Time's ticking away to finish up that Turkey Day prep! Sure, the staples like stuffing and mashed potatoes are a no-brainer, but as chef Ben Ford — whose dad is none other than Harrison Ford! — tells Us Weekly, there's much more to pulling off an effortless Thanksgiving dinner than meets the eye. "Keep the meal 90 percent traditional and pick one dish to play with," L.A.-based Ford, the author of Taming the Feast, tells Us.
In an effort to simplify Nov. 27 for home cooks, Ford (whose new Ford's Filling Station outpost opens in December at L.A. Live in Los Angeles) shares his top three Turkey 101 tips with Us Weekly.
1. When cooking for a large crowd, prep two turkeys.
To avoid getting overwhelmed, and to maximize time spent with guests, Ford, 46, suggests getting two birds ready: The presentation turkey, and another that'll be roasted in pieces while the other rests before carving. "The second one can be the equivalent of the cut-up sheet cake served at weddings," Ford says. "That's where people make sacrifices: They sacrifice the doneness of the turkey, so they can quicken the process."
2. Calibrate the oven ahead of time, and make sure to do it properly!
If home cooks don't want to call the gas company to do a check, simply pick up an inexpensive oven thermometer — but make sure to do it early, since results could likely surprise you. "Some ovens can be off as much as 25, 30, or 50 degrees. That's a really big problem," Ford tells Us. "It makes a huge difference."
3. Think about kitchen space, not specialty sides, when crafting a menu.
The green bean casserole may be your specialty six years running, but is it really necessary this year? "Utilize as much of the kitchen as possible, and make things that aren't just for the oven," Ford explains. "You might want to do roasted potatoes, but it might be easier to do mashed potatoes on the top of the stove. Balance out your menu with the equipment you have available — work backwards and think of the space you have. Instead of doing a warm bean dish, you could try a bean salad. Sides are beautiful and picturesque, but not when they don't make their way around the table."
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!