To kick off the holiday season with the spirit of giving, the editors of Bon Appétit, Cherry Bombe, Cooking Light, Food & Wine, andSaveur have banded together to launch Cook Gather Give, a call to entertain for a cause. Join us to help support the many communities affected by this year's unprecedented and devastating natural disasters.
Here's how it works: Between now and Dec. 31st, invite your friends over for dinner, a cocktail party, or a special meal and encourage everyone to donate to the cause of your choice, or theirs. We'll share the most inspiring celebrations, so be sure to tag your #cookgathergive festivities. Let us know what you serve, how much you raise, and which organizations you supported because we've got some special incentives and surprises in store for those who take part.
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Tips and hacks to take your holiday gatherings to the next level.
I am talking about:
1. The main event | Turkey (and other worthy proteins)
2. Sides, salad, and soup
4. Drinks and "drank"
7. Prep and organization
...and whatever else I can come up with.
Admit it you don't even like turkey.
What better reason to explore some options outside of the traditional holiday poultry and elevate the centerpiece of your meal.
Try lamb, beef, meatless, even seafood...I'm considering a roasted lamb dish this year. Changing up your protein gives you a host of new options for other parts of the meal, it's a decision only a holiday boss could make.
If you insist on making the turkey the star of your Thanksgiving table then I implore you to give that bird the celebrity treatment.
My top tips for a great, simple bird:
1. Get the correct-sized bird, bigger isn't necessarily better and a turkey breast could possibly be the perfect amount of meat.
*Best practice: 1 pound of meat per guest
2. Give it a dry brine not a wet soak. There are plenty resources available to help master this simple technique. My favorite one is from one of my favorite websites Food52.
3. Let your raw turkey come to room temperature before roasting. Start the roasting at a high temperature (425-475 degrees) for about 25 minutes, then drop the oven temp to 350 to finish.
*Best practice: Present your triumph to your guests then take it into the kitchen and CARVE IT before returning it to the table for consumption.
Bonus tip: Quit basted! It only dries it out and cause constant changes in your oven's temperature. Instead give the turkey a generous massage with a fat that is suitable for high temps. I like duck fat or coconut oil.
Let's talk appetizers, starters, canapes, etc. Cheese boards and charcuterie can cover every one of those categories when curated correctly. It's the best option if you have any interest in spending time with your holiday guest (if you don't by all means choose something infinitely more difficult and time consuming) You can knock out the prep before your guest arrive and then have time for a glass of bourbon before that first ring of the doorbell.
It is exactly how it sounds, in this case, it's the tradition of shoving fistfuls of wet overly seasoned bread into a poor defenseless bird. My advice....abort! Ain't enough winning to risk an angry stomach. If you like the aesthetic of stuffing in a bird, then cook them separately and spoon the cooked dressing into the bird while it's resting. Hold for applause.
Dressing...glorious dressing. This is where you can achieve the magic. A dish of beautifully seasoned, good quality bread baked to crispy-edged perfection, outside of the bird. Explore your bread options, take a risk on a ciabatta, brioche, or cornbread.
*Bonus tip: Feel like you may miss the turkey flavor? Make a your turkey stock days ahead and store it in your freezer, use it ensure you have moist and not wet results.
There are roll people
There are biscuit people
And there are bread people
Thanksgiving is no time to get bread from a tube..feel free to take a few risks, go for a variety of breads and rolls in one basket.
With a little care and prep a salad can be otherworldly. Recently, the salads I've purchased have been frustrating and disappointing, wet cheese, over dressed, whole chunks of vegetables, all of it is a mess.
Here are my 5 salad rules....yes, rules
1. Everything should be cut small enough to fit on a fork, No one wants to fight with a piece of lettuce.
2. Dress not drown. The dressing is there to season the salad not mask it.
3. No seeds no seeds no seeds no seeds no seeds no seeds
4. Blanche OR pickle vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, onions or brussel sprouts. Some vegetables don't give up their nutritional goodness until they are cooked and raw onions are just an offense. Click here to learn the blanching technique
5. If you have to use a spoon to eat it, then it's cereal not salad.
Bonus tip: For holiday salads, serve them family style on boards. Use seasonal produce to make it interesting.
A warm introduction to a festive night is french drinking chocolate, Due to its richness and big flavor this could as double as a dessert. Set out a bowl of fresh home made whipped cream, a little flavored liqueur, and dark chocolate powder and you can consider yourself upgraded.
Thanksgiving is a marathon not a sprint, people will be in home long after you want them gone, and well before dinner is ready. Time to consider a pre-dinner strategy that's simple.
Keep a crockpot warm and full of apple cider with mugs and add-ins nearby. I suggest a quality bourbon, flavored vodka, made a caramel sauce and whipped cream for the kids.
Bonus, your place will smell seasonal af!