Thanks be to dinner: Domini Kemp’s recipes for November

Our head chef takes inspiration from across the pond for a Thanksgiving feast.

Domini Kemp’s Thanksgiving table offers a twist on the classics. Picture: Dean Carroll

Thanksgiving. It’s not something we normally celebrate around these parts, but due to the usual turkey fatigue in December, we had a novel idea this year. Why not celebrate with a traditional Thanksgiving in November, and then take a more global approach to December recipes?

After all, Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks (duh!) to those you love (Americans include God in this line-up), spending time with aforementioned loved ones, and being grateful for all the positive things in our lives.

I encourage you to be grateful for this dry-brine, which has achieved impressive results. It was a million miles away from the brining solutions and big bucket experiments of yonder years.

Also, because there aren’t loads of turkeys around in November, I felt pretty happy about buying a small frozen crown that was great value, and the leftovers made lots of lovely additions to many dishes over the next few days. All recipes serve six.

The dry brine used here offers lots of flavour without the faff of a typical wet brine. Picture: Dean Carroll

Dry-brined roast turkey


2kg frozen turkey crown on the bone

100g coarse sea salt

1 tbsp dried thyme

1 tbsp dried oregano

60g brown sugar

Bay leaves

150g butter, soft

For the glaze

200ml sherry vinegar

100ml Worcestershire sauce

Inch-long piece of fresh chilli

2 large sprigs rosemary

Zest and juice of 1 orange

3 tbsp runny honey


1. Put the frozen turkey in a roasting tray that will fit into your fridge. Mix the salt, sugar, and herbs, including the bay leaves, together and pack onto the turkey. Loosely cover with foil and leave in your fridge for at least 12-24 hours. You may have to repack the salt rub onto the turkey so that it gets to permeate the flesh on all sides.

2. When the turkey has thawed enough to pull the skin off the breast, (but leave it attached to the base of the bird), see if you can carefully separate it from the breast and then stuff it with the soft butter. Some salt will naturally get embedded in the butter, which is no bad thing.

3. When you’re ready to cook, take the turkey out of the fridge. Dust or wipe away excess salt and clean out the tin by giving it a quick wipe. Let the turkey come to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 180C, then cook for about 20 minutes per kg plus 70 minutes: for my 2kg bird, it was about 2 hours, once the turkey was at room temperature

4. To make the glaze, put all the ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer gently until reduced by half. Use this and the butter that will collect in the roasting tin to baste the turkey and then use as gravy. If the skin gets too brown (because of the honey), keep it covered with a foil tent. Make sure to baste regularly. Then, when your turkey is cooked, allow it to rest at room temperature covered in foil for at least 20 minutes before carving and serving.

This mac and cheese officially serves six, but we won’t tell anyone if you want to keep it all to yourself. Picture: Dean Carroll

Best ever mac and cheese


500g macaroni

Olive oil

60g butter

60g flour

200ml white wine

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Salt and pepper

600g crème fraîche

4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

250g Gruyère, grated

100g Emmental, grated

50g Parmesan, grated

260g bacon lardons

Pinch brown sugar

Crispy shallots or onions


1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water until nearly cooked. Drain, rinse in cold water and then pour on a glug of olive oil and mix it through, which will stop the pasta sticking together. Set aside.

2. In a non-stick saucepan, cook the butter and flour over a medium heat for a minute or so while stirring with a whisk. Cook the roux so that the flour cooks out and it starts to go a golden brown. Slowly add the wine, whisking continuously so that it forms a smooth, thick liquid which will look incredibly unappetising. Cook over a gentle heat, then add the mustard, season loads and add the crème fraîche and garlic. Cook for a few more minutes and taste.

3. Heat up another knob of butter in a frying pan and fry the bacon until crisp, adding a pinch of sugar to help it caramelise. Drain on kitchen paper and chuck into the cream mixture.

4. In a large bowl, mix the macaroni with the cream mixture and stir in the grated Gruyère and Emmental. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Butter a large gratin dish, spoon in the macaroni mix and top with the grated Parmesan. Cook for about 35 minutes in the oven until golden and bubbling on top – cover with foil if the top begins to brown too quickly. Remove from the oven, garnish with the crispy shallots and serve. You can leave this overnight assembled in the dish, then bake the next day.

Green beans are a Thanksgiving staple, but this version from Domini Kemp is a complete upgrade. Picture: Dean Carroll

Green beans with caramelised onions and mushrooms


750g green beans, trimmed

500g mushrooms, sliced

60g butter

1 large white onion, peeled and sliced

Salt and pepper

100ml olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

100ml olive oil

Toasted pecan nuts, to serve


1. Blanch the green beans for about 15 seconds in boiling, salted water, then refresh in cold water and set aside.

2. Sauté the mushrooms over a high heat with the butter. When they are starting to brown and caramelise, add a splash of olive oil and season well. When cooked, remove the mushrooms from the frying pan, trying to leave as much fat in the pan as you can. Sauté the onions in the same pan until soft and caramelised. Season really well, then deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegar. Add the mushrooms and green beans to the pan, with a little more butter if necessary. Arrange on a serving platter, garnish with toasted pecans, then serve immediately.

A far cry from American Thanksgiving sweet potatoes that are served with marshmallows, this version includes sweetness from maple syrup that is balanced with a hit of miso and pickled ginger. Picture: Dean Carroll

Sticky maple sweet potatoes with miso and ginger


4 sweet potatoes

50ml olive oil

200ml maple syrup

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Good pinch chilli flakes

1 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp miso

Sliced pickled sushi ginger

20g coriander

1 bunch spring onions, sliced

Lime wedges, to serve

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds


1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Slice the sweet potatoes into 2cm slices, place onto baking trays and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until they become a bit soft. Make sure to flip over halfway.

2. In a small saucepan, heat up the maple syrup with vinegar, chilli, tamari and miso, then pour onto the sweet potatoes. Continue roasting until cooked through and starting to get sticky and caramelised in parts.

3. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a platter. Top with the spring onions, chopped coriander, lime wedges and sprinkles of sesame seeds. Serve immediately.