The holidays are coming, and if you’re looking for a new dish or two to add to your menu this year, look no further than southeast Michigan’s eateries. Metro Detroit is filled with restaurants that employ primo chefs that make some of the most mouthwatering dishes around — and we got some of them to spill their favorite holiday recipes for Hour Detroit readers to try.
From vegan mac and cheese to goat shank, and much more, here are some recipes to try this holiday season, courtesy of some of our favorite local chefs.
Vegan Mac and Cheese by Quiana “Que” Broden, The Kitchen by Cooking with Que
In Quiana “Que” Broden’s household, mac-and-cheese was a dish her grandmother, whom she called Momma, “made with all of the love in heaven and on earth,” she says. “It was so creamy and gooey, and she used six different cheeses. What you gotta know is that, if Momma was cooking, everyone was pulling up.”
When Broden — who owns The Kitchen by Cooking with Que in New Center, a demonstration kitchen, culinary market, and shared-use commercial kitchen space for food entrepreneurs — found out she was allergic to dairy, she was devastated. “What about Momma’s mac-and-cheese?” she recalls thinking.
After experimenting with different cheeses to achieve the same melty goodness, she created a vegan recipe inspired by the beloved family dish.
- 16 ounces pasta shells
- 4 ounces vegan sour cream
- 4 ounces vegan cream cheese
- 4 garlic cloves, minced (use more or less according to preference)
- 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
- 1 bag (7.1-ounces) Daiya mozzarella-style cheese (vegan)
- 1 bag (7.1 ounces) Daiya cheddar-style cheese (vegan)
- Himalayan sea salt to taste (start with a teaspoon)
- Canadian steak seasoning to taste (start with a tablespoon)
- 2-3 cups almond or soy milk Vegan parmesan to taste
- Boil pasta according to package directions.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a bowl, combine pasta, sour cream, cream cheese, garlic, and garlic chili sauce.
- Add garlic chili sauce.
- Add both packs of cheese. Stir together. Add Himalayan sea salt to taste.
- Add Canadian steak seasoning to taste. Add milk until the mixture is creamy (not watery).
- Spray a baking pan and fill with the mixture.
- Top with Parmesan and place the pan in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until you see it bubble and become golden brown.
- Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
Goat Shank (Mbuzi) by Hamissi Mamba, Baobab Fare
Mbuzi is a unique dish reserved for special occasions like weddings and post-mosque family meals, says Hamissi Mamba, who owns Baobab Fare in New Center, with his wife, Nadia Nijimbere.
Nijimbere, a human rights worker, fled persecution in their native Burundi and found refuge at Freedom House in Detroit. Unbeknownst to the couple at the time, Nijimbere was pregnant with their twin daughters. Mamba wouldn’t meet his children until arriving in Detroit in 2015, after finally securing a visa on the third try. By that time, the girls were 2 years old.
The husband-and-wife team opened the East African restaurant in 2021, after several years hosting pop-ups and building up a following for their soulful and hearty fare, like this slow-cooked Burundian staple.
- 15 goat shanks
- 2 pounds yellow onions, diced
- 7 1⁄2 quarts water
- 7 tablespoons Maggi Seasoning*
- 6 tablespoons ginger powder
- 6 tablespoons curry
- 6 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons black pepper
- 4 tablespoons salt
- 1 cup lemon juice
- Place all ingredients except the lemon juice in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat.
- Cover and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook until meat starts to soften (check after an hour).
- Add the lemon and put the shanks in the oven for at least 1 hour until tender and falling off the bone.
- Remove the lid and cook for another 15 minutes.
* Maggi Seasonings is a flavor enhancer made from hydrolyzed wheat and/or other protein sources that’s chock-full of glutamic acid — i.e., it’s full of that sixth taste, umami, so it adds a lot of savoriness to meaty dishes like this braised goat shank.
Delicata Squash by Anthony DiRienzo, Prime & Proper
This delicata squash dish is an easy side that presents well, DiRienzo says. It’s “always a winner with everyone, combining sweet and savory,” he says.
- 2 delicata squash
- 1⁄2 cup dry tart cherries
- 1 cup pickling liquid
- 3⁄4 cup Champagne vinegar
- 1⁄4 cup simple syrup*
- 30 pickled cherries
- 1/4 cup Blis Bourbon Barrel Maple Syrup
- 10 sprigs Italian parsley
- Canola Oil
- Bring the simple syrup and vinegar to a boil. Pour over the cherries. Set aside until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut the squash in half down the middle, and remove the seeds. Cut into 1⁄4-inch rings. Toss the squash with a little bit of canola oil and season with salt.
- Roast the squash until cooked through, about 8 minutes.
- To assemble, arrange the cooked squash rings on a plate, drizzle with the Blis Bourbon Barrel Maple Syrup, scatter the cherries on top, and garnish with whole Italian parsley leaves.
*To make simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool before using.
Grand Ma’s Homemade Dressing by Sam Van Buren, Detroit Soul
This is a family recipe that has been tweaked by Sam Van Buren, co-owner of Detroit Soul, a health-focused soul food restaurant on the northeast side of the city with an upcoming location in Jefferson Chalmers. It is a combination of recipes that he got from his grandma and aunties from his mom’s side of the family. Slowly though, he has also tweaked a few things to make it his own.
For Van Buren, this dressing brings back fond memories of the family getting together for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“I also think about the football games on TV and all the uncles and fellas falling asleep watching football and the chatter of the women in the kitchen,” he says.
And it’s still good long after the holiday dinner is over. “It’s the kind of dressing you can eat, get up in the morning and take a scoop out of the fridge or during lunchtime even if it’s cold,” says co-owner Jerome Brown. “It is a great leftover for dinner with cranberry sauce and gravy. You gotta make sure to have cranberry sauce with it.”
And before you can make Grand Ma’s Dressing, you must make her corn bread.
Corn bread ingredients
- 5 pounds cornmeal (Detroit Soul uses Pearl Milling Buttermilk)
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 10 cups milk
- 3⁄4 cup vegetable oil
Corn bread directions
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, eggs, and milk.
- Pour vegetable oil into a deep, 9-by-12 inch baking pan.
- Place in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and pour the cornmeal mixture into the hot pan.
- Put the pan back in the oven and bake for an hour and 10 minutes.
- Place pan on cooling rack and let cool for 45 minutes.
- 1 large pan of corn bread, crumbled
- 5 sticks butter
- 2 cups onions, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
- 2 cups green peppers, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
- 2 cups celery, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 7 cups turkey or chicken broth 4 eggs, beaten
- Melt the butter in a large pan.
- Add the onions, green peppers, and celery. Sauté until tender.
- In a large roasting pan, add the corn bread. Then add sautéed vegetables and salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and broth. Combine thoroughly until fully mixed.
- Add the eggs.
- Place into a 425-degree Farenheit oven for approximately 1 hour. Uncover and return to the oven for an additional 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes to set before plating.
Bibingka by Jonathan Peregrino, Oak & Reel and JP Makes and Bakes
Bibingka is a traditional rice cake eaten in the Philippines that’s especially popular during
the Christmas season. The holidays are a big deal in the Philippines, where the season begins as early as Sept.1. Bibingka is sold by street vendors, especially near churches, during the holidays.
Jonathan Peregrino, pastry chef at Oak & Reel who also runs online bakery JP Makes and Bakes, grew up eating this year-round, as a snack. The recipe can vary from family to family. This one is based on the traditional version his mom used to make. While toppings can also vary, Peregrino prefers a sugar crust and cream cheese.
- 1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1⁄2 cups rice flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 8 fluid ounces evaporated milk
- 8 fluid ounces coconut milk
- 3 eggs
- 6 ounces cream cheese, cubed Sugar for dusting
- Banana leaves*
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line a 9-inch pie pan with a couple banana leaves, then grease the leaves.
- Add dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix.
- Add evaporated milk, coconut milk, and eggs and incorporate.
- Pour the mixture into the pan with the banana leaves, and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, top with cubes of cream cheese, sprinkle with sugar, and return to the oven.
- Bake for an additional 25-45 minutes, until a cake tester (like a toothpick) comes out clean and the top is a nice golden color.
- The bibingka can be served warm or once it has cooled.
*Banana leaves can be found in the frozen section at Asian grocery stores. Thaw the leaves and wipe dry before using.