- Holiday hosting and cooking can get overwhelming.
- Bobby Flay shared his ideas for home cooks who are looking for menu swaps and hosting tips.
- He suggests making compound butter for potatoes and getting specific with guest assignments.
Celebrity chef Bobby Flay said Thanksgiving day is his personal Super Bowl and “probably my favorite day of the year.”
“It involves so much food and family and friends, et cetera. You know, all the sappy things that go along with Thanksgiving,” the chef and TV personality said on Thursday morning’s episode of “Today.”
But sometimes, cooking can feel overwhelming, or maybe you’re not sure how to best manage your time as the host. So Flay answered questions from “Today” viewers and hosts, providing his five tips for a great Thanksgiving.
1. Be clear when delegating your guests’ contributions
Flay’s tip for inviting guests is to hand out assignments. “I think if you’re cooking the turkey and all the side dishes, that’s plenty as the host to do,” he said. “Plus, you have to be the host!”
The chef said he leaves dessert and wine to his guests, so he assigns some guests white wine, some red wine, and some get sweets. But when it comes to delegating desserts, he says it’s important to be specific.
“Because otherwise,” he says, “I’ll wind up with 20 pumpkin pies.”
2. You don’t have to make gravy on Thanksgiving day
One viewer called in and said that she wants to find a way to make turkey gravy the day before Thanksgiving because it’s often a messy task. Flay acknowledged that gravy is often made with bones, giblets, and drippings from the turkey, which is cooked the day of.
But, he said, there’s a workaround.
If you want to make gravy before you cook the bird, Flay suggests using chicken stock, flour, salt, and pepper, and then finishing it off with a little butter.
“A good tip is to use wonder flour, which actually cooks out very easily,” he said. And if it gets too thick, you can thin it out by adding more chicken broth or stock.
“Just let it cook down until you get the concentrated flavor of that stock,” Flay added. “That’s what’s really key.”
3. An easy way to impress guests: Use compound butter for sweet potatoes
“I’m a sweet potato fan,” Flay said. His idea for a four-ingredient, easy yet impressive dish is oven-roasted sweet potatoes with compound butter.
He suggests mixing almonds or peanuts and a little pomegranate molasses into butter.
“You get that nutty flavor and a little bit of tart and sweet,” Flay said. “Just put it in the warm sweet potatoes and you have tons of flavor.”
He said the potatoes usually take between an hour and 90 minutes to roast.
4. You don’t have to use marshmallows to sweeten your potatoes
“People like sweetness on sweet potatoes and if you don’t like marshmallows, I totally understand that,” Flay said.
His idea for a swap is to use a glaze. Flay suggests mixing molasses, honey, or pomegranate molasses with a bit of mustard and then brushing it on top of crusty sweet potatoes.
“This way you get a little spicy, a little sweet, but you also bring out the flavor of the natural sweetness of the potatoes,” he said.
5. Pay as much attention to the skin of your turkey as you do the meat
Flay says a lot of people enjoy eating the skin of the turkey, but not if it’s cooked improperly.
“You have to make sure that the skin renders and gets crispy because it can be flabby on a turkey,” he said.
The way you get crispy skin, he added, is to cook the bird slow and low in the oven, but also baste it a little bit with butter.
But Flay says Thanksgiving is “a great day, and your house always smells good,” regardless of what you’re cooking up.