It's the most wonderful — and tastiest! — time of the year!
Heading into the holiday season, TODAY All Day, the TODAY show's streaming channel, is featuring an all-star lineup of chefs sharing their favorite festive memories and a beloved dish from their own family celebrations. Move aside, mains! This special is devoted to scrumptious sides.
Kicking off the special is chef Marcus Samuelsson. Al Roker caught up with Samuelsson at his Manhattan restaurant Hav & Mar to learn more about his childhood Christmases spent in Sweden and helped cook one of the chef's favorite comfort food dishes.
"Hometown Holidays" premieres Wednesday, Nov. 15 and airs throughout the holiday season on TODAY All Day.
Marcus Samuelsson's Swedish Meatball Recipe by Marcus Samuelsson
Growing up in Sweden, the holidays were a big deal for my family. My grandma Helga made everything for our meals — from saffron buns to different types of pickled herring, big meat roasts and more. But my absolute favorite dish that she made were her Swedish meatballs with mash and gravy. This updated plate pays homage to her classic recipe, but I’ve incorporated many of the global flavors that have helped inspire my own culinary journey. — Marcus Samuelsson
Cranberry-Brie Pull-Apart Bread by Jessie James Decker
Garlic and Herb Pull-Apart Bread by Jessie James Decker
For some reason, brie is the one cheese that goes untouched when I put it on my charcuterie boards, so I decided to look for ways to use it up. I started coming across all these delicious brie bread recipes, and I decided to try a combo of a few I had found. Over the years, the recipe I came up with has become a family favorite. My sweet Cranberry-Brie Pull Apart Bread has been such a hit with family and friends that I just knew I had to create a savory version. My husband Eric always has different herbs growing in the garden, like rosemary and parsley, and those happen to go great with garlic and I just love garlic. So I tried it with my favorite cheeses and and it turned out just beautifully. — Jessie James Decker
Potato and Parsnip Latkes with Crème Fraîche and Caviar by Gail Simmons
This is my “adult” Hanukkah latke recipe. It's also great for dinner parties as a side or appetizer any time of year! It's also perfect for holidays like New Year’s Eve or anything celebratory. The sweet, earthiness of the parsnips really adds something to a traditional latke. It's a nod to my love of the flavors of my Eastern European heritage and the amazing smoked fish found at best Jewish appetizing shops around the United States. — Gail Simmons
Maple-Charred Heirloom Carrots by Jordan Andino
I love this recipe because it reminds me of my childhood. Growing up, I always loved my family’s take on the generic root vegetables because they would always cook them in a way that balanced their natural earthy flavors with intense cooking techniques like charring. This style resonated with me, and I love it still today, because the contrast between the carrots' colors and the black you get from the sugar charring on the vegetable is so incredibly delicious! — Jordan Andino
Cornbread Dressing by Laila Ali
Dressing is one of those dishes I grew up eating many different versions of. As I started developing my own recipe over the years, I realized that I liked mine to have a nice texture with a great mix of sweet and savory flavors. And it definitely can’t be runny! Using ground turkey gives you more protein and makes this dish super hearty. Your family will love this so much, you may need to make two: one for dinner and one for next-day leftovers! — Laila Ali
Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pistachio-Herb Vinaigrette by Curtis Stone
In Australia, Christmas occurs during our hot summer months so we tend to do things a little differently. Surfing in the morning, anyone? We’ll often throw some prawns on the barbecue and if we have ham or turkey, it’s served cold. This refreshing salad is a unique way to enjoy Brussels sprouts and it makes a perfect companion dish to variety of savory mains. — Curtis Stone
Tostones with Mayo-Ketchup by Alejandra Ramos
Tostones are one of the first dishes I ever learned how to cook. These salty, crunchy, twice-fried plantains have always been a staple in my Puerto Rican family’s repertoire, accompanying our meals as a side dish, fried up on a whim as a quick snack, or served hot out of the oil in large batches to share with family and friends during parties. It’s one of those recipes that is more about technique than anything else. The recipe for tostones calls for just three ingredients — green plantains, oil and salt. It's super simple and that's what makes them so versatile for a variety of meals. — Alejandra Ramos
Cranberry Sauce and Bourbon Cocktail by Tiffani Thiessen
Cranberry sauce is a must-have on so many holiday tables but let's face it, there's often plenty left over when the meal is done. This fresh cocktail recipe turns a Thanksgiving staple everyone loves into a cozy, whiskey sour-inspired libation — and you can use pretty much any type of cranberry sauce on hand. The more leftover cranberry sauce you have, the more you can make, as this recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled. Yes, please! — Tiffani Thiessen
Eggplant Parmigiana by Dominick DiBartolomeo and Sebastian Maniscalco
Eggplant parmesan is a favorite among many Italian-American families and it’s a dish Sebastian Maniscalco’s grandmother made at family gatherings throughout his childhood. His grandmother Serafina never wrote down her recipes, so after she passed away, the beloved dish existed only as a memory among family members. Fast forward several years, Sebastian met chef and food purveyor Dominick “Dom” DiBartolomeo and tried his eggplant parmesan. And just like that, he was immediately reminded of his grandmother’s classic recipe. Today, this is the recipe Sebastian enjoys with his family and it serves as a nod to his grandmother’s culinary legacy. — Sebastian Maniscalco and Dominick DiBartolomeo
This article was originally published on TODAY.com