We know the holiday season can be a stressful time. From large crowds at the grocery store, to eccentric relatives, to choosing and cooking a meal that everyone will enjoy; this time of year can be especially chaotic. But, have no fear; our Executive Chef Keith Mecutchen is here! We interviewed Chef Keith for a few pointers on surviving the holidays:
Q: When you’re cooking for a big family during the holidays, what’s the secret to keeping calm and making sure the turkey comes out perfect?
Chef Keith: It’s all about timing. The key is to make sure that you plan each part of your meal to be ready at the same time. You should start with a pre-heated oven and your turkey, since it takes the longest to cook. Simultaneously, begin chilling your wine and beer. While your meat is roasting (covered for three quarters of the cook time, and uncovered the last quarter, basted regularly) prepare your other side dishes, since they can stand at room temperature for an hour, or keep in the fridge for quick reheating. When your meat is done, let it rest while you make gravy (if desired), and prep your salad. It’s easy to stay calm when you have a well thought out plan of action.
Q: Do you have a favorite, go-to side dish that pleases even the pickiest eaters around the holiday table?
Chef Keith: A good assortment of vegetables is always nice to have. My favorite dish is roasted sweet potatoes and apples. You can cut the sweet potatoes into chucks and the apples in slices (after peeling and coring them). Drizzle with some olive oil and honey and then top with some brown sugar. Pour a small amount of apple cider (1/2 to 1 cup) in the bottom of the pan, cover and cook until tender. Finish uncovered the last 15 minutes or so and enjoy!
Q: What appliance do you wish you had two of in your home during holiday season?
Chef Keith: That’s easy, an Alfresco Pizza Oven Plus. I absolutely love it. It is such a versatile piece of equipment. What other product do you know that preheats in 15 minutes, and can bake your mom’s famous Mac N’ Cheese or my favorite sweet potato dish, broil fish or even fire roast a spatchcocked turkey? And it cooks just about anything else you can dream up with precision? It’s unlike any other appliance I’ve ever used.
Q: We know Almo Premium specializes in large appliances, but what are the most important small kitchen appliances needed to create the best holiday meal?
Chef Keith: A stand mixer and sharp cutlery comes to mind. Many take for granted the importance of a sharp knife. Also, a good glass of wine never hurts!
Q: As an executive chef, tell us the one tip you bring home to your kitchen when prepping for the holidays?
Chef Keith: That’s simple – have fun cooking what you love to eat!