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Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa

Chef Name: Executive Chef Vincent Savignano

Recipes: Stuffed Mushrooms, Stuffed Artichokes, Creamed Onions, Turkey Stuffing

This season, we went straight to the source and asked our executive chefs to share their favorite holiday recipes and personal stories. It’s been a long year, so perhaps you want to make your Thanksgiving extra special by trying Chef Savignano’s favorite side dishes. Holidays are extra busy days for our restaurants so time spent with his family is are his favorite cherished moments.

“Every Thanksgiving we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a tradition. My wife Corrin and I are from New York, so it was always on the TV growing up, as well as football.

As a family we work together prepping and cooking a copious amount of food. Setting the table with the “fancy” china, glassware and silverware is always fun. We try and do some fun napkin folds as well. We always seem to prepare way too much food since everyone has their favorites, but we are big fans of leftovers. I picked a few sides from both my and Corrin’s families that we try to hold on to the tradition and create fond memories of our shared time together on Thanksgiving.”



  • 8 oz ground Italian mild sausage (ask your butcher for fresh)
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs (Italian-style preferred)
  • ½ cup grated pecorino romano
  • 2 ea garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp finely minced basil
  • 2 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 dz large mushrooms (about 2-2.5” in diameter)


  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
  • Remove the stems from the mushrooms and mince. Set stems aside.
  • Cook the sausage on low-medium heat in a skillet breaking up the sausage throughout the cooking process. Cook for about 4-6 minutes.
  • Add the mushroom stems and garlic. Cook mixture for additional 5 minutes.
  • Set mixture aside in bowl to chill for about 10 minutes.
  • Brush cookie sheet with olive oil, a small thin layer. Pour a glass of wine. Enjoy a few sips while you wait for your mixture to cool.
  • Add the parsley, basil, and breadcrumbs to sausage mix. Stir and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Fill a generous amount of the sausage mixture into the cavity of each mushroom and place on the cookie sheet
  • Top off the mushrooms with a drizzle of the olive oil.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.



  • 4 ea large artichokes (trimmed, and choke removed)
  • 2 ea lemons cut in half
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large pot with lid
  • Water for cooking


  • Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. It should resemble wet sand. Add more oil if needed. Set aside.
  • Cleaning the Artie.
  • Rinse the artichoke under cold water and pat dry.
  • Remove any stray leaves from the stems. With scissors, remove thorny tips from the leaves.
  • Cut about one inch off the top of the artichoke. Remove the purple center leaves, this is considered the “choke”. Rub the exposed areas with one of the lemon halves so they do not oxidize.
  • Remove the fibrous end of the stem leaving about one inch of stem intact. Peel the outer skin of the remaining stem.
  • Run the artichoke under cold water and open the leaves a bit.
  • Stuff the artichokes with the breadcrumb mixture and place in pot one at a time.
  • Add enough water to cover about half of the artichokes.
  • Squeeze the remaining lemons and toss into pot and cover with lid.
  • Simmer on medium-low heat for 45 minutes to one hour. The leaves should pull away with ease when done.
  • To eat the artichoke, remove the outer leaves by hand. They will come off very easily. For each leaf, place the edible meaty area at the base of the leaf between your teeth, then scrape off the soft edible flesh. When you get to the heart you are in for a treat.



  • 2 cup pearl onions
  • 1 qt water
  • 2 oz butter
  • 2 oz flour
  • 4 cups of milk
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup mild cheddar cheese


  • Peel the onions.
  • Bring water in medium saucepan to boil.
  • Cook onions until tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Drain onions and reserve 2 cups of the liquid.
  • Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour to form a roux or paste. Cook for two minutes until golden.
  • Mix together the reserved water and milk and add to roux slowly while whisking constantly so there are no lumps. Cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  • Add cheese, and nutmeg.
  • Taste for seasoning.
  • Add onions and mix well.
  • Transfer onions to a baking dish.
  • Bake in oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes until golden.



  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup minced green pepper
  • 1 ea chicken bouillon cube
  • 8 oz pork sausage (jimmy dean)
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 ea beaten eggs
  • ¾ ea minced onion
  • ½ cup minced celery
  • 10 cups cubed white bread
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp poultry seasoning
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans


  • Pre-heat oven at 325 degrees. Bake bread cubes until golden. Place in large mixing bowl.
  • In sauté pan, melt butter on medium flame, add onions, green pepper & celery and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes, let cool.
  • Cook sausage in separate pan until browned and set aside.
  • Dissolve bouillon cube in 2/3 cup of hot water.
  • Pour bouillon over breadcrumbs, add vegetables, sausage and sausage drippings.
  • Add seasonings, eggs and pecans, toss lightly to incorporate ingredients.
  • In a 13x9 pan, lightly butter all sides and place stuffing in pan.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 15 minutes.
  • This can be made ahead of time or the day before and reheated to 145F.
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