Top chefs' Thanksgiving recipes

To help you prepare for an unforgettable feast, a few of South Carolina's top chefs share some of their savory secrets that you and your guests will be thankful for. Dinner is covered from the main dish to dessert - from barbecue turkey, cornbread dressing and butternut squash to Chef Robert Stehling's famous buttermilk pie.

BBQ Turkey

Chef James Clark

WaterScapes Restaurant

At the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, Myrtle Beach

Part 1


1 10-12 pound Turkey

1 ½ Gallons of Water

3 Cups Salt

3 Cups Sugar

1 Bunch of Thyme

1 Head Garlic Smashed


-         First, in a pot mix all ingredients together (Except the Turkey) and bring to a simmer and once the sugar and salt are dissolved pull off the heat and cool to 40 degrees. This is your Brine!!

-          Take the turkey and remove the back bone on both sides set it aside (To use for stock if you like) and then split the bird in half.  Once the brine is cooled to 40 degrees then submerge the 2 halves of turkey in the brine until it is fully covered.  The Turkey will want to float in the brine and you want to make sure it stays submerged and then place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

-          After 24 hours are up pull the halves out of the brine and discard the brine. Rinse the halves well and then pat dry and let sit for at least an hour at room temperature before you start cooking them. 

Part 2


  • The turkey can be cooked either in the Oven or table top Rotisserie but I prefer a grill. If you do not  have a charcoal grill then the Oven will be your best option unless you have one of the fancy gas grills with the electric  rotisserie then that will work fine but a standard gas grill you will be better off in the oven. 


On a Weber or Big Green Egg or something similar get your charcoal started.  You will need a thermometer for the temperature in the grill and one to probe the bird to check for doneness.  Once the coals have started glowing then push the all to one side and place a drip pan down with some water on the opposite side of the coals.  Place your grilling rack down and then your Turkey ½ of set from the coals.  Cover and cook for 1 hour trying to keep the temperature in the grill at 210 degrees but no hotter you want the Turkey to cook slowly.  After an hour is up pull the lid off and baste the turkey with your favorite BBQ sauce recipe.  I recommend something light and not to thick until the very end but you want to keep the turkey moist so basting it lightly will make a big difference.  Repeat this every 15 to 20 min. until the turkey reaches and internal temperature of 160 degrees.  Once your turkey is close to 160 degrees your last few bastings can be with a heaver BBQ sauce if you prefer. 


I have added my favorite BBQ sauce recipe I like to use for this dish!

Carolina BBQ Sauce


½ gal Apple cider vinegar

2 cups Apple juice or apple cider

1 cup Dijon mustard

2 cups - ketchup

1 # brown sugar

½ qt. cans tomato juice

2 oz hot sauce

2 tabl black pepper

2 tabl Chili pepper

2 tabl salt

2 oz.  Worchester sauce

2 oz. Lemon juice

2 oz. Chopped garlic


Mix all ingredients together and bring to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. 

Johnny Cake Cornbread Stuffing

Patty Griffey

Abingdon Manor - Country Inn & Restaurant

Latta, SC

Ingredients for cornbread:

2 cups yellow corn meal

1 cup flour

1 cup milk

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

pinch of salt

Ingredients for stuffing:

6-8 pieces of toasted bread

1 cup diced onions & ½ cup diced celery sauteed in butter until softened

1 egg

½ to ¾ cup milk to moisten

Seasoning to taste: (2 teaspoons died sage, rosemary or thyme)

¾  cup pecans, craisins or dried apricots


Mix all ingredients for cornbread together, pour into a greased pan or iron skillet and bake in a preheated 357 degree over for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and crumble in a large bowl.

Add ingredients for stuffing and mix until well combined, add additional seasoning and fruits to taste. Use to stuff turkey or place in a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Smoked Butternut Squash Soup

Confit Chicken Leg, Chive Crème

Chef Rodney Freidank, Corporate Chef

Table 301

Greenville, SC

8 Chicken Leg Quarters
1 cup Kosher Salt
1⁄3 cup Brown Sugar
5 tsp Granulated Garlic
25 Black Peppercorns, crushed
2 tsp Ground White Pepper
½ tsp Ground Cloves
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
3 Bay Leaves, crushed
2 tsp Dry Thyme
2 qts Chicken Stock

4 cups Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
Hickory Wood Smoking Chips
1 Tbs Olive Oil
½ cup Yellow Onion, diced
1 qt Chicken Stock
½ cup Maple Syrup
2 Tbs Cornstarch
1 pint Heavy Cream
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper

For the Chicken: Start at least one day ahead. Rinse the chicken legs and pat them dry. Make a dry spice mix with the remaining ingredients except the chicken stock. Generously coat the chicken pieces in the spice mix. Wrap the chicken legs in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. Remove the plastic wrap from the chicken and rinse thoroughly under cold running water, rubbing the chicken with your hands to remove as much of the spice mix as possible. Heat the chicken stock in a pan large enough to hold the legs and the liquid. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the chicken legs. Simmer the chicken legs uncovered for about 1 hour or until they become quite tender. Remove the legs from the liquid and allow them to cool slightly. When the chicken is just cool enough to handle, remove the skin, pull the meat from the bones, and shred it with your hands. Use the chicken now or refrigerate until needed.

For the Soup: Smoke the butternut squash in a smoker or on the grill, for 3 to 5 minutes (see the method on page 49). The squash quickly picks up the smoke flavor and can become bitter if smoked too long.
Sauté the onion in a large soup pot with the olive oil until it is soft and lightly caramelized. Add the smoked butternut squash and the chicken stock.
Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for approximately 30minutes or until the squash is very tender and falls apart when touched with afork. Dissolve the cornstarch in the heavy cream, and then add it and the maple syrup to the soup. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes. Purée in small batches in a blender. Season with cayenne pepper and salt to taste.
The soup can be made several days in advance and refrigerated until needed. Heat to serve.

Chive Crème:
¼ lb Fresh Chives
1 cup Spinach Leaves
1 pint Heavy Cream

For the Chive Crème: Blanch the spinach and chives for 10 seconds and
shock (see the method on page 131). Squeeze the spinach and chives to
remove the excess water and finely chop. Place the chives and spinach in a
blender with half the cream and purée until smooth. Remove the mixture
from the blender and whisk in the remaining cream. Season to taste with
the salt. Chill until needed.

Finish the Dish: Arrange a pile of warm chicken in the center of a heated
soup bowl and pour the hot butternut soup around the chicken. Top with
the chive crème.

Pairing Suggestion: Pinot Noir (Sonoma, Napa, Carneros).
The smokiness in an oak-aged Pinot is a perfect match for the smoke in
the dish.

Buttermilk Pie

Chef Robert Stehling

Hominy Grill

Charleston, SC

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 baked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine butter and sugar until sugar is completely incorporated. Add egg yolks and mix well to combine. Add flour, lemon juice, nutmeg and salt. With the mixer running, slowly add buttermilk. Mix well and set aside. In another bowl, whip egg whites until they form soft peaks. Pour a small amount of the buttermilk mixture into the whites. Fold gently to combine. Gently fold egg white mixture into remaining buttermilk mixture until just combined. Pour custard into baked pie shell. Bake in the middle of the oven until filling is lightly browned and barely moves when the pie is jiggled, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in a rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers.