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My family's Thanksgiving dish to die for

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Turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes are staples of any Thanksgiving feast. But every family has that dish to die for that makes the whole meal sing.

We asked three Rochester chefs to share the recipes that had them clamoring for more as children at the kids’ table and that they still prepare today — with any updates of their own.

Loosen that collar and unbuckle that belt to make room for these Turkey Day treats.

WILFREDO ARGUINZONI'S CARAMEL FLAN
Palermo's Market Chef Wilfredo Arguinzoni says the Thanksgiving caramel flam baked by his mother, Cheryl Lynn Arguinzoni, us sweet and creamy with a lemony zest. - PHOTO BY DARIO JOSEPH
  • PHOTO BY DARIO JOSEPH
  • Palermo's Market Chef Wilfredo Arguinzoni says the Thanksgiving caramel flam baked by his mother, Cheryl Lynn Arguinzoni, us sweet and creamy with a lemony zest.
Hailing from a family of nine, Palermo’s Market Chef Wilfredo Arguinzoni says the traditional Latin dessert “would not last long” when it made an appearance during the holiday. His mother, Cheryl Lynn Arguinzoni, the baker in the family, perfected the caramel flan, and Wilfredo recalls helping her if only “to lick the spoon.” Wilredo has not altered his mother’s recipe aside from adding fresh lemon juice. “On top of the sweet and creaminess, you get a light lemony zest,” he says.

Chef Wilfredo Arguinzoni, in the stroller, walks in downtown Rochester with his mother and siblings once upon a time. - PHOTO PROVIDED BY WILFREDO ARGUINZONI
  • PHOTO PROVIDED BY WILFREDO ARGUINZONI
  • Chef Wilfredo Arguinzoni, in the stroller, walks in downtown Rochester with his mother and siblings once upon a time.

How to make it:

Ingredients
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
6 large eggs
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar



Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs, cream cheese, milk, and vanilla extract in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Sprinkle sugar in an even layer in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the edges start to brown, about 1 minute. Drag sugar into the center with a spatula. Continue cooking, stirring from time to time, until caramel is an even golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour 1 inch boiling water into a large oven-safe pot or baking dish to make a water bath.

Pour caramel into a 9-inch flan mold or baking pan. Swirl so that caramel reaches 1 inch up the sides. Pour the condensed milk mixture on top. Set in the water bath.

Set the flan and water bath in the preheated oven; bake until a damp table knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.

Chill flan in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 to 3 hours.

Invert onto a serving plate so that caramel is on top.

STEVEN LARA'S THANKSGIVING RICE PILAF
Carnegie Cellars Chef Steven Lara's variation on the Thanksgiving rice pilaf dish made by his grandmother, Phyllis Felicitas. - PHOTO BY DARIO JOSEPH
  • PHOTO BY DARIO JOSEPH
  • Carnegie Cellars Chef Steven Lara's variation on the Thanksgiving rice pilaf dish made by his grandmother, Phyllis Felicitas.
Carnegie Cellars Chef Steven Lara remembers smelling his favorite dish as a child because “the beef consommé is potent.” The original recipe, passed down from his grandmother, Phyllis Felicitas, consists of simple ingredients, much of which were store-bought. Lara has “chef’d up” the dish, elevating it while retaining its foundation. For instance, he swaps canned mushrooms for shiitake and uses pecorino Romano instead of cheddar cheese.

A young Carnegie Cellars Chef Steven Lara holds his mother's hand. His brothers are in the foreground. - PHOTO PROVIDED BY STEVEN LARA
  • PHOTO PROVIDED BY STEVEN LARA
  • A young Carnegie Cellars Chef Steven Lara holds his mother's hand. His brothers are in the foreground.

How to make it:

Ingredients for the rice
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion (small dice)
3/4 cup pecorino Romano
1 3/4 cup long grain wild rice
8oz shiitake mushroom
2 1/2 cup beef bone stock
1 garlic clove minced
1 cup dry white wine
2T olive oil

Directions
In 5.5q sauté pan, add oil and warm over medium high heat, add onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add rice and butter to pan and continue to cook until rice begins to brown.

Deglaze pan with white wine, stir contents of pan until wine has reduced by half. Add stock, shiitake, and pecorino.

Bring to boil then cover pan and reduce heat to low and let cook covered for 1 hour. Top with almond picada.

Ingredients for almond picada
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 slice day old bread (about 1/2-inch thick), crusts removed
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Marcona almonds (crushed)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 dash Kosher salt, to taste

Directions
In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the bread and cook until toasted and uniformly golden on both sides. Remove bread from the pan, and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into small cubes.

Return the skillet to the burner leaving any leftover olive oil from toasting the bread in the pan. Lightly toast the almonds and garlic until lightly golden, stirring frequently, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the burner.

Transfer the cubes to a food processor. Add the almonds, garlic, any remaining olive oil from the skillet, and the parsley. Pulse until finely chopped, check seasoning and add salt if necessary

LIZZIE CLAPP'S BUTTER TARTS
The recipe for Petit Poutinerie Chef Lizzie Clapp's butter tarts, a culinary heirloom from her Canadian father's side of the family, was handed down from her aunt, Beulah Brule. - PHOTO BY DARIO JOSEPH
  • PHOTO BY DARIO JOSEPH
  • The recipe for Petit Poutinerie Chef Lizzie Clapp's butter tarts, a culinary heirloom from her Canadian father's side of the family, was handed down from her aunt, Beulah Brule.

Lizzie Clapp, co-owner of Petit Poutinerie, recalls this sweet being at every family event. A culinary heirloom from her Canadian father’s side, the butter tart has, as Clapp puts it, “a classic flaky pastry crust and an interior of ooey-gooey caramely sensation.” Brown sugar, maple syrup and butter (repeat 3x) are the main ingredients. The tarts are unchanged from the original recipe, which Lizzie learned from her aunt, Beulah Brule, save for the addition of a maple leaf to the top as an homage to our northern neighbor.

Petit Poutinerie Chef Lizzie Clapp at the baking table as a young girl. - PHOTO PROVIDED BY LIZZIE CLAPP
  • PHOTO PROVIDED BY LIZZIE CLAPP
  • Petit Poutinerie Chef Lizzie Clapp at the baking table as a young girl.

How to make it:

Ingredients for the pastry
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lard
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vinegar
Cold water

Directions
Using a pastry cutter, cut butter and crisp into flour. Work in flour until crust is incorporated and chill. After at least an hour chill, roll out the dough with a pin until approximately seven 5-inch circles can be cut. Using a 5-inch round, cut out six circles and place in a greased muffin tin. With remaining dough cut out six small maple leaves.

Beulah Brule hand-written directions for her butter tarts were simple: "Roll, fill, bake, enjoy." - PHOTO PROVIDED BY LIZZIE CLAPP
  • PHOTO PROVIDED BY LIZZIE CLAPP
  • Beulah Brule hand-written directions for her butter tarts were simple: "Roll, fill, bake, enjoy."

Ingredients for the filling

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup

Directions
Combine in food processor until smooth. (Add golden raisins if desired, not for us at the Poutinerie.)

Fill the tart dough shells that have been rolled out and placed in the muffin tins 3/4 of the way full of sugar filling.

Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

Dario Joseph is a freelance food writer for CITY. He co-hosts the podcast “Refined Taste with Dario and Chris” with Chris Thompson, also a freelance food writer for CITY.

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