With Thanksgiving only a little over a week away, what better way is there to prepare yourself than with advice from an award-winning chef?
Aside from raving about his experience hosting Lipton Chef Fests around the country, Michael Symon from ABC's "The Chew" divulged some major Thanksgiving dos and don'ts -- and we're here to share them with you!
What's the biggest mistake you can make with the turkey? Should you stuff it? Find out below!
Going to different cities around the country and getting several hundred people together and doing big family-style meals and putting people together at a table [who] may be friends, may not know each other, passing around food, enjoying some cocktails, having a good time -- for me, that's really what food is all about. Lipton wanting to throw big parties to do that was a lot of fun for me.
Do you tend to unplug during mealtime?
It's not even an option at my house. You want to eat at my house, your phone stays in another room.
See Michael Symon at Lipton Chef Fest and more:
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 04: Chef Michael Symon attends the The Empire State Building Lights Orange Honoring The 10th Annual Go Orange To End Hunger Campaign at The Empire State Building on November 4, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 20: Michael Symon attends the New York premiere of 'BURNT', presented by The Weinstein Company, Sassoregale Wine, Castello Cheese and FIJI Water on October 20, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
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With Thanksgiving approaching, what's your number one tip for hosts and hostesses?
I would say, plan ahead. If it's your first Thanksgiving, don't be afraid to make it a little bit of a potluck, where you make the turkey and you tell [guests] what you're looking for for sides, so you don't get eight people bringing stuffing.
And if you're going to take it on yourself, even the greatest of chefs, we make lists -- and we follow them to a T. If you come over my house Thanksgiving morning, there's going to be a sheet of paper that starts at 6 a.m. and goes all the way until dinnertime. It's a schedule: 6 a.m., chop this; 7 a.m., put this in; 7:10, take this out; 7:15, this goes in -- and it goes that way all the way to dinner.
When it gets a little crazy or when it gets hectic -- when my lovely sister-in-law shows up two hours early -- if I'm frazzled, I could just turn around and look at my list.
What's your favorite and least favorite dish to cook or eat? Is there a crowd-pleaser that you don't necessarily eat?
I mean, I love the turkey and I love stuffing. I'm 100 percent purist -- with a great turkey, stuffing and gravy, I'm super, super happy.
The one thing that I hate serving -- I always make a fresh cranberry sauce, but I have people in my family [who] will only eat that [canned] cranberry stuff -- that cranberry jello. They love it, and if I don't have it on the table, there's a little bit of a revolt. [Laughs]
I always kid with them, I'm like, "If anyone's putting this on Instagram, please let me remove the cranberry jello from the middle of my table first -- and then you can take the picture and then I will put it back." It's always kind of funny. One of the people who loves it is my 98-year-old grandfather, and I'm not about to piss him off.
RELATED: The ultimate list of Thanksgiving recipes
The ultimate list of Thanksgiving recipes
The ultimate list of Thanksgiving recipes
Warm Quinoa Brussels Sprouts Salad
"Lots of texture and lots of flavor in this festive quinoa brussels sprouts salad. Who said salad can’t be the center of attention at Thanksgiving dinner?" - Sweet and Savory
"This year, if you're looking for a lighter version of the classic green bean casserole try my recipe for a lighter (but no less delicious!) salad version, complete with creamy (but not naughty) garlic dressing." - Holly Likes to Cook
"Black-Eyed Peas! What a weird name… But oh so tasty! And incredibly good for you too. These delicious beans (yes, they’re actually beans!) are a great source of protein and fiber while also rich in Potassium, Zinc and Iron!" - Olivia's Cuisine
Jicama Cabbage Salad with Spicy Maple Pecans and Pomegranate
"This is a perfect Thanksgiving salad or side dish, and the ideal way to brighten any table. It also travels very well—I ate it on the road up to San Francisco, in a pre-Friendsgiving frenzy of jicama gratitude." - Kale and Caramel
Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Cinnamon-Toasted Hazelnuts and Pomegranate
"Of all the possible addictions that people battle, I think winter squash might just take the cake for strangest. But really, I admit 100% that I’m an addict and I may or may not need help." - An Edible Mosaic
" I think this salad can go a lot of different ways as long as you keep the spinach and vinaigrette in place. What I mean is anything else you put in there from a vegetable stand point would work just fine." - Billy Parisi
"Of all the orange squashes, Kabocha squash is my favorite! It is known for its sweet flavor and is a staple ingredient in Asian dishes. Kabocha squash bursts with bright orange color and brings life and color to your kitchen." - Colorful Eats
Arugula and Farro Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese
"I’ve been craving salads like no other. So yesterday, I took a brief timeout from crumbles and chicken wing experiments to make myself this Arugula and Farro Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese." - Domesticate Me
"Putting this together is simple – you start by cooking the Bulghur Wheat which is as easy as pouring boiling water over it and then walking away. Wash, dry, and chop up your herbs and vegetables, then toss it all together in a bowl with some lemon juice, olive oil, and salt." - The Wanderlust Kitchen
"This recipe may seem vaguely familiar, well at lease most of the ingredients. They’re the same ones used in our goat cheese pastry. Except this time we swapped out the pastry for squash, a much healthier alternative." - Public Lives Secret Recipes
"The recipe is easy, whole food-based, results in a delicious melange of flavors (buttery pecans! sweet maple! fresh herbs! tart cranberries!), looks beautiful on your holiday table, and transitions well from being a substantive main to a delightful side. Add these to your rotation – you won’t be sorry." - The Little Foxes
"BEER BREAD MUFFINS, my absolute favorite easy bread recipe! These fun little muffins taste like a comforting loaf of beer bread. They’re the ultimate addition to any meal, especially Thanksgiving!" - The Cookie Rookie
"Hands down, my favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table is the stuffing! My grandmother knew this about me early on in life and started making an extra pan of stuffing every year for the holiday’s just so that I could eat my weight in it." - Beard and Bonnet
"Sweet from the cider but with a bit of zing from the lime and ginger beer and dash of spice from the cinnamon – these tasted like fall in a mug. Oh – and couldn’t be easier to make." - The Steele Maiden
"An Italian twist to your typical fry is what I was craving all of a sudden. Almond parmesan quickly came to mind, but I decided to put my own spin on it, so Hemp Almond Parmesan was born!" - Veggies Don't Bite
"I ate these Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes right out of the stove, without anything accompanying it. Zero, zip, nada! Just mashed potato heaven in my mouth with a touch of funky deliciousness!" - Olivia's Cuisine
"This easy-to-make twist on oven-roasted potatoes uses baby gold potatoes that have been steamed until tender, smashed into little patties and brushed with a combination of melted butter and truffle oil." - My Gourmet Connection
"Roasted garlic mashed sweet potatoes and carrots is the perfect side dish to serve this fall. It has a slight sweetness that is counteracted by garlic, and is so creamy and delicious that you will be begging for seconds and thirds!" - Cooking and Beer
"These little potato cakes are one of my fondest memories/lessons because I think they were one of the first things I was genuinely excited to learn how to make.They're a vehicle for flavor, so in the spirit of my father, experiment to find the combinations that work best for your palate." - Fix Feast Flair
"What I know for sure is that the pumpkin always comes out of the oven looking and tasting scrumptious. This has by far become one of my favorite things to serve for guests; the look of surprise that comes over them when this hits the table is reason enough." - JJ Begonia
"The smoked paprika and chili powder in the seasoning rub made the skin a crack-like combo of sticky, smoky spices. And the meat itself could not have been moister, thanks to the three-hour trip to the oven on low heat." - Feed Me Phoebe
"Perfect Roast Chicken served with simple, melted herb butter is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is Perfect Roast Chicken is so easy to make and so mouth-watering perfect, there is no longer a need to purchase rotisserie chicken from your favorite grocer." - Simply Sated
"A super-spiced, pizzazz-packed pumpkin pie filling sweetened with maple syrup, and topped with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon-toasted pecans, this Pumpkin Pecan Pie puts the classic Libby’s recipe to shame." - Well Plated
"There’s nothing quite so fine as a bubbling berry crumble, especially when baked in mini cast iron skillets with plenty of golden crumb topping (my motto: you can never have too much crumble)." - Tutti Dolci
Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cake with Brown Butter Buttercream
"This cake is the ideal combination of fall flavors, in my book. Super moist pumpkin cake filled to the brim with cinnamon, ginger and cloves. And sorry bout it, but there is no other word to describe a perfect pumpkin cake." - The Whole Bite
"I thought how fun it would be to turn Thanksgiving’s stuffing into cupcakes, topped with light and fluffy mashed potatoes, a well of vegetarian gravy and lightly sprinkled with minced parsley." - Fork and Beans
"We’re not making baked apples nearly as often as we should. I know this. For fact. It’s just not a go-to dessert and I’d like to change that. First, because it is next-level deliciousness. Second, because it’s one of the easiest desserts you’ll ever make." - Displaced Housewife
Pecan-Pumpkin Bread with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting
"Do you love the spices of a chai tea? I do, too – they’re so warming and comforting! I’ve added that flavor and feeling to a sweet treat: Pecan-Pumpkin Bread with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting – something good you can cozy up to this season!" - Grab A Plate
"These apple cranberry crescent rolls take crescent rolls to another level. They are also the perfect way to use up that leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving or Christmas." - Craftaholics Anonymous
"Call it portion control or just an aesthetic preference, but everything looks better in mini. I’m sure if you pressed me I’d find some exceptions to this rule, but for these pumpkin pies it applies." - Prosecco and Plaid
"The joy of crumbles is that they are the baking leftover equivalent of a cottage pie. Toss it all in, don’t be shy. But do be mindful of pits, stems, seeds and fruit that is too over ripe." - Kitchen Living with Coryanne
Love it. And what's the biggest mistake to avoid when it comes to cooking the turkey?
I think the most common ones are the simplest ones to avoid. That turkey has to come to room temperature before you start cooking it, then you cook it, you use an actual thermometer that you know works, you pull it out at 155 to 160 degrees. You don't use that little thermometer that they stick in the meat. And then you have to make sure that you have enough time that your turkey is done minimally an hour before your guests come over. Those three things make all the difference in the world. You can do different seasonings, you can do different rubs -- you can do all those different things -- but getting it to room temperature before you start it, cooking it only to 155 to 160 degrees and letting it rest for an hour are the absolute key things when cooking a turkey.
What's the most popular question you get as a chef about cooking that day?
"Could I put the stuffing in my bird?" That's probably the most common one.
And what do you say?
I never put stuffing in the bird because to get the stuffing to 160 degrees, which kills salmonella, you have to cook the turkey to 190 degrees, which gives you dry turkey -- so I always cook it on the side.
What I do sometimes -- and this again with my grandfather -- he insists on having one in the bird, so I make the stuffing, I put it in a cheese cloth and I put it in the cavity. Then when the meat reaches 160 degrees, I take the turkey out and I take the stuffing out, and then I cook the stuffing the rest of the way in a casserole pan -- so it cooks all the way through. Then I kind of shimmy it back in the turkey, so he's happy when he comes over.
Such a good trick! Anything else coming up for you that you want to share?
We're getting ready to do a new project in Atlantic City -- that'll be in May, that's very exciting. "The Chew" is in season 6, always very exciting. [I'm] working on a new cookbook, which is great. But, it's really actually been enjoyable for me to work with Lipton for the past couple months. Doing these Chef Fests was great. I love showing people easy tips to add a bunch of flavor and make their life a little bit better.
And quite frankly, it's been such a stressful past year with politics, to look out to a crowd of 300 people --- and a lot of them are strangers -- breaking bread and having dinner together is incredibly comforting to me.