TV chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Tyler Florence is taking over the blog today, just in time for Thanksgiving! Tune in all day for recipes, tips and Thanksgiving advice galore from one of America’s most beloved chefs. Here, he shares some sage advice for a stress-free turkey day.
Tyler Florence has been cooking Thanksgiving since he was old enough to reach the stove. “What I love most about Thanksgiving is being around your loved ones and sharing a great meal,” he says. It never gets old, but the TV chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author has learned some lessons along the way about how to execute a goof-proof Thanksgiving. Here are his top five.
- Make a little extra gravy. “Sometimes you need a little more gravy than your drippings will make,” Tyler says. For those moments, he keeps a gravy base on hand. He adds, “I like to season mine up with the flavors of the holidays like sage, onions, and butternut squash.”
- Keep mashed potatoes warm the easy way. “Trying to get everything ready at the exact same moment can be difficult even for the most experienced cook. To keep my mashed potatoes warm, I put them into a metal bain-marie covered in plastic wrap and leave it in a pot of hot water on the stovetop,” Tyler says, adding: “I also keep some of the water that I cooked them in, in case I need to thin the potatoes out a little when it’s time to serve.”
- To avoid overcooking your turkey, brine it. “A perfectly cooked brined turkey is one of the best things in the world,” he declares. “The meat is juicy and seasoned all the way through and, best of all, brining offers a little forgiveness if your turkey stays in the oven a couple of minutes too long.”
- Always start with the freshest ingredients possible. “The way to a delicious green bean casserole is starting with fresh organic green beans and not overcooking them; you want them to be bright green and just tender,” he explains. Another dish where freshness is key is stuffing. “Cooking the stuffing from scratch is the only way to go,” he says. He starts his stuffing with slices of high-quality bread, not pre-cut, store-bought bread cubes. “I always cook my sourdough stuffing from scratch with San Francisco sourdough bread, because it adds a nice element of tartness.”
- For the cheesiest baked dishes, use cubes of cheese rather than shredded cheese. One of his favorite sides—a baked macaroni and cheese—calls for cubes of Muenster, which won the cheese test in his kitchen. “To make a really stretchy, cheesy mac and cheese, you want to fold cubes of cheese into the pasta because the cubes maintain their integrity instead of becoming part of the sauce,” he maintains.
What are your favorite Thanksgiving tricks? Share them with the rest of us in the comments below!