At a time when community matters, perhaps more than ever, The Cooks’ House in Traverse City welcomes neighbors and travelers to share a meal. Learn all about this feast among friends, and check out four incredible Thanksgiving recipes, including what to do with your leftover stuffing.

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Community Thanksgiving at The Cooks’ House. Two o’clock. Bring a dish to pass if you can. If you can’t bring a dish, show up anyway. It might be the most casual invite in town.

Each Thanksgiving, the petite Traverse City restaurant on Wellington Street shuts down, letting staff enjoy a day off with their families, but the door is left open for this special community tradition, returning after a three-year pandemic pause.

While the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” Thanksgiving Day marathon plays in the kitchen, Co-Chefs and owners Jennifer Blakeslee and Eric Patterson prep turkeys provided by Oryana, mash potatoes and Jen makes her famous buttery stuffing (we’ve got the recipe for you below). There are heaps of donated pastries from Common Good Bakery and 9 Bean Rows. The restaurant’s crystal glassware is swapped for disposable plates supplied by Bay Area Recycling for Charities.

It’s a small gathering, typically around 40 people. A divorcée whose kids are out of town, couples who don’t want to make a big meal just for themselves, travelers up for a weekend, a winemaker still in the middle of harvest season who can’t leave the vineyard for too long.

One year, a family who lost their home in a fire earlier that week joined in.

@mynorthmedia

Behind the scenes of our photoshoot at The Cooks’ House 🍽✨ We can’t wait to share these show-stopping recipes with you in our November issue. Move over turkey, they’re going to be the new favorite thing on your Thanksgiving plate!🍂 ♬ Summer loop 3 - will paquin

Thanksgiving dishes from Cooks House

“It’s a mishmash of people who have come to share a meal,” Blakeslee says. “A get-to-know-your-neighbor kind of thing. It’s pretty neat.”

There’s no table service (the staff has the day off, remember; though sometimes they choose to stop by and help). The buffet, rounded out by guests’ contributions, is always a surprise. Some years see lots of desserts. Others see no desserts but several green bean casseroles.

“It’s fun to watch people get creative, and you can tell they’re really proud of what they’re bringing,” Patterson says. “They’ll come back to the kitchen and fuss a little bit on minor things they had to finish up. It’s a cool vibe.”

As the last bites are eaten, cigars are pulled out and taken to the porch. The 5 o’clock sky fades from purple to black. After just a few short hours, newly made friends trickle out into the evening, empty dishes in hand, a community strengthened.

Cooks House Staff

Check Out More Thanksgiving Recipes: Sage Bee’s Knees Cocktail + Sage-Honey Syrup Recipe.

The Cooks’ House Recipes for a Harvest Feast

ALL RECIPES SERVE 8 GUESTS

Roasted Chestnuts

  • 2 pounds chestnuts
  • 2 Tablespoons Boss Mouse smoked butter
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme Lemon wedge
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped parsley Maldon salt
Chestnuts in a cast iron

Check Out More Thanksgiving Recipes: The Perfect Brussels Sprouts, Pear & Gorgonzola Salad Recipe.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. On the flat side of each chestnut score an ‘x’—this keeps the chestnuts from exploding in the oven, and you do not want to clean up that mess.
3. Arrange chestnuts on a baking sheet tray in a single layer.
4. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the scored shell starts to peel back. You want the shell to peel away easily; 15 minutes is a good start, but use your own judgment.
5. When the chestnuts are finished roasting, take them out of the oven and set aside.
6. In a pan large enough to hold the chestnuts, melt the butter along with the sprigs of thyme over medium heat.
7. Squeeze lemon into the butter.
8. Add the chestnuts, parsley and some Maldon salt to taste. Toss the whole mess together, pour into a serving dish and eat.

Roasted Squash Salad

  • 1 delicata squash
  • 1 small acorn squash
  • 1 small kabocha squash
  • Salad oil (any edible oil used in salad dressings; your pick)
  • 1⁄2 cup tahini
  • Rice wine vinegar, to taste
  • Sugar, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Baby kale, a big handful
  • 1⁄2 cup mixed nuts and seeds, roasted (we used hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds)
  • 1⁄8 cup simple vinaigrette
  • Iron Fish Distillery maple syrup
Roast squash Thanksgiving dish

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Do not peel squash because it adds a nice flavor and toothiness—yes, you can eat the skin of hard squash as long as the skin is not too thick.
3. Cut squash in half, and deseed. The delicata can be kept as a half, however, you will want to cut the other two squash into quarters.
4. Now, cut each squash into 3⁄8” slices—don’t get too wound up about exact thickness here. Just don’t make them so thin that they burn, or so thick that they are unruly. A lot of cooking is about making these kinds of decisions.
5. Toss squash in some salad oil and a bit of salt.
6. Place squash on a sheet tray in a single layer, but make sure it isn’t too spread out as it will cause the squash to dry out.
7. Roast until squash is golden brown.
8. While the squash is roasting, put the tahini in a mixing bowl and thin down with a little cold water. You are looking for a consistency of loose cashew butter.
9. Add rice wine vinegar and sugar to the tahini. (If you like sharp tastes, then add more vinegar and less sugar. If you like it sweeter, then add more sugar and less vinegar. Or, go for a nice balance of the two.)
10. Season the tahini sauce with salt—you got it, to taste.
11. Pulse the toasted nuts and seeds in the food processor until well chopped, but not pureed.

To plate: Spread the tahini sauce onto a platter. Arrange the squash slices on top of the tahini. Toss the baby kale with a bit of the simple vinaigrette and place on top of the squash. Sprinkle the nut mixture on the kale. Drizzle with maple syrup. Top with mixed seeds and nuts.

Man sprinkling topping on dish

Harvest Dressing (Stuffing) Recipe

  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread from Common Good Bakery
  • 1 loaf fennel sea salt bread from 9 Bean Rows
  • 1 pound butter (4 sticks)
  • 3 carrots, diced in food processor until well chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, diced in food processor until well chopped
  • 2 onions, diced in food processor until well chopped
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 head garlic
  • 7 leaves sage, chopped
  • 1 branch rosemary, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1⁄4 bottle dry white wine
  • 2 handfuls Saltless Sea Creamery Parmichigano cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Dice the bread—small, about the size of a die.
3. Melt half the butter (2 sticks) and toss with the bread and some salt.
4. Put bread on a sheet tray in a single layer and toast until golden brown. Stir one time to ensure even browning. Once toasted, put into a large bowl.
5. While bread is browning let’s make the sausage part of the stuffing. In a pan large enough to hold the pork, cook over medium-high heat with oil, until well browned.
6. Once the pork is browned, add minced garlic, salt to taste, sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme and 1⁄2 the amount of wine. Let cook until wine is almost reduced, then put into same bowl as toasted bread.
7. Using the same pan, sauté veggies with remaining butter (2 sticks) over medium heat until soft.
8. Add remaining wine. Cook until wine is half the amount.
9. Put this into the bowl of bread and sausage.
10. Pour into a greased casserole pan large enough to hold.
11. Sprinkle grated cheese on top.
12. Cover with foil.
13. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and cook for 1 hour.

The Next Day Leftover Stuffing Breakfast Recipe

  • Leftover stuffing, slice as much as you want about 1⁄2” thick
  • Eggs, as many as there are people eating
  • Some butter
  • Salt
  • Some leftover gravy would be nice if you still have some. Heated up in a pot.

1. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add butter. Once the butter is hot, sauté the stuffing until golden brown, flip over and cook until golden brown. Put on a plate.
2. Turn the heat down to medium. Add a bit more butter. Once the butter is melted and a little hot, crack the eggs into it. Season lightly with salt.
3. As the eggs are cooking, baste the eggs with butter.
4. Once the eggs are cooked to your liking, pour some gravy on the stuffing and top with the egg.

Post-thanksgiving dishes

1. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add butter. Once the butter is hot, sauté the stuffing until golden brown, flip over and cook until golden brown. Put on a plate.
2. Turn the heat down to medium. Add a bit more butter. Once the butter is melted and a little hot, crack the eggs into it. Season lightly with salt.
3. As the eggs are cooking, baste the eggs with butter.
4. Once the eggs are cooked to your liking, pour some gravy on the stuffing and top with the egg.

Carly Simpson is the managing editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine and editor of MyNorth’s popular email newsletter The Daily Splash. Subscribe for free at MyNorth.com/Newsletter. csimpson@mynorth.com

Courtney Kent is a photographer based in Traverse City. She loves exploring Northern Michigan with her husband and young son. Courtney specializes in wedding, family and lifestyle photography. courtneykentphotography.com

Photo(s) by Courtney Kent