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Dishing with Las Vegas chefs about Thanksgiving traditions and recipes

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Alex Karvounis

Carlos Guia of Country Club at the Wynn.

Updated Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011 | 12:21 p.m.

Editor's Note: Carla Pellegrino's recipe was swapped at 12:21 p.m. on Nov. 23, 2011. Please discard her previously posted recipe. Our apologies for any inconvenience.

Thanksgiving comes down to the three T’s: turkeys, traditions and thanks. We asked Las Vegas chefs to share their traditions, whether with family or at their restaurants, and one of their favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

From pumpkin cookies with lemon cream cheese frosting, pear cobbler and pumpkin pie to stuffed artichokes and roasted apple and sweet potato soup, these recipes -- from Thomas Bell (executive pastry chef, Hard Rock Hotel); Geno Bernardo (Nove Italiano, Palms); Susan Feniger (Border Grill, Mandalay Bay); Carlos Guia (The Country Club, Wynn); Stephen Hopcraft (STK, Cosmopolitan); Bradley Ogden (Bradley Ogden, Caesars Palace); Scott Pajak (Lagasse's Stadium, Palazzo); Carla Pellegrino (Bacio, Tropicana); and Armel Rafael (Anthony's Steakhouse, M Resort) -- make the holiday savorier, fancier and a little more Las Vegas.

Carlos Guia, The Country Club at the Wynn

Chef Carlos Guia’s Thanksgiving menu at the Country Club mingles traditional holiday dishes with steakhouse staples: Brown sugar-brined pork chop with fire-roasted corn succotash and black mission fig-bourbon sauce, roasted free-range turkey with traditional dressing, bourbon whipped sweet potatoes, cranberry chutney and giblet gravy roasted rack of lamb with mint gastrique and lamb demi-glace and charred New York strip steak round out the bill of fare.

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Thanksgiving Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Spiced Pepitas

3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 tbsp honey

1/2 cup cranberries, dried

Kosher salt and ground pepper

1/2 cup raw green pepitas

1 tsp corn oil

1 tbsp Creole seasoning

1 tbsp parsley, washed and chopped

Place sweet potatoes in an 8-quart pot, cover with water and add a generous pinch of salt. Bring up to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fully cooked. Strain and place in a mixer with the paddle attachment. Add butter, honey and season with salt and pepper.

Whip the potatoes starting on a low speed and slowly turn up to high speed. Be sure to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula so that all the potatoes are whipped until smooth.

Taste and re-season if necessary, fold in the cranberries and reserve in a warm oven until serving time.

The pepitas can be cooked at any time before the potatoes. Place the pepitas in a small mixing bowl, add oil and mix thoroughly. Add the Creole seasoning and toss until all the pepitas are covered evenly. Place on a baking sheet and roast in a 275-degree oven for approximately 20 minutes. Allow to cool and store covered at room temperature. To serve, sprinkle the sweet potatoes with spiced pepitas and parsley.

Click to enlarge photo

Armel Rafael of Anthony's Steakhouse at M Resort.

Armel Rafael, Anthony’s Steakhouse at M Resort

Thanksgiving tradition: “Cook! One of my favorite things to do for my family during the Thanksgiving holiday is truly to cook for them. It’s an occasion when everyone is home and there is nothing more satisfying than watching my family enjoying the food prepared.”

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

5 each butternut squash

5 onions, sliced

2 gallon vegetable stock

1/2 gallon heavy cream

1 tsp salt

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups white wine

1 tsp celery salt

For garnish: pumpkin seeds

1 cup creme fraiche

1 cup olive oil

Slice the squash in half, deseed, place on sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes in 350-degree oven or until golden brown. Scoop out meat, put aside.

Heat oil in a large pot. Sautee sliced onions until translucent. Add butternut squash and deglaze with white wine. Add vegetable stock, let simmer for 45 minutes.

Add heavy cream and let simmer for another 30 minutes. Blend until smooth. Pass the soup through fine chinois and cool. To serve, reheat the desired amount, add a little more heavy cream and garnish with pumpkin seeds and crème fraiche.

Click to enlarge photo

Susan Feniger of Border Grill at Mandalay Bay.

Susan Feniger, Border Grill at Mandalay Bay

“In our family today, we shifted to a vegetarian Thanksgiving a few years ago. Growing up we always had turkey and braised brisket of beef (my dad’s favorite). After everyone was sound asleep, I’d wake up -- say at 3 a.m. and find my dad at the kitchen table (he was always reading the newspaper). I’d make us a turkey/brisket sandwich with leftover cranberry sauce and mustard!

“Now when we have our big Thanksgiving dinner, I make all the really fantastic sides that everyone absolutely loves: Shaved Brussels sprouts with lime and butter or shaved with apples and goat cheese, roasted cauliflower with toasted cumin seeds, yams with lime and honey, Yukon gold mashed potatoes with sour cream and butter, root vegetable stuffing, raw cranberry salsa, my mom’s frozen fruit mold ... and the list goes on. We have way too much food -- that is, for sure, our tradition!”

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