Thanksgiving is about sharing food with family and friends -- and players are no different from the rest of us when it comes to celebrating. Of course hockey players love to eat. It turns out, some of them are not too shabby in the kitchen, either. ESPN identified some of the best amateur chefs in the NHL. Here, they share their go-to recipes.
Eric Gryba's Pork Ribs
Gryba, defenseman for the Edmonton Oilers: I love doing pork ribs. Cooking rubs is probably my favorite thing in the world to do. I go the 3-2-1 method. First, I coat the ribs in Dijon mustard. Then I put a seasoning, a dry rub on them, and put them on the smoker at 155 degrees for three hours. Every half hour, I spray them with apple juice, which keeps the moisture in. Then I take them off the smoker and wrap them in tinfoil. Inside the tinfoil is apple juice and vodka, which also helps keep the moisture in. Then I turn it up to 225, and put them back on for two hours. After two hours, I take the tinfoil off but keep them on the smoker for another hour.
So now we're at six hours. When I take them off the smoker for good, I put the tinfoil on again, then they sit in the cooler for 20 minutes just to settle in their own juices. That also keeps them warm. The whole process takes six hours and 20 minutes. During the hockey season, I'm not able to cook them that often. I've only done them once this season. During the summer, I cook a lot. I love having people over.
Stefan Noesen's Deep-Fried Turkey
Noesen, New Jersey Devils winger: My trainer's mom does catering for a living. She asked me to tag along -- I usually do the main roasts and the main meats, and she does the sides. Being from Texas, I love slow cookers and barbecues, so it makes it easy to cook for a lot of people.
I started a couple of years ago and still do it when she asks me to do it. It's a little side gig. I've done two deep-fried turkeys so far, and they've both turned out pretty good. You want to make sure it's a good-sized turkey, 12-15 pounds. You have to get corn oil; you can't have any of the other oils. And usually the corn oil is better for you than the others, and it's a little nicer to deep-fry.
Then there's this injection mechanism that I use. You don't have to use it, but it helps keep the turkey really moist. It's called creole, it's a Cajun injection, it gives a little bit of a spice to it, too. You need to make sure the turkey is defrosted all the way. If it's a little bit frozen, it could actually explode. If it's not thawed out, you might lose a limb.
So once you do the injection, I usually put a rub on it -- it hardens when it fries and adds a crisp, flavorful crust to it. Some people might not recommend doing that, but I'm a huge fan of seasoning, so I think it helps. Put it in the fryer for about an hour, an hour and a half. Pull it out, let it cool for about 15-20 minutes and then you cut in.
Cam Atkinson's Seared Salmon
Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets winger: I grew up with five brothers, and my dad loves cooking. Every night in the summer, we had barbecues. All of my brothers can cook. We watch the Food Channel a lot. I really like "Chopped Junior." My best recipe is a sauce for salmon. You mix up homemade Italian dressing with a little scoop of Dijon mustard. I put a lot of dill in it. You can put some capers in, but I personally don't like capers. Then you mix that bad boy up. If you think you need more homemade Italian dressing, you can add that. You definitely don't want the Dijon to overpower the sauce itself. Then it depends on how you like to cook the salmon. I sear it because I like it a little more rare. Four minutes on each side ... flip it once, throw the sauce on, and it's delicious.
Kyle Palmieri's Italian Meatballs
Palmieri, New Jersey Devils winger: I really began cooking my first year or two in the minors. I lived in Syracuse, and there were some brutal winters up there. I didn't feel like going out to dinner all that much. I was living with Nick Bonino and Mat Clark, and we kind of all got into cooking at the same time. I cook mostly Italian. I like to try other things, but Italian is the only thing I can do off-recipe. Meatballs would have to be my signature. I use a pretty basic recipe for that. I usually do equal parts beef and spicy Italian sausage. Then I add a little bit of prosciutto, chopped up, to add saltiness; it's a little change of pace. Then the usual stuff: eggs, bread crumbs, some chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese. I pan fry them and let them simmer in the sauce for a while.
Jared Spurgeon's Seared Steak
Spurgeon, Minnesota Wild defenseman: I didn't cook a lot growing up, but when you start moving away for hockey, you have to fend for yourself. So age 17 or 18 is when I began dabbling in the kitchen. I wouldn't say I'm that good of a cook; my wife is good, and I like to help. We have kids -- ages 8, 3 and almost 7 months -- so we're always switching it up to get them to eat. We eat at home a lot; my son has a gluten intolerance, so it's hard to eat out sometimes. When you cook at home, you can be much more aware of the nutrition. You know exactly what is going into your food. During the summer, we eat at home every night. You can make a pretty good steak at home without spending 100 bucks.
With steak, the important thing is the sear. How long you keep it on the grill -- 20 seconds to 40 seconds -- depends on what kind of steak it is, the cut and how thick it is. The rub I put on it is made of garlic, salt, pepper, onion powder, turmeric and Montreal steak spice. Sometimes I add brown sugar. And obviously you can add as much salt as you want. The more salt the better.
Ryan Miller's Green Bean Casserole
Miller, Anaheim Ducks goalie: When I think of Thanksgiving, it's one dish. My mom always makes a green bean casserole. It's such a Midwest thing. There are green beans, canned mushrooms and then the french onions on top. She cooks it real soft all together, it's a very nice side dish. I always expect to have it at Thanksgiving, but sometimes we have it for Christmas, too. It's been hard [since I've been in the NHL] to have family Thanksgivings. At least every other year you're on the road; sometimes the way it works out that every year you're gone. This year is actually one of the first years we'll have a family Thanksgiving. My wife's family is coming in, and we'll host.
Aaron Ekblad's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ekblad, Florida Panthers defenseman: My first year in the league, I lived with Megan and Willie Mitchell. They took me into their home. Megan went to culinary school when Willie played in Los Angeles, so she knew a few things in the kitchen. One time we made cookies. I think it was a recipe she had probably found online but now she knows by heart. One thing that made them special: she would get those big baker chocolate bars and cut them up instead of using chocolate chips. That way, you get the shavings of the chocolate in the cookie. I shared them with teammates. Everyone liked them.
Aaron Ekblad's (or Megan Mitchell's) Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
One baker's chocolate bar, shaved into pieces
1. Position two racks in center of oven, and preheat to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.
3. Beat butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at time. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to medium, add flour mixture and beat until it's all combined. Stir in shaved chocolate.
4. Scoop 12 heaping tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart onto each prepared baking sheet. Roll dough into balls. Bake, rotating cookie sheets from upper to lower racks halfway through, until golden but still soft in the center, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on baking sheet. Then enjoy!