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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.

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Border Grill’s Fresh Cranberry Salsa

Makes about 3 cups

1 lb cranberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)

1 cup sugar

2 tsp grated orange zest

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

3 oranges, peeled, seeded, and diced

2 to 4 Serrano chiles, stemmed and diced (with seeds)

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

Finely chop the cranberries in a food processor or by hand. Combine in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix together. Set aside at room temperature 1 hour and then chill until ready to serve.

Store in the refrigerator as long as 3 days.

Click to enlarge photo

Carla Pellegrino of Bacio at the Tropicana.

Carla Pellegrino, Bacio at Tropicana

“Being a Brazilian born and growing up in Italy, the Thanksgiving tradition wasn’t part of my life until I came to the states, New York City to be precise. ... I remember my first Thanksgiving in 1997 at the Pellegrino’s house in Long Island, and at the moment I stepped in the house and smelled the roasting food, the candles ... immediately became my and my daughter’s (Marcelle Braga) favorite holiday! I rushed in to collect each and every classic American recipe served for that feast — the idea of preparing a feast enchants me to this day. I have been cooking Thanksgiving feasts at home since 1998, my daughter would never let me skip it.

“To guarantee the togetherness of my family on this date, I close my restaurants, and we (my sister Alessandra Madeira, my chef de cuisine and my daughter) start the cooking on Wednesday night, a sort of sorority pre-party, and I always invite close friends to feast with us on Thanksgiving eve. I like to have at least 20 people around to ensure the fun. I try to keep the menu classic; however, my Italian side makes me insert few pasta dishes in the menu, keeping in mind the season’s ingredients, of course, and the pumpkin pastas are my favorites.”

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Pumpkin Ravioli

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 eggs

2 tablespoons water

1/5 lbs sweet butter

8 leaves of fresh sage

8 Amaretti biscotti crumbed

8 finely diced apricots

1 pinch of salt

2 cinnamon sticks

Mix the cheese, pumpkin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the nutmeg. Set filling aside. Mix the flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; make a well in the center of the flour. Beat oil and eggs until well blended, and pour into the well in the flour. Stir with a fork, gradually bring the flour mixture to the center of the bowl until the dough makes a ball. If the dough is too dry, mix in up to 2 tablespoons water. Knead lightly on a floured cloth-covered surface, adding flour if dough is sticky, until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover and let rest for another 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll the dough, one part at a time, into a rectangle about 12 x 10 inches. Keep the rest of the dough covered while working.

Drop 2 level teaspoons filling onto half of the rectangle, about 1 1/2 inches apart in 2 rows of 4 mounds each. Moisten the edges of the dough and the dough between the rows of pumpkin mixture with water. Fold the other half of the dough up over the pumpkin mixture, pressing the dough down around the pumpkin. Cut between the rows of filling to make ravioli; press the edges together with your fingers or cut with a pastry cutter. Seal edges well. Repeat with the remaining dough and pumpkin filling. Place ravioli on towel. Let stand, turning once, until dry, about 30 minutes.

Cook ravioli in 4 quarts of boiling salted water until tender; drain carefully. Put the butter, cinnamon sticks and sage leaves in a room temperature saute pan, bring it over a medium flame, let the butter melt and lightly fry the sage leaves, add the diced dry apricots, salt and let it cook for another two minutes. Add the Amaretti crumbs and let it form a foam, add the raviolis and let it fry for about a minute, serve it immediately!

Buon appetito!!!

Click to enlarge photo

Scott Pajak of Lagasse's Stadium at the Palazzo.

Scott Pajak, Lagasse’s Stadium at Palazzo

“For Thanksgiving we go over to Mom and Dad’s for dinner. Here the kids have fun, watch football, eat some turkey and spend quality time with the family. Give thanks for what we have and that we are all still together.”

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Roasted Apple and Sweet Potato Soup

Yield = 2 gallons

8 Fuji apples

5 sweet potatos, peel and rough chop into smaller pieces

2 butter, cut into small cubes

2 dark brown sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon (ground)

1/2 tsp nutmeg (ground)

1/2 tsp cloves (ground)

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