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Anne Quatrano's Thanksgiving Menu

Anne Quatrano's Thanksgiving Menu

For Atlanta chef Anne Quatrano and her husband, Cliff Harrison, the Thanksgiving meal is a chance to throw open the gates of their farm to a few dozen family members, friends, colleagues, and newcomers. Their style of Southern hospitality includes casual surroundings, haute home cooking, good company, and one seriously flavorful feast.

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Anne Quatrano's

Thanksgiving Menu

TO START
A favorite cocktail, plus assorted cheeses and crackers

MAIN COURSE
Roasted Heritage Turkey with Aromatic Brine
Roasted Turkey with Dry Brine
Turkey Gravy
Apple-Cranberry Dressing
Mrs. Carver’s Buttered Rutabagas
Dry-Fried Green Beans
Sweet-Potato Puree With Toasted Meringue
Nanny’s Cranberry Mold
Yeast Pull-Apart Rolls

DESSERTS
Warm Pumpkin Pudding with Hard Sauce
Liz Lorber’s Famous Hummingbird Cake
Maple Pecan Pie

 

As anyone who has been lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving with acclaimed chef Anne Quatrano knows, she is serious about the feast and prepares a meal that perfectly illustrates her modern, ingredient-focused approach to classic Southern food. She and her husband, chef Clifford Harrison, are so committed to using local produce that they raise most of it themselves at Summerland, the 60­-acre property in Cartersville, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta, that has been in Quatrano’s family since before the Civil War. The farm is so important to the couple that they live there year­-round; sometimes Quatrano makes the 80-­mile round­-trip journey twice a day so she can oversee their four restaurants and gourmet market, Star Provisions, and still come home to see their 11 dogs, 24 horses, 10 pet turkeys, and pet pig, Hammy.

Summerland is also where the couple host a legendary Thanksgiving gathering every year. They invite not only their nearest and dearest, but seemingly any acquaintance craving food and company. Typically, 20 to 30 guests will make the drive up; they’re greeted with the welcome sight of Summerland’s shady front porch, where two giant feed sacks stuffed with hay, reading “GIVE” and “THANKS,” sway in the breeze.

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At the Table

Sharing Thanks

All the food is laid out buffet-style on the kitchen’s giant square island. A long table in the kitchen accommodates more than a dozen guests; others eat in the kitchen and on the patio. Quatrano doesn’t stress over matching chairs or tablecloths. She sets the table simply but beautifully with her brown-and-white Johnson Brothers transferware paired with chocolate-brown ceramic chargers. Instead of flower arrangements, she adorns the table with edible greens, gourds, and bird’s nests under cloches -- Quatrano uses the collection of abandoned nests she’s found on the property, filling them with hollowed-out eggs.

The Turkeys (Yes, Two!)

Quatrano’s come-one-come-all Thanksgiving approach calls for two turkeys on the table, usually one broad-breasted organic (top left, and more below), which she dry brines, and one heritage bird (bottom left), which she wet brines.

Roasted Turkey with Dry Brine

Our test kitchen made a video version of Quatrano's essential turkey recipe. Food editor Greg Lofts likes how straightforward her method is -- and how delectable the roasted bird is.

Supporting Players

Dressing, Sides, and Fluffy Rolls

  • Apple-Cranberry Dressing
    Apple-Cranberry Dressing

    This Southern-style dressing -- baked outsde the turkey -- is Quatrano's version of her grandmothers recipe. It's made with sweet Italian sausage and sourdough bread. Apples and cranberries add fruity fall flavors.

  • Dry-Fried Green Beans
    Dry-Fried Green Beans

    Quatrano’s nontraditional method of dry-frying green beans leaves them blackened and caramelized, a taste-boosting trick she learned from her mother.

  • Sweet-Potato Puree with Toasted Meringue
    Sweet-Potato Puree with Toasted Meringue

    Far more flavorful than mini marshmallows: maple-syrup-sweetened sweet-potato puree with toasted meringue.

  • Mrs. Carver's Buttered Rutabagas
    Mrs. Carver's Buttered Rutabagas

    Quatrano shines the spotlight on the much-maligned rutabaga. This hearty root vegetable has an earthy essence that is showcased here by simply tossing cubes of cooked rutabega with butter and nutmeg.

  • Nanny's Cranberry Mold
    Nanny's Cranberry Mold

    In place of sauce, Quatrano always serves her grandmother's cranberry mold.

  • Yeast Pull-Apart Rolls
    Yeast Pull-Apart Rolls

    Soft dinner rolls are an essential element of many holiday feasts. These are fluffy and rich -- they're made with milk, eggs, and yeast.

  • Apple-Cranberry Dressing
    Apple-Cranberry Dressing

    This Southern-style dressing -- baked outsde the turkey -- is Quatrano's version of her grandmothers recipe. It's made with sweet Italian sausage and sourdough bread. Apples and cranberries add fruity fall flavors.

  • Mrs. Carver's Buttered Rutabagas
    Mrs. Carver's Buttered Rutabagas

    Quatrano shines the spotlight on the much-maligned rutabaga. This hearty root vegetable has an earthy essence that is showcased here by simply tossing cubes of cooked rutabega with butter and nutmeg.

  • Dry-Fried Green Beans
    Dry-Fried Green Beans

    Quatrano’s nontraditional method of dry-frying green beans leaves them blackened and caramelized, a taste-boosting trick she learned from her mother.

  • Nanny's Cranberry Mold
    Nanny's Cranberry Mold

    In place of sauce, Quatrano always serves her grandmother's cranberry mold.

  • Sweet-Potato Puree with Toasted Meringue
    Sweet-Potato Puree with Toasted Meringue

    Far more flavorful than mini marshmallows: maple-syrup-sweetened sweet-potato puree with toasted meringue.

  • Yeast Pull-Apart Rolls
    Yeast Pull-Apart Rolls

    Soft dinner rolls are an essential element of many holiday feasts. These are fluffy and rich -- they're made with milk, eggs, and yeast.

The Sweet Side

Pie, Pudding, and Cake

  • Warm Pumpkin Pudding with Hard Sauce
    Warm Pumpkin Pudding with Hard Sauce

    This Thanksgiving take on sticky toffee pudding uses pumpkin puree instead of the traditional dates, and is topped with a hard sauce made with bourbon.

  • Liz Lorber's Famous Hummingbird Cake
    Liz Lorber's Famous Hummingbird Cake

    Friend Liz Lorber’s hummingbird cake -- a moist spiced cake with pecans, pineapple, and banana that's iced with cream-cheese frosting -- is a staple of Quatrano’s Thanksgiving holiday table.

  • Warm Pumpkin Pudding with Hard Sauce
    Warm Pumpkin Pudding with Hard Sauce

    This Thanksgiving take on sticky toffee pudding uses pumpkin puree instead of the traditional dates, and is topped with a hard sauce made with bourbon.

  • Maple Pecan Pie
    Maple Pecan Pie

    Quatrano's pie is made with locally grown Elliott pecans and sweetened with maple syrup rather than the often-used corn syrup.

  • Liz Lorber's Famous Hummingbird Cake
    Liz Lorber's Famous Hummingbird Cake

    Friend Liz Lorber’s hummingbird cake -- a moist spiced cake with pecans, pineapple, and banana that's iced with cream-cheese frosting -- is a staple of Quatrano’s Thanksgiving holiday table.

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