Sunday November 20th, 2011
by Scott Wink of CharlestonFoodBloggers.com

Charleston, SC   –  On Thanksgiving most of us have a pretty long list of “must have” foods.  Everyone in your family seems to have their own favorite dish.  For those of you with unlimited time and resources you can stop reading now. You don’t need the following information. For the other 95% of you with limited time and resources what follows is some much needed ways to cut down on your kitchen work load this Thanksgiving and add a few surprises to your menu.  I am giving you 3 items that you can purchase instead if making from scratch that I am confident are equal or better than what you could make and 3 recipes from some celebrity chefs that will keep your family and friends believing that you are the best cook on the planet.

Cheats: 
These will save you lots of time and are of top notch quality


Mashed Potatoes:
Simply Potatoes is the first and only packaged mashed potato products that I can get behind.  I agree that instant mashed potatoes are horrible.  These are not instant mashed potatoes.  The main ingredients are real potatoes, half and half, whole milk, butter, and salt. 

Directions for use:
Buy, open, microwave, serve. 


Your family might not even realize you didn’t peel them.


Pecan Pie:
Pies can be very difficult to make.  The crust, the filling, the consistency…..those are all major problems that could leave you without a pie on Thanksgiving Day.  If one step goes wrong your in trouble.  Luckily this year the pecan experts at Young Plantations in Florence, South Carolina are selling their amazing pecan pies in a Piggly Wiggly near you.  The pies are only $9.95 and you can really taste the pecans.  I have tasted them already and the nuts are fresh, the filling is firm and not too sweet, and the crust is perfect.  These pies typically retail for much more than $9.95 when you order them online or at store in the mall.  


Cranberry sauce, gravy, or any troubled dish:

This tip can vary based on which city you live in.  Basically if you have a dish or area in which you have had trouble in the past……outsource it.  For example Ted’s Butcherblock has been doing this great Thanksgiving Day take out menu for several years.  Our favorite items on the list are the cranberry sauce, gravy, or soups.  If you don’t live near Charleston call around to some of your favorite local restaurants and see if they are doing a Thanksgiving Day menu and I bet they would be happy to package a few items for you to take home on Wednesday night.

Upgrades


Fried shallots on your green bean casserole: Top Chef: Masters contestant John Currence from Mississippi was featured in Bon Appetite Magazine this month talking about his favorite Thanksgiving Day recipes.  A trick he told me about a few months ago was using fried shallots on your green bean casserole instead of French’s Fried Onions.  Slice the shallots thin, batter, fry and top on your casserole.  Think “blooming onion” goodness!

Tom Cholicchio’s Herb-Butter Turkey:  If you have had troubles with dried turkeys or just have ran out of ideas try Tom Cholicchio’s recipe.  He gives you good tips on making the gravy from the turkey neck and wings and also how to rub butter under the skin of the breast to keep it moist and end up crisp. 

Paula Deen’s Garlic Cheese Biscuits:  Heavy on the cheese and heavy on the butter this recipe is sure to please everyone except  your doctor.