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New York State of Mind on The Next Iron Chef — Critical Moments

by in Shows, November 28th, 2011

Anne Burrell and the judges

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.

There was a tangible change in atmosphere as we entered the second half of the competition.

In part, it was because our location moved from laid-back Los Angeles to the electrifying buzz of New York City. Four of the remaining chefs call this amazing city home, while the two others were obviously determined to represent their West Coast towns. Where once there had been jollity and camaraderie, now there was tension and nerves set on edge. One mistake, one poor dish or one unwise choice in presentation, and the chance of a lifetime could be over.

If you are going to prove you can cook on a grand scale, where better to do so than in Grand Central Station, one of the most beautiful buildings in New York? This time, the three regular judges were joined by restaurateur Charlie Palmer and the winner of NIC Season Three, Iron Chef Marc Forgione. Their role was to add sage words to our own comments about the dishes presented by each chef in response to the Chairman’s request to prove themselves as great storytellers. It may seem like an odd task for a cook, but the current Iron Chefs will tell you that many battles have been won or lost based on how the dishes have been presented to judges in Kitchen Stadium.

More from Simon

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The Next Iron Chef Caption It: Girl Talk

by in Shows, November 25th, 2011
Chef Guarnaschelli, Chef Falkner, Chef Burrell
Your Caption Here

The playing field is now tied up — three women and three men remain to battle it out in NYC for one Next Iron Chef title. In this candid shot from Sunday’s episode, the ladies (Chef Guarnaschelli, Chef Falkner and Chef Burrell) take a quick breath and a rare break in Grand Central Station. Are they strategizing about the next challenge? Bonding and gossiping about the guys?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to watch these talented female chefs in action, we’re challenging you, Next Iron Chef fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this moment in the comments below.

Who’s your favorite rival chef so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Baked Squash Gratin — The Weekender

by in Holidays, Recipes, November 25th, 2011

baked squash gratin
I come from one of those families where the Thanksgiving menu is essentially written on stone tablets. Many years ago, it was declared that there shall be turkey with stuffing (some cooked inside the bird and some cooked outside). Mashed potatoes are compulsory, as are sautéed Brussels sprouts, homemade gravy and cranberry jelly in the shape of a can.

When I was 12 years old, my cousin Jeremy brought an unscripted dish to our Thanksgiving table, but it was so wonderful that it was added to the holiday canon. It was a very large bowl of steamed and mashed butternut squash, enriched with a bit of powdered ginger and plenty of butter.

The only issue with this squash dish is that we somehow always manage to make so much of it that it ends up being totally out of proportion with the rest of the leftovers. The only thing that ends up outlasting is the gravy. (My father has trouble making less than a gallon of gravy.) Thankfully, I’ve discovered just the thing to transform all that squash and make it the most sought-after leftover around (though, if you make something else out of it, can it still be called a leftover?).

Before you start layering, read these tips »

A Thanksgiving Leftover Soirée

by in Holidays, November 25th, 2011

sweet potato croquettes
After all the excitement of Thanksgiving has ended, the big feast has come to a close, all dishes have been washed and the last of the family heads home, there are always the leftovers. Sometimes I think the leftovers are more exciting than the actual Thanksgiving dinner itself. I mean, what’s better than a few days of mixing and matching foods to create a meal, adding a few things here and there and being able to call it dinner? Pretty fabulous, huh?

The best leftover in my opinion has to be the mashed potatoes. Whether you use regular mashed potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes, they are always excellent for a few days post-Thanksgiving. And what better way to use them up than by turning them into little croquettes and inviting some friends over for nibbles and drinks.

Get one of Gaby’s favorite croquette recipes »

Best 5 Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, November 24th, 2011

next day turkey soup
One of the perks of hosting Thanksgiving dinner is that you get to keep most of the leftovers. But how are you ever going to use up the remains of that 20-pound bird and what can you do with all of those extra vegetables? Food Network’s five best leftover recipes below offer creative suggestions to rid your fridge of those Turkey Day remnants and more by repurposing them in easy ways that won’t slow you down on Black Friday.

5. Turkey Bolognese — To save time, Giada uses pre-made marinara sauce to make this simple but satisfying pasta dish, featuring dark-meat turkey and chopped vegetables.

4. Potato Croquettes — Paula coats leftover mashed potatoes in breadcrumbs and pan-fries them until golden brown with a crispy coating.

Get the top three recipes »

How to Store Thanksgiving Leftovers

by in Holidays, How-to, November 24th, 2011

refrigeratorLeftovers are practically guaranteed after a meal as large as Thanksgiving dinner. In my house, we ensure them by making a small, extra turkey and several batches of stuffing, so that everyone can take some home. But beyond making turkey sandwiches and soup, what can you do with all of that extra meat and how should you use up those spare potatoes and vegetables? We have the answers, plus helpful tips on how to safely store leftovers and inventive recipes for next-day dishes.

Shelf Life: Though there’s no reason to rush through Thanksgiving dinner in order to get the leftovers in the fridge, it is best to start packaging them within two hours of the meal. In general, most leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days. Frozen leftovers, however, are best within 2-3 months, though they’ll remain safe to eat forever, so long as they are kept at 0 degrees F.

Unstuff the Stuffing: If you chose to stuff your turkey, remember to unstuff it before storing. Scoop it out of the cavity of the bird and keep it in one container, and put the carved meat and each of your side dishes in their own separate containers.

Follow these easy food safety tips »

The Home Stretch — Your Morning of Checklist

by in Holidays, November 24th, 2011

mashed potatoes
Happy Thanksgiving! It’s time to sit back and relax — well, aside from some cooking — and make room for the big feast. Having prepared well ahead of time, you’ll impress your family and friends as the cool, calm and collected host. As much as we love the Thanksgiving meal, our favorite time of day is always the morning of, alternating between preparing the final dishes in the kitchen and sitting down to watch the parade with family and early guests. Not to mention, nothing beats the smells of a kitchen in full-on Thanksgiving mode.

• The Grand Finale: The moment you’ve been waiting for: time to roast the turkey. Unstuffed turkeys take hours to roast (anywhere from 3 to 5 hours depending on the size and the method), and you’ll want to give the bird at least 30 minutes to rest before carving, so start nice and early. One technique we like is to roast the bird at moderate heat, around 350 degrees F, only opening the oven door to baste occasionally so the heat stays inside. If the breast is getting too dark, you can cover it with foil. The turkey is done when the internal temperature of the breast is 165 degrees F and the legs are about 175 degrees F. Here’s where you get to use that meat thermometer.

Make the mashed potatoes fresh »

Alex’s Turkey Day

by in Holidays, November 23rd, 2011

turkey dinner
Every year, I pull out my giant roasting pan (with fitted rack) and thus begins the annual ritual of cooking a giant turkey for Thanksgiving. What kind of turkey did I make last year? How did I cook it? Though I consider myself a fairly well-seasoned cook, learning how to cook the perfect turkey is something I take care to re-learn every year.

So, where to begin?

A few preliminary questions I always ask:

1. How big does my turkey need to be? I usually estimate about 1 pound of turkey (factoring in the carcass as part of that weight) per person.

2. What kind of turkey? Like a lot of poultry these days, there is quite a variety of turkeys (all raised in different ways, fed different foods) to choose from. You know, this is a difficult question to answer. I don’t think I have ever cooked the same turkey two years in a row. I love Heritage brand the most, but those types of birds are raised in such a way that the meat is leaner and can be slightly tough. I also love a good ol’ supermarket turkey. I say, whatever suits your personal taste.

Read more

Quick Carrot Sides for Thanksgiving — Fall Fest

by in In Season, Recipes, November 23rd, 2011

carrots
Add a pop of color to your Thanksgiving spread with an easy carrot side. Whether you steam, boil or roast these bright root vegetables, they’re a perfect last-minute addition — done in 20 minutes or less.

For Middle Eastern flair, make Food Network Magazine’s Roasted Carrots With Za’atar (pictured above). Start by roasting the carrots in salt and pepper, then toss them with za’atar (a spice blend available at Middle Eastern markets), parsley and a splash of lemon.

Sunny’s Honey Glazed Carrots let the vegetable’s natural flavor shine through. Cook until a light honey glaze coats the carrots. We guarantee you won’t be able to eat just one.

More carrot recipes from family and friends »

It’s the Final Countdown — Day-Before Planning

by in Holidays, November 23rd, 2011

ina garten butternut squash soup
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 »