There are myriad things and people without which Thanksgiving would not be complete: the turkey, the potatoes, the pumpkin puree, the gravy and, of course, your family and friends. But according to Bobby Flay, there’s just one ingredient that is “the key to Thanksgiving” — that one must-have product that will help marry the elements of the meal and ensure a successful feast.
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The centerpiece roast turkey, the spread of casseroles, the pumpkin pie (and, likely, the apple pie too) — there’s no shortage of to-dos come Thanksgiving. So when there’s an opportunity to make your prep work a tad easier, it’s indeed tempting to give in. Hear from The Kitchen‘s Sunny Anderson about how she transforms a tried-and-true store-bought staple — the infamous canned cranberries — into an all-new side dish.
According to Sunny, one of her go-to holiday hacks is “cranberry sauce out of the can.” But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t dress it up. When it comes to the jellied stuff and the whole-cranberry option, she explains: “You can mix it together. … I take the jelly. I don’t slice it; that looks crazy. You just beat it with a whisk until it becomes a little bit loose, and then you add in the [canned whole cranberries].” To add an extra boost of homemade flavor, she brightens up the sauce with citrus. “A little bit of orange juice, some orange rind or, you know, zested. It kind of feels like it’s your own,” she explains. She also adds that you can mix in chopped fresh rosemary. “It looks like you made it, but you didn’t,” says Sunny.
After hours (days, really) of prepping each element of Thanksgiving dinner, once your family and friends have gathered around the table and everyone has been served a plate, there’s nothing else to do but finally eat the feast before you. From the mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole to the Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots and, of course, the juicy turkey, there are countless reasons to love the meal — not to mention the dessert that comes after it — so it’s no surprise that seemingly everyone looks forward to one element of it in particular. FN Dish caught up with some of your favorite chefs, and it turns out that they too crave specific dishes — read on to see what they had to say.
“I look forward to everything, but I love the mac and cheese, because I seldom make it — even though I love mac and cheese — really, because I love it I seldom make it, because it’s a 9-by-13 moment, and what will I do with the rest of it, you know?” Sunny Anderson admits.
The all-important turkey, the creamy potato side dish, the golden-brown roasted vegetables, the tart-sweet cranberry sauce and the buttery rolls (not to mention the desserts) … there are surely multiple pieces of the meal to contend with come Thanksgiving, so it’s understandable if you’re feeling some pre-holiday jitters. And if you’re a newbie to turkey-day cooking, there’s likely the added pressure of the unknown. That’s where these tips come in. According to many of your favorite Food Network chefs, there are indeed ways to make the celebration simpler, so much so that you won’t have to stress. The key takeaway? You don’t have to tackle the entire buffet on your own. “Do a potluck!” Giada De Laurentiis recommends. “Do not try to do it all yourself.” Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli adds, speaking to both Thanksgiving novices and returning hosts alike, “The best thing to do is write out your whole menu and then cross off at least two things.”
Given the hectic rush of your kids’ after-school activities, the demands of your late-hours job and even the simple fatigue from the day-to-day hustle and bustle, it can seem nearly impossible to turn out any homemade meals for your family, let alone ones that are good for you. But Giada De Laurentiis is out to prove just the opposite. In her brand-new cookbook, Happy Cooking: Make Every Meal Count … Without Stressing Out, she’ll show just how easy it can be not only to work healthy, wholesome meal prep into your daily routine but to enjoy the process of doing so as well.
Giada knows a thing or two about this all-important balancing act. When she’s not starring on Food Network Star or hosting Giada in Italy or Giada’s Holiday Handbook (premiering Sunday, Nov. 8 at 11a|10c), she’s likely in Las Vegas overseeing her premiere restaurant, Giada, or at home with her young daughter, so you can be sure that the tips, techniques and recipes she introduces in this all-in-one lifestyle book are not only inspired but also tried-and-true. In Happy Cooking you’ll be able to find almost 200 recipes, including wake-up-worthy breakfasts like granola and lemony pancakes, hearty fare like lasagna, and snacks for anytime, plus helpful how-tos for entertaining during the holiday season.
Every Saturday we do a family movie or game night. On the menu is some version of a DIY dinner: Make your own pizza, build your own burrito bowl, taco night, you get the idea. Lately my kids are very into the baked potato bar. And because I love to buy potatoes in the 10-pound bag (compare the per-pound price and it’s hard to pass up that bag!), I am all for this fun and inexpensive movie night meal.
Now that I’m a bit of a potato bar expert with more than a few under my belt, I want to share some surprise bonuses to putting this on your menu. I mean, of course baked potatoes are tasty, but check out this list of truly awesome extras.
Bonus 1: Making a ton of potatoes doesn’t really take any longer than making a few. So this meal is ideal for slumber parties, classroom get-togethers and casual entertaining. The only limit is the size of your oven, and a standard oven fits a lot of potatoes.
Fresh off her Worst Cooks in America, Season 6 win not even one year ago, Anne Burrell has done it again: She successfully mentored a culinary novice from worst to first place. Only this time the victorious recruit wasn’t a home cook; she was a bona fide A-lister. As Jenni “JWoww” Farley of The Jersey Shore successfully outcooked her finale rival, Kendra Wilkinson, she not only claimed the title of best of the worst for herself, but she also scored another Red Team victory for her mentor, Anne. FN Dish caught up with Anne recently to look back on what it took to mentor the celebrities and to chat about her secret to success after clinching five wins in just seven seasons of the Worst Cooks franchise.
What was it like competing against and working with Rachael Ray, as opposed to Tyler Florence, your regular Worst Cooks in America co-host?
Anne Burrell: It was a different ball of wax. Tyler is great, but Rachel brought a bit of levity to an already very fun and silly situation. Well, a very fun and silly and serious situation. But Rachael and I got along just so well. It was great working with another girl chef.
Did you have any preconceived notions about what these celebs would be like in the kitchen, since they are so visibly in the public eye?
AB: No, and I was nervous that there was going to be, like, a whole bunch of divas and people being like, “Ah, I’m not going to do that.” But we did not have one in the bunch, and everybody really readily embraced the entire thing. It was really delightful.
Thanksgiving with Giada: Aunt Raffy’s Hosting, Crispy Dressing at the Ready and Next-Day Turkey Sandwichesby Maria Russo in Food Network Chef, Shows, October 28th, 2015
“I wanted to show people how to successfully put on a party beyond the recipes — the whole picture — and to take the stress out of throwing a party,” Giada De Laurentiis told FN Dish of her new series, Giada’s Holiday Handbook. Premiering Sunday, Nov. 8 at 11a|10c, Giada’s show is the ultimate one-stop guide to everything viewers, both seasonal-soiree novices and those familiar with entertaining, might need to host an unforgettable holiday get-together, from menu planning and crowd-pleasing recipes to home decor inspiration. She told us that it was indeed her fans who first inspired her to think beyond what’s on the plate and pursue the bigger goal of the series. “I think at the end of the day we have very little time in our lives, and the more help we can get, the more successful we can be at home, the better,” she said. “We all want to be successful parents and loved ones, so to make entertaining fast and easy — that was the goal.”
Thanksgiving is one of the first holidays that Giada will explore on Holiday Handbook, and just in time for the premiere, Giada’s giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at what turkey day looks like at her house. Read on below for insider details about her family’s celebrations, and find out how she repurposes the inevitable leftovers from the feast.
What does Thanksgiving look like at your house? Who hosts the holiday every year?
Giada De Laurentiis: It’s at my Aunt Raffy’s house just about every year. It’ll be a bit smaller this year, about 12 people, because some people are traveling, but I always look forward to it. I haven’t seen my aunt since filming Giada in Italy in Positano, so it’ll be super-exciting to see her!
Those of you familiar with Food Network Star Season 8 winner Justin Warner know that the self-taught cook and popular Brooklyn restaurant owner has some seriously creative ideas when it comes to food. In Season 2 of his Food Network Web series Foodie Call, Justin meets with industry pros to chat about their hot-topic specialty foods, and then wows each of them by coming up with entirely new ways to use the ingredient in a dish. Just wait until you see which classic American pork product he’s tackling for the first episode of the new season. (No, it’s not bacon!).