The oven is on, the knives are (kind of) sharpened and it's time for the biggest cooking event your kitchen's seen this year: Thanksgiving. And we are with you every step of the way.
TODAY gathered 52 chefs from across the country on the plaza with dishes representing each state (plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico) for our United Plates of America celebration — and several of them also shared their top cooking tips for the big day to help you win in the kitchen. Read, learn and conquer.
West Coast Tips
Phil "The Grill" Johnson: Add seasonings to your favorite staples.
Give your turkey a “southwest kick” with sliced jalapeno in your brine and an adobo chili in your gravy. When slicing, cut the breast against the grain to keep it juicy.
Kim Sunee: Try adding something new to the table.
Try the recipe below if you want to add frozen seafood and vegetables at the last minute to balance out the richness of the Thanksgiving dishes.
Kayla Robison: Try new techniques to save time.
Use a slow cooker for easy mashed potatoes, and wash your potatoes in the dishwasher all at once to save time. (Yes, really!) You can also use chocolate caramel candies (like See's, for example) to take your sweet potatoes to the next level.
Eric Gabrynowicz: Don't forget about your microwave.
Use the microwave to help you cook! You can use it to peel garlic easily and to keep hot foods hot leading up to the big turkey reveal. You should also roast garlic the night before to use instead of raw garlic. It gives your recipes an extra kick!
Sarah Grueneberg: Harness the power of brown butter.
Add brown butter pecans to make a dessert pop. Make them spicy with cinnamon to bring it to the next level. Use canola oil and lemon to save brown butter you have burned.
East Coast Tips
Jordan Andino: Use your oven for extra effect.
Make your own roasting rack with vegetables and soften hard bread by putting it in the oven.
Will Gilson: Try simple substitutions for fresh flavor.
Swap cream of mushroom for canned New England clam chowder.
Esther Choi: Add some corn for extra crunch.
Use creamed corn to replace milk or cream. You can also blister corn in a dry pan and add it to cranberry sauce for a hidden crunch.
Kwame Onwuachi: Add seasonings to your butter.
Roll your bar of butter in your favorite seasonings for extra flavor.
Gesine Bullock-Prado: Keep your kitchen separated by recipe.
Use caution tape to section off your kitchen counter that will be used for pastry!
Darnell Ferguson: Avoid overcooking with basting.
To avoid overcooking, baste turkey in soy sauce every 30 minutes.
Roxanne Spruance: Give your gravy some extra TLC.
Pour gravy into a measuring cup and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Fat will easily rise to the top. Skim and serve. Also use your favorite coffee thermos to keep your gravy warm!
Elizabeth Heiskell: Keep your hands clean.
As an alternative to washing your hands all day, use latex gloves from the drug store.
Jennifer Booker: Slice and dice easily.
Use a wire cooling rack to quickly cube egg yolks for deviled eggs.
Matt Abdoo: Don't forget dessert!
Leave your favorite quart of vanilla ice cream on the counter or microwave. Pour it into a shallow dessert plate, and then top with pie.