Las Vegas Sun

December 15, 2017

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Las Vegas chefs keep Thanksgiving recipes simple, (mostly) traditional


Steve Marcus

Scott Green of Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace.

What’s for Thanksgiving dinner (or lunch)? A traditional turkey, a barbecue turkey, turkey legs confit, turkey gravy, cranberry orange relish, fresh cranberry salsa, sausage cornbread stuffing and gingered butternut squash soup.

All courtesy of Las Vegas chefs Scott Green (Bacchanal Buffet, Caesars Palace), Rodolfo Guzman (Jaleo, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas), Mike Minor (Border Grill, Mandalay Bay), Anthony Meidenbauer (Block 16), Mark LoRusso (Botero, Encore), Mary Sue Milliken (Border Grill, Mandalay Bay), Barry S. Dakake (N9NE Steakhouse, Palms) and Michael Demers (M Resort) -- for free.

Their recipes, anyway.

The eight culinary artists were asked to share a Thanksgiving tradition, what they do with leftovers, what they’re especially thankful for this year and a recipe -- the simpler, the better.

Happy cooking, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Don Chareunsy is editor of and senior editor, arts and entertainment, of

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at

    • SCOTT GREEN (Bacchanal Buffet, Caesars Palace)

      A favorite Thanksgiving recipe: “My favorite Thanksgiving dish since I was a child has always been the gravy! A good gravy goes a long way on Thanksgiving.”

      A family tradition at Thanksgiving: “Football, of course.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “Turkey stew and pot pies, leftover turkey sandwiches with cranberry relish, sweet potatoes, stuffing and warm gravy.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I’m thankful for my family and the opportunity to make each day better than the last.”


      2 whole peeled and rough chopped carrots

      2 whole peeled and chopped yellow onions

      4 stalks celery cleaned and chopped

      8 cloves garlic

      3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

      1 bunch parsley

      15 sprigs thyme

      2 sprigs rosemary

      1 ounce whole black peppercorns

      7 cups turkey broth (or chicken broth)

      1 pound unsalted butter

      All the giblets and the turkey neck

      1 cup all-purpose flour (reserve for later)

      Add all of the ingredients into the roasting pan when preparing your turkey.

      Cook your turkey as you normally do with your favorite recipe.

      Baste your turkey with the liquid from the pan (be careful, as it gets hot if you have a plastic baster).

      Once your turkey is complete, remove it from the pan and begin to make your gravy.

      Remove the lungs and neck from the pan and add everything that is in the pan into a blender or food processer and puree until all ingredients are incorporated well.

      Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a straight-sided pot and place on the stove on medium/high heat and bring to a slight boil. Once the liquid starts boiling, whisk in the flour and cook for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and serve.


    • Rodolfo Guzman of Jaleo in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

      RODOLFO GUZMAN (Jaleo, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas)

      A favorite Thanksgiving recipe: “I like to cook the turkey. I marinate the bird for 24 hours with herbs such as rosemary, thyme, parsley and lemon and orange juice. Make sure to add garlic, salt, extra virgin olive oil and cloves. I roast it at 90 degrees Celsius for 5 hours and the last 20 minutes I turn up the oven to 150 degrees Celsius to get the skin nice and crispy.”

      A family tradition at Thanksgiving: “Our family tradition is to make interesting side dishes such as garlic mash potatoes, fried yucca and spinach salad with tomatoes and almonds topped with a sherry dressing. For dessert, we must have a calabaza (pumpkin) flan, and for the drinks, we make pisco with orange tea.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “The leftovers are the best. I make quesadillas and tacos with them. You can’t beat that!”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I am thankful this year to have my family, my parents (who are in Bolivia) and my brother (who is in Finland). Three years ago was the last time my family was all together for the holidays, so I really miss them.”


      It takes me almost a week to prepare the turkey. Usually we get a frozen turkey -- make sure you buy ahead. You should let the turkey defrost for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. We are a small family, so I buy the small turkey -- 11 to 16 pounds -- but if is bigger, it may take as long as 4 to 5 days to defrost.

      When the turkey is defrosted, wash it and remove the neck and the giblets from the inside of the turkey.

      For marinade:

      1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

      1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

      1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

      1 cup lemon juice

      2 cups orange juice

      2 large garlic cloves minced

      1 teaspoon salt

      2 cups extra virgin olive oil

      1 teaspoon cloves

      Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Add the turkey and coat the turkey well with the mixture. Try to put the marinade between the breast skin and the meat, then cover and marinate for 24 hours.

      When you are ready to cook the turkey, take it out from the marinade and brush off some of the garlic and rosemary so it doesn’t burn in the pan.

      Lightly salt and pepper all the skin on the outside; this will help make the skin crispy.

      I don’t place any stuffing in the turkey, as it is a recognized health hazard.

      I place the turkey in a covered roasting pan and put in the oven preheated to 250 F. It will take about 3 to 4 hours for a small turkey (11 to 16 pounds) and 5 to 6 hours for a bigger turkey (17 to 20 pounds).

      The only way to know if your turkey is done is with a thermometer. Place the thermometer in the interior breast meat until it marks 170 F and for the thigh meat 180 F.

      In the last 20 minutes, I turn on the oven to 350 F to get the skin crispy. Remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest uncovered for 20 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute evenly inside the turkey.

    • Mike Minor of Border Grill at Mandalay Bay.

      MIKE MINOR (Border Grill, Mandalay Bay)

      A favorite Thanksgiving recipe: “I love doing a barbecue turkey. I have a great recipe that’s easy.”

      A family tradition at Thanksgiving: “One of our traditions is to watch football in the morning as we cook our turkey dinner together as a family. We always get together at my house with family and friends. I always deep fry a turkey and barbecue one, as well. The guys hang out watching the turkeys cook as if it’s going to cook faster, and the girls are setting up the table. After dinner, we all do a shot of tequila.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “I love making Thanksgiving subs -- turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish, mayo, sliced jalapenos -- on the little buns left over from dinner.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “For having a roof over my head and the means to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the ones I love. Having someone to share the holiday with (my wife). And for being alive.”


      For one turkey:

      1/2 cup olive oil

      1/4 cup paprika

      1/4 cup garlic powder

      1/2 cup dark chili powder

      1/4 cup kosher salt

      1/8 cup cinnamon

      Make sure that the turkey is dry after you clean it. Mix ingredients together and rub the turkey. Put the turkey in a roasting pan and place it into your barbecue/smoker. Cook nice and slow, basting the turkey with the drippings from the turkey.

      Save the dripping to pour over the turkey after you slice it. Don’t put the turkey directly on the fire. Make sure to keep a nice smoke going by adding wood as needed. Soak the wood in water overnight for the best results.

    • Anthony Meidenbauer of Block 16, which oversees Public House in the Venetian, Holsteins in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Barrymore in Royal Resort and LBS Burger in Red Rock Resort.


      A favorite Thanksgiving recipe: “Thanksgiving dinner is not Thanksgiving dinner without cranberry orange relish. I put this stuff on everything!”

      A family tradition at Thanksgiving: “Setting up the Christmas decorations. After the meal has finished up, we start decorating the house for Christmas while watching football. Thanksgiving for my family has always been a kickoff for the Christmas season.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “For the next day or two, we like to make turkey sandwiches, and the dogs generally eat really well, too! I always aim not to overcook, so we don’t end up with a lot of leftovers. But nothing is better then a fresh turkey sandwich the next day.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “Healthy family and friends.”


      1 pound fresh cranberries

      1 pound sugar

      2 oranges, juiced and zest

      1/2 cup Grand Marnier

      1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

      Salt to taste

      In medium sauce pot over medium high heat, add cranberries, sugar, juice and Grand Marnier. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Finish with chopped orange zest, cinnamon and season with salt. (Adjustment of sweetness may be needed with additional sugar if berries are very tart.)

      *Block 16 includes Public House at the Venetian, Holsteins at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Barrymore at Royal Resort and LBS Burger at Red Rock Resort.

    • Mark LoRusso of Botero in Encore Las Vegas.

      MARK LoRUSSO (Botero, Encore)

      A favorite Thanksgiving recipe: “Turkey legs confit.”

      A family tradition at Thanksgiving: “Growing up, we played football in the street before we ate dinner. Now, I sit down with the whole staff after dinner service here at Botero. It’s our ‘family tradition,’ and we really enjoy it.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “I make turkey sandwiches, turkey hash with poached eggs, and then after work, I eat a slice of pie and feel bad about myself after for eating it.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “Seeing my two girls growing up into young ladies.”


      4 turkey legs

      1 pound kosher salt

      1/2 pound sugar

      8 bunches parsley

      4 bunches thyme

      1 pound shallots, skin on

      2 pounds duck fat

      Chop up parsley, thyme and shallots. Mix salt and sugar together. Dip each leg in salt mixture, and place in hotel pan (cover with herb mixture for two days). Melt down fat, wipe off legs, place in a pan, and cover with duck fat. Cover pan with foil and bake at 300 degrees for about 3 hours (turkey should fall off the bone). Pick meat off the bone, and discard fat.

    • Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of Border Grill at Mandalay Bay.

      MARY SUE MILLIKEN (Border Grill, Mandalay Bay)

      A favorite Thanksgiving recipe: “I can’t live without our raw cranberry salsa: chopped raw cranberries, Serrano chilies, orange segments and tart apple seasoned with a little sugar and lime and cilantro. It’s killer!”

      A family tradition at Thanksgiving: “We eat midday, then roll around on the floor because we’re so full. When I was little, we called ourselves the dying elephants and moaned while rolling around. After about 15 minutes, we feel much better and like to run around, go to movies and come back for leftovers.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “I love turkey soup with barley and lemon and, of course, turkey tamales to go with that leftover cranberry salsa.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I’m especially thankful for good health every year, and I never take it for granted. It’s the most precious and unpredictable thing -- a strong, healthy body. Here’s to another spectacular year in good health!”


      (Makes about 3 cups)

      1 pound cranberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)

      1 cup sugar

      2 teaspoons grated orange zest

      3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

      3 oranges, peeled, seeded and diced

      2 to 4 Serrano chiles, stemmed and diced (with seeds)

      1 bunch cilantro, chopped

      1 bunch green onions, chopped

      Finely chop the cranberries in a food processor or by hand. Combine in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix together. Set aside at room temperature 1 hour and then chill until ready to serve. Store in the refrigerator as long as 3 days.

      Copyright ©2012, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger,

    • Barry S. Dakake of N9NE Steakhouse in the Palms.

      BARRY S. DAKAKE (N9NE Steakhouse, Palms)

      A favorite Thanksgiving recipe: “Sausage cornbread stuffing. I have been making this recipe since 1990.”

      A family tradition at Thanksgiving: “I have been working at N9NE Steakhouse since we opened 11 years ago. The people I work with are considered family to me. Thanksgiving has always been a very special day for me and our team of chefs. On this great holiday, we invite all the workers from N9NE in along with their family members to enjoy a traditional holiday meal, from butternut squash soup to Mary’s Farm turkey dinner with all the fixings (sausage cornbread stuffing, fresh cranberry sauce, white sweet potatoes and yams, etc.). After dinner, here comes the desserts: pumpkin cheesecake, pecan pie and pumpkin pie with Nutella, Tahitian Vanilla ice cream and fresh whipped cream.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “Well, truthfully, I love the leftovers! Late-night cold turkey sandwiches on Italian bread with friends and family, a deck of playing cards, and the stage is set to have another feast. Also, there’s nothing wrong with a great turkey pot pie the next day.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I’m a very strong believer in Christ. I thank him every day I wake and put my faith in his hands. I am surrounded by great family, friends and workers. I am very fortunate to be the executive chef at N9NE Steakhouse and thankful for all the beautiful people who come to visit N9NE — and when they leave with a smile, it’s even more special. Health and happiness to you all.”


      3/4 cup unsalted butter

      2 cups sweet onions (small dice)

      1 cup celery (small dice)

      2 tablespoons garlic (minced)

      1 tablespoon fresh sage (chopped)

      1/2 cup roasted chestnuts (rough chop)

      Pinch kosher salt

      Pinch black pepper

      2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

      2 pounds Italian sweet sausage (no casing)

      Turkey stock (3-4 cups depending on how moist you like your stuffing)

      Cornbread (3 pounds cooked and large diced)

      Vegetable, herbs and chestnuts:

      In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook on medium heat until the onions become translucent. Add the celery, garlic, fresh sage and roasted chestnuts until celery becomes translucent.


      In a separate pot, add the virgin oil and let the pan become smoky. When it starts smoking, add the sausage and cook throughout. (The purpose of letting the pan become smoky is to get some nice crisp on the sausage.) Add the cooked sausage and its drippings to the first pot and stir. Add the cornbread and mix together well. Add 2 cups of the turkey stock and stir (depending on how moist you would like the studding, add the remaining turkey stock). Adjust with salt and pepper.

      Stuff that turkey: Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Michael Demers of the M Resort.

      MICHAEL DEMERS (executive chef for M Resort)

      A favorite Thanksgiving recipe: “Gingered butternut squash soup with spicy pecan cream.”

      A family tradition at Thanksgiving: “My mom does the cooking and makes me my favorite green bean casserole with fried onions and melted mozzarella cheese and her ‘Famous Corn Bread Pudding.’ I usually devour those first! (She always saves me a big plate.)”

      What do you do with leftovers? “My dad usually makes a side package and has turkey sandwiches with stuffing and cranberry sauce. So I picked up on that tradition, and I get my son to have the same thing with me the next day, then we set up the Christmas lights outside. That’s always been tradition.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I am thankful for the opportunities I have been blessed with -- my new position as executive chef at M Resort.”


      2 large butternut squash (5 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise and seeded

      1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

      3/4 cup pecans (2 ounces)

      2 tablespoons unsalted butter

      1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice

      1 small fennel bulb -- halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice

      One 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

      6 cups chicken stock

      One 14-ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk

      3/4 cup chilled heavy cream

      1 teaspoon hazelnut oil

      1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

      Kosher salt

      1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rub the cut sides of the squash with the olive oil and set them, cut side down, on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake the squash for about 1 hour or until very tender. Remove from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle. Spoon the squash flesh into a large bowl; discard the skins.

      In a pie plate, toast the pecans for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant; let the nuts cool.

      In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the onion, fennel and ginger and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the squash and the chicken stock, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover the pot and continue cooking until the squash starts to fall apart, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk.

      Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the pecans until they are finely chopped. In a medium bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Fold in the chopped pecans, hazelnut oil and cayenne pepper and season with salt.

      Working in batches, puree the squash soup in a blender until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with a dollop of the pecan cream and serve.

      The soup can be refrigerated for as long as 2 days. Reheat gently, adding a little chicken stock to thin the soup.

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