Dining out on Thanksgiving may seem like an egregious break from tradition, but think about it: No cooking means no cleanup. It’s also a break from the same old sweet potato casserole.

 

For Marc Forgione, executive chef of his self-titled Tribeca restaurant, the best reason to eat out on Thanksgiving is to experience new interpretations of classic dishes.

 

Forgione became 2010’s “Next Iron Chef” after winning a Thanksgiving-themed battle without preparing a turkey dish. “I have nothing against turkey!” he emphasizes, speaking to us from his restaurant. His strategy was inspired by the first Thanksgiving, at which, he says, no turkey was served.

 

Forgione, who collects American cookbooks dating back to the 1800s, learned that the meat course was actually venison brought by Native Americans. And the chestnut-stuffed cut that he served the Iron Chef judges may have helped him clinch the title.

 

This year’s Thanksgiving menu at Marc Forgione emulates that first harvest —with a sophisticated twist. Guests will sit down to apple, chestnut and celery soup with truffle sabayon followed by delicata squash ravioli with Maine lobster and sage emulsion, as well as a pink-peppercorn-spiked cranberry sauce. Traditionalists (though Forgione would argue about whether the term applies) will enjoy roasted organic turkey breast ballotine.

 

Also on the menu is a dish from Forgione’s personal Thanksgiving tradition: the maple-whipped sweet potatoes that his father taught him to make.

“It makes other sweet potato preparations pale in comparison,” he says.

Marc Forgione’s Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Serves 6

4 sweet potatoes, about 2 1⁄2 pounds total weight, unpeeled

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Hazelnut Brown Butter

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1⁄4 cup chopped hazelnuts

1 small shallot, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Using a fork, pierce the skin of each sweet potato in a few places. Place the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until soft, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool until they can be handled.

Cut each sweet potato in half lengthwise, scoop the potato pulp into a food processor, and discard the skin. Add the sour cream, butter, and maple syrup and pulse the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking dish and cover to keep warm until ready to serve. (The sweet potatoes may be prepared up to this point 24 hours in advance, covered, and refrigerated. To reheat, preheat the oven to 375°F, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, and place in the oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.)

For the brown butter: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and cook until pale gold, 2 to 3 minutes (be careful the butter does not burn). Add the hazelnuts and stir until golden and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add the shallot and parsley and cook just until softened, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. (The brown butter may be prepared up to 24 hours in advance, covered, and refrigerated. Before serving, reheat in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.) Drizzle the brown butter over the hot sweet potatoes and serve immediately.