At this year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival, Rachael Ray was all about Thanksgiving — but not the huge blowout meal you might be thinking of. Instead, she took this meal of all meals off its anxiety-inducing pedestal, revealing tricks for a no-sweat day of and day after. Whether it’s nixing the giant bird altogether or going big with leftovers, her tips make it easy to keep your Turkey Day celebrations budget-friendly and meltdown-free. Here are the takeaways, which can be used on the big day itself or any day of the year:
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With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’d like to give a little shout out to the mashed potato. While the internet will likely now be debating the best way to ensure a juicy turkey (easy: Alton Brown’s brined turkey recipe), or whether stuffing should be cooked inside the bird (I say no), I want to send a little love to the one that really brings it all together; the one item on the Thanksgiving plate that gives gravy its own little well, clearly recognizing that it is far too delicious to be merely drizzled over things. Thank you, mashed potatoes.
Mashed potatoes are the perfect comfort food. Eaten alone, they are rich, creamy and earthy. And paired with roasted meats or stews, they become the supporting player, letting the meat shine. At Thanksgiving, mashed potatoes share their space on the plate with an interloping carb, stuffing. And still, the meal seems somehow to make sense. All this, and they are cheap, too! (A tip: Potatoes are usually a much better deal in the 5-pound bag than loose.)
What with its early elimination of one contestant and the cliffhanger ending to decide the fate of another, last week’s series premiere of Kitchen Inferno proved that this brand-new heated competition is far from chill. As chefs contemplate risk versus reward at the end of every round, host Curtis Stone is on hand to watch these decisions unfold and oversee the fiery battles that result; after all, no one knows the competition quite like he does. FN Dish recently caught up with Curtis to learn more about Kitchen Inferno from his perspective and find out what he considers to be the most-common mistake made during the contest.
Congratulations on the new series Kitchen Inferno! What aspect of the show are you most looking forward to?
Curtis Stone: You know what’s so exciting is that we sort of put the power back into the contestants’ hands, because we give them the opportunities to [decide] how far they think they can push themselves, or how far they can go. And I love those moments through the show where you sort of — they’ve just won, and they get money or more money, and then you ask them that question: You know, do you believe in yourself enough to keep going, to win more money? Knowing that you have real cash in your hand and you’re going to have to literally tear it up. So they’re always really fun moments.
A 2 a.m. Wake-Up, Dozens of Dinner Guests and a Rescue Ingredient: Thanksgiving According to Bobby Flayby Maria Russo in Food Network Chef, Holidays, November 10th, 2014
With less than three weeks until Thanksgiving, the countdown to all things turkey, potatoes and gravy is officially on. If you’ve begun to fret about how you’re going to execute the meal with ease this year, there’s reason to take comfort: At least you’re probably not cooking for 50 people. That’s how many guests are expected to show up at Bobby Flay‘s house on Thanksgiving, though in true Iron Chef fashion, Bobby has a surefire plan to approach the day. FN Dish recently checked in with Bobby on set and at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa to learn more about his holiday traditions and find out what the trickiest part of meal prep is for him. Read on below to hear from Bobby in an exclusive interview, and learn the go-to ingredient he uses in five key ways on Thanksgiving (hint: you likely have it in your pantry now).
What does Thanksgiving look like at your house?
Bobby Flay: On the holiday, there are usually 50 people at my house that I cook for. It ranges from family to friends to … Basically, it’s just a tradition every year where I cook two 30-pound turkeys, and I usually theme the Thanksgiving. I actually haven’t thought about what it’s going to be this year …. But we usually pick a theme that has to do with an occurrence that has taken place in the world.
If Valentine’s Day is a day for hopeless romantics, then Thanksgiving is surely one for the chefs among us. From the crowd of company seated at the dining room table to the crowning turkey centerpiece and the 10 or so side dishes flanking the buffet, it’s no surprise that those who enjoy cooking for strangers in restaurants would love even more to cook for their families at home, and Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli is no exception. “It’s my favorite cooking holiday,” Alex told FN Dish of turkey day when we caught up with her recently. For her, Thanksgiving comes twice — once at her restaurant and again with her family—and she notes, “I try to make everything from scratch.”
Read on below to hear more from Alex and find out her must-have bites on Thanksgiving, plus a few of her make-head tips for the feast.
What does Thanksgiving look like at your house? What kinds of traditions do you celebrate?
Alex Guarnaschelli: I have two Thanksgivings every year. The first one I do at the restaurant with my restaurant family, and we cook a whole big spread and we sit down, no matter how busy we are, and we take the time to hang out. And then I cook for my parents. My parents like to eat out in a restaurant, which is kind of embarrassing for a professional chef to be caught, busted, in a restaurant on Thanksgiving. So, if my parents really want to go out, we go out, but then I cook a whole spread at home for my daughter and my parents. And I try to make almost everything from scratch. It’s my favorite cooking holiday of the year. It’s a time, I think, when a chef just goes nuts and just does everything, and so I want to make sure I don’t miss anything.
You likely saw him compete on Iron Chef America, perhaps made his recipe for his best-ever breakfast dish and surely watched him judge the finale battle on Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off. And now, beginning tonight, you can catch Curtis Stone on the all-new series Kitchen Inferno (airing tonight at 10|9c) as he oversees fiery battles between chefs in the ultimate game of risk and reward. Just in time for Kitchen Inferno’s series premiere, Curtis stopped by Food Network’s Facebook page to chat with his fans, answer their questions about the show and reveal little-know tidbits about himself. Read on below to see highlights from the chat and learn 10 facts about the Kitchen Inferno host, including his least-favorite food, his most-craved holiday treat and the go-to ingredients he keeps in the refrigerator.
1. Curtis’ top pick for supper? “It would be something that reminds me of my childhood, like roast pork with cracklings,” he says. “I still make it a lot at home.”
2. His least-favorite food is licorice.
3. Curtis owns a tasting-menu-based restaurant in California. “My favorite food trend is the trend of tasting menus because I think it’s a beautiful way to eat. You put yourself in the hands of the chefs and their ability to cook for you,” he explains.
It was barely one year ago that fans welcomed Damaris Phillips — the winner of Food Network Star, Season 9 — into the Food Network family when she premiered her brand-new series, Southern at Heart (airing Sundays at 12|11c). Now this Kentucky-born chef is back with a third helping of her show, and this time it’s going to be focused more on what she calls “cooking from the heart.” FN Dish recently caught up with Damaris to find out more about the culinary passions she’s bringing to Southern at Heart and learn what kinds of recipes she’s excited to show off. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Damaris as she talks Season 3 of her series and reveals the must-haves of a classic Southern feast.
Congratulations on a third season! What are you most looking forward to as the episodes roll out?
Damaris Phillips: So this season at the end of all the recipes, where I talk about having a dinner party or I talk about having Christmas with my family, or I talk about going on a date with my gentleman, instead of just talking about those, we’ve invited people to see those at the end of each of the shows. So I’m really excited because every person that I love is on the show. So when I talk about cooking from the heart, these are the people that I cook for, and it is magical to see them on television and see from the outside so you can appreciate those people that you love so much.
Turning the clocks back an hour feels like an unofficial start of winter, ever since the pumpkin spice latte decided to start making appearance since approximately August. (Technically I realize this is not true, but it sure feels that way.) Suddenly, the days will whiz by, as we speed our way to 2015, cooking and eating every step of the way, and sitting down to a dinner table with the windows newly darkened by night.
Which means: Turn on the ovens and braise some meat! So, in that spirit, let me give you a quick primer on this fantastic wintertime technique.
What is braising?
Braising is a method of cooking meat slowly in moist heat, usually with part of the meat submerged in an aromatic liquid. Often a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven is used – the meat, vegetables and liquid are put into the Dutch oven, covered and then cooked over gentle, even, low heat for several hours.
When it comes to dishing out culinary evils, no one does it quite like the host of Cutthroat Kitchen, Alton Brown. Now in its fifth season, Cutthroat is known for no-nonsense sabotages befalling even those contestants already in the thick of kitchen struggles, and on the recent Halloween-themed episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, the situation turned even scarier with ghostly challenges. FN Dish recently checked in with Alton to learn his candy must-have on Halloween, plus his best idea for next-level pumpkin carvings. Read on below to hear from the host in an exclusive interview, then catch Alton in costume on his Halloween After-Show.
What’s your favorite candy?
Alton Brown: Milk Duds
Before this weekend’s New York City Wine & Food Festival came to a close, fans flocked to Midtown Manhattan on Sunday afternoon for one final indulgent feast, this time a hearty Southern-style meal that only country superstar Trisha Yearwood could offer. Set in an elegantly adorned hotel ballroom, Trisha’s Down-Home Country Brunch offered classic Southern fixings, like grits, greens and fried catfish, a Bloody Mary bar complete with traditional toppings, and a musical surprise from the host that brought the sold-out crowd to its feet. FN Dish was on hand to take in the sights, sounds and tastes, and we caught up with Trisha to find out what the weekend brunch scene looks like at her house.