Holiday Menus: A Twist on Tradition

Holiday menus are a great way to show off a chef’s creativity on traditional menu items. While several consider Thanksgiving a holiday to stay in and cook at home with the family, we’ve noticed a shift within the past few years in consumer behavior in relation to dining out on Turkey Day. Last year, data pulled from the Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI) showed 18.7 million consumers had mentioned eating out for at least one meal on Thanksgiving Day. Most of these consumers chose to eat their Thanksgiving meals at a casual dining place, with fast casual coming in second. The most active states for eating out on Turkey Day were (in order): New York, California, New Jersey, Florida and Virginia.

But what goes into a holiday menu? How does one make traditional holiday fare, like turkey and sides, unique? After scraping through seemingly endless emails promoting holiday menus for 2014, one in particular caught our attention. Swine Southern Table & Bar, located in Miami, perfectly exudes a holiday menu that marries tradition with a unique twist. From noon ’til 8:30 p.m., at $58 per person, Swine’s four-course Thanksgiving menu will include things like Smoked Sweet Potato Salad, a 72-hour Brined & Smoked Turkey Breast, Wood Grilled Pork Loin, and a Butternut Squash S’mores Cheesecake. (Check out the full menu below.)

Conceptualizing the Menu

We were able to pull Swine Executive Chef Phil Bryant out of the kitchen for a bit to talk menu inspiration and origin. As a bonus, we also got the scoop on menu pairings and some delicious cocktail recipes from 50 Eggs Head Barman Josh Holliday. Bon Appetit!

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What was the inspiration behind Swine’s Thanksgiving menu?

PB: The inspiration is a traditional Thanksgiving meal and familiar flavors. A lot of the dishes are versions of things I grew up eating or became accustomed to cooking while in Virginia – Turkey Andouille being one of them (featured in an appetizer of smoked Virginia sausage over a salad of black eye’d peas and marinated tomatoes). Other dishes are just favorites: a really good oyster stew, great turkey, and hearty sides. 

What’s the origin of some of the menu items?

PB: Most of the items on the menu are rooted in tradition, whether from a seasonality aspect or just having to do with Thanksgiving. The oyster stew with grilled zucchini bread is a riff on oyster stuffing. We cook the turkey breast and legs separately to coax out their different qualities and keep both cuts juicy, but the dish as a whole still highlights familiar ingredients like cranberries and collards. The sweet potato salad is like the baked sweet potatoes we grew up with, but an adult version without marshmallows.

Tell us about some of the protein you’re using.

PB: We’ll be getting redfish from Louisiana and some beautiful shrimp from the Gulf, as well as some Niman Ranch pork loin.

What kind of crowds do you expect on Thanksgiving?

PB: Hoping for a full house and a fun, family-style crowd.

Will there be any specialty beverages from the bar? What are the best drinks to pair with each of the main third course dishes?

JH: We’ve got a Spiced Cranberry Old Fashioned that goes best with turkey. If you opt for the pork, order a Smoked Pear cocktail with Bulleit Rye, Atlantico Rum, smoked pear puree and sparkling wine. For those who [choose to] keep it on the lighter side with fish, go for a Peach Basil Smash with Sazerac Rye, Atlantico Rum, white peach puree and basil leaves. (Check out the full recipes below!)

Behind the Bar

Spiced Cranberry Old Fashioned

2 oz Sazerac Rye                             

3-4 oz Spiced Cranberry Syrup            

2 Dashes Angostura Orange Bitters   

1 Dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a Rocks Glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange spiral. 

Smoked Pear

3-4 oz Bulleit Rye                             

3-4 oz Atlantico Rum                    

3-4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice                  

3-4 oz Simple Syrup                          

1-2 oz Smoked Pear Puree                 

1 Dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters     

Top with Sparkling Wine

Shake 1-6 with ice and strain into a Mason Jar or Collins Glass filled with ice. Garnish with two smoked almonds and a lemon wheel

 

Spiced Cranberry Old Fashioned

Spiced Cranberry Old Fashioned

Smoked Pear Cocktail

Smoked Pear Cocktail

Peach Basil Smash Cocktail

Peach Basil Smash Cocktail

Peach Basil Smash

3-4 oz Sazerac Rye                           

3-4 oz Atlantico Rum                          

3-4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice                  

3-4 oz Simple Syrup                          

1-2 oz White Peach Puree                  

3-4 Large Basil Leaves                     

1 Dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a Chilled Coupe or Cocktail Glass. Garnish with a basil leaf and a lemon wheel.