Thanksgiving is Chef Glenn Babcock’s favorite holiday for two reasons: food and quality time spent with family. Read on for tips the executive chef of Regis University's food service company Bon Appétit suggests for hosting a sustainable and healthy feast for the holiday.

“I’d recommend keeping it simple — simple ingredients done well. Our principle is applying locally sourced, fresh and healthy food.”

Crispy kale with balsamic and brown sugar

Here's what you need:  Feeds 8-12
2 bunches lacinato kale. Cleaned, stems and ribs removed, chopped in 1-2" strips
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 strips of thick cut bacon (optional), julienned
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt 

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Render bacon (optional) in extra virgin olive oil until almost brown, add shallot. Add kale (should sizzle and pop), sauté for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Add balsamic and sprinkle salt and stir until evenly coated. Throw the pan in the oven for 3-4 minutes. Kale will be crispy on the edges. Serve warm or room temperature.

“Stay away from beef to reduce your carbon footprint. Finding local turkeys is hard, but if you have a small family, you can go with chicken.”

Turkey and apple leek sourdough stuffing

Here's what you need:  Feeds 6-8  

Apple Leek Sourdough Stuffing  

1 sourdough boule, medium dice, set out to dry overnight
4 oz. unsalted butter
3 large leeks, washed thoroughly, tops and roots removed, julienned
3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, small dice 
5 ribs celery, washed, small dice
1 tablespoon sage, fresh, minced
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup turkey stock
2 whole eggs / 2 yolks
1.5 tablespoon salt
1/4 tablespoon black pepper

Toast sourdough pieces at 350 degrees for 4 minutes. Sauté leeks in butter, add apples and celery. Add zest and herbs. Remove from heat. In large mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Mix evenly. Bake in a greased 9x13 casserole dish covered with aluminum foil for 40 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Turkey Brine
Make sure to thaw your turkey a couple days in advance. The turkey needs to sit in the brine for at least overnight before cooking.  

15 lb. turkey, giblets removed, rinsed thoroughly

1 cup salt
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon sage
1 tablespoon savory (herb)
1 tablespoon thyme
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 oranges, zest and juice
2 lemons, zest and juice
2 bay leaves 6 peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
2 juniper berries
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 gallon water
1.5 gallons ice water  

Boil ingredients in 1 gallon of water. Remove from heat. Add 1.5 gallons of ice water. In non-reactive pot or container, fully submerge turkey in brine. Brine overnight. 

Directions for turkey:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. 

4 large carrots, large dice
4 ribs celery, large dice 
1 large onion, large dice
Giblets, thoroughly rinsed
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 sprigs of thyme

Remove turkey from brine and rinse. Rub outside and inside with 1/4 cup of butter, lightly season with salt and pepper. (Optional, throw 1/2 lemon and 1/2 apple and some sage inside the bird.) In a large roasting pan, add the other 1/4 cups butter, carrot, celery, onion, thyme and giblets to the pan. Set your turkey on top, breast down. Roast for 1 hour. Flip your bird. Roast for another 30 minutes, basting every 20 minutes or so. Bird should be nice and brown, but the internal temperature should be at 100 - 110 degrees. Drop heat to 300 degrees. Baste occasionally and check temperature every 20 minutes or until the bird is 160 degrees at the thigh. (Should be an additional 90 - 120 minutes.) Remove from oven, baste again and cover with foil.  Let rest for 10 minutes. Check final temperature of the bird to be 165+ degrees at the thigh. Serve hot to room temperature.

Pro tip:  Make or buy your turkey stock separately, but don't forget to add the pan-drippings at the end for the best gravy.

“Having a variety of vegetables is just as important as your protein. Include three to four vegetable options: a salad; roasted carrots and brussels sprouts; one starchy vegetable and a green vegetable.”

Green bean casserole

Here's what you need:  Serves 6-8

1.5 lbs. green beans, washed, trimmed, french cut
8 oz. fresh oyster mushrooms
1 large shallot, minced
3 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sherry wine
1 cup milk (preferably whole)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon thyme, washed, stemmed, minced

For cripsy shallots:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
6 large shallots, thinly sliced
pan spray

Directions for shallots:
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Add flour to evenly coat the shallots. Let rest for 5 minutes to help absorb some flour mixture. Spray cookie sheet liberally. Remove shallots from flour and add to cookie sheet. Lightly spray shallots with pan spray and "oven fry" for 4 minutes. Shallots should be golden brown.

Directions for casserole:
Decrease oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Blanch and shock green beans. Sauté shallots in butter on stove. Add mushrooms and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze. Add 2 tablespoons flour, coat evenly. Deglaze with sherry, let the flour absorb and add milk. Should thicken without lumps. Remove from heat. Add green beans and 1 egg yolk. Mix evenly and throw into greased 8"x8" square casserole dish. Top with crispy shallots. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve warm.

“Thanksgiving is a little bit about indulgence, but you can get proteins through grains and legumes and not be too carb-intensive. You can shine outside mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.”

Fresh cranberry relish

Serve next to canned cranberry sauce for holiday purists.

Here's what you need:  Serves 6-8

4 cups fresh cranberries
1 large fennel, washed, core removed, small dice
1.5 cups sugar
2 oranges, zest and juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Thai basil, chiffonade

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Lightly pulse 1/3 mixture in food processor, reserve. Blend remaining mixture to fine pulp. Combine chunky with less chunky. Refrigerate (can be made a day in advance) and serve cold. Garnish with fresh oranges or fennel fronds.

Bon Appétit general manager Letina Matheny recommends looking for local produce at your grocery store. She says that the more you buy locally, the more often stores will get these foods in and at a lower price point.

Bon Appétit provides the Regis University community with locally and sustainably sourced cuisine year-round.