Pastry chef Boris Portnoy gives new life to a Thanksgiving cliché. Generic, canned pumpkin pie mix plus freezer-burned pie crust equals fake smiles on the faces of your friends and families. Real smiles come from choosing your own pumpkin—there are many heirloom varieties to pick from—and then customizing and experimenting as you go, using Portnoy’s recipe as a guide.
In this Thanksgiving edition of our You’re Doing It All Wrong video series, chef and TV host Michael Chiarello extols the benefits of a brined turkey. Avoid some things (have you ever heard of a blivit?) and embrace others (the bird fits perfectly inside a cooler). If you follow the approach Michael outlines here, he guarantees you one of the juiciest turkey dinners you've ever had. See our Turkey Brining Guide for more info and options (dry brining is great if you're short on space), and our Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving for everything else you need to know.
Trevor Corson has a one-of-a-kind job: He's a sushi concierge. As a result, he knows a lot about what people do right and wrong when eating sushi. Learn from him in this video (which was shot at New York's Jewel Bako, where Corson often works) and eat sushi with confidence.
A hot cake plus cold frosting means cake death: soggy and ugly. Meg Ray, founder and owner of San Francisco’s Miette patisserie and confiserie, explains what you’re doing wrong when you’re frosting a cake. Plus, more importantly, what you should be doing right: using good tools, keeping the components at the right temperature, giving it a crumb layer, and more. Here's CHOW's basic yellow cake recipe to try out your new frosting skills on.
Top Chef Season 5 contestant Jamie Lauren doesn't think people know how to treat their eggs properly. After laying down the ground rules for hard-boiling your eggs and getting the yolks smooth and creamy, she updates the flavors of traditional deviled eggs, making this ’70s house-party appetizer a dish you'll be proud to serve. Here are 10 deviled egg recipes to try out your newly perfected technique on.
Lisa Jervis, cofounder of Bitch magazine and author of Cook Food: A Manualfesto for Easy, Healthy, Local Eating, has a particular bias against mushy, flavorless vegetables that are more steamed than roasted. To get that roasty, toasty flavor and texture, be sure to cut the veggies evenly, spread them out in the pan, and oil and season them generously. Plus, Jervis says, anything lower than 500 degrees Fahrenheit is baking, not roasting.
Food writer Molly Watson dispels any illusions people might have about making nachos. For the record, using cheese sauce and a microwave are fatal errors. Her method only takes a few minutes, and you get crunchy nachos with flavor in every bite rather than a soggy, inconsistent mess. Find inspiration for your next nachos feast with these recipes and ideas.
CHOW Associate Editor Roxanne Webber shares the basic principles of timing for a simple Thanksgiving menu by demonstrating the things that people do wrong, including leaving too little time for the turkey to defrost (patience is key when H2O is changing state) and trying to cook everything at once. Do it right: Start defrosting the turkey Sunday, make sure you have your utensils on Tuesday, do your shopping on Wednesday, and make your stovetop dishes on Thursday while your turkey roasts; as the turkey rests, reheat the dishes that you made the day before.
CHOW Associate Editor Roxanne Webber stores the leftovers from a Thanksgiving feast the right way: by removing the meat from her turkey within a couple of hours of cooling, separating side dishes for repurposing later, and labeling the storage containers for easy identification.
CHOW Associate Editor Roxanne Webber makes her pie crust for the CHOW Thanksgiving pumpkin pie the right way, by using cold butter, not overworking the dough, and defying the temptation to add a lot of water.
CHOW Associate Editor Roxanne Webber demonstrates the wrongs and rights of Thanksgiving turkey. She suggests that you give yourself plenty of time for the bird to defrost (at least three days for a 15-pound turkey), and that, while roasting, you check the temperature regularly with a meat thermometer.
CHOW Associate Editor Roxanne Webber demonstrates the wrongs and rights of Thanksgiving stuffing. The biggest wrong? Sticking with the gluey mess that comes out of a box. You’re not saving yourself much time or money with that stuff.
Sunset magazine food editor Margo True has learned the rights and wrongs of mashed potatoes from a reliable source—her mother. Here, she demonstrates the wrong way (undercooking waxy potatoes, skimping on the cream, or, horror of all horrors, employing a food processor to mash) and the right way (using russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, cooking them as long as possible, drying them over heat before adding lots of cream, and topping with herbs). This approach elevates mashed potatoes to their rightful status as much more than a side dish. (Click here for Margo's mashed potatoes recipe.)
Laura Werlin has pointed us in the right direction before when it comes to cheese. The noted cheese expert and author of Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials now turns her critical gaze to the apotheosis of cheese expression: the grilled cheese sandwich. Only a few factors—the butter, the cheese, the bread—yet so many possibilities for a wrong turn.
Hubert Keller, chef-owner of San Francisco– and Las Vegas–based restaurant Fleur de Lys and a television mainstay (Secrets of a Chef, Top Chef, Top Chef Masters), is obsessed with hamburgers, as any self-respecting Frenchman should be. Here he generously shares some of his secrets. (More can be found in his book Burger Bar: Build Your Own Ultimate Burgers.)
Successful gnocchi-making requires some attention to detail. And successful gnocchi-maker Christian Hermsdorf, former chef de cuisine at Bar Bambino in San Francisco (he's been the chef at Cupola Pizzeria since 2011), wants to share some of the details. First, the don’ts: Don’t peel the potatoes, don’t use too much flour, and don’t overcook. And the all-important dos: Peel your potatoes when warm, use a ricer for maximum fluffiness, mix the dough only until it binds, be gentle with the gnocchi, and serve with a simple topping like brown butter and sage. (Click here for Christian's gnocchi recipe.)
Jeremy Oldfield is an oatmeal painter of light. He takes the blank canvas—a canvas of whole-oat groats lovingly ground and soaked overnight—and breathes life into it; the kind of life that lives in tahini and miso paste, or coconut milk and caramelized bananas. He’s bold. He’s got vision. He’s an inspiration to oatmeal-lovers worldwide. (Click here for a loose recipe based on Jeremy's YDIAW video.)
Brian Leitner, co-owner of Nettie’s Crab Shack, shares the right and wrong ways to eat Dungeness crab. Leitner has watched customers do many wrong things: leave the best bits behind in the body, avoid the crab butter (a delicacy for some), and crack the shell into the meat. He wants us to do the right things: use the mallet to gently crack the body, use the tip of the claw as a digging tool, and always get the hidden meat out. (Also check out CHOW's recipe for Basic Steamed Dungeness Crab.)
Leslie Jonath, writer-editor at Chronicle Books and annual latke-party-thrower, has learned all she knows from her mother and grandmother. She shares some Jonath family secrets (controversy alert: food processor! wringing water!). Her latke recipe is adapted from Marlene Sorosky’s version in Fast & Festive Meals for the Jewish Holidays.
Laura Werlin, author of Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials and noted cheese expert, knows cheese rights from cheese wrongs. She’s got pointers ranging from the serving to the cutting of cheese, with a little bit of rind etiquette along the way. (Laura also showed us how to make grilled cheese the right way.)
David Wong, director of tea culture and education at Tillerman Tea, has seen all of the wrong ways that people brew tea. He’s here to show you the right way. There are three “hows” of steeping: how hot the water should be, how much tea to use, and how long to steep.
Fatty, soggy, and burnt are words you never want to hear applied to your bacon. Scott Vermeire of Prather Ranch Meat Co. offers a quick and easy primer on bacon perfection. He also addresses the very important question of flipping: when to do it, and how often. Once you've learned how to cook your bacon perfectly, you're going to need something to serve it with. Here are some breakfast recipes from the CHOW Test Kitchen.
Even, parallel slices are the way to clean onion geometry.
Mark Dommen, chef-partner of San Francisco’s One Market Restaurant, advises viewers against the wrong turkey-carving approach at Thanksgiving: Do not use a dull knife, do not carve at the dining table (as much as you might want to), and do not hack at your bird willy-nilly. For a full list of dos, watch the video. For CHOW's delicious roasted turkey recipe, click here.
Serving mac 'n' cheese made from a box is convenient, but it doesn't deliver the creamy, cheesy goods like the homemade stuff can. Try stepping away from the box, and surrender yourself to the teachings of Erin Wade and Allison Arevalo, co-owners of Homeroom in Oakland, California. They have a few simple tricks to help make your mac 'n' cheese flavorful and creamy every time. The full recipe can be found here.
Burnt, rubbery, or chunky should not be words used to describe your custard. Michael Recchiuti, cofounder and chocolatier at Recchiuti Confections in San Francisco, has a few tricks to help you achieve perfectly sweet, silky caramel custard each and every time. Here's his recipe if you want to make this elegant dessert at home.
Supersweet, watered-down milk shakes are nobody's idea of a good time. Tyler Malek, head ice cream maker at Salt & Straw in Portland, Oregon, has a few tips to help you achieve a thick, velvety milk shake every time without turning it into a sugar bomb.
Brownies should be a delicious chocolate experience, not a dry brown square chiseled out of a pan. Kir Jensen, author of The Sugar Cube and owner of a food cart by the same name in Portland, Oregon, has a few simple tips that will ensure rich, fudgy, perfectly baked brownies every time. (Click here to see Kir's brownie recipe from her new book. Or try CHOW's adapted version of her recipe.)
If you still make a PB&J by spreading loads of greasy peanut butter and sugary jam between slices of flimsy bread, it might be time to take some advice from Keena Tallman, co-owner of PBJ's Grilled Gourmet Peanut Butter Jelly Creations, a food cart specializing in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in Portland, Oregon. In this You're Doing It All Wrong video, Keena explains how to make the best PB&J out there, including a few tricks like experimenting with ingredients and, most importantly, grilling the sandwich.
Chocolate chip cookies sound basic, but baking them from scratch can be tricky. Even a tiny misstep can result in dried-out, crumbly, hard-as-rock cookies or, worst of all, cookies that are mushy and raw in the center yet somehow burnt to a crisp on the edges. Remi Hayashi Girouard, pastry chef and co-owner of Goody Goodie Cream & Sugar in San Francisco, has a few simple rules for how to bake chocolate chip cookies the right way, every time.
The mimosa is a surprisingly simple drink: just one part champagne to one part OJ. It's also surprisingly easy to mess up, leaving you with a warm, flat, gross cocktail that'll knock you to the floor before brunch has even been served. Learn the right way to pour this brunch favorite with CHOW Senior Editor Lessley Anderson.
Steve Sando, bean impresario behind Rancho Gordo, outlines the steps from beans in a bag to glorious pot o’ beans. Dried beans may not be fresh, per se, but the ones you're using shouldn’t be more than two years old. Soak them first, and then use the soaking water to cook them. A quick, hard boil followed by a long, slow simmer will get them cooked up right. (Click here for Steve's bean-cooking recipe.)
Chowhound's You're Doing It All Wrong video series is constructive criticism. Don't take it the wrong way; just learn the right way.
CHOW-TO is an instructional series hosted by Senior Video Producer Guillermo Riveros dedicated to breaking down the process for creating the most delicious foods. Follow along for valuable insight, fun demos, and guidance from the world's finest chefs.
Take 5 is a video series that explores a city’s thriving dining scene, hosted by our very own Joey Skladany. We feature five restaurants in five different categories, hand-picked by five local celebrities and influencers.
An exploration of foods that transcend cultures and borders around the world.