Ready to shake up your Thanksgiving menu? Five local food pros share creative spins on holiday sides—plus one decadent dessert
Crab Cakes with Smoky Pumpkin Sauce
Melissa Ann Barton (above), founder of the Mod Squad Martha line of vinaigrettes and marinades, delivers a new kind of pumpkin spice to her favorite holiday appetizer
Meet Melissa Ann
- Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
- Lives: John’s Island
- Past Life: Renowned caterer to the Nashville music and entertaining industry, where she was given the “Mod Squad Martha” nickname
- Holiday Plans: “Celebrating in Nashville with family—food, games, music, and fun—and carrying on our tradition of delivering a Thanksgiving basket to an elderly person who is alone”
- Pro Tip: “Turn any extra crab cakes into a hot crab dip and use the sauce for leftover turkey quesadillas.”
Check out her recipe for Crab Cakes with Smoky Pumpkin Sauce here.
Apple & Bacon-Braised Collard Greens with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Ginger-Turmeric Mashed Butternut Squash
Macintosh executive chef John-Carter “J-C” Ayanna (above) amps up the veg options
- Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
- Lives: West Ashley
- Fave Thanksgiving Food: “My Grammy’s sweet potato pie, because it reminds me of home and everything that is good in the world.”
- Holiday Plans: “The Macintosh will be open, and we will be feasting the families and ‘framlies’ of Charleston.”
- Pro Tip: “Your collard greens should have a nice balance of sweet and spicy. Feel free to use little to no hot sauce if spicy isn’t something you enjoy.”
Check out his recipe for Apple & Bacon-Braised Collard Greens with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Ginger-Turmeric Mashed Butternut Squash here.
Apple, Sausage, & Fennel Biscuit Dressing
Celebrated cookbook author and biscuit authority Nathalie Dupree (above) shares a new take on dressing based on the Southern staple
- Hometown: “As an Army brat, I don’t have a hometown; it’s wherever I am. Jack and I have been in Charleston for some time now, so it’s home.”
- Lives: Charleston Village
- Holiday Plans: “We are sizing down this year—just us plus a few family and nearly family members.”
- Pro Tip: “One of my favorite combinations is apple and sausage. Combined with pecans and herbs, this dish is very sought-after on the holiday table. While I love using these cathead biscuits, those from the freezer and refrigerator section of the grocery store, baked and crumbled, will work fine. I have a ‘biscuit bag’ in a plastic freezer bag in the refrigerator. Whenever I bake biscuits, which is frequently, I add one or two to it. Since I make all sorts of biscuits, it is a jumble of sizes and types.”
Check out her recipe for Apple, Sausage, & Fennel Biscuit Dressing here.
Culinary Institute of Charleston chef instructor and Southern foodways scholar Kevin Mitchell (above) enriches his gravy with Madeira, a libation with a long local history
- Hometown: Rahway, New Jersey
- Lives: North Charleston
- Mr. Ambassador: He was appointed a South Carolina Chef Ambassador for 2020; the official state program promotes authentic culinary experiences and buying local for everyday cooking.
- Fave Thanksgiving Food: “I started learning how to cook from my grandmother at the age of six. I loved her macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pie, stuffing she made with corn bread and chicken livers, and black-eyed peas.”
- Holiday Plans: “Hosting family from New Jersey”
- Pro Tip: “The Madeira gravy is great served with turkey or chicken and over mashed potatoes.”
Check out his recipe for Madeira Gravy here.
Pumpkin Chai Cheesecake
Cookbook author Ashley Strickland Freeman (above) offers a decadent finish with this luscious dessert
- Great Gigs: The award-winning food stylist, recipe developer, and author most recently worked on Food Network’s Delicious Miss Brown, and her third book, The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook, was published in June.
- Hometown: Savannah, Georgia
- Lives: John’s Island
- Holiday Plans: “We just moved into our dream home so I imagine we’ll be there.”
- Pro Tip: “Get creative with garnishes, such as cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom pods, and crystallized ginger, if you like.”
Check out her recipe for Pumpkin Chai Cheesecake here.
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