Celebrity Chef Jonathan Waxman's Secrets to Cutting Thanksgiving Dinner Preparations in Half

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As the holiday season approaches, many of us may be dreaming of a plentiful Thanksgiving feast, complete with turkey, potatoes, cocktails and every side imaginable. But whoever ends up hosting or cooking the meal might not be as excited.

To ease the process, celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman, of New York City’s Jams in Midtown and Barbuto in the West Village, is giving Inside Edition an inside look at secret to preparing a successful Thanksgiving dinner with all of the taste and none of the stress.

"I tell everyone to shake it up every year," he told Inside Edition. "Take two dishes you make every year and throw them out the window and get two new dishes." 

Turkey Preparation, Simplified

While seasoning, roasting and basting a turkey is the most intimidating part of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for most home cooks, Waxman shares his little secret to simplifying the process.

"Get your butcher to cut it in half and remove the backbone," he said, which cuts down on cooking time by more than half. Instead of spending an entire afternoon tending to the oven, his method cuts down on cooking time by more than half, making the average cook time only about 90 minutes at a 400 degree oven.

When it comes time to cooking the bird, lay the two remaining sides of the turkey face down. "Put some salt on top, do some olive oil, I'll do some pepper, sprinkle it all over," Waxman said. And of course, don't forget to baste about halfway through.

After the turkey is ready, Waxman suggested to carve it like normal and top the meat off with his famous salsa verde.

Skip the Mashed Potatoes, Replace With Crispy Potatoes

To cut down on preparation, Waxman suggests to try something new and break apart boiled potatoes to make crispy potatoes instead of spending time on mashing the spuds.

Gently drop the pieces of cooked potatoes in a pot of sizzling canola oil and add rosemary for extra flavor.

Instead of the spending 20 minutes laboring over the dish, as one would for mash potatoes, "It will probably be about 5 to 8 minutes," Waxman said.

Then, place the potatoes on a towel-lined plate using a slotted spatula to cook.

An Anything-but-Boring Salad

Every good feast starts with a fresh salad and delicious dressing, and for one fit for a Thanksgiving crowd, Waxman suggests trying his recipe that features anchovies and garlic.

To make the dressing, smash garlic, squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle Pecorino cheese on top, then chop it all up and combine with a generous serving of olive oil. 

As for the greens, "kale is the most nutritious thing you can possibly eat in your life," Waxman suggested. Mix it all up with the dressing and top with breadcrumbs. 

Turnips and Tri-Color Carrots

To serve your guests the dish filled with colorful, fresh vegetables, start with the burner on medium. "That's super important at home. Don't turn the burner up too high because you'll scorch it," Waxman said.

Always begin by adding olive oil, then butter, then finally the chopped veggies. Sprinkle salt and pepper on from high up so it spreads evenly over the dish.

Cheers! With a Fall Friendly Drink

Waxman's Thanksgiving meal always includes a drink, and his signature go-to is a vodka mixed drink. "Its got peach bitters, rosemary syrup on the bottom, then I'm going to add 1.5 ounces of Grey Goose," he explained.

Then, fill the glass with ice and top off with tonic water and star anise, and enjoy the holiday.

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