Though Josiah Citrin’s Mélisse has earned two Michelin stars, his Thanksgiving dinner is based on the same flavors his mom served when he was growing up, “except for at the restaurant we do it in more of a fine dining way, the way we cook at Mélisse, haute cuisine-style.”
That means: Brining and air-drying the turkey before roasting it; poaching rectangles of yam in chicken stock and butter and then topping it with pecan praline and piping a yam meringue over the top and brûléeing it with a hot coal; roasting whole cranberries slowly with brown sugar, lemon, lime and orange zest, cloves and star anise so they remain whole (he’s making 3,500 portions this year to serve at the Los Angeles Mission’s Thanksgiving dinner); and then serving them with a light turkey reduction and some mushroom duxelles.
“Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday,” Citrin says. “It’s the holiday that’s always been the most important in my family. Except for a turkey sandwich, we pretty much don’t eat turkey all year long. We eat turkey for that one day and then with all of the leftovers for that weekend, and then you’re kind of good for the whole year not having turkey. So turkey definitely makes me feel like it’s Thanksgiving.”
Mélisse, 1104 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, (310) 395-0881, melisse.com.
We asked Niki Nakayama from N/Naka, Eduardo Ruiz from Miel y Corazon, Kris Yenbamroong from Night + Market, Miles Thompson from Allumette, and Josiah Citrin from Melisse to let their imaginations go with the holiday flavors that meant the most to them. There are no recipes, just creative cooks thinking about food in a different way and then telling us about what’s important to them, but on the plate and in their homes.