You can find cranberry relish alongside the salmon grain bowl and crab cakes on the current dinner menu at Dish, 1100 O St. You will also find a can of jellied cranberry sauce on the head chef's Thanksgiving table.
Rachel McGill had been working as the sous chef at Dish for two years when the owner approached her and her partner, Dish's house manager, Marypat Heineman, with an offer to sell them the restaurant last year.
Thanksgiving marks a rare Thursday off for McGill, but she'll still help out around the kitchen, she said.
McGill took some precious time to answer a few questions about her plans for the big meal, and gave a little advice to anyone (cough, cough) who hasn't thought about what they're bringing just yet.
Journal Star: You’ve been cooking all year and you finally have a day off, but it’s one where food is a key ingredient to the holiday. What’s your plan for Thanksgiving? Is this a day of rest for you or do you put the apron on at, like, 8 a.m.?
Rachel McGill: I end up helping out every year: checking the temperature on the turkey and carving it, making the gravy and making sure the mashed potatoes aren't clumpy. This year, I'm preparing all of the side dishes for my family's meal. I'm lucky enough to be able to do most of the preparation in the restaurant kitchen, so all I need to do on Thursday is make sure things are cooked!
JS: How would you rate the complexity of the Thanksgiving meal in your home?
RM: We're fairy traditional, with some added flair — but nothing is too complex. We all want to relax, eat great food and enjoy each other's company. Too much cooking takes away from that quality time.
JS: The highlight of your Thanksgiving meal will be?
RM: The entire meal is the highlight. I love how everything on the plate pairs perfectly together, but I'm really looking forward to my dad's smoked turkey and mom's homemade pumpkin butter, alongside cheeses from Branched Oak and Shadowbrook Farms. (I'm also pretty excited about the leftovers in sandwich form.)
JS: What’s the item you’ll have to run to the grocery store Thursday morning to buy?
RM: Probably sparkling wine for mimosas.
JS: Casseroles? Yes or no
RM: Yes. For me, it's not Thanksgiving without green bean casserole.
JS: Is there a prepackaged ingredient on your Thanksgiving menu, like a box of those little fried onion slivers, that home cooking simply cannot compete with, and if so, what is it?
RM: Even though I'll be making a cranberry chutney from scratch, we will definitely still have a can of jellied cranberry sauce on the table.
JS: Some people reading this potentially waited until the last minute to figure out a dish to bring to their gatherings. What do you recommend they make that’s good and fast and serves, like, six?
RM: A block of good cheese, cured meat, jam and a crusty baguette. There's always time to sit around and snack before dinner starts, and it's almost impossible to mess up.