All about Thanksgivukkah + my pop-up supper club on Pure Pollino. Check it!
Now that we’ve stuffed ourselves with turkey and swallowed whipped cream straight from the can (don’t judge), the holiday season is officially upon us. That means it’s also time to stock up on go-to ingredients so that you’ll be ready for whatever the holidays throw your way, whether it’s a cocktail party, an unexpected visitor, or cooking a gourmet Christmas dinner.
My philosophy on essential ingredients is an analogy to fashion. You have to have the well-made shoes and handbags, but you can “Forever 21″ it in the middle. So, in the kitchen, you have to have good quality salt (kosher is standard), vinegar, and olive oil. This will get you a lot of mileage with every meal when ingredients are varied.
I’m not attached to any one brand in particular, and I’m all for experimentation and giving new labels a try. But there are a handful of ingredients that I just can’t live (or cook) without. If you’re stocked up on these top ten essentials, you’ll be prepared for a variety of dishes—and also for all of those savory holiday recipes that make this my favorite time of the year.
- Kosher Salt
- Whole black peppercorns (kept in a pepper mill to grind fresh on the spot)
- Olive Oil (Here’s a tip: I only use extra virgin olive oil for finishing dishes like soup garnishes, pestos and sauces. Extra virgin olive oil has a very low smoke point, so I add 50/50 canola oil to the olive oil when I’m cooking at a high heat. The taste of the blend oil is negligible.)
- Homemade broth/stock (no store-bought shit). It can be frozen for up to six months. It’s so worth it, and you’ll never go back to the boxed stuff again.
- Good quality canned tomatoes like San Marzano
- Unsalted butter (You can always add more salt)
Time’s a wastin’! You can start prepping for your Thanksgiving dinner today.
Thanksgiving’s just a few days away. If you’re feeling more “yikes!” than “yippee,” you may be in need of a culinary pep-talk. Relax! You’ve got this. And these five tips can keep you from losing your mind along the way.
Photo by Rhett Sutphin
Keep it Real
Now is NOT the time to start experimenting in the kitchen. Introducing one new side dish to the mix can definitely add some variety, but there’s no harm in sticking with traditional family favorites—especially when you’ve already mastered the recipes.
Be an Early Bird
Do not (I repeat, DO NOT) wait until Thanksgiving morning to stock up on your ingredients. For reals. Go today. Go tomorrow. Just don’t join the masses of frazzled Thanksgiving Day shoppers who will cut you for that last jar of cranberry sauce.
Prep Like a Pro
Shopping’s not the only thing you can do ahead of time to cut down on holiday stress. You can do quite a bit of prep-work before Thanksgiving day, like chopping hearty vegetables, making your pie crust, and brining the turkey. You can even set the table a day or so ahead of time (brilliant, huh?) and write yourself a schedule so that you’ll know when to start the turkey and slice the pie.
Master the Balancing Act
Traditional Thanksgiving meals can lean way too far to the sweet side of the scale. With sweet potatoes, cranberry relish, and all that whipped cream and pie, it’s important to balance your holiday menu with some fresh green flavors (like this Brussels sprouts salad). Salty and smokey dishes will also help balance all that sugar, and roasted vegetables are always a hit.
Try Something New
I know, I know. I just told you to stick with the tried and true. But introducing a new flavor to an old standby can be pretty divine. And this balsamic reduction sauce is a mighty fine place to start. It’s super versatile and can be used on savory poultry and steaks, side veggies, and even vanilla bean ice cream and apple pie. Bon appetit!
yields 2 oz.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 shallot, finely chopped
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Turn heat on medium and reduce to a thick sauce consistency. Strain shallots from sauce and season with salt and pepper.
It’s 13 days until Thanksgiving. Do you know what you’ll be serving? Not to worry, friends. I’ve got you covered.
Even though the turkey and trimmings are the main attractions of the day, I always like to start my Thanksgiving meal with a flavorful appetizer (or three!). They set the tone for the flavors to come, and hello, when dinner’s running a little late, hors d’oeuvres can seriously save the day.
This Brussels sprouts salad is a no-brainer for me. I think it’s the perfect starter for any autumn meal. It’s just a bite of salad, but there’s so much flavor. The parm gives it a rich, hearty kick and balances out the Brussels sprouts’ earthiness. I also love that this is a refreshing departure from the heavier hors d’oeuvres you’ll usually see this time of year. Give me more greens!
We serve this salad in won ton spoons. But it tastes good in just about anything.
shaved red brussels, parm, olive oil, lemon juice
yields 20 servings
20 red brussel sprouts
4 oz. parmesan cheese, finely grated
1.5 oz. olive oil
1 oz. lemon juice
pinch chili flakes
Chiffonade sprouts. Mix remaining ingredients together.