TODAY has assembled and expert team of chefs to tackle typical Thanksgiving problems with their top tips, easy techniques and time-saving recipes. Alejandra Ramos, Jet Tila, Sunny Anderson, Ryan Scott, Anne Burrell, Alex Guarnaschelli and Jocelyn Delk Adams are sharing their go-to holiday cocktails, make-ahead appetizers, revealing how to keep turkey warm and cook it safely, protect treats on the go and much more.
Alejandra Ramos: Cocktails & Appetizers
Use cranberry sauce to add holiday flair to cocktails and appetizers for Thanksgiving.
This refreshing cocktail combines the autumn flavors of Thanksgiving into a classy holiday drink.
Cinnamon sugar; ice; tequila; lime juice; cranberry sauce; orange liqueur, such as Cointreau; orange twist; cranberry skewer
- Place cinnamon sugar mixture on a plate. Rub a lime wedge on the rim of margarita glass.
- Add ice, tequila, lime juice, cranberry sauce and orange liqueur to a cocktail shaker. Shake until frothy and pour into the glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar.
- Garnish with orange twist and cranberry skewer.
Cranberry Goat Cheese Log
This make-ahead marvel saves prep time on Thanksgiving and gives guests something to snack on before the big meal.
Dried cranberries, coarsely chopped; cinnamon; goat cheese log, softened; crackers or a baguette, to serve
- In a small bowl, toss the dried cranberries with cinnamon.
- Roll the softened log of goat cheese in the cranberries. Press gently on all sides to ensure the cranberries adhere to the cheese. Chill until ready to serve.
- Serve with crackers or a baguette.
Jet Tila: Proper Cooking Tips
Always cook turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F. This number applies to cooking all poultry.
Time-temperature safety zone
Any cooked foods should not remain at room temperature for more than 4 hours. Foods will enter the "danger zone" after 4 hours and there is an increased risk of developing a food-borne illness from eating foods that have not been held at the proper temperature. The danger zone is when foods are held at unsafe temperatures and bacteria grow most rapidly: between 40°F and 140°F for longer than 4 hours.
How to reheat gravy properly
Foods, such as gravy, need to be brought to a boil (212°F) and cooked for a minimum of 30 seconds to kill off any harmful bacteria that may have developed from being held in the danger zone.
Sunny Anderson: Glazed Brussels Sprouts
This simple trick adds loads of flavor to Brussels sprouts with a minimum amount of effort. Any leftover preserves or marmalade you have can be used to amp up the flavor of your vegetables. This glaze can also be used on your turkey!
Preserves or marmalade; turkey stock; roasted Brussels sprouts
Place the preserves in a bowl and add turkey stock till consistency is thin enough to be a glaze. Pour glaze over roasted Brussels sprouts and toss to coat.
Ryan Scott: How keep your turkey warm
Make gravy ahead of time and store it in thermos to it keep warm. Storing the stock or gravy in your favorite thermos helps to ensure it stays warm and also makes for easy transportation.
The warm stock helps to keep the turkey hot and prevents it from drying out because you are not reheating your meat multiple times.
Anne Burrell: Squash the presentation
Serve stuffing in a scooped out and cooked squash for a pretty holiday presentation. You can use roasted a kabocha, butternut, sugar pumpkin or acorn squash. Using a natural container adds color and festive flair to the table.
Alex Guranaschelli: How to transport desserts
Keep cookies safe
Transporting cookies and/or brownies in a shoe box is a safest way to travel to prevent them from breaking and crumbling. Line the box with newspaper or bags to insulate and keep them warm.
Protect your pies
To keep pies from breaking during transportation, place a piece of damp paper towel or nonstick shelf liner between the bottom of the pie plate and the sheet tray to stop it from sliding. This will prevent your pies from breaking.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Piecaken
If your pie does end up getting damaged, it can still be enjoyed! Turn them into tasty piecaken (pie + cake!) instead of tossing them out.
Top broken or damaged pies with a layer of frosting and a cake round. Then frost the whole thing. And just like that, you have a whole new dessert.