Celebrity Chefs Share Their Most Clever Holiday Cooking Tips
The holidays are sure to be a breeze this year thanks to these pro tricks — from Bobby Flay, Lidia Bastianich and more — that will help you have more success in the kitchen
Cut Onions Without Crying
Hold an unlit match between your teeth while you chop onions — it's the true secret weapon. Whether the sulfurous end of the matchstick stops the fumes or it's having to breathe out of your mouth that does the trick — whatever the reason, it makes chopping onions a breeze.
—Ali Rosen, host of Potluck and author of the cookbook Bring it!
Bake More Evenly
Rotating baking sheets and pans is a necessity in every home oven. There's almost always uneven airflow or a hot spot. Rotate them 180 degrees halfway through each bake — even for savory foods — to get the best results.
Keep Turkey Warm After Carving
The most important thing to my Thanksgiving is having [a pot of] hot chicken stock on the stove to reheat the turkey. I break down and slice the breasts and take the meat off the legs and thighs so it's a pulled, dark meat, like carnitas. I put it all on a tray. Then I just hit the meat with the hot chicken stock, and it brings it back to life.
Help Dough Rise Faster
Proof bread dough by placing it in the oven and putting a bowl of boiling water underneath. The steam heats the oven and creates a makeshift proofer. Change the water every 30 minutes, and the dough will rise in half the time it takes at room temperature.
—Emily Yuen, executive chef of Bessou restaurant in New York City
Soften Hard Butter
Heat up a short glass full of water in the microwave for about a minute. Dump hot water out, turn the glass upside down, and cover the cold, hard butter. The heat trapped inside the cup will soften the butter quickly.
—Jonathon Sawyer, chef de cuisine of Adorn restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
Remove Garlic Odors from Your Hands
Rub your hands against a stainless-steel spoon under cold water for 30 seconds, and then wash with soap and water. A chemical reaction takes place that removes the smell, which you can't get rid of with basic soap.
—Stefano Secchi, chef of Rezdora restaurant in N.Y.C.
Prevent Pasta from Getting Cold
Serve it in a soup bowl! If you use a wide plate and spread it out, your pasta will get cold, and that's the end of it. It's also important for the bowl to be warm, because a cold bowl will cool everything right away. Mound the noodles in the center so it continues to stay hot as you eat it.
Serve Prettier Deviled Eggs
I love making deviled eggs during the holidays. My mom taught me to flip the raw eggs over the night before. They've been sitting in the carton as they've transported, so the yolks settle on the bottoms. If you turn them over, then the yolks aren't skewed to one side.
—Trisha Yearwood, country star and host of Food Network's Trisha's Southern Kitchen
Keep Stuffing Moist
Add chopped fresh fruit to your stuffing to stop it from drying out while it cooks in the oven. Apples, in particular, really do the trick to add moisture. They also bring a depth of flavor as well as great texture.
—Tanya Holland, Top Chef star and chef-owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland
Get a Head Start on Your Baking
One task you can cross off your to-do list is piecrust. Make the dough, form it in a pie tin, cover it tightly in plastic wrap, and throw it in the freezer until needed. It stores beautifully for up to six months. The best part is you can even bake it from frozen, saving even more hassle. Pack the crust with your filling of choice, pop it in the oven, and you'll have a hot, fresh pie when you want it.
—Aaron Hutcherson, food blogger of The Hungry Hutch
Make Cleanup Easier
I save myself a lot of grief by putting a big plastic container on the counter, filling it with soapy water and dropping in plates and silverware as I clear the table. That way I don't have to wash dishes when I'd rather have another glass of wine or go to bed. In the morning I have dishes that just need a quick rinse and wash, rather than a pile of plates encrusted with dried food.
—Amanda Cohen, chef and co-founder of Lekka Burger in N.Y.C.