Take a deep breath — the finish line is in sight. You’ve made it this far, and will be happily sitting down to eat in about 36 short hours or so. The day before is a great opportunity to cross off a hefty portion of your to-do list. You only have one more trip to the store ahead of you for the flowers and then you’re home-free to hunker down in the kitchen.
• Brine Time: To ensure a moist and flavorful turkey, we highly recommend brining the bird the day before. A simple salt-and-sugar water bath will easily safeguard you from the perils of a dried-out turkey that even gravy can’t fix.
• Easy As Pie: If you’ve made or bought your pie crusts ahead of time, most Thanksgiving desserts can be a piece of cake. But if you’re looking to cross some cooking off your list the day before, make your pies ahead of time. In fact, we even prefer pies that have had a day to sit, especially pumpkin and pecan. Just remember to take them out of the fridge 2 to 3 hours before serving on the big day — and tell your family no early taste-testing.
Soup’s on and snack attacks »
With Thanksgiving and the holidays right around the corner, it’s important to remember to donate to those in need, especially children.
Last week, Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign celebrated its one year anniversary with Food Network and campaign spokesperson Jeff Bridges. The No Kid Hungry Pledge is a daunting task, but with a committed army of supporters, Share Our Strength is confronting childhood hunger head-on with a goal of ending it by 2015.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to work with Share Our Strength. They do such incredible work and they inspire us as a company to try and be better. We’re excited to use the power of Food Network to help them raise awareness on this issue — our employees are excited, our chefs are excited,” said Brooke Johnson, President of Food Network.
During the celebration, guests also got a sneak peek of a documentary Food Network is producing around the issue of childhood hunger in America, which will release in 2012.
Read more »
‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving and the cook was stressing. How am I going to cook a 20-pound turkey and warm up four casseroles with one oven and promise to eat at a reasonable hour? Should I stuff the bird or not? How will I know when the potatoes are done? Don’t forget to make sure that Aunt Sally doesn’t sit near Aunt Mary — there’s tension.
Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet and there is still so much to think about. So it’s no wonder that for many families, the dinner before Thanksgiving involves one thing: ordering takeout. In fact, USA Today reports that the day before Thanksgiving is among the five most popular days of the year for pizza delivery. But there’s no need to spend extra money in the name of convenience. With our five pre-Turkey Day dinner recipes below, you can have a meal on the table in 20 minutes or fewer, less than the amount of time it would take to order and deliver takeout.
Simple recipes, delicious results »
Any food that can make your tongue tingle has got to be worth a taste.
I’m not talking a seltzer-like zippiness or even a searing chili heat. I mean literally tingling because your tongue is at once numb and buzzingly alive.
That is the power of the Sichuan pepper (also called Sichuan peppercorn). But why would you want to (albeit mildly) numb your mouth? Because aside from the basic coolness of a tingling tongue, that sensation also changes the way you taste food seasoned with the pepper, adding a wonderful punchy vibrancy and warmth unlike anything else.
First, the basics. Despite appearances, Sichuan pepper is not a true peppercorn. It is the dried rind of the berry-like fruit of the prickly ash tree. And chances are, you’ve had it before. Sichuan pepper is a basic component of Chinese five-spice powder. As its name suggests, the spice has left a serious thumbprint on the cuisine of China’s Sichuan province. It also is used in Japan, where it is called sansho.
Get the recipe for Sichuan Pepper Meatballs »
Since the next two days will be a whirlwind of cooking and greeting out-of-towners, take advantage of the calm before the storm to make sure you have absolutely everything you will need. Having all of your ingredients at the ready will make Thursday a breeze. If all of the cooking seems daunting, work on finishing your table. And remember: Thanksgiving is supposed to be fun.
• Supermarket Sweep: If there is one season that you really need a decent meat thermometer, it’s now. If you don’t have one, buy one. And if you have one, make sure it’s in fine working condition. Then head to the supermarket today to pick up all of your produce — and your turkey! Everything will still be fresh by Thursday and you’ll avoid the mad rush tomorrow and the day of.
• Quick Fix: Get the cranberry sauce out of the way today if you’re planning on making your own. It won’t take you more than an hour, and then it’ll be sitting in your fridge ready to go at the last minute.
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Appetizers on Thanksgiving can be tricky to manage. After all, you want to serve your guests a few snacks but nothing that may fill them up or detract from the main meal. To solve your appetizer apprehensions, check out Food Network’s top five pre-Thanksgiving dinner recipes below for no-fuss appetizers that will pair perfectly with the bird.
5. Onion Dip from Scratch — Alton uses a combination of sour cream and mayonnaise to make his tangy dip, featuring fresh onions and a dash of garlic powder.
4. Crispy Smoked Mozzarella With Honey and Figs — Giada uses store-bought phyllo dough to save time when making these light and airy eats, which are stuffed with a smoky mozzarella, quickly deep fried and drizzled with a honey-fig sauce.
Get the top three recipes »
Thanksgiving is by far one of my favorite holidays of the year. Not only because it’s all about food, which is clearly something I am very passionate about, but because it’s a great time to throw a fabulous party with your friends and family. In fact, this year I am throwing two Thanksgiving soirées, one with my friends from Los Angeles a week before Thanksgiving (aka Friendsgiving), and one for my family up in Seattle on the actual holiday.
For me, the key to throwing a great party is wowing your guests with a memorable food and drink experience. That means introducing them to a new ingredient or an inventive way to cook something. I’m a big believer in getting food into people’s hands shortly after they arrive to a party, especially if you’re having guests that might not know one another. It gives them something to do and a common ground to get the conversation going.
For Thanksgiving, most people come to expect the traditional appetizers like Baked Brie or Spinach Artichoke Dip, but this year, try something different. One of my favorite simple appetizer ideas, Fried Ravioli, comes from Giada and they really get the party started. These cheese-stuffed ravioli served with a side of warm marinara sauce are always a crowd-pleaser for adults and kids alike. Make sure to make a double or triple batch if there are a handful of kids — I can guarantee that they are going to go nuts over these fried bites of pasta.
Put your own personal spin on it »
Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.
Great chefs don’t just work from recipes. The very best can take disparate ingredients and turn them into something unexpected and often magical. I have witnessed this many times in Kitchen Stadium, but this was the first opportunity for the judges to see if the remaining seven chefs had enough improvisational chops to hang with chefs of the Iron variety.
A seemingly innocent trip to a comedy club ended up not only in an encounter with Saturday Night Live legend Kevin Nealon, but also with an ingredient list for the Chairman’s Challenge that would test any chef in the world to their absolute limits. The bemused combatants were informed they would have to create a single dish that included the unlikely bedfellows of marshmallows, kumquats, tortillas and octopus. That they were able to create even vaguely edible dishes from these ingredients cemented their status as superstars. The fact that some chefs were able to produce dishes that were among the best of the whole competition was even more remarkable.
More from Simon »
Less than a week to go to Turkey Day and it’s time to hammer out the details. If your family vetoed your idea for an innovative reimagining of pumpkin pie, channel your creativity into designing a table centerpiece to set the mood. Also, consider four days ahead as a good time for a freezer exchange — frozen turkey (if you bought it that way) should come out, homemade pie crusts go in.
• Setting the Stage: While the food and the company always make Thanksgiving memorable, it doesn’t hurt to have a beautifully set table to sit around. Consider mixing flowers in with some artful edibles or even scout your backyard for inspiration. We like gourds, mini pumpkins, acorns, pine-cones and Indian corn to give the table a real fall feel. Gather everything you’ll need for the table (except the flowers), and stock up on candles for an extra-special touch.
From freezer to table »
I simply can’t say enough good things about Taleggio cheese. At once nutty, salty, rich, creamy and decadent, it only gets better when it is melted and becomes soft and smooth. To make the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich that is literally oozing with gooey goodness, combine Taleggio with a light tomato sauce on slices of thick, rustic bread and lightly grill with butter. Quick enough to make on a weekday and hearty enough to be served as a simple supper, this easy, cheesy recipe will become a family favorite.
For a light side dish, try Aarti’s Massaged Kale Salad, tossed with fresh, ripe mango pieces and crunchy pumpkin seeds.
Get the recipe: Taleggio Panini from Food Network Magazine
Meatless Monday, an international movement, encourages people everywhere to cut meat one day a week for personal and planetary health. Browse more Meatless Monday recipes.