During day 2 of the fourth annual MSLR Thanksgiving Hotline, we received a number of great calls from listeners. Below are some photos from throughout the day as well as the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Q: What can I fill the cavity of the turkey with other than stuffing?
Art Smith: Vegetables add a great amount of flavor. Citrus and herbs are also great.
Q: Some of my guests are fish-eating vegetarians. Do you have any fish recipe suggestions?
Bill Telepan: Take a filet of fish (salmon, wild stripe bass, halibut) and put in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Top with a breadcrumb mixture made with garlic, thyme, and oregano, and serve with a lemon wedge.
Q: Can I make my macaroni and cheese ahead of time? If so, how should I prepare it?
Sunny Anderson: Make sure the pasta is al dente and has a nice bite to it. I usually make extra custard and pour that over the macaroni the day I plan to serve it just in case it has become a little dry.
Q: What is the best type of potato to make smooth mashed potatoes?
Elizabeth Karmel: Yukon gold.
Q: What is spatchcocking a turkey?
Emeril: It's removing the back bone from the front to the back of the turkey so you don't have that big bone in the center. That way, if you are grilling it, it will cook more evenly.
Q: Do you wrap your turkey in kitchen twine to keep it compact?
Emeril: I don't really truss my turkey unless I'm trying to keep it together. The purpose of tying or trussing a turkey is to keep the structure of the turkey. You don't have to truss the turkey, just season it well with herbs and olive oil.
Q: What does "bake blind" mean?
Gale Gand: You bake it with no fillng and usually weigh it down with pie weights.
Q: I decided to make a duck this year. Should I brine it? How should I defrost it?
Isaac Mizrahi and Michael Lomonaco: Due to all the fat in the duck, there is no need to brine it. The best way to defrost anything frozen is in the refrigerator for 36-48 hours. Because you defrost it slowly, it won't release much water.
Q: I love to do a beautiful Thanksgiving presentation. How do I deal with my guests who bring dishes in plastic, store-bought platters while maintaining the integrity of my table?
Isaac Mizrahi: You have to keep it light. If you don't make it an issue, it won't be an issue. Rather than make them feel bad about the plastic serving ware, thank them for bringing a dish you love and tell them you have the perfect serving ware on which to serve it.
Q: I'm putting a Mexican twist on my Thanksgiving meal this year. Do you have any suggestions for making a Mexican-inspired traditional pan gravy?
Rick Bayless: Make your traditional pan gravy and add canned chipotle chiles to your gravy. It will add a nice smokey element to the gravy.
Q: Do you have a recipe for a cranberry salsa?
Rick Bayless: I cook the cranberries with a little bit of sugar and cook them until they pop. I then add orange and lime juice, just enough to thin out the cranberry mixture. I add chopped jicama, chopped red onion, chopped canned chipotle peppers. When I serve it, I'll stir in chopped cilantro.