Georgia born-and-raised chef Kevin Gillespie often draws from his experiences growing up in a Southern family. In fact, his latest restaurant, Revival, in Decatur, Ga., is a fresh take on the traditional, family-style Sunday dinner, with a focus on farm-raised and artisan-prepared ingredients. Below, Gillespie shares two anecdotes from celebrating the holidays in Georgia, along with two of his favorite holiday recipes that will make your dishes the talk of the table.
Brussels Sprouts Gratin
Brussels Sprouts Gratin is an interesting twist on a vegetable that is often under appreciated, especially in my house growing up. My mom always hated Brussels sprouts. They were taboo in our family. I hated them too, until I learned how to cook them.
The turning point was at Thanksgiving in 2009. I was determined to convert my mom into a Brussels sprouts fan.
The challenge was that I had to make something that could be baked in a crowded oven. One taste of this gratin and the whole family loved it. Now, it’s a requested dish at almost every family function. My mom and dad even ask me to make it for potlucks they’re going to, and they pass it off as their own.
You can prep ahead of time, so you’re not doing all the work the morning of your holiday gathering. Start by making and pureeing the sauce, slicing the Brussels sprouts, and preparing the topping ahead of time. Refrigerate until you’re ready to make the dish. Then, all you need to do is reheat the sauce, fold in the Brussels sprouts, assemble and bake.
You can get the entire Brussels Sprouts Gratin recipe on my website, along with some other holiday favorites.
Another great holiday recipe is grilled venison. If there was one theme from the holiday season growing up, it is this celebrated game meat.
The beginning of the holiday season always coincides with the best of deer season, and my dad usually takes a whole week off to hunt. Suffice to say, the Gillespie household always had venison on the table during the holidays.
My recipe for grilled venison is quite simple and calls for just five ingredients: two pounds of venison, one cup of extra virgin olive oil, two tablespoons chopped rosemary, two tablespoons chopped garlic and two tablespoons of espelette pepper or hot paprika.
Mix and marinate two pounds of venison for 8-24 hours. Boneless filet or backstrap are the preferred cuts. Heat a charcoal grill to medium-high.
Take the meat out of marinade, but don’t wipe it off; just lightly shake it. Then, season the meat with salt and ground black pepper.
Grill for four minutes on each side or to rare/medium rare. Never overcook venison. Let rest for five minutes, and it’s ready to serve.
Chef Kevin Gillespie is the owner of Gunshow in the Glenwood Park neighborhood of Atlanta and Revival in Decatur. In February 2015, he was named a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award Best Chef: Southeast. He is the author of two cookbooks — “Fire in My Belly” and “Pure Pork Awesomeness” — available online at Kevin Gillespie’s General Store.