At the Table

The Ultimate Outdoor Thanksgiving

By: Erin Byers Murray

Atlanta chef Steven Satterfield goes big on the bird for his Thanksgiving feast 

If Atlanta chef Steven Satterfield had to choose one holiday to love, it would be Thanksgiving. “Mostly because of our family’s dueling turkeys,” he says. He and his brother-in-law Allen started the tradition years ago, not only to show off each of their favorite cooking methods—Steven deep fries; Allen smokes—but also to keep the oven free for other uses. “Neither of us cares for oven-roasted turkey, and once we started doing it, we had this epiphany about all the extra space we now have to prepare other things in the kitchen,” he says. “It’s also great to be outside cooking all afternoon. The party is hanging out by the fryer, maybe with a glass of wine or a drink in hand. We catch up and watch the bird bubble away.” 

Two turkeys are a must, as the gathering is always robust. There’s Satterfield’s husband, Ben, as well as his sister, Suzan, and her husband, Allen, who host the event each year. His 91-year-old mother, Marion, and brothers, Scott and Stuart, are there, too, along with a dozen or so nieces and nephews. All told, the party can be as large as 20. And everyone jumps in to cook. 

Thanksgiving spread by Steven Satterfield
Steven Satterfield’s Thanksgiving Feast

The dueling turkeys are matched with an array of vegetable-focused sides, including dueling stuffings (one made with cornbread, one with a sourdough), salads, baked and roasted vegetables, and desserts. The family uses a shared Google sheet to keep track of who is bringing what—a relish tray, a few snacks like ham-wrapped dates, and crudite, to start.  

For Satterfield, who is at his restaurant Miller Union nightly and spent half the year on tour for his second cookbook, Vegetable Revelations: Inspiration for Produce-Forward Cooking (Harper Wave, 2023), handing over many of the cooking duties is one of the holiday’s deepest pleasures. He remains in charge of his turkey (“I became fascinated with deep-fried turkey because it’s such a Southern tradition,” he says) as well as a few sides. This year, he’ll turn to his cookbooks (both his recent one and his first, Root to Leaf; Harper Wave, 2015), to prepare dishes like a fennel gratin, which he likens to “an insanely good mac and cheese,” plus roasted brussels sprouts, maple-roasted squash, and a colorful radicchio salad.

For dessert, Satterfield goes rustic. “I don’t have the precision of a pastry chef,” he admits, but his rustic apple tart doesn’t need it. “Once you’ve got the dough recipe down, it comes together easily and doesn’t have to be so refined.” 

As for the wine, he happily takes charge. “We usually have some kind of Champagne or sparkling wine, and then we’ll have something like a white Burgundy, plus a lighter red, like a gamay. I also like to get my hands on a magnum—it’s just the best time to open one,” he says. 

The point is to satisfy a lot of palates at once—a task he is accustomed to both at the restaurant and during the holidays. “It’s really an open house. We’re the family that takes in the Thanksgiving holiday orphans, whether it’s someone from the restaurant or friends from work,” he says. “There’s always a lot of activity or just catching up—it’s loud, we talk over each other, there’s music playing. It’s a great party.” 

Steven Satterfield’s Thanksgiving Feast

Steven Satterfield's Thanksgiving deep fried turkey

Steven Satterfield’s Savory Deep-Fried Turkey

Steven Satterfield's Thanksgiving Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Buerre Rouge and Almonds

Steven Satterfield's Thanksgiving Radicchio Salad

Radicchio Salad with Bagna Cauda Vinaigrette

Steven Satterfield's Thanksgiving acorn squash

Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash with Pecans and Rosemary 

Steven Satterfield's Thanksgiving fennel gratin

Fennel Gratin 

Steven Satterfield's Thanksgiving cornbread-pecan muffins

Cornbread-Pecan Dressing Muffins 

Steven Satterfield's Thanksgiving apple tart

Rustic Apple Tart

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