Thanksgiving dinner pairing recommendation from Masterchef Graham Eliot

Wine Spectator


Thanksgiving menus are all more or less the same (turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, squash, beans), and yet no two menus are truly alike, thanks to family quirks, traditions, preferences and regional variations. With the holiday less than a week away, you probably have at least a general idea of what you’ll be cooking, but the recipes below, provided by Chicago-based chef Graham Elliot, will help you bring some delicious new flourishes to your traditional Thanksgiving table. (For those of you not quite ready to cook your turkey sous-vide—safely preparing food using the sous-vide method leaves little room for error—we’ve also got a classic roast turkey breast recipe from the Wine Spectator archive.)

Elliot, 33, is the executive chef at Graham Elliot, which received a star in the new Michelin guide for Chicago. He describes his restaurant as “‘bistronomic,’ juxtaposing four-star cuisine with humor, accessibility and a mindset that food is art, but dining should be fun.” Elliot is a veteran of the kitchens at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas, and Chicago’s Wine Spectator Grand Award winners Charlie Trotter’s and Tru, along with Avenues, which holds a Best of Award of Excellence. Television fans may recognize Elliot from the recent cooking competition show Masterchef, where he worked alongside restaurateur Joseph Bastianich and chef Gordon Ramsay to guide a crop of ambitious home cooks to televised culinary glory (and a large cash prize). In addition to running the kitchen at his eponymous restaurant, Elliot is currently preparing to open Grahamwich, a Chicago sandwich shop.

His philosophy is reflected in his restaurant’s wine program, led by Michael Simon, who has divided the 75-bottle list into popular music-themed categories like “one-hit wonders” (wines by the glass) and “power ballads” (lush whites and reds).

To go along with the menu, Elliot recommends pouring a wine like the Peay Syrah Sonoma Coast Les Titans 2007 (about $42), with its “sultry blend of white pepper, black- and blueberry compote, incense, bacon fat and grilled meats that is sophisticated enough to handle the food and wine-pairing curveball that is a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.” Elliot adds, “In this case, using a wild turkey, the gaminess is slightly augmented, [making it] more in-sync with the captivating depth of a cool-climate Syrah like Peay.”

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