Having visited Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC numerous times, I had the opportunity to interview the winemaker, chefs, gardener, and florist. I’ve a file full of recipes they have shared. However, this article is from the Biltmore Estate and has a lot of history with it. So, please know I am passing on information that I believe you will enjoy. I did not write the copy.

The Vanderbilts were known for their hospitality as well as holiday celebrations that highlighted the ultimate in food and wine for their guests. What did George and Edith Vanderbilt like to eat on special occasions? Our menu book indicates their enjoyment of baked turkey with cornbread dressing prepared by Ellen Johnson, an Asheville local who translated traditional Appalachian recipes into favored fare at Biltmore House.

Try Ellen’s recipe for yourself, plus an array of delightful side dishes and desserts guaranteed to make your holiday celebrations extra special—plus our winemakers suggest perfect wine pairings to accompany the traditional tastes of the season.

Turkey and Cornbread Dressing |   Haricots Verts |   Creamed Corn |   Apple Tart

Bring Out The Flavors of Your Thanksgiving Feast!

Surprise and delight your guests by offering both a red and a white wine option to pair with the Thanksgiving meal. Our winemakers recommend selecting our buttery, complex Biltmore Estate® Chardonnay and our elegant and medium-bodied Biltmore® Reserve Pinot Noir to grace your holiday table.

For a delicious and festive option, Biltmore Winemaster Bernard Delille also suggests choosing any of oursparkling wines to complement your Thanksgiving meal from start to finish. “To celebrate such a wonderful meal, we always serve sparkling wine because this special time deserves an equally special wine,” says Bernard Delille. “Like the Vanderbilts, my family and I make sparkling wines part of our holiday tradition.”

Special Holiday Meal by Biltmore Chefs & Winemakers

George Vanderbilt’s Favorite Turkey and Cornbread Dressing

Serves eight to ten


• 20–25 pound turkey
• Cornbread, prepared
• 6 buttermilk biscuits, prepared
• 1 dozen eggs, hard-boiled
• 1 cup chopped onion
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 1/4 cup ground sage
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Rinse turkey and rub with salt inside and out.
Using a large boiler or cooker, place turkey in enough water to almost cover it (one gallon or more).
Heat to boiling point and cook on medium for about 2 1/2 hours or until breast is tender; use a ladle to baste broth over the breast meat to keep it moist.
For cornbread dressing:Bake a large pan of cornbread using your favorite cornbread recipe.
Bake about six buttermilk biscuits using your favorite recipe, or purchase frozen biscuits and bake.
Peel eggs and chop or grate them into large mixing bowl. Add onions, celery, sage, salt and pepper. Crumble cornbread and biscuits into bowl.
When turkey is done, pour turkey broth over the cornbread dressing until the desired consistency is reached. Mix well, using plenty of broth so that dressing will be moist and soft when done.

Place turkey in center of large baking pan. Spoon dressing into and around turkey. Bake in 425ºF oven for about 45 minutes. If turkey browns too soon, cover with aluminum foil.Winemaster’s Suggestion:This recipe is known as one of George and Edith Vanderbilt’s favorites. We think it’s exceptional with our buttery, complex Biltmore® Chardonnay (North Carolina 2008) or our elegant and medium-bodiedBiltmore® Reserve Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley 2008). Try it with both wines (included in your Biltmore® Wine Club shipment), and see which you prefer!

The creator of this recipe, Ellen Davis, came to Biltmore House from the community of Avery Creek in the spring of 1899 to work as a cook for the Vanderbilts. She fell in love with Thomas H. Johnson, a groomsman in the Stables, and they were married the following spring. This recipe was a favorite of George and Edith Vanderbilt’s, and it became a tradition for Ellen Johnson to prepare it for them each year.

Gingered Sweet Potato Mash

Serves four


• 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon grated ginger
• 1/4 cup honey
• Salt and pepper to taste


Combine the sweet potatoes with enough cold water to cover in a large saucepan and cook until the potatoes are tender. Combine the cream and butter in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, keep warm.

Drain the sweet potatoes. Combine with the ginger and push through a food mill or ricer. Mix with the warm cream mixture and honey in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Haricots Verts


• 1 pound haricots verts
• Salt to taste
• 7 tablespoons butter
• Pepper to taste


Cut off the ends of the beans. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add enough salt to taste like ocean water. Add the beans and cook for 4 minutes or until done to taste. Drain and plunge into ice water. Drain and place on paper towels to absorb the moisture.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan. Add the beans and sauté for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Cook until any liquid has evaporated and the beans are glazed; keep warm.

Creamed Corn

Serves four to five


• 6 ears fresh corn
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1/4 cup finely chopped leek
• 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
• 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
• 1/4 cup Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
• Salt and white pepper to taste


Cut the kernels from the cobs and discard the cobs. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek, shallot and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the corn and cook until the corn is tender.

Add the wine, stirring up any of the mixture that has adhered to the bottom of the saucepan. Cook until the wine has evaporated. Add the cream and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or to the desired consistency, stirring occasionally. Season with thyme, salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Apple Tart

Serves six to eight

Ingredients for Pastry:

• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 1/4 cup sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Ingredients for Streusel:

• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/4 cup butter, melted
Ingredients for Tart:• 4-5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Ingredients for Garnish:• Sliced, dried figs
• Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream


For pastry: combine butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Cream together with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour gradually, mixing until incorporated. Shape into a disk then wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2–8 hours.

For topping: mix flour and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add butter and work with fingers until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

For tart: preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss apples with sugar and spices in a bowl. Spray a tart pan with a removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray. Roll the pastry dough to 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface and place in pan, pressing into bottomand trimming any excess dough. Spoon apple mixture into pastry and sprinkle with streusel topping. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove to a serving plate and garnish with figs; serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.Winemaster’s Suggestion:Wow your guests with the delightful contrast between our elegant sparkling wines and this more rustic Apple Tart. All those festive bubbles accent the “tartness” of Granny Smith apples and enliven the buttery sweetness of the pastry and streusel topping.

The Hill Team wishes you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

Big Blend Magazine NoraLyn
Member: Society of Professional Journalists

“Success” was Indie Finalist in the Writing and Publishing category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards