Ask Chef Nicole: Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Nicole Straight

Thanksgiving is my all time favorite holiday, there’s no pressure to give gifts, and the whole day is about being together with people you love (or at least like very much) and think about all of the things I am grateful for.  And of course, there’s the meal…

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I must admit I am a bit of a purist.  I want to know that this annual meal will taste exactly as it did last year and the year before that.  The recipes I use are the ones my mother used and the ones her mother used.  While I have made some small changes over the years (mostly to make life easier) the flavors are exactly the same as I remember them when I was young.  My other favorite thing about Thanksgiving is the day after Thanksgiving sandwich, which is basically a little bit of everything (warmed just a little) stuffed between 2 soft pieces of white bread.   

When you make these recipes, be sure to make a little extra so you have enough for those yummy “day after sandwiches." Here are three of my favorites: Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Prosciutto, Chestnuts and Apple; Mapled Sweet Potatoes; Classic Cranberry Sauce. 

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Prosciutto, Chestnuts and Apple


3 C. brussel sprouts, cut in half

¼ lb. prosciutto

2 tbs. olive oil

kosher salt and pepper

1 C. roasted chestnuts, cut in half (most stores sell good pre-roasted ones around the holidays)

1 thinly sliced Fuji apple

Preheat oven to 400.  Toss all ingredients together gently in a bowl and spread onto a Silpat lined baking sheet, making sure they don’t overlap.  Use two cookie sheets if needed so everything cooks evenly.  (You can also line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray).  

Roast sprouts for 10 minutes, gently turn with a spatula, and continue cooking for another 8-10 minutes or until prosciutto is crisp and sprouts have softened.


Mapled Sweet Potatoes


4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 2” pieces

½ C. maple syrup

The peel from 1 clementine or orange, cut into about 5-6 pieces

2 C. orange juice (or enough to cover the potatoes half way)

3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

pinch of kosher salt

pinch of cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375.  Add all ingredients into a casserole pan.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are soft when pierced with a knife.  Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes before serving.   Note- The potatoes can be baked 1 day in advance and reheated for 20 minutes (or until warm) on Thanksgiving before serving. 


Cranberry Sauce

1 C. orange juice

3/4 C. sugar

12-oz bag fresh cranberries (3 cups)

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest


Bring juice and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries just pop, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in zest, then cool.  Note- Cranberry sauce can be prepared 2-3 days before Thanksgiving and kept in a Tupperware container until ready to use.