While the turkey often gets all the glory at Thanksgiving dinner, it’s the side dishes that turn the turkey into a full meal. From creamy mashed potatoes and classic green bean casserole to roasted vegetables, cranberry sauces and buttery, flaky breads, the seemingly second-string dishes can indeed take the spotlight at your holiday feast. Below are Food Network’s best-of-the-best side dish picks, the tried-and-true winners that will surely garner praise from your holiday guests.
While it’s almost always difficult to make a cohesive meal from one of the Chopped mystery baskets, the judges were thankful that this week’s ingredients were all usual suspects for a dessert. After a group of talented military vets left the kitchen, judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian and Marc Murphy attempted to make a third course out of lemonade, ballpark peanuts, marshmallow cereal treats and peaches on an all-new Chopped After Hours.
Alex mentioned that she was glad they left the peanuts in the shell for an extra layer of flavor, but Marc immediately disagreed. “I like the peanuts with the shell, too, but not on Chopped,” he said before pointing out how much time they take to shuck. He ended up attempting to make a sort of brittle out of them, which became the source of a fun game of hide-and-seek between Marc and the others. “Somebody evil has hid Marc’s, hopefully, peanut brittle from him, and now I’m going to join that game and I’m putting it on a high shelf in the pantry,” Ted said.
When it comes to stocking your home pantry like a professional chef, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better adviser than Alice Waters. Her new book, aptly titled My Pantry, is an eloquent exploration of what Waters keeps on hand in her kitchen all the time. It explores how to make several staple ingredients, like vanilla extract, candied citrus peel and ricotta cheese. It also gives recipes that utilize items from a well-stocked pantry, like superfood granola or Chocolate Nut Bark (recipe below for you to enjoy at home).
My Pantry blends Waters’ lovely writing with her highly craveable food and speaks to how a home pantry can evolve its staple items over time. “My travels to Morocco, Australia and Mexico have influenced what I keep on hand, especially spices,” Waters told FN Dish. “My pantry has also changed through my thinking about the importance of school lunch nutrition — whole grains, fruits and vegetables first.” You can find more about her work improving youth nutrition through better food resources for schools with her Edible Schoolyard Project.
What does Waters say every home cook needs to keep in a well-stocked pantry? The list is surprisingly simple. “You must always have olive oil, vinegar, garlic and spices,” she said. “Plus brown rice, farro pasta and preserved tomatoes.” According to Waters, a good home cook keeps 10 to 15 items on hand at all times, and with My Pantry you’ll find yourself making delicious meals from your pantry shelves multiple times a week. How does Waters choose what to make when she’s cooking from her pantry? “I pick whatever looks inspiring to me or what works with what I have on hand. You can make a delicious simple meal with only three or four ingredients.”
You can order your own copy of My Pantry here.
Host Guy Fieri is welcoming back past Triple G champions in Guy’s Grocery Games Tournament of Champions, premiering Sunday, Nov. 29 at 8|7c. Sixteen of the most-unforgettable previous winners return to battle it out in the five-part series. They will face challenges that test their culinary prowess and innovation for a chance to earn a spot in the grand finale. The single winner will claim bragging rights as the ultimate Triple G champion, and he or she will get an extra run at the Shopping Spree for a chance to become the biggest prizewinner in the show’s history.
Be honest: Is turkey your favorite part of Thanksgiving? No matter if you answered yes or no, chances are you’ll be cooking up a bird this holiday, as it’s arguably the most-important element of your Thanksgiving dinner table. As the centerpiece of the feast, a winning bird will bring balance to the seemingly never-ending buffet of veggie side dishes (and provide the leftovers for must-have turkey sandwiches), whether you fry it, roast it, stuff it or brine it. Check out some of Food Network’s best-ever turkey recipes below, each chock-full of good-to-know tips from your favorite chefs.
Perfect Roast Turkey: The tried-and-true staples are beloved for a reason, and Ina Garten’s top-rated turkey is no exception to that rule. Ina stuffs the bird with fresh thyme and a halved lemon to gently flavor the bird from the inside out.
In the new tournament Chopped: Impossible, 12 chefs entered the competition hoping to make it to the last round to face off against Mr. Impossible himself, Robert Irvine. Until now Robert has judged each of the three preliminary rounds, but on finale day he will compete against one of the three finalists: Marc, James or Emily. The challenge is real, and as we’ve seen so far, the ingredients have been quite impossible, so the final basket will make it anyone’s game.
FN Dish caught up with Robert on the set of the tournament to find out his strategy for the wild-card round. He reveals his competitive strengths and the way he plans to approach the basket. He also talks about how it was judging the chefs and what it’s been like mentoring them to bring out their best in competition.
Up until some years ago, I was a cultivated-blueberry kind of gal. I’m from Connecticut, and those fat, sweet blueberries were ubiquitous. The cultivated blueberries were the ones we picked in the patches on sticky summer days. And they were always the ones we used to dot our pancakes and load our muffins. Until recently I never gave my blueberry choice any thought. Those babies were refreshing and tasty, and I loved them.
Then I met a man from Maine. And I met his mother. I can remember one evening some years ago when said mother, Deborah, served us a rustic blueberry galette for dessert. She told us how she had gone for a hike and come across a patch of ripe wild Maine blueberries. She picked what she could, took them back home and baked them into a simple pastry crust. I was amazed. First of all, the color of those syrupy cooked blueberries was unlike anything I had seen — so deep and purple. The thick, glorious juice had bubbled up and over the edge of the crust and had caramelized seductively underneath. Second, the flavor of those wild blueberries was unique. They tasted of blueberry times 10. They were floral and savory, with the perfect jammy balance of tart and sweet. That galette was simple perfection and changed the way I looked at blueberries forever.
I can’t believe the holidays are right around the corner! Where has the year gone? I could’ve sworn Thanksgiving was just a few months ago.
Cooking for two on Thanksgiving seems daunting. You want to celebrate the holiday, but you also don’t want to be stuck with leftovers for a month. This Turkey Shepherd’s Pie for Two gives you an alternative to a large Thanksgiving spread. You still get all the sides that are classic for Thanksgiving, but without all the leftovers taking up your refrigerator space. Perfection! This recipe is also great if you happen to celebrate with family or friends and you get sent home with a bunch of leftovers. The turkey and mashed potato leftovers can be used in this recipe, and it’s like having a Thanksgiving meal all over again. Get the recipe below, then check out more of my Party of Two picks.
When time is tight on busy weeknights, the key to easy, enjoyable mealtimes is taking advantage of what you already have. While some nights that may mean looking to a refrigerator full of groceries to put simple, ready-to-go ingredients to work, other times it could call for a bit of creativity in dressing up your pantry staples. Then there are the nights that it can be as simple as letting your past prep help. Enter the frozen casserole.
With a crispy breadcrumb blanket on top and a center of tender, garlic-laced veggies, hearty brown rice and a creamy, cheesy sauce, Food Network Kitchen’s Healthy Squash and Kale Casserole is a make-ahead beauty. It can be assembled up to two weeks before you want to eat it, so perhaps dedicate some time over the weekend to putting this big-batch pick together, and then freeze it for later. When you’re ready to eat, preparing it is as simple as covering it with foil and letting it bake.