The third Thursday of November will be here before you know it. Arm yourself for its arrival by using the Chew Crew’s Thanksgiving cheat sheet. Our experts have put together a list of the top 55 tricks of the trade to help you pull off the big day as effortlessly as possible.
We would all like to execute the big day with minimal disasters and meltdowns. The secret to a fool proof Thanksgiving, you may ask? Prep ahead.
1. To avoid any disasters, practice the dish before making it for guests.
2. Plan how you are going to execute your cooking on the actual day. Note cooking times, temperatures, and what dishes fit where so everything comes out perfectly.
3. Organize and label your serving dishes in advance so they’re in place when the food is ready.
4. Set the table the night before.
5. Transfer soaps and other liquids to clear containers to avoid logos everywhere in your kitchen.
6. Freeze cookie dough in advance so you just slice and bake when dessert time comes around. Even if nothing else works out, you have a dessert ready to go!
Click here for the Chew Crew's Cookie Batter recipe.
Click here for Carla's Crinkle Cookie recipe.
First thing’s first -- pour your guests (uh, and yourself) a glass of wine, bubbly, or even a cocktail. A few sips before the meal will put guests in the holiday spirit, and keep you calm as you juggle cooking and entertaining.
Consider the turkey Thanksgiving’s “it” girl – she loves being in the spotlight, and may be a bit difficult to handle. Try these tips for a flavorful and expertly seasoned bird.
7. Try this special Thanksgiving cocktail: Santa Maria margarita, classic margarita made with apple cider instead of lime juice.
8. Serve signature cocktails in pitchers to allow guests to serve themselves.
9. Don’t drink too much before you have to cook.
10. Research suggests that consumption of alcohol in moderation protects against heart disease, lowers bad cholesterol levels, and fights wear and tear of neurons in the brain that can lead to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
11. Leaving the bone in the turkey not only gives it more flavor, but also keeps the meat juicier and ensures even cooking.
12. Use sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary, chili powder, garlic, and lemon zest for your rub.
13. Try throwing in any smoky flavor to spice up the rub.
14. Place aromatics under the turkey for even more flavor (think: onion, cinnamon, and lemon).
15. Whole nutmeg is not only more pure, but it also tastes better.
16. If brining your turkey, be careful that it doesn’t come out mushy.
Click here for Michael’s Turkey recipe.
Click here for Clinton's Turkey recipe.
Click here for Mario's Turkey recipe.
Gravy that is not too thick or too thin is tricky to come by. If you find that your gravy misses the mark, work with what you have before deciding to toss it. Try these helpful hints to revise (almost) any gravy lapses.
17. Your base recipe for gravy should be 2 ounces of fat and 2 ounces of flour. Then, use your stock and flavorings to season.
18. If your gravy is too thick, add more water or stock.
19. If your gravy too thin, add more of a thickening agent.
20. Rule of thumb: 2 ounces of butter and 2 ounces of flour thicken a quart of liquid.
21. If your gravy is too thick, take away half and add broth or water until desired consistency.
22. Don’t try and thin too much of your gravy at once. Instead, do it in batches.
23. You don’t need to try a different gravy recipe if the flavors are there, just modify the consistency.
24. If you used a roux and don’t have anymore, make buerre manié
by combining cold butter and flour, and then whisk it into gravy slowly.
25. After adding buerre manié
, let simmer for another 30 minutes to get rid of the cake-y taste.
26. Rather than dropping buerre manié
directly into the sauce, stick it onto your whisk and then stir in. It will dissolve as you stir.
27. Roast a few turkey thighs, legs, and a neck or two, the day before Thanksgiving to make a rich turkey stock. Come Thanksgiving day, consider the gravy done.
Click here for Michael's Gravy recipe.
Click here for Daphne's Gravy recipe.
From prepping to serving Turkey Tortellini, the Chew Crew shares their tips for the softest, most delectable pasta to showcase your turkey.
28. Use raw or leftover turkey for tortellini pie.
29. If starting with raw turkey in your tortellini, cook for an additional 5 or 6 minutes.
30. Adding egg to the tortellini filling softens the mixture.
31. Standard pie crust: butter, flour, sugar, ice water, and eggs.
32. Pie crust can be made in advance and then frozen until ready to use.
33. Make a double batch of the tortellini and freeze for later!
34. For fresh pasta: mix scant cup all-purpose flour with an extra large egg (1 egg per one cup of flour). Knead into dough and roll out thin.
35. Form 2 different tortellini shapes: pope’s hat or pig butt (make into triangle, take 2 ends and bring around other side)
36. If you prefer not to make the pasta from scratch, store bought ravioli will also work.
37. Remove tortellini from boiling water and place in an ice bath to stop cooking process.
38. Blanch your tortellini in salted water before putting in pie.
39. For pie, only cook tortellini halfway, until they just start to float and aren’t completely saturated. They will continue to cook in the pie.
40. Before baking, poke holes in top of pie so that it can breathe.
41. You can make the pie ahead of time and put it in the freezer to be baked later.
42. You can freeze the pie after you assemble it and then bake it when you’re ready.
43. For elegant preparation, add warm béchamel and parmesan cheese to plate before slice of pie.
44. Béchamel: milk thickened with roux, with a touch of parmesan cheese.
45. If you don’t have truffles, you can use fresh raw mushrooms as a substitute.
46. Dragging sauce on the plate before plating makes up for broken pie.
Click here for Mario's Turkey Tortellini Pie recipe.
Don’t forget the greens. A winter salad or sautéed vegetables will complement the meat and heavy starches.
47. Look for brussels sprouts that are bright green in color.
48. Browning brussels sprouts bring out more flavor.
49. Bok choy, light green in color and full of water, complement collard greens, which are heavier and have more of a bite.
50. Try adding bacon fact to the pan when cooking greens. The natural salty flavor of the bacon fat means you don’t need to add salt to the dish.
Click here for Carla's Brussels Sprouts recipe.
Click here for Marcus Samuelsson's Collard Greens recipe.
You’ve mapped out the cooking timeline, prepped the turkey, set the table, and now the day is here. As your guests begin to arrive and you untie your apron, remember to take a step back and be grateful for all the delicious food and great friends around you.
51. Work up an appetite in the morning. Get outside and exercise!
52. If you have Thanksgiving without family, set the table for them anyway.
53. It’s okay to listen to Christmas music at your own house.
54. Finish cooking an hour before you want to eat not only so the turkey has adequate resting time, but also to avoid last minute scrambling.
55. The only reason to leave the table before everyone else has completed their meal is to break wind. Kindly remind guests to stay seated until everyone is finished