sugar and nutmeg. Pour two cups of water at base of pan. Cover the squash with foil, place in oven, and roast for 45 minutes. Squash should be tender. Scrape squash meat from skin. Puree meat in food processor; reserve.

Over a medium flame in a two quart sauce pot, add butter, melt to just browned. Add onion, cook the onion till translucent in the butter. Add the squash cook for 10 minutes, stirring until completely hot.

Add two cups heavy cream and one quart of chicken stock or water. Add salt, white pepper, sugar, cardamom powder and ginger powder. Stir constantly and bring to a boil and strain through fine strainer. To adjust the consistency, add more or less liquid as desired.

Garnish with black truffles or lobster or both!

Serves: 4 to 6

Courtesy of Steven Topple, executive chef of Beano’s Cabin

1/2 Pound Ditallini Pasta (cooked)

2 quarts heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup smoked cheddar cheese, available at most supermarkets

1/2 cup diced red pepper, sauteed in a little oil until tender

Salt and pepper to taste

In heavy pan, reduce heavy cream by half. Add the precooked ditallini pasta to the cream and add the sauteed red pepper. Once the pasta is warmed through and well coated, take the pan off heat and add the smoked cheddar cheese. Stir to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves: 6


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