Thanksgiving Dinner Peninsula Beverly HIllsA Classic L.A. Thanksgiving
It’s not often that you’ll catch Los Angelenos breaking their diet, but on Thanksgiving, the Peninsula Beverly Hills inspires gluttony (followed by sloth – a long winter’s nap). The Peninsula Beverly Hills is an iconic destination for holiday meals, and this year, Executive Chef David Codney is creating a lavish Thanksgiving feast, from a turkey roasted to perfection to a tangy cranberry relish – all served on the finest china. For more on celebrating turkey day in our favorite cities, check out our Thanksgiving feature.
As Executive Chef David Codney explains: Growing up, I always went for the dark meat because the breast meat is usually dry and has very little flavor (my family were great cooks but the dark meat always tasted better). But, now I just cook the breast and focus on doing that right so it’s perfect. I cook the legs the day before in chicken stock, until tender and falling off the bone. From the legs and thighs, I pick the meat and fold it into my stuffing, giving it an extra boost in flavor, while fortifying my stock for both the stuffing and gravy. Yes, it is a little extra work but Thanksgiving is all about the feast!
Cut into chunks – 1 onion, 1 celery stick, 1 carrot, thyme, bay leaf, 3 black peppercorns and place in a small soup pot with the low sodium chicken broth or stock. Add the turkey legs and thighs and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, turn down to very low heat, where it’s right below a simmer but still very hot, and cook the legs until tender. About 1 hour after the simmer. Once cooked, pick apart the meat and strain the stock out. Reserve the stock for the stuffing, keeping the fat on top of the stock for your gravy.
Preheat oven to 350˚F.Butter a 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 8 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, shallot, and garlic. Sauté until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the herbs and the picked dark meat made the day before. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl. Add the bread and toss to coat. Add enough broth from cooking the legs (about one cup, but depending on how moist you like your stuffing, feel free to add more) to the stuffing mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs. Realize that the bread will soak up a lot of liquid so it’s important to adjust one more time after letting it sit for 30 minutes. Don’t worry if you add too much liquid as you can just bake uncovered until most of the moisture is out.
Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.
Executive Chef Codney: I have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing chefs. Many of them have been on the culinary Olympic team and competed on an international level. This recipe is a variation of one from the American Culinary Federation Olympic Team in 2000.
Wash and pick through cranberries or currants. Make the syrup and pour over the fruit and let macerate overnight in the refrigerator. Combine the wine, sugar, spices, and liquor and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce to the consistency of syrup. Strain.
Add the berries and simmer until tender and popped open.
Executive Chef Codney: While most people don’t think that much about gravy, this one simple thing defines the meal. Gravy covers the mashed potatoes, the stuffing, and makes the meat memorable. Think of it as a way to drive home flavor and intensify the experience.
Heat the oil in a large soup or stockpot over medium heat until it is warm and fast moving. Add the neck and backbone and sauté 5–6 minutes or until browned. Add the giblets and brown. Add the wine, reducing the liquid by half. Add stock or broth and bring to a simmer. Add remaining ingredients. Allow ingredients to simmer for 4 hours until volume is reduced to half. Strain liquid and reserve. Skim off any fat and reserve for the gravy. Allow the stock to cool overnight or reserve one cup and cool down.
Take the fat from the top of the stock and place in a pan. Cook until melted. Whisk in the flour and work out any clumps, about 3–4 minutes. Add the cooled stock, whisking the entire time and bring to a boil. Add the remaining stock and simmer for 20 minutes on low. Add the remaining ingredients and serve.
Executive Chef Codney: I need to include a caveat here: I have no idea why it’s called monkey bread or the history behind it, but I’m telling you that we would wait every year for this stuff. I haven’t had it in years, but it’s a staple on Thanksgiving and I vividly remember it being addictive!
Cut buttermilk biscuits in half. Mix the herbs into the melted butter and dip each biscuit half into the butter mixture. Layer into a Bundt pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven 400 degrees and place Bundt pan on foil-lined cookie sheet, and then bake for 25–30 minutes, until golden brown.Let cool for a couple of minutes and then flip the Bundt pan over onto a serving plate. Then pull the biscuits apart.
What makes these mashed potatoes taste homemade is the perfect imperfection of the potatoes, with strategic lumps and skin. Also, skip the yukons and go for the traditional russets, just like Grandmama did.
Peel the potatoes, leaving some of the skin. Cover potatoes in heavy pot with just enough water to fully submerge. Add 6–7 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. Immediately lower heat and continue to simmer until potatoes are very tender and fully cooked, about 20–25 minutes. Drain well.
Pass potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer, leaving some lumps and skin on the potatoes. Heat milk and cream with about 3 tablespoons of fleur de sel until just simmering. Over low heat, slowly add 1/2 cup milk at a time to the potatoes until absorbed, stirring gently with a spatula. The secret to the potatoes is slow cooking, allowing the milk to absorb, and constant stirring, almost like a risotto. When you have only a half-cup of milk left, add in the butter a quarter stick at a time, alternating with the milk. Finish with the remaining butter and cream, and salt with the fleur de sel to taste. Potatoes may be made up to 2 hours ahead of time and reheated when you are ready to feast.
It’s amazing what a dash of liquor can do to a simple pumpkin pie. Cheers!
Using your favorite pastry dough recipe, roll out enough to fit a 12-inch pie dish. Place dough inside the dish and gently prick the bottom with a fork. Trim the excess dough and crimp edges with a fork. Chill for at least 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Line the pie dough with foil and fill with weights or dried beans. Bake until the edges are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil and continue to bake until golden all over, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Combine the pumpkin, heavy cream, sour cream, eggs, sugar, bourbon, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Whisk until combined and pour into the cooled shell. Bake until the edges are set but the center is slightly loose, about 45 minutes. Cool completely and serve with whipped cream.