Attempting to debug production performance problems in your development environment can be problematic in many ways, leading to a frustrating troubleshooting experience. One very common situation is the resources on the development environment are substantially less robust than on the production system; for instance prod has 128 GB of RAM, while dev only has 16 GB, prod has 16 cores, while dev only has 4 cores. Unintuitively, this disparity can result in queries running faster in development than in production.
SQL Server has a little-known (and undocumented and unsupported) troubleshooting-related DBCC command that can be used to mimic production resource levels in your development environment. As with all undocumented features, do not try this in production.
Read on to learn how
DBCC OPTIMIZER_WHATIF can lead the optimizer to choose different plans. I almost never use this command, but it is helpful to have it in your back pocket.