Create a Barefoot Contessa Thanksgiving spread with these 7 tried-and-true recipes from Ina Garten, featuring some of her favorites for celebrating the holiday, ranging from her make-ahead roast turkey and Jeffrey’s favorite bread pudding to her fail-proof apple pie and pumpkin mousse parfait.
Pro Tip: The gravy can be simmered up to a week ahead and quickly finished at the last moment.
The most stressful things about Thanksgiving Ina says, are carving the turkey at the last minute and keeping it hot on the buffet. What she discovered is that she could carve the turkey in advance. Our tip? Arrange it on an ovenproof platter over a layer of gravy and then reheat it all together. Not only was the turkey moist and delicious, but it stayed hot longer!
Ina explains that no one wants to stand around hoping their gravy won’t be lumpy at the moment the turkey comes out of the oven. With this recipe that will never happen! The gravy base can be simmered up to a week ahead with onions, sage and Cognac and whisked into the pan after the turkey is done.
This bread pudding is based on the Thanksgiving stuffing that Ina been making for her husband, Jeffrey, for decades. She prefers to roast her turkey without stuffing because it cooks faster and stays moister. Bread pudding that bakes alongside the turkey is the best of both worlds: moist turkey and crispy stuffing.
According to Ina, the late French chef Joël Robuchon was known to say he limited his dishes to no more than three dominant flavors so you would appreciate the intrinsic flavors of a dish. Of course, she’s sure he didn’t mean that literally, because some subtle flavorings simply make other ingredients taste better, but she likes his philosophy.
Here she flavors French string beans with toasted hazelnuts and fresh dill, and which she thinks all work really well together.
Because she loves butternut squash, Ina uses it in many of her recipes. In the fall, this is an easy dish to dress up a simple roast chicken or pork loin. She cooks the squash with garlic and a little nutmeg, then puts it in a gratin dish with a topping of crunchy bread crumbs and Gruyère cheese. This is serious comfort food on a cold winter night.
Apple pie has always been a problem, Ina admits. The apples either come out too hard or taste like applesauce. Some pies are overwhelmed with cinnamon or allspice when she just wants the spices to bring out the “appleness” of the filling.
Her secrets for the perfect pie crust? First, the butter, shortening and water must all be very cold. Second, you should let the dough sit in the refrigerator (bakers call it “relaxing” the dough) for 30 minutes before rolling. And, finally, don’t stretch the dough when you’re placing it into the pan. Follow these tips and you’ll have delicious, flaky pie crust every time.
Ina is always looking for holiday desserts that aren’t the usual pumpkin and pecan pies, and besides, who really likes to make pie crust? She decided to make a pumpkin mousse and layer it with whipped cream and chopped ginger cookies. She says, “It certainly wasn’t the worst dessert I’d ever invented.”