Celebrity Chef Offers Thanksgiving Day Prep, Tips, Recipes

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As we all begin to shift gears in preparation for the holidays, and what they will resemble amidst the pandemic, Chef Eric LeVine, award-winning celebrity chef, and partner at 317 Main Street, wants to share some ideas and recipes.

 

If you're thinking of scaling down a big gathering, from 30+ people to maybe just the immediate family of 6-10, chef has some ideas on how to ensure the holiday still feels whole, but with some minor changes.

  • For small or intimate gatherings, instead of using the whole bird, use turkey breast and/or drum sticks instead. You can also use leftovers for sandwiches or a hearty soup.
  • If it's just two people, use Cornish game hens vs a whole turkey
  • Turkey tenderloin is a great cut for a smaller group (2-6 people). You can also stuff it with holiday staples like butternut squash, sweet potato, cranberries and spinach
  • If you're not a turkey lover to begin with, it's OK to skip altogether and instead, serve up some killer sides like a butternut squash ravioli (recipe below).

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Chef can also provide tips and tricks on how to brine and cook a while turkey, how to make the best homemade cranberry relish, and having the perfect sides from mac & cheese, to green beans and cornbread.

Butternut squash Ravioli with Cauliflower and brussels sprouts

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PASTA

  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs

FOR THE FILLING

  • 1 (10-oz.) container butternut squash puree
  • 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 c. ricotta
  • 1 tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. freshly chopped sage
  • 2 tsp. freshly chopped thyme
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Pour flour mixture out onto a clean surface. Using your hands, make a well in center of flour. Crack eggs into well and use a fork to slowly whisk flour into eggs until a shaggy dough forms. Use your hands to knead dough until smooth and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes. Add flour to surface as necessary to keep dough from sticking. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. When ready to roll pasta, cut dough into quarters. Wrap all but 1 back in plastic wrap and place back in refrigerator
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll uncovered dough into a long rectangle about 1/4" thick. Set pasta maker to widest setting and pass the rolled out dough through 2 times. Fold short ends of dough to meet in center of rectangle, then fold in half so that the dough is in quarters. Roll out again so the dough is 1/4" thick, then pass through pasta maker 2 more times.
  4. Reduce setting by one degree. Repeat process of folding and then rolling through machine 2 to 3 times before going to the next setting. Repeat this process all the way to the thinnest setting. If your pasta sheet becomes too long to work with, cut it in half. Repeat with remaining dough in refrigerator. Keep rolled out dough covered with a clean kitchen towel.
  5. In a large bowl, combine butternut squash puree, Parmesan, ricotta, and brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Lay one piece of dough out on a lightly floured surface. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling every 1 inch. If you pasta sheet is wide enough, make 2 rows of filling. Using your finger, lightly wet in between each pile of filling with water. Gently lay a second piece of dough over top and press between filling to seal, making sure there is as little air in pockets as possible. Using a pasta cutter or pizza wheel, cut between each pocket to make individual ravioli. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Refrigerate until ready to cook
  7. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and cook until foamy. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until butter starts to smell nutty, turns a deep golden, and the bubbling starts slowing down, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, sage, and thyme and cook until fragrant, 1 minute, then remove pan from heat.
  8. In a large pot of boiling salted water, working in batches, add ravioli and cook until tender, about 1 1/2 minutes. Use a spider to remove from water and place directly in brown butter. Gently toss to coat.
  9. Serve warm with Parmesan.

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While most kids were playing with action figures, Eric was in the kitchen testing and tasting recipes.  As a youngster growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Eric found excitement, challenges and passion in his favorite place – the kitchen.

He studied at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and soon after graduation, worked under celebrity chef David Burke at the River Café.  He credits this experience with sparking his creative artistry with food.

Chef Eric believes that food speaks a universal language.  He has worked with Chef Jean-Louis Le Massion from Le Petite Café in France, Chef Giovanni Brunell at Il Tratattoire da Familia in Italy, and Master Chef Lee Ho of Otani from Japan. The world took notice, as Chef Eric became Chef de Cuisine at the famed Marriott Marquis in New York City.  Chef Eric continued to incorporate internationally flavors while introducing new techniques to his preparation and presentation. 


 

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The James Beard Foundation recognized Chef Eric for his contributions to the gastronomic culinary scene in the United States and nominated him for Outstanding Chef of Year. In addition, Chef Eric was also invited for the third time to host a dinner at the James Be­ard House in New York for the Great Regional Chefs of America Series, the first catering chef to be given this prestigious opportunity.

The superlatives continued when The International Chef's Association named Chef Eric Creative Caterer of the Year and Chef of the Year – the only American chef to receive that distinction. Chef Eric has been twice featured in Wine Spectator Magazine with an Award of Excellence.


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USA TODAY recognized him as one of the Top Ten New Chefs. Food Art Magazine named Chef Eric one of the Top Ten Chefs.  He was featured in Jezebel Magazine in the Top Twenty Chefs of Distinction.  Catering Magazine, Cater Source Magazine and Chef Magazine all recognized him for his creative small plate creations and trend setting approach. In 2011, he become the Food Network's "Chopped" champion.

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