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An all-star lineup of chefs — including Anne Burrell, Jerome Grant, Thomas McKenna, JJ Johnson, Gaby Dalkin, Marcus Samuelsson, Chloe Coscarelli and Michael Lomonaco — is visiting the TODAY kitchen to show us their best holiday recipe upgrades, time-saving tips and more for an amazing and stress-free meal.
MASTER HOLIDAY MEATS
Master the centerpiece of the holiday meal with these chefs' secrets for keeping beef, ham and chicken moist and imparting tons of flavor.
Anne Burrell: Massage the meat with an herb paste
Massaging beef with a rosemary-garlic paste before cooking it gives the meat an incredible flavor and keeps it moist. Once the roast is in the oven, there's little more to do than lower the temperature a few times before it's ready to slice and serve.
Jerome Grant: Add a new flavor profile to holiday meats
"Add a new flavor profile to the traditional pineapple and brown sugar roasted ham by marinating the ham in jerk seasonings," says Grant. "Wrap the ham in banana leaves to help seal in the moisture before and while roasting. Serve with pineapple mojo to top off this Caribbean-inspired roast."
Thomas McKenna: Roast potatoes along with the meat
Give potatoes great flavor and crispiness by roasting them with the meat. "I really love to serve my roasted chicken with potatoes that taste better than the chicken itself," says Thomas McKenna. He sears chicken in a cast iron pan, then adds cubed Yukon Gold potatoes tossed in butter and olive oil to the pan in a single layer. The chicken is placed right on top and roasted until both the chicken and potatoes are golden and cooked through. "Serve together and you tell me what you like better — the chicken or the potatoes!" he says.
SPICE UP YOUR STARTERS AND SIDES
Amp up your traditional side dishes with these spins.
Evette Rios: Use leftover cheese to make dip
"During the holidays we often have cheese plates around, but what do you do with all the leftover cheese?" asks Rios, before supplying the answer: "Take your leftover cheese from a cheese plate, mix in the food processor with white wine and you have an amazing cheese dip called fromage forte.
JJ Johnson: Dress up vegetables with a combo of flavors and textures
Simply roasted vegetables are great, but for the holidays, JJ Johnson jazzes things up by adding different textures and flavors to roasted broccoli and squash. "This side salad is light, flavorful, crunchy and warm — everything you want in a salad," says Johnson. "This could even turn around the broccoli haters at your table. It's easy to make most of the dish ahead of time, too."
Gaby Dalkin: Add a festive touch with colorful ingredients
Gaby Dalkin dresses up roasted Brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds for a pretty green and red presentation that's just right for the holidays. "Brussels are on of my favorite things to make this time of year, especially when my uncles are at the table since they are all still scared of Brussels from when their moms used to just boil them off when they were kids," says Dalkin. "These days I'm upping the ante on Brussels and roasting them off and then tossing them with a balsamic vinaigrette and adding pomegranate seeds to give it a festive flair."
DIAL UP YOUR DESSERT
Make your normal holiday desserts extra special this year with a few added touches.
Marcus Samuelsson: Make your own spice blend for cookies
Instead of using store-bought spice blends, Marcus Samuelsson makes his holiday cookies really special by creating his own spice blend. When you make your own blend you can customize it to your particular tastes and create a signature cookie.
Chloe Coscarelli: Use up leftover wine in your dessert
"If you have any leftover red wine on Christmas Eve, you can make Leftover Red Wine Chocolate Cake on Christmas Day," says Chloe Coscarelli. "The addition of wine adds richness and depth to your chocolate cake, without any dairy!"
Michael Lomonaco: Turn fruitcake into a family-friendly sundae
Michael Lomonaco serves wedges of fruitcake in sundae glasses with ice cream and toppings for a more creative and fun way for the whole family to enjoy this holiday staple. "All the kids can build their own and the fruit and nuts with chocolate syrup is amazing," says Lomonaco.