New England Thanksgiving Traditions from Chef Chris CoombsChristopher Coombs, Hood Cream Chef
Growing up in New England, a strong importance has always been placed on the Thanksgiving holiday, primarily because New England is the origin of the very first Thanksgiving. Since for many people the celebration revolves around the meal, many culinary leaders feel compelled to pay homage and respect to the history of Thanksgiving feasts, as well as pulling from deep rooted family traditions for appetizing, yet familiar dishes.
One of my favorite memories from my Thanksgiving celebrations growing up in Peabody, Massachusetts, was when I graduated from the kids table and was offered a seat at the adult table. Another favorite Thanksgiving memory and tradition in the Coombs’ household was a “potluck” dinner, where each family member brought something to the table. My Aunt made the desserts, my Mom made the turkey and the sides, and my Grandmother always made a turkey noodle soup to kick off the meal, which was a highlight for everyone.
Grandma’s turkey noodle soup was lovingly made with turkey meat and turkey innards, along with fall vegetables and noodles. One year when I came home from culinary school, I thought I would apply some recently learned methods from school to season her famed soup. To my surprise, my family reacted angrily, claiming I ruined Grandma’s turkey noodle soup, which was meant to be served bland. It was then that I realized some traditions, including my Grandma’s soup, should stay the same and should not be tampered with.
Being a chef, I generally work at one of my restaurants, Deuxave or Boston Chops on Thanksgiving Day, and don’t get to celebrate in the same way with my family anymore. To keep our traditions alive, I incorporate a lot of my family’s recipes into my restaurants’ Thanksgiving menus. One of the most popular side dishes is a take on my Mom’s green bean casserole. I also serve a homemade cream of mushroom soup using Hood® Cream, with haricot verts topped with fried shallots. I use Hood Cream in my recipes because it is the highest quality cream, and I trust it to ensure my favorite recipes come out delicious so I know I am sharing with my family and guests the very best.
Desserts at the restaurants are equally traditional as they are inventive, like a pumpkin soufflé which is a substitute for a pumpkin pie at Deuxave. People really love these elevated spins on traditional Thanksgiving recipes and I enjoy seeing families celebrate their Thanksgiving with us in our restaurants. It truly makes me happy to be part of other’s Thanksgiving traditions by sharing pieces of my own.