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How to Make Your Thanksgiving Dinner Even Better

How to Upgrade Your Thanksgiving Feast

From heritage turkeys to brown butter Dutch apple pies, Chicago chefs are making it easier to have a tastier holiday.

November 1, 2023, 9:00 am

It’s November, which means it’s time to start getting ready for my very favorite holiday of all — Thanksgiving! Yes, the one holiday per year that is gift-free and focused on friends, family, and feasting. But just because Thanksgiving is clearly the most wonderful of all days doesn’t mean that it’s easy to pull off. This year, instead of giving you a lot of places to eat Thanksgiving dinner out, here are some ideas to make your Thanksgiving at home even more fun.

Get a great turkey

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While some people still swear by the old Butterball, I’m of the very strong opinion that it’s worth spending extra money to get a really great turkey. After all, it’s the centerpiece of the whole day, and the difference in taste is quite noticeable. There are many places in town to get an especially good turkey, but here are some favorites. First, Mint Creek Farm allows you to reserve a turkey (including heritage breeds) and then pick it up at farmers markets throughout the city. Publican Quality Meats is selling Slagel Farms turkeys in a variety of sizes, as well as a ton of other Thanksgiving dishes to go. Paulina Market has a variety of products, including Amish-raised turkeys, pre-brined turkeys to save you time, and partially deboned or spatchcocked turkeys if you want to try a different cooking method.

Figure out what to cook

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Every website, magazine, and blog has Thanksgiving recipe ideas, and reading them is part of the fun of this time of year. But if you want to make something that has a connection to Chicago, check out this article with Thanksgiving recipe ideas from Chicago chefs. I’ll be trying the charred broccoli with pickled radishes and lemon from Dear Margaret’s Ryan Brosseau.

Buy some goodies

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One way to make Thanksgiving easier is to buy part of the meal from a restaurant. Dessert is a great place to start — Cindy’s is hosting “pie in the sky,” an event where you can pick up awesome pies (and maybe also have a couple of drinks on the rooftop the day before the big event). On November 21 and 22, from 3 to 6 p.m., Cindy’s will have four different pies for sale, including bourbon pecan and brown butter Dutch apple. Hewn Bakery is selling not just pies, but also breads, rolls, pastry-wrapped brie, and, best of all, housemade stuffing mix. If you want to buy the entire meal and just worry about serving it, has you covered, with a complete Thanksgiving feast (including Cajun-smoked turkey, ham, sides, and gravy). If you still want to cook some sides, but don’t want to deal with the bird, Sun Wah BBQ will let you bring in your own turkey and they’ll cook it for you in their signature style. Call to reserve a spot in advance, and all you have to do is pick it up. The best place to find the details is on their Facebook page.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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