We interviewed a TON of chefs this pre-Thanksgiving season! And would you believe it, they all had really good advice for making the perfect Thanksgiving dinner. These tips will keep you going strong from the days leading up until many days and sandwiches after.
What does Dale Talde do to…uh, with his leftovers? How long does Jeff McInnis brine his bird? The answers to these and more, below.
Amanda Freitag on roulades: "It’s the best way to do it. You don’t have to deal with carving. For leftovers it’s amazing, because you can slice off whatever you want and just leave it."
Jeff McInnis on brining: "The longer you brine it the better, but you don’t want to do it too long so it doesn’t get salty. But a three-day brine would be awesome, maybe two days. At the restaurant we brine our chicken (3-5 lbs) for a day and that really comes in perfectly, so if you have a 10-pound bird, go for two days, or a 15- to 20-lb. bird, shoot for three days."
Aliya LeeKong on heritage birds: "It took a heck of a lot longer than I expected it to cook. It took longer than your typical one-hour, whatever per each pound. It’s not often that you’re roasting a whole turkey and you get to try it out. I happened to try it out that day because I figured I’d just keep checking the temperature. There was a good hour-and-a-half where we were all like, 'Is this going to cook?'"
Thomas Lents on sous-vide: "I’ve tried a whole turkey sous-vide, which pretty much required finding a bag to fit a whole turkey, which took awhile, but it worked out pretty well. The issue is reheating and roasting, but I brined it and sous-vided the whole turkey and then roasted it in a really hot oven and it came out really well."
Josh Eden: "String beans with garlic, but cold. Fried garlic, string beans, salt and sugar: it should taste a little bit like day-old Chinese food. What’s better than Chinese food cold the next day?"
Johnny Iuzzini: "I like to mess with vegetables a lot. I’m going to do this chocolate and beet dessert – I take beet juice, make a frozen parfait out of it, and sit it on top of a super-spiced chocolate streusel, a bitter chocolate gel, yogurt powder, beet greens and some hibiscus. They’re both very organic flavors and really flow together."
Gavin Kaysen: "So when you eat at Café Boulud, everybody gets a bag of leftovers. I started the year we opened Thanksgiving. We call it turkey to go. We make everything fresh. I order 40 turkeys for the restaurant and then 16 turkeys for the leftovers."
Susan Spicer: "It’s easy in Louisiana: turkey gumbo!"
Dale Talde: "My favorite is the all-in-one bowl. Instead of making a rice or salad bowl, just load everything and chop it all up. Everything is almost to the point where you can’t distinguish what anything is."
Mike Price: "Pullman loaf, sliced turkey, little bit of stuffing on there with cranberry sauce and a shot of gravy. Hot, wet. Dip the sliced turkey into the gravy and then put it on the sandwich."
Noah Bernamoff: "I’d do a leftover turkey knish – that sounds good. It’s already a potato-based thing, so just take the sweet potato or squash, throw some turkey bits in or even some cranberries, and that sounds good to me. Even some shredded brussels sprouts."
Sean Brock: "I’m terrible. What I’ll do – because I’m addicted to it – is take really good ramen noodles and the turkey stock, and add kelp and katsuobushi to it and make like a turkey dashi. You shred the turkey, crisp up the skin and put it on the top with poached egg and fresh vegetables. So good. Crazy! Like a turkey ramen bowl."
MORE KITCHEN ADVICE
Harold Dieterle: "You have to have a boss; someone who is leading. A potluck is all cool and fine if everybody is bringing a dish and heating it up and serving it. But if that’s not the case and everyone is cooking together there has to be a boss in the kitchen, and the boss needs to let everyone know that everything has a home and where it goes."
Mourad Lahlou: "One year, I was so sick and tired of turkey I took a suckling pig, deboned it, rolled it and confit the whole thing and roasted it in the oven. It was the most delicious Thanksgiving ever."
Sam Sifton: "One of the keys to Thanksgiving is having good turkey stock with you at all times. You can use it to refresh the meat, you can use it to moisten the stuffing, you can do pretty much anything with it, including making your house smell pretty good."