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.
While traditional Bolognese sauces are packed with meat — often a three-way mix of ground beef, veal and pork — Giada De Laurentiis proves that veggies can indeed steal the spotlight in her top-rated recipe for Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese (pictured above).
Featuring a flavor-packed base of onion, carrots and bell pepper, Giada’s herb-laced sauce boasts a key ingredient to bulk it up in place of the meat: assorted mushrooms. “They’re very hearty and substantial,” Giada explains of the mushrooms. Just a splash of red wine adds another layer of complexity to the sauce, while a dollop of mascarpone cheese offers creaminess and a subtle tang. Giada recommends you save a bit of the pasta water when draining the noodles, as you may need it later to loosen up the sauce. Just before serving, toss the pasta with nutty Parmesan cheese to round out the flavor.
Can you really call your stuffing a “stuffing” if it wasn’t cooked inside the turkey? Do New Yorkers make “dressing,” or is that only a Southern dish? How many ingredient mix-ins is too many when it comes to reinventing the stuffing wheel? There are countless debates surrounding this all-important Thanksgiving side dish, but no matter what argument you believe, one thing is certain: A stuffing or a dressing (however you define it) ought to be on your table this turkey day. Check out Food Network’s all-star lineup of the best picks for both seasonal stuffings and dressings.
Sausage and Herb Stuffing
The beauty of Ina Garten’s timeless stuffing is that you don’t need to start prepping it days in advance to dry out the bread. She simply toasts freshly cut cubes for a few minutes to achieve the same effect.
Though it was only one year ago that Alton Brown unveiled the now-infamous turkey suit during last fall’s special Thanksgiving episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, the host took the holiday to the next diabolical level tonight when he made one chef hunt for his own turkey — so to speak. The name of the game in Round 2 was turkey tacos, but instead of using traditional ground meat, Chef Vitor was forced to grab his (Nerf) arrow and (plastic) bow and attempt to shoot one of three kinds of turkey meat: turkey pastrami, which was the tiniest turkey, on the top shelf; turkey hot dogs, on the middle level; and the biggest and perhaps least desirable turkey, the jerky, in the bottom row.
Though Chef Vitor spent precious time shooting for the turkey pastrami he craved for his dish, Alton told judge Antonia Lofaso on the After-Show, “I would want the turkey jerky.” He explained after the duo tried their hands at the makeshift shooting range, “They’re the biggest targets, so they’re the easiest to hit and you’d have more time.” For Antonia, though, it was all about scoring the turkey hot dogs, which Alton wasn’t shy about tasting — straight up, on their own — after their friendly face-off. “Did you just [take a] bite of it?” Antonia jokingly asked the host. He challenged her to one more contest, but this time it was a self-sabotage battle. “You wrap up the show and I’ll eat as many of these as I can while you’re talking,” Alton told Antonia as he prepped to shovel hot dogs into his mouth. As she signed off from the After-Show, Alton wasted no time in beginning his challenge, which ended just as you might expect.
When preparing for this year’s Thanksgiving, don’t let the breadbasket become an afterthought. As the vehicle for soaking up precious gravy-drenched, cranberry-stained bits of food from your plate, bread is a key player for the big feast. Yeast or no yeast, baking from scratch is easier than you think. But we’ve got a trick for jazzing up frozen dinner rolls, too, just in case.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite recipes to pass around the table for the big night. Make your own cheesy crescents, Parker House rolls, fluffy biscuits and more. Whatever you decide on, don’t forget to factor in the next day’s leftover turkey sandwich. The best leftovers of the year deserve to be sandwiched between something equally delicious.
This versatile dough can be transformed into four amazing recipes: sea salt dinner rolls, herbed fan-tans, cranberry knots and three-cheese crescents. Bake them now, then stash them away in the freezer until Nov. 26 (or up to one month). Before serving them with your turkey, thaw them at room temperature for 30 minutes, then reheat in a 375 degree F oven for 10 minutes.
Many otherwise vigilant parents at least occasionally look the other way as their children eagerly scarf down candies, snacks and drinks dyed vivid, frankly unnatural, shades of pink, purple, orange, red, yellow, green and blue. But as we Americans become more deliberate about the foods we eat, we’re growing increasingly uneasy about the potential effects of all those artificial colors — Blues 1 and 2, Red 40, Yellows 5 and 6 — and their lurid, unimaginatively named ilk.
If you’re thinking that this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week ought to be served with a translation, fear not. Arancini are Italian rice balls, featuring a crispy, golden-brown crust on the outside and an inside of cheesy, ooey-gooey risotto and often a tomato sauce. Featured in Food Network Magazine, this week’s top-rated recipe boasts a next-level filling studded with pine nuts for welcome crunch as well as a trio of Italian cheeses — mozzarella, fontina and nutty Parmesan — for over-the-top decadence. Because they’re a cinch to make with your hands, these two-bite beauties are an ideal holiday appetizer that’s endlessly impressive.
For more easy appetizer ideas, check out Food Network’s Let’s Entertain board on Pinterest.
Get the Recipe: Arancini from Food Network Magazine
The best part of traditional Thanksgiving dishes is that they take well to seasonings from around the world — where all Americans come from! To get a taste of America in your feast, start by getting your ingredients from local farms if you can. Then, incorporate the flavors of your heritage and those you’re celebrating with.
One way to experiment with turkey is to change the way you cook it. Take a cue from the American South and try smoking or deep-frying the whole bird. For an extra-juicy turkey, try steaming the turkey in the Chinese tradition. Caribbean-style jerk cooking will ensure that every bite is full of big flavor. So will hot sauce. You can stick to roasting the bird and spice it up with store-bought hot sauce. Fiery blends come from all over the globe: Louisiana’s Tabasco, Asia’s Sriracha (made in California by a company founded there!), North Africa’s harissa, Mexico’s salsa. Mix just a bit with a lot of softened butter and spread it under the skin of the turkey. As the bird roasts and is basted, it’ll be infused with just enough fiery heat to make it extra tasty. If you’re serving a table full of chile-heads, you can even add a dash or two of hot sauce to the gravy.
Turkey may be the Thanksgiving centerpiece, but pie is the grand finale. Torn between baking pumpkin, apple or something different? We turned to the experts — pastry chefs across the country — to see what they are whipping up for their own holiday table. From revamped classics to varieties more outside the pie box, here’s how they’re ending the biggest meal of the year.
With everything else crowding the Thanksgiving table, the cranberry sauce usually doesn’t steal the show. We’re changing that up this year with this tipsy recipe that spikes the traditional jellied sauce with vodka. Watch Food Network Kitchen’s video below to see how it’s done, then follow their lead to make your cranberry sauce the most-popular side — or cocktail shooter — of Thanksgiving 2015. It may well become a new tradition. Just be sure to keep it away from the kids’ table, because it looks just like its nonalcoholic cousin!