“I used to hate turkey because it’s always so dry,” says Grady Spears, executive chef of Reata, the only Texas restaurant with the distinction of having locations both in the West Texas town of Alpine and atop a skyscraper in Fort Worth. But four years ago, the thirty-year-old chef had a change of heart: “That year we had Thanksgiving with True Redd, this artist who has a house on Caddo Lake, in East Texas. Everybody brought a dish, and True deep-fried a turkey. It was so moist that I just loved it.”
The holiday spread Spears has put together for Texas Monthly combines family traditions, professional secrets, and his own cravings, midnight and otherwise. “Asparagus is probably my father’s favorite vegetable,” says Spears, whose first cookbook, A Cowboy in the Kitchen: Recipes From Reata and Texas West of the Pecos (written with Robb Walsh), will be published in January. “Dad would even eat canned asparagus with a steak, so my mom always fixed asparagus at Thanksgiving.” Spears’s buttermilk pie recipe was inspired by Shirley Rooney, a local woman who was the baker at the Gage Hotel in Marathon when he cooked there from 1992 to 1994. “Her pies were awesome,” he says. As for the blue cheese stuffing, Spears has to credit himself: “I just love blue cheese with cornbread.” These dishes, along with others both homey and trendy, make up a feast that blends the best of Texas—old and new, city and country.