Voltaggios Take On: Thanksgiving

Michael and Bryan Voltaggio share their tips and tricks for preparing the Thanksgiving feast efficiently and with style.

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Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Ed Anderson ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

The Voltaggios Take On: Thanksgiving

With restaurants on both coasts, a victory on Top Chef and a cookbook due out, Michael and Bryan Voltaggio are two of the hottest young chefs. Get their tips, tricks and secrets for taking on the Thanksgiving feast.

Plan Your Attack

Anytime you're about to step into a kitchen, it's important to have a plan in front of you. Developing a timeline and planning out each step is essential in the success of putting together the Thanksgiving meal.

Work Together

Food brings people together. So why take on the task of the Thanksgiving feast by yourself? Invite people into the kitchen. It's more fun that way, too.

Prep in Advance

Another advantage of mapping out your plan of attack is that you can easily see what tasks can be taken care of before the big day. Most desserts are served room temperature or cold, so knock those out the day before Thanksgiving.

Focus on the Bird

Preparing a really great Thanksgiving turkey is on the mind of anyone preparing this meal. Brining the turkey first is going to yield a more juicy bird. It adds a little more flavor and cures the outside, protecting the meat. And once the turkey in the oven, be sure to baste it every 15 minutes.

Don't Be Afraid to Break With Tradition

Michael forgoes the whole roasted bird and instead breaks down his turkey before cooking to ensure no part is overcooked.

Layer on the Flavor

In addition to a maple syrup-based brine, Michael uses a rub on his turkey made with maple syrup flakes, layering on the flavor.

Taste as You Go

The most important thing when you are creating a dish is to taste as you go. Is it balanced? Have you achieved the taste you're looking for? Will adding an element enhance the dish or complicate it?

Don't Forget Presentation

We eat with our eyes first. In the case of his dessert, Bryan decided he didn't like the presentation of the cheesecake alone. So he caramelized some orange segments and not only enhanced the presentation, but the flavor profile of the dish as well.

Be Inspired

Turn to fresh, seasonal ingredients for your feast. Using fresh cranberries lets you present the cranberry sauce warm to the table. For his stuffing, Bryan subbed chanterelles for sausage since they were in season.

Reinterpret Classic Dishes

Rather than serve a marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole, Bryan served vanilla-scented sweet potato puree.

Recipes Are Road Maps

Recipes are just road maps, not specific instructions you have to follow. Stay calm and relaxed as you cook, and trust your instincts. If you are short an ingredient or don't think a dish is turning out right, improvise!

Don't Forget the Mashed Potatoes

While you should feel free to mix up your Thanksgiving menu, don't forget: Everyone loves the mashed potatoes. But take a tip from Michael and use a potato ricer (and plenty of butter) to ensure silky-smooth spuds.

Keep an Eye on the Bird

Remember how the turkey is your centerpiece? Don't forget about it roasting away in the oven. Having a mental checklist of dishes that need to be checked on will help ensure nothing gets too crispy.

Enjoy Your Time in the Kitchen

Keep in mind: Thanksgiving is about family, friends and food. Take the time to take in the look, smells and tastes of the holiday.