It’s not Thanksgiving without a feast. The usuals like turkey, gravy and cornbread satisfy, but spicing up the menu gives guests more to be thankful for this season. Longtime chef and cookbook author David Tanis offered four simple tips to add more flavor to any Thanksgiving meal. His suggestions will help lighten the load to boot.
Pop in One More Turkey
A large guest list could easily heighten holiday anxiety. To ease the tension and have a festive display at the same time, Tanis recommends roasting two smaller turkeys rather than one large one. “You’ll have one to carve and one to display and carve later.” Another plus is the taste, “Smaller birds cooker faster and are more tender.”
Focus on Seasoning
Seasoning makes all the difference. Opt to season your turkey (or turkeys!) a day in advance for a deeper flavor. “Seasoning can be as simple as a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper inside the cavity and all over exterior,” he said. For greater taste, add a halved onion, a head of unpeeled garlic, a quartered orange and a large bunch of fresh thyme or sage inside the cavity. Tanis also emphasized bringing the turkey to room temperature before roasting.
Think About the Sides
Cornbread, yams and biscuits—classics are always welcomed. But opt for more creative accompaniments this Thanksgiving. Tanis recommends serving “some bright, high acid accompaniments to cut the richness.” His go-tos are different types of chutney, a popular Indian condiment. Room temperature vegetables are another favorite, especially since they save oven and stove space. He recommended parsnip mash with sesame oil, fennel al forno and cauliflower couscous with spiced butter from his cookbook David Tanis Market Cooking. “Most vegetables served at room temperature will taste best if prepared up to three hours before the meal.”
Let Guests Chip In
A Thanksgiving checklist can feel never-ending. Don’t be afraid to ask for a helping hand. “People always want to bring something—ask them to bring side dishes [you can be specific] and desserts.” Not only will this knock some items off your list, it will also bring more variety to the feast.