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3 Kitchen Experts Share Their Favorite Holiday Side Dishes To Bring To A Gathering

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Sometimes, cooking plus holidays equals stress. Even if you're not hosting a party, you want to bring a dish that will impress without spending a whole day in your kitchen. Well, no need to panic because we've got three great recipes that check all those boxes and will help you win, or at least survive, your holiday hunger games.

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MASHAMA BAILEY: My name is Mashama Bailey. I'm the executive chef and partner at The Grey Restaurant in Savannah, Ga. And the dish that I'm bringing along with me is called Carolina Gold rice middlins (ph).

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BAILEY: Rice middlin - they are broken pieces of rice. And I love to put the middlins in with aromatics and toast the rice a little bit. And then this is the fun part. You need to have one of your favorite types of broth. It can be chicken broth. It can be fish broth, beef broth. Add that slowly to the pan. And you start to stir the rice along with the stock to release the starches.

When you're done with this dish, you have something that's very similar to the texture of grits. The great thing about it is that you can cool it down and reheat it, and you can always add a little bit more liquid to it as the night goes on.

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BAILEY: I think for me, what makes a great bring-along dish is a dish that's a bit of a conversation piece. And middlins - they have this really interesting story. During slavery, rice is one of the - it was really one of the biggest profit-producing crops. It was expensive because it was all hand-cultivated by many, many people. And middlins were viewed to have less value, and those broken bits of rice would go to slave workers. So you end up really educating the guests or your friends about an ingredient that they didn't know had so much to do with the history of how rice was grown in this country.

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GENEVIEVE KO: I'm Genevieve Ko, the cooking editor at the LA Times, and I'm going to be bringing along French beans with miso vinaigrette.

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KO: The green beans that I like to use are actually French beans, sometimes labeled haricot verts. And I love buying the bags that come pretrimmed. They're actually also washed. So you can just open the bag and toss those green beans into the boiling water, which you want to salt really generously.

And as soon as they're done cooking, you want them to be tender with a little bite. You toss those French beans with the vinaigrette, which is essentially just whisking together miso, honey, vinegar and a little oil. And then you can also toss in those jalapenos and the sesame seeds.

This is a great dish to bring along anywhere 'cause everyone can eat it. My kids - my twins, actually - my twin daughters are teenagers, both of whom are really committed to sustainability and have really chosen plant-based diets to advance that cause. And so we as a family have really gone in a more plant-based direction. And I love showing people how something like green beans, which I think people like but often think of as maybe not the most exciting dish, can really pop with so many different exciting textures and flavors - a little salty, a little sweet. And then you add this heat from the jalapenos, and it just makes it a really tasty and exciting dish.

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ANTHONY LAMAS: I'm from California originally. When I moved to Kentucky, I was introduced to all kinds of Southern dishes. And one thing that's very popular here is corn pudding. And I love the French onion tart. And so I thought, how about putting onion and taking out the corn? And that's what I've done.

My name is Anthony Lamas. I'm the chef of Seviche restaurant in Louisville, Ky. And my dish is a onion pudding.

So what we do is we start off with a custard like you would do a traditional corn pudding. And then what we do is we take butter, and I saute the onions a little more than translucent. Let those cool. And then I put that into a casserole pan, and I'll pour this custard right over the top of it. Pull it out of the oven, and it is done.

It's a simple dish, but full of so much flavor. You get that sweetness from the caramelized onions, the custard, nice and rich. And people go crazy over it.

I actually did it to our 25th high school reunion in California. First, they were like, what? And then when everybody got into it, they were coming back for seconds. And that happens every time. I'm not exaggerating. It's always a surprise - a pleasant surprise.

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CORNISH: And we'll share all of those recipes on our Twitter and Facebook page. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.