A Thanksgiving Celebration with Friends

About Justin Wangler
A chef and his wife host a large holiday feast with elegance, style, and simplicity.

Thanks for Thanksgiving

For the last few years, Justin Wangler, chef for Kendall-Jackson Winery, and his wife, Leanne, have celebrated Thanksgiving by welcoming loved ones to an enormous feast at their tiny bungalow in California. On the following slides, Justin shares the treasured recipes he serves -- a mix of traditional dishes and inventive variations of old favorites.

Thanksgiving Shortcuts

Justin prepares his turkey ahead so there's less to do on Thanksgiving, and he can spend more time with his guests.

Justin's Make-Ahead Turkey

For best results, Justin cooks the turkey breast and legs separately. Braising the legs keeps them moist and creates a wonderful stock for gravy.

Chardonnay Glazed Carrots

For a fresh twist on this classic Thanksgiving side dish, Justin glazes carrots with verjus, the pressed juice from unripe grapes; it has a sweet-tart flavor and is similar to, but less sharp than, vinegar.

Savory Butternut Squash Dressing

This bread pudding-like stuffing, which you can make ahead, stays moist from the eggs and cream.

Pear & Arugula Salad

The sweetness of the pears complements the peppery arugula in this festive holiday salad.

Sweet Potatoes with Toasted Pecans

Toasted pecans and sticky-sweet marshmallows top creamy whipped sweet potatoes.

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are roasted and caramelized with butter, thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds, and sherry.

Priscilla's Persimmon & Pomegranate Salad

For a fresh and flavorful holiday salad, Justin tosses persimmons, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, olive oil, and cilantro in lime juice.

Pumpkin Corn Bread

Masa harina, a fine corn flour, gives this bread light texture with nice corn flavor.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Pinot Noir verjus (the pressed juice from unripe grapes) adds another layer of flavor to traditional cranberry sauce.

Pecan-Cranberry Tart with Sweet Buttermilk Ice Cream

This tart has all the goodness of pecan pie with a sweet-tart hit from the cranberries. It's served with Sweet Buttermilk Ice Cream; buttermilk adds tang to ice cream giving it a frozen yogurt-like taste.

Pairing Wine & Food

"The key to pairing wine and food is to balance the flavors of the two," says Justin. His Thanksgiving wines of choice are Kendall-Jackson's Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay ($16), Vintner's Reserve Pinot Noir ($21), and Vintner's Reserve Riesling ($13) because they "have rich layers of flavor and complexity while maintaining a delicate balance."

About Justin Wangler

Justin grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, where he worked in restaurants and attended culinary school. After moving to California, he began spending Thanksgiving with friends. "People are so far flung these days that many of us don't get home for the holidays," he says. "Our friends become our family, and we celebrate with them."

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