With Chef Greg L. Gee of Cypress Street Station
For a chef, Thanksgiving can be a surprisingly relaxing holiday. That’s because it’s the one meal where every family member has to pitch in. Greg L. Gee, chef at Cypress Street Station, comes from a family of cooks. Everyone contributes when the family gets together. For his south-Texas family, it’s a time to enjoy their family traditions with the dishes everyone loves. Of course, anyone is welcome to put their own spin on a dish.
“We have a family rule,” Gee said. “If you complain about a dish, you have to cook it next year. So we hardly have any complaints.”
When it comes to sides, Gee said you never truly can outshine the turkey. It will always be the most important dish and every side is a compliment to it. The turkey is the staple of American Thanksgiving meals no matter where you come from. Yet sides often vary depending on your state or family heritage. As new people marry in and join the family, they bring their own twists on the classic dishes. Eventually, your meal becomes a hodge-podge of generations and cultures.
“The Thanksgiving meal expands as your family expands,” Gee said. “Oftentimes you keep things even after a relative has passed on. You still want to keep that dish that they made. Very often things are added, very seldom are things taken away.”
At Cypress Street, one menu option celebrates another Thanksgiving staple: leftovers.
“Leftover maintenance is crucial to Thanksgiving,” Gee said.
A sandwich called “The Jam” can be ordered all year long and it features house-roasted turkey, bacon jam and cream cheese all on slices of jalapeno cornmeal bread.
Here’s a few Thanksgiving sides Chef Gee made with a few twists. Several of them have a hint of heat, a reference to South Texas flavors Gee grew up tasting.
Tip from Amanda O’Connor, co-owner of Cypress Street Station: White wine is traditional to serve with turkey, but that doesn’t mean you have to serve it alone. Red and white wine can both be a part of your Thanksgiving drink menu.
Twist: Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers
Every family has its own version of dressing (called stuffing if it’s actually stuffed in the turkey). With this twist, Gee cooked fresh poblano peppers from a local farmer, stuffed with a delicious cornbread stuffing, baked, and served with bacon/cranberry jam. This twist is perfect for a buffet or appetizer for family members to grab and go.
Twist: Butternut Squash & Corn Combo
Corn by itself is a staple Texas comfort food. Throw in some butternut squash and sage, and this takes on a rich, fall flavor. Gee said you can always create a combo side like this by putting together all your favorite fall veggies in a single dish. The sage and other fall spices tie them all together.
Twist: Field Green Salad with Jalapeño Relish
Who says you can’t throw in a lighter dish amidst the heavy Thanksgiving foods? Greens are a classic comfort food: bitter but vibrant and nutritious. Chef Gee got sweet potato greens from a local farmer to serve in this cold dish. Topped with red jalapenos, vinegar, bacon, and onions, this combines a fresh flavor and a little heat to make it a healthy, fall favorite.
By Haley Laurence
Photography By Shayli Anne Photography