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35+ Holiday Cooking Tips From Chefs To Feast Your Eyes On

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Cooking a holiday meal doesn’t have to be stressful with these chef-sanctioned tips.


The holidays can be such a wonderful time, but they also come with a fair amount of stress and a heavy mental load — especially when you're trying to feed a bunch of family members you only see a few times a year. You want everything to be perfect, but you're not a professional chef. You're a chicken-nuggets-once-a-week and a "fend for yourself on the weekends" kind of chef. What were you thinking, signing up to cook a giant turkey and all the sides?! Fortunately, you've got the internet — and a whole stable of professional chefs in your corner, courtesy of Scary Mommy, willing to share the best holiday cooking tips with you.

If you're feeling ready to conquer the world one holiday meal at a time, this wealth of information will make your life easier and your meals more delicious. From bold turkey flavors to tasty taters, whatever you're tackling this holiday season, do it with a panel of experts at your side. Here's what the pros had to say.

Start Prepping Early

Starting early might seem like more work upfront, but chefs swear by the results.

Let Professionals Do Some Work for You

Seriously, you don't have to do it all. And, bonus, you could funnel some much-needed business to your local food and beverage community.

Smoke Your Turkey

Thanks to the "turkey shortage," you may not have even gotten your beloved turkey this year. But if you nabbed a bird, how about honoring your acquisition with a whole new spin on that Butterball? For a slightly different but equally delicious spin on the holiday turkey, Mike Haas, pitmaster and owner of Angry BBQ, suggests you try smoking your brined turkey.

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Try a Dry Brine

Ina Garten was just on Drew Barrymore's show, saying she hates the mess of a wet brine and prefers a dry brine. Chef Ed Covino, founder of Bes'Dam Soup, agrees. Need to know exactly what to do? He's got you covered.

Cook That Bird Properly

The biggest mistake you can make on a holiday? Not cooking your food enough and getting your entire family sick.

Skip the Water

Making sure your turkey is moist and flavorful is key, but many people find themselves basting with water. Spoiler alert: Chefs do not love this.

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Take Allergies and Sensitivities Seriously

Most of us remember to break out a food thermometer at the appropriate time and keep raw meat away from other foods. But if you don't have food allergies or sensitivities, you may overlook the fact your guests could have them. So, here's your reminder to do your due diligence.

Go Overboard

It's easy to stick to the basics and do things you've always done or how your family likes them best. McAlister's Executive Chef, Courtney Bufford, suggests doing the exact opposite. Go big! How?

Get Guests Involved

Did you know Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson is not only an actor but also a dad and the writer of an amazing cookbook? His advice is literally the best — especially when it comes to looping guests in to take a little pressure off of you.

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Use Compound Butter On Everything

Flavored butter, often called compound butter, is a game changer. Keeping some in your kitchen all year long is a solid idea, but they're particularly beneficial during the holidays.

Mix Traditional Favorites With Trendy Options

You don't have to make every main dish and side the same every year simply because that's how your family always does it.

Prepare Properly

Worried you might run out of your favorite holiday menu items? A little upfront research can save you the frustration of trying to find an open grocery store for a last-minute run.

A Final Word of Advice

One of the great things about the holidays is that you get a do-over every year. When the turkey takes longer than expected, the potatoes turn out soupy, and no one is impressed with that new spin on corn, just breathe.

Starting the day after your holiday, you have 364 days to regroup, fiddle with your recipes, and prepare to try again. While it's fun to take on new and interesting recipes as a surprise to the whole family, new recipes require practice, even for the most seasoned chefs. If you didn't nail that new side right out of the gate, don't give up.

And whatever you do, don't give back holiday duties to your MIL in defeat. Just, as they say, "try, try, again."

Source: Scary Mommy https://www.scarymommy.com/lifestyle/holiday-cooking-tips-chefs

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