Flay cooks for 40 to 50 people every Thanksgiving, so he's developed a few time-saving tricks
One of the most challenging aspects of pulling off Thanksgiving dinner is timing. When do you prepare each dish, and how do you allocate limited oven space? Which dishes should be finished right before serving, and which can you make ahead and heat up right before dinner?
Bobby Flay, who hosts a massive Thanksgiving gathering every year in his New York apartment, has figured out one trick that prevents pre-made dishes from drying out when warmed in the oven before serving. At the Savor Borgata Food and Wine Festival on Nov. 11, the chef revealed his secret.
“The most important thing to my Thanksgiving is having warm chicken stock on the stove to reheat things, like the stuffing and turkey,” he says, because obviously, you’ve cooked most of your food before guests arrive to eat. “I break down the breast, then I take all the meat off the legs and thighs so it’s a pulled, dark turkey meat, like carnitas. The breast is sliced and put on a tray. I have hot chicken stock on the stove, and then I just hit the meat with it, and it brings it back to life.”
He uses the hot broth on stuffing, too, rather than putting the stuffing in the oven to heat it up (and risk drying it out.)
“I make indentations in the trays of stuffing with a spoon,” he says, “I put the hot chicken stock in it, and it keeps it warm.”
Flay says he cooks three thirty-pound turkeys ever year, so he clings to any and all shortcuts that make the process easier, the hot broth trick being his favorite.
“I don’t know how not-professional cooks do this,” Flay says. “Somebody’s mom who doesn’t really cook that much – how the f**k do they get Thanksgiving out? I literally want to jump out the window.”
Of course, the stress of Thanksgiving is always worth it, Flay concedes, once you’re sitting around a table with the people you love most. And then there’s his signature dish, the biggest reward of all—mashed potatoes with green chile queso sauce. To make it, the chef prepares classic mashed potatoes with butter and cream, then clears a well in the middle of the bowl in which he pours green chile poblano queso sauce.
“Katie Lee literally put her face in it,” Flay says. If that’s not an endorsement, we don’t know what is.