We’re thrilled to share these Thanksgiving day tips with you from our Guest Editor’s Emmy Award-winning co-hosts at The Chew. With two Iron Chefs, a couple of cookbook authors and a lot of TV host personality among them, we dream of having this team in our kitchens later this week. The next best thing? This list of the foodies’ top tips, favorite culinary memories and what they’ll be cooking this year. (Mario is making an Umbria-themed spread with truffle gravy, people – NBD!)
Clinton Kelly is squashing the stress of pulling the day together, Daphne is sharing her ultimate hosting advice and Chef Michael Symon is getting nostalgic with us about magical aromas and the best leftovers…
The best dish you personally make for Thanksgiving…
Mario Batali: I make everything. Here is this year’s menu, themed from Umbria: turkey porchetta; chestnut, fennel sausage and dried quince stuffing; vin santo/black truffle gravy; Macoun apple sauce with roasted quince; Swiss chard neci al forno; shaved Brussels sprouts with Chianti vinegar and pecorino; sweet potato mash with sweet garlic; roasted cipolline with sage; frisee with bacon and poached pears; cranberry trebbiano compote; and for dessert, castagnaccio with sour cream.
Daphne Oz: I make all our pies. Pumpkin pie with a sugar-cookie crust is my specialty. There’s never any left.
Clinton Kelly: Roasted beets topped with crème fraiche, grated fresh horseradish and lemon zest.
Michael Symon: My turketta. I originally made it in a Thanksgiving battle in Iron Chef almost ten years ago, but it has graced our table every years since. Let’s face it, when you pack a paste of guanciale, capers, garlic and chili flakes into a turkey, it is guaranteed to be tasty!
Carla Hall: The double sweet potato pie – it has a layer of the traditional sweet potato filling on the bottom and a layer of white chocolate sweet potato mousse on top.
Your Top prep tip for Thanksgiving…
Mario: I build a schedule starting Monday with daily prep lists of things I can do way in advance. I brine the bird Monday, bone it Tuesday and make the stock for the gravy slowly Tuesday night. On Wednesday, I prep all of the vegetables make the stuffing and roll the turkey, prep the dry mix for the cake, make the apple sauce and cranberry compote and set my schedule for Thursday so that I can truly enjoy the day, just by following the schedule.
Daphne: I chop all my veggies the day before. (Or buy them pre-chopped! No shame.) Only make dishes you’ve made many times before – you want to avoid surprises as much as possible when you’re entertaining and juggling many moving parts. Set up your drinks table in advance so any early birds can help themselves and buy you a little time. Once your guests arrive, either invite them into the kitchen with you (only if you can stay relaxed with them in there!) or go be a guest at your own party. Everyone is taking their cues from you, so most importantly: Have fun!!
Clinton: When your guests ask if they can bring something, say yes! People enjoy contributing to a party, but don’t let them bring whatever they feel like bringing. Assign them projects like fresh bread, desserts, cranberry sauce so you can check them off your list. My goal this year is to cook the turkey, stuffing and gravy – and let everyone else do the rest.
Michael: Plan ahead and stick to the schedule! Don’t be afraid to start prep a couple days before the big day. On the day of Thanksgiving make a very detailed oven schedule so everything is going in and coming out on time. Remember the turkey needs to rest and will stay plenty hot for up to a hour after removed from the oven!
Carla: For timing purposes and getting the food to the table at one time, plan and balance your menu with hot, cold and room-temperature items. See what you can fit on the stove top at one time and what can fit in the oven at one time. Don’t forget about other external cooking sources like the crock pot.
Best thing you ever ate at Thanksgiving?
Mario: My fave thing has always been the stuffing; in our family it has always had lots of onions celery, fennel, sausage, toasted bread, sage and black pepper and it is consistently excellent through many iterations. I change the theme of our Thanksgiving meal every year. In recent years, my table has been New Orleans, Alsace, Lorraine, Santa Fe and Barcelona.
Daphne: I’m a fanatic for sides, and I love my mother’s stuffing. Full of shallots, celery, sage, thyme and a thorough soaking of broth, butter and olive oil, it is a miracle any actually makes it to the plate with everyone in our family descending on the dish as soon as it comes out of the oven. Her corn pudding is also monumental. It’s basically corn niblets, creamed corn, sour cream, corn muffin mix, and all the butter in the world baked as a casserole. Make triple. Clearly, sweatpants with plenty of stretch are a Thanksgiving necessity at our house.
Michael: My pap’s turkey and dumpling soup… it is not only fantastic but stirs up all the memories of my childhood and the magic aromas that fill a house on Thanksgiving.
Carla: I have to go with the cornbread stuffing. It gets me every time.
Clinton: A huge pile of my grandmother’s stuffing (a fairly simple recipe of white bread, celery, egg, salt and pepper) slathered with her homemade giblet gravy made from the pan drippings