Although it’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already fast approaching, I feel more excited than ever to celebrate the flavors of autumn with friends and family. There’s no better time to gather ’round loved ones, and for growing families like mine, Thanksgiving is made extra special when we’re able to share its traditions with young children.
There are some Cutthroat Kitchen sabotages that test a chef’s ability to think on his or her feet, make inferior ingredients shine on the plate and work with a rival under tense circumstances. Then there are sabotages that serve little purpose beyond time-wasting — but oftentimes it’s these seemingly over-the-top challenges that fans appreciate most. On tonight’s all-new Thanksgiving-themed episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, host Alton Brown introduced the latest sabotage that’s sure to be counted among the most memorable with fans: The Turkey Suit.
Like the now-infamous souffle suit from Season 3, this heavily stuffed turkeylike contraption transformed one contestant into an oversize version of himself and forced the competitor to learn to perform basic movements with superfluous padding. “I couldn’t have anybody ride on a Thanksgiving turkey float, so we made this Thanksgiving turkey float costume,” Alton explained to judge Simon Majumdar on the host’s After-Show. Lucky for Simon, Alton spared him the experience of donning the getup, as Alton noted, “Poor Chef Jake sweat approximately 6 liters of sweat into that.”
When you look around your Thanksgiving table, the usual suspects are likely in sight: the buttery mashed potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce, from-generation-to-generation stuffing. If your family’s go-to menu is going from “traditional” to “monotonous,” perhaps it’s high time to try new seasonal side dishes that will reinvigorate your spread for years to come. Unexpected yet comforting, these newcomers are bound to become family favorites.
Long and vibrant, market-fresh Steamed Carrots with Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette (pictured above) may be simple, but they sure make a statement on the table. Steaming the carrots whole keeps them crunchy, while tossing them in vinaigrette while still warm helps them absorb all of the flavor.
The key to a successful Thanksgiving appetizer is simplicity: a fuss-free bite or two that will satisfy guests but not overfill them before the feast and, of course, be easy for the host to prepare, as he or she will likely be busy with other last-minute dinner prep. That’s where this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week comes in. Giada De Laurentiis’ quick-fix Fried Ravioli can be ready in just 30 minutes, and they come together with just a handful of ingredients, including timesaving store-bought ravioli.
For more turkey day inspiration, visit Food Network’s Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving board on Pinterest.
Get the Recipe: Fried Ravioli (pictured above)
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:
On a day that is all about turkey, you can still find yourself quite stuffed from a meal made entirely vegetarian-friendly or, if you’re hosting vegetarian friends, serve an option beyond green bean casserole. Here are five flavor-packed recipes that can stand up to the big bird competition.
1. Dinner Spanakopitas (pictured above) Spanakopitas are a classic Greek recipe that features crispy phyllo dough wrapped around spinach and feta cheese. You’d need a huge pot of fresh spinach to make this recipe, so use frozen instead. Ina Garten’s dish is versatile enough to add or subtract ingredients according to your taste.
Dark meat — but just the turkey legs. Sweet potatoes, only they must be in casserole form. Biscuits, never rolls. Pumpkin pie or apple? Both. If there’s one meal where we can get away with being a bit picky, it’s Thanksgiving; after all, everyone has their favorites when it comes to dinner trimmings. Just in time for this morning’s all-new turkey day-themed episode of The Kitchen, FN Dish checked in with each of the five co-hosts to find out what their Thanksgiving plates will look like. Read on below to hear from all five cast members and learn what they’ll be eating and drinking on Thanksgiving.
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.)
Homemade broth is one of those culinary magic tricks, up there with whipping egg whites into fluffy meringue and frizzing sugar into fluffy clouds of cotton candy. Throw some meat and bones and vegetables into a pot, cover with water and witness it transform into its alter ego, a curative, steaming and savory liquid. Flavored with salt and other seasonings, broth — especially the homemade kind — paves the way for some of the most-comforting dishes, as a soup and stew starter, braising liquid and more. It’s typically seen as a means to an end — well, until now.