Ain’t nobody got time to mess around with party planning during the holidays. We’re all too busy trying to stay sane (and awake) while we juggle a million things just like any other time of year.
Fortunately, these industry pros are sharing their tips to make the holidays run smoothly, if only in your kitchen.
Here are 8 simple hacks to get your though the new year in once piece:
Kate McDermott, Author, Art of the Pie
For crumble tops, freeze the topping and then sprinkle it on the last 15 -20 minutes of the bake. The freeze helps it hold the topping’s clumpy shape and the later bake avoids over browning or burning. Also, refresh an already baked pie in the oven at 325 for 10-15 minutes.
Brendan McGill, Chef-Owner, Hitchcock, Seattle, WA
For the holidays, I’m a fan of spatchcocking a bird vs. trussing. It’s easy to cut out the backbone with good kitchen shears, your turkey will cook in half the time and you won’t have to blast the dark meat to get the breasts cooked properly. You can still capture all the good jus in a roasting rack. Stuffing/trussing doesn’t make sense. Brine your bird, spatchcock and roast, you’ll have juicy meat, crispy skin and you don’t have to start at 3:00 am.
Simon Gibson, Bar Manager, Wilfie & Nell, NYC
I make a spice mix for Bloody Mary or Bloody Bull that keeps for two weeks in the fridge. Great for a preemptive holiday cure! This is better when prepared a day or two in advance to allow the spices and flavors to combine and balance. When you’re ready to serve, mix it in with tomato juice, lemon juice and vodka — at Wilfie & Nell, we add a splash of beef stock and Guinness — and you’ve got the perfect hangover remedy.
Wilfie & Nell’s Bloody Spice Mix
- 6 oz pickle juice
- 2.5 oz horseradish
- 2 oz Worcestershire sauce
- 1.5 oz Kosher Salt
- 1 oz cracked black pepper
- 1 oz Frank’s RedHot Cayenne Pepper Sauce
- 0.5 oz Sambal Oelek chile paste
Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
Jun Yoshizuki, Cook, Jun’s Kitchen
Buy a $1 knife at your local dollar store and sharpen it like the pros.
Clare Potts, Our Hero, Manchester, England
Turn your fridge’s water dispenser into your own personal boxed wine by pouring your favorite bottle directly into the water dispenser.
My adult life just peaked pic.twitter.com/jU70YQL7VE
— Clare (@iliketweet) December 11, 2016
Keith Lowerre, Bar Manager, The Wren, NYC
To add a little flair to holiday cocktails, put mini candy canes or edible flowers into large format ice molds (Tovolo King Cube trays work best with these). The candy cane ice cube usually works well in a light colored cordial or liqueur (like sambuca) or a vodka based drink. Any drink where the candy cane cube is not obscured.
Related Story: Check Out These Trippy ‘Alice In Wonderland’ Cocktails From Lord George Bar In San Francisco
I also like to make a vanilla bean and allspice-infused demerara syrup to add extra flavor to coffee or Old Fashioned cocktails (a bar spoon or no more than 1/4 oz of that simple syrup works well in an OF because it is so rich and flavorful.). Add 2 parts turbinado sugar, 1 part water, a split vanilla bean and a tablespoon of whole allspice berries to a small pot over medium heat, and simmer, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Strain and let the syrup cool, and store it bottled in the fridge up to one month.
Batching out Manhattans and Negronis is a great way to make cocktails for big groups. The Manhattan is a 2:1 ratio (two parts rye or bourbon to one part sweet vermouth, and few dashes of bitters) and the Negroni is 1:1:1 (gin to sweet vermouth to Campari), and you can use different types of each ingredient liquor and tinker with the ratios to make them your own. Once batched, just pour each cocktail over ice, garnish (cherry for the Manhattan, orange twist for the Negroni) and serve. It saves a lot of time and allows hosts to enjoy themselves.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!