Food Network Editors' Not-So-Secret Thanksgiving Confessions

It's time to talk turkey.

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November 12, 2019
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Happy Thanksgiving Day! Autumn feast. Family sitting at the table and celebrating holiday. Traditional dinner. Grandparents, parents and children. Hands and cheers. Top view.

Photo by: Yuganov Konstantin

Yuganov Konstantin

Are you a fan of using canned cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving feast instead of making it from scratch? Or do you kick off your pie baking every year with a refrigerated dough instead of a freshly made one? You’re not alone! A bunch of Food Network staffers are right there with you. This week, we asked them to share their deepest, darkest turkey day confessions and the results may ruffle some feathers. Read on to find out what they had to say.

Sometimes Store-Bought Is the Way To Go

I swear by Pillsbury store-bought pie crusts for double-crust apple pie any time of year, but most especially at Thanksgiving. It’s my insurance policy for an Instagram-worthy dessert that my whole family thinks I labored over for hours. My secret to perfectly flaky crust? Put the base crust in the pie plate and place that in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before adding your filling. The crust will be super cold when it hits the oven and you’ll get homemade-level flakiness every time.

– T.K. Brady, Senior Editor

I am team canned cranberry sauce. My family always serves both the jellied and chunky varieties because we’re split down the middle as far as texture goes. Don’t get me wrong, homemade cranberry sauce is so delicious and insanely easy to make — we’ve tried it out making it from scratch a bunch of times (if you’re looking to make your own, go with Alex’s classic version, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll love that touch of orange) but to me, nothing says Thanksgiving like the premade stuff.

- Julie Hines, Managing Editor

Ever since I was young, my favorite item on the Thanksgiving dinner table has always been a beautifully sliced tube of canned cranberry sauce. I’ve tried a few homemade versions — and I’m not saying those aren’t great, too! — but nothing will ever replace the gelatinous texture and overly sweet flavor of canned cranberry sauce. It will forever have my heart (and a prime spot on my plate), and no one will ever convince me otherwise.

– Rachel Trujillo, Associate Content Editor

This is pretty huge, and sort of embarrassing to admit, but we buy our Thanksgiving turkey. I did the whole roast-your-own-turkey thing and I stressed every year that it wouldn’t be done when the sides were ready — or that it’d be dry and overcooked. I even went the turkey breast route once, but, you know, then the one person at the table who wanted dark meat missed out. So when my husband told me we could order a smoked turkey from our favorite local barbecue joint, I was sold. Now I’m free to spend my post-turkey trot hours baking pies and fixing all the sides, and he can pick up our turkey right before it’s time to eat — talk about a stress-free holiday!

– Meghan Cole, Associate Editor

I’m a senior editor at Food Network, and no, I don’t make homemade gravy on Thanksgiving. There. I said it. (Forgive me, please?!) The thing is, I make literally everything else from scratch. The pies (yes, there are multiple), the potatoes (doubles of those too), the turkeys (two of ‘em!), the stuffings (gotta have two!), the appetizer spread, the cranberry sauce, the green beans and the Brussels sprouts. It’s one of my favorite days of the year to cook, and I wouldn’t trade that work for anything. However, there just isn’t time — or, let’s be honest, enough patience in the world! — to execute a scratch-made gravy in those final moments before we sit down to dinner. The kitchen is chaotic and people are hungry, so I take solace in this ready-to-go Turkey Gravy Base from Williams-Sonoma to help me cross the finish line. I start it on the stove before the turkey comes out (just combine the deeply rich, savory base with milk and bring to a simmer), and then as the bird rests, I add a good amount of the drippings to drive home the homemade-but-not flavor. You end up with a lusciously thick, smooth and creamy gravy, one that my guests compliment me on every year.

– Maria Russo, Senior Editor

A Tropical Twist



Food Stylist: Christine Albano Prop Stylist: Karin Olsen

Photo by: Kat Teutsch

Kat Teutsch

If I traveled any further from my kitchen on Thanksgiving, I’d need my passport. Each year, my family heads to Hawaii, trading crisp fall weather for frosty rum drinks in hollowed-out pineapples. We gather and give thanks at a lovely restaurant, where I can order gingery seared tuna, while traditionalists get the Thanksgiving-only classic turkey dinner, with second helpings. Because we’re not total dining dissidents, we always pick up three pies from our favorite island bakery, Leoda’s — pumpkin, plus two island-inspired options, like chocolate-macadamia nut and guava chiffon. This macadamia nut cream pie will keep me there in spirit when I’m back from paradise.

– Erin Hartigan, Senior Managing Editor

Ixnay on the Gravy



Food Network Kitchen’s Brown Gravy, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

I don’t like gravy and I never make it!!! Even as a child I passed on gravy. I preferred the sweet-tart burst of cranberry sauce to add a little extra moisture and flavor to my plate. I’m not sure if it was the beige color, how it could get clumpy or that, to me, it lacked in flavor and just tasted thick and salty. I’ve never changed my mind, despite tasting and developing many recipes over the years! It’s just not for me and it’s one thing you will not find on my Thanksgiving table.

– Melissa Gaman, Recipe Developer

A Turkey-Less Turkey Day

My Friendsgiving is minus the turkey — my girlfriends and I have appsgiving. I’m taking Ina’s Ultimate Cheese Platter class on the new Food Network Kitchen app (see what I did there?). The Barefoot Contessa’s the OG hostess, so I’ll use her picks for the right mix of charcuterie, cheese, fruit and crackers and save my cooking muscles for Thanksgiving Day.

– Debra Puchalla, SVP, Digital Programming & Video, Food

This confession might get me in trouble with some people in my office, but if I had my way there wouldn't be a turkey at my Thanksgiving dinner. I know, I know, it's called "Turkey Day" for a reason, but for me I only have eyes for the sides. And while my suggestion for a sides-only Thanksgiving menu seems to have fallen on deaf ears with my family, I make it a point to add at least two new ones to our table every year. I currently have my eyes on this delicious Garlic Mashed Potato recipe and this hearty Mushroom-Sourdough Stuffing recipe from Food Network Magazine's November 2019 issue.

– Michelle Baricevic, Online Editorial Coordinator – Food Network Magazine

Who Needs Mashed Potatoes When You've Got Mac and Cheese?!

Based on unpopular opinion, every year I skip the mashed potatoes. “What?!” you say, “that’s what the gravy is for!” Well, when your mom makes Alton Brown’s Mac & Cheese every year, you no longer miss the potatoes. This recipe is foolproof, and easy to keep warm while everything else is cooking away. It’s the largest portion on my plate, and I’m always tempted to go back for seconds.

– Emily Boyette, Editorial Content Producer –

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