Chef offers last-minute Thanksgiving advice, recipes

Morning In America

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Let’s face it: Last year, Thanksgiving didn’t really happen for most of us. Sure, you might have bought a bird and made some sides … maybe even cranked out a pie or two. But without the usual crowd around, the holiday just wasn’t the same.

This year, Thanksgiving is back, baby, and if you’re the one in charge of planning the feast you might be a bit rusty. Maybe it’s even your first time to handle hosting, and you can already tell time is getting away from you.

Fortunately for you, “Morning in America” recruited chef Corey Rice from the Freehand Hotel in Chicago to give some tips on how to pull off the feast well. His advice started with keeping the center of the feast, the turkey, from coming out dry or overdone. He advised using an injector to get flavored brine into the turkey before cooking.

Next up, the subject was appetizers and snacks to keep the crowd from descending on anything available before the entire feast was ready. He said the deviled eggs are a simple recipe with infinite variations that most people have the ingredients for hanging around in their kitchens. As long as you have eggs, mayonnaise and mustard (the basic components), you can create infinite variations.

When it comes to sides, of course the usual mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes are must-haves, but what about something different like mac and cheese? If you have some sort of pasta (doesn’t have to be macaroni), milk, flour and some leftover cheese hanging around in the fridge, it’s dead simple to whip up a simple bechamel sauce and create a mac and cheese from scratch that will have everyone thinking you’re really a chef. For an extra-fancy touch, if you have some panko bread crumbs on hand, mix them with a bit of melted butter and put them on top of the finished dish and then pop it into a hot oven for a few minutes, until the crumbs brown and form a crust.

Finally, perhaps the most important question: How do you tell when the turkey is done? Yes, they come with the pop-up doneness gauge, but those are notoriously inaccurate. For a few bucks, invest in a probe thermometer and set the alarm for 165 degrees. Push the probe into the deepest part of the breast. When the alarm goes off, pull the turkey out, tent it loosely with foil and let it sit while you warm up your sides in the oven. By the time the sides are warm, it will be time to carve the turkey!

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