Chicago Chef Jason Qureshi Shares His Best Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving table with turkey and side dishes
Photo: Carson Downing

Embrace flavors old and new with Thanksgiving recipes from Jason Qureshi, executive chef at River Roast in Chicago.

01 of 07

A Passion for Cooking

Jason Qureshi
Courtesy of River Roast

Jason Qureshi wants to create lasting memories for every guest, whether he's cooking for diners at River Roast, creating menus for special events like weddings, or attending a family get-together. A native of Los Angeles, Qureshi attended the culinary arts program at Los Angeles Harbor College. He started with River Roast as executive sous chef in 2019 and is now executive chef.

Growing up, he says, "Thanksgiving was always big. It was the one time when we all sat together—and for me learning to cook, it was my chance to share my passion with my family."

02 of 07

Spice-Brined Turkey

overhead shot of roast turkey partially carved on Thanksgiving tabletop
Carson Downing

Qureshi has been brining turkeys since his parents first let him help with the cooking. (Thank you, Food Network.) Giving poultry a long bath in herbs, spices, salt and sugar forces in flavor, boosts juiciness and aids browning. "It's a labor of love," he says, "but at the end of the day, it just really does make a difference."

03 of 07

Roasted Squash Salad

Roasted Squash Salad with Vanilla-Orange Vinaigrette
Carson Downing

Qureshi's dad is Indian, so the chef grew up seeing spices like cinnamon used in savory dishes. He thinks that's where he got the idea for this harvest salad, dressed in a vinaigrette of orange juice and vanilla bean paste. "Real vanilla has a delicate warmth that plays well with the squash, cherries, pepitas and goat cheese," he says.

04 of 07

Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese in casserole dish
Carson Downing

This side is a staple at River Roast, and Qureshi keeps the recipe basic—aside from one little twist. "Hot sauce is my secret ingredient," he says. "The acidity brings out the flavors in the cheeses and ties the whole dish together.

05 of 07

Lemon-Garlic Brussels Sprouts

Lemon-Garlic Brussels Sprouts
Carson Downing

With any meal­—especially a heavy one like Thanksgiving dinner—Qureshi says you want tang somewhere to give your palate a break. But cranberry sauce isn't the only way to get it. Dousing a vegetable like these skillet-browned sprouts in lemon juice wakes them up like a ray of winter-morning sunshine.

06 of 07

Brown-Butter Carrots with Brioche Breadcrumbs

Brown Butter Carrots with Brioche Breadcrumbs for a Thanksgiving table
Carson Downing

Imagine if you took the glazed carrots of your childhood and made them just a little extra. OK, a lot extra—with pools of nutty brown butter and honey, and a heap of brioche breadcrumbs. The dish is Qureshi's take on an old River Roast favorite, Carrots and Dirt, topped with pumpernickel.

07 of 07

Apple Crumble

Apple Crumble in a pie dish and individual servings
Carson Downing

If anyone bugs you about serving a crisp on Thanksgiving, just tell them it's a crustless pie. Qureshi prefers Granny Smith apples for their firm texture and tart flavor—the timeless counterpoint to buttery oats, brown sugar, and rivulets of melted ice cream.

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