Chef Wyatt Gets Cookin’ this Thanksgiving

Chef Wyatt cooks up some pizza in the wood fired oven

PlumpJack Cafe’s Executive Chef Ben “Wyatt” Dufresne shares his secrets of his perfect Thanksgiving and what he plans on doing with the leftovers. Learn more about Chef Wyatt and the PlumpJack Cafe here.

Where do you usually spend Thanksgiving?

I either spend it with my family back East in Vermont or upstate New York, or at my house in Reno.This year it’ll be at my house with some friends, my sister and my wife.

Do you have any time-saving techniques that you’d like to share?

This is the only holiday of the year I have off so I like starting early and going big.

I’ll start prepping days in advance so I just have to bake the turkey and reheat some sides day of.This way I can enjoy our company and relax!

Do you have any alternatives to the classics, i.e. turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc..?

I’m a sucker for the classics but I always have to put my own twist on things.This year I’m going to sous vide my turkey.You can really infuse some flavors into the meat and you can cook the dark and white meats separately.I’m thinking of baking the skin separately to make sure we still get the crispy factor.I like to add some seafood like oysters or shrimp to my stuffing to give it some extra elegance.For the starch I like to use yams with cinnamon and lime to get more flavor and color on the table.

Your method/suggestions to preparing the perfect turkey, roast, etc…?

I always cook my turkey a different way.My favorite has been a turducken but last years method worked really well too.I let the turkey sit out for a couple of hours to let it get to room temperature but I used an Ace bandage to keep ice packs over the breasts.This way when you put it in the oven (without the ice packs) the white meat is cold and takes a little bit longer to cook.

Favorite wines, cocktails, beer to serve?

Pinot Noir is my favorite and I think it goes with the widest variety of foods.

Do you have any special traditions when celebrating?

My Mom always makes the best corn pudding and chocolate pie.I can’t make it as good as her but I always try if I can’t be with my parents.

Is there one or more food items you splurge on that you reserve for special holiday meals?

I seem to be constantly splurging on food but it certainly hits a new level for Thanksgiving.The most important ingredient is the turkey.Stay away from major brands like Foster and Tyson and look for smaller companies that spend more time raising their birds.Local and organic are always the best.

How does your home cooking differ from how you cook at your restaurant?

Volume is the biggest difference.

What are your favorite fall/Winter seasonal ingredients that you get excited about?

Braised meats, pomegranates, persimmons, mulling spices, citrus, pears, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, squash, cranberries.

What’s your favorite “leftover” meal/snack?

This year I’m planning to make a Thanksgiving leftover pot pie!

Share you Thanksgiving traditions and recipes and we’ll post on our Facebook page as they come in to share with our community.

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