If Norman Rockwell had painted a typical Gulf Coast Thanksgiving, the dinner table might have included honey-lacquered sweet potatoes, dressings shot through with andouille or oysters, collard greens swimming in fatty potlikker and swampy critters like duck or crawfish.

Those distinct flavors aren’t set in amber. They’re still very much a part of the year’s most important dinner in these parts, where Texan, Cajun and Southern foodways merge easily and deliciously.

This year we tasked a handful of Houston chefs to share recipes that say something about our unique cornucopia — whether it’s pecans, shellfish, smoked meats or autumnal vegetables. Treebeards, that bastion of Southern cooking, provided a Fall Bounty Salad that uses pears, dried cranberries and honey-roasted pecans. From Feges BBQ: smoky collard greens with barbecue brisket. Dominic Mandola at Ragin’ Cajun, whose mother’s family is originally from Lake Arthur, La., gave us his savory dirty rice recipe to which we added chopped pecans. Restaurateur Elouise Adams Jones of Ouisie’s Table shared her chunky sweet potato recipe fragrant with cinnamon and fresh ginger. Our oyster dressing with a jalapeño kick? It comes from the Brennan’s of Houston kitchen. And pastry chef Ruben Ortega’s pumpkin cheesecake glossed with a maple/pumpkin glaze makes a decadent finale.

But, as always, the star of the show is a lusty bird, courtesy of chef Drake Leonards of the new Eunice restaurant. Leonards grew up in Eunice, La., in the heart of Acadiana. His turkey wears a burnished coat of Cajun spices and is stuffed with onion, celery, carrots and fresh thyme, rosemary and sage — all lending traditional flavors to a great, Southern Tom. Leonards’ cornbread and crawfish dressing speaks proudly of the Gulf, too.

Recipe: Eunice chef Drake Leonards’ Stuffed Roasted Turkey

Recipe: Fall Bounty Salad from Treebeards

Recipe: Cinnamon-Ginger Sweet Potatoes from Ouisie's Table


Recipe: Braised Collard Greens from Feges BBQ

Recipe: Dirty Rice from Ragin’ Cajun

Recipe: Crawfish Corn Bread Dressing from Eunice chef Drake Leonards