Here’s something to be thankful for: That’s So Jenn talked turkey with Food Network‘s Mark Murphy who shared his top 5 tips for a successful Thanksgiving (and the rest of this holiday season!) Whether anticipating a surprise plus one or preparing sides ahead of time, his expert advise will ensure your dishes aren’t on the chopping block!
TSJ: As a judge on CHOPPED and CHOPPED JUNIOR, you’re always offering feedback to home cooks. What are your top 5 tips for That’s So Jenn’s readers wanting to make it to the next round as a host?
- Plan, plan, and plan! You don’t want to be stuck in your kitchen all day on Thanksgiving, so plan and do as much as you can ahead of time. Most dishes like stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts they can all be prep well ahead of time.
- Delegate! If you’re hosting, have your guests bring desserts or sides or appetizers. This makes it easier on the host, and everyone feels involved and probably spices up the offerings.
- If you have a lot of people to entertain, I recommended cooking one whole turkey for presentation and then buying turkey legs and breasts separately to supplement more meat. It takes up less room in the oven and you are less likely to overcook the meat.
- Buy your ingredients whole. I know we like to save time and get pre-cut vegetables or fruits but you are paying a premium for that. So my advice is to buy them whole or even look at the freezer section. Many times frozen vegetables are cheaper and they tend to be just as good.
- In my house there are always surprise guests or “forgotten plus ones” so I always cushion what I’m making with the hopes of having leftovers and those surprise guests.
TSJ: Any recipes you can share with us?
MM: I love a good cheese or crudité platter. I recently partnered with Triscuit and created a few easy and delicious recipes, I’m excited about. Triscuits are great because they are so versatile and you usually have them on hand. So pick your flavor, use it as a base and top it with your favorite cheese and maybe even a jam or pair it with your favorite dip.
Lucky for me, I was able to taste test the latest Triscuit flavors (Hello Smoked Gouda and Nutmeg & Cinnamon!), and they are delish! Get some of Chef Murphy’s creative recipe ideas below. Perfect for your Thanksgiving feast, or post food-coma snacks this weekend!
PUMPKIN PIE WITH TRISCUIT NUTMEG & CINNAMON CRUST
Start to finish: 60 minutes (active: 20)
1 1/2 cups Triscuit Nutmeg & Cinnamon Crackers, pulverized
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
12-ounce can pumpkin puree
12-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- For Crust:
Preheat oven to 325°F.
In a medium bowl, mix together pulverized Triscuit Nutmeg & Cinnamon Crackers, butter and sugar until well incorporated.
Transfer mixture to tart pan and press firmly and evenly against bottom of pan to form a crust. Bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until light brown. Set aside to cool on cooling rack.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, mixing well. Pour into prepared crust.
Bake in 325°F oven for 30 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack and serve.
(Recipe by Chef Marc Murphy)
MAC ‘N’ CHEESE WITH SMOKED GOUDA CRUNCH
Start to finish: 45 minutes
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
1 cup white American cheese, diced (at room temperature)
1 cup Gouda, grated (at room temperature)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (at room temperature)
salt and pepper
2 cups Triscuit Smoked Gouda Crackers, pulverized
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook elbow macaroni in salted water, according to package directions, until al dente. Drain well and let cool.
In a medium saucepan, warm milk over low heat.
In a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add rosemary and let cook for 5 minutes, until fragrant. Add flour to butter and stir until incorporated. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly and ensuring mixture doesn’t brown.
Add warm milk, continuing to stir as sauce thickens. Add cheeses and whisk while béchamel is still on stove. Lower heat and make sure sauce does not boil after cheese is added.
Fold cooked pasta into sauce with heat still on low. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer mac ‘n’ cheese into ovenproof dish. Top with pulverized Triscuit Smoked Gouda Crackers and bake for 10 minutes. Serve warm.
(Recipe by Chef Marc Murphy)
MINI PECAN CRUNCH CHEESE BALLS
Start to finish: 25 minutes
Makes: about 60 nickel size balls
- 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil
1 cup red onion, small dice
1 cup red bell pepper, small dice
2 cups cream cheese, softened
2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup pecans
1 cup Triscuit Original Crackers
- Heat oil in a small sauté pan. Add onions and peppers and sauté over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 4-6 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, cheddar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and parsley. Add cooled onions and peppers to cheese mixture.
Using a food processor, combine pecans and Triscuit Original Crackers and pulse until pulverized. Transfer pulverized pecans and Triscuit Crackers to a large bowl or dish.
Form spoonfuls of cheese mixture into nickel-sized balls. Roll cheese balls in pulverized pecan and Triscuit mixture until completely coated.
(Recipe by Chef Marc Murphy)
ABOUT CHEF MARC MURPHY
Owner and Executive Chef of Benchmarc Restaurants by Marc Murphy and Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy
Chef Marc Murphy as logged more than 25 years in the restaurant business, working in some of the world’s most highly esteemed kitchens, including Le Miraville in Paris, Alain Ducasses’ Louis XV in Monte Carlo and Le Cirque in New York. Today, he serves as the Owner & Executive Chef of Landmarc [Time Warner Center], Landmarc Tribeca Events and Ditch Plains as well as his catering arm, Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy. He is a judge on The Food Network’s top rated hit shows CHOPPED and CHOPPED JUNIOR. He serves as President of the Manhattan chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, a board member and member of the Food Council for City Harvest and a member of the Leadership Council for Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. In 2012, Marc joined the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, where he takes part in public diplomacy programs abroad traveling to Italy, China and Turkey thus far. Marc is the Author of “Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking,” his debut cookbook which was released April 2015 and continues to be a top seller.