San Antonio chefs share their timesaving tips and tricks for the Thanksgiving holiday

click to enlarge San Antonio chefs share their timesaving tips and tricks for the Thanksgiving holiday
Pexels / Karolina Grabowska
Turkey Day 2020 is T minus seven days away, and whether you’re planning to do it small or host family — if the latter, stay safe, friends — it can be a time-consuming ordeal.

To make for a smoother celebration, we hit up four SA chefs for tips on how to use every last moment to its full potential.

Chef Ernie Bradley, of Kuriya at Cherrity Bar and upcoming La Tienda de la Birria food truck, says he’s all about planning ahead to save time in the long run.

“I always like to get my Thanksgiving cooking out of the way so that I can relax and snack all day long,” Bradley told the Current. “We try to put together some type of a timeline so that everybody else’s sides can get in the oven, because without it, there's a huge oven traffic jam. Cold sides are always appreciated coming into the house — salads, breads, things like that.”

Chef Jesse Kuykendall of Ocho at Hotel Havana had similar advice.

“Make yourself a very thought-through grocery list,” Kuykendall said. “Doing your shopping days in advance and avoiding that last minute trips is what you want to aim for. Closer to the date means less product on shelf, longer lines — let’s not even get into the parking situation. Less time spent out of the kitchen allows you to focus more on cooking without stress.”

Tim McDiarmid, chef-owner of The Good Kind Southtown, said using fresh produce makes all the difference.

“Use fresh vegetables and do all your cuts ahead of time,” she said. “Fresher product is one of many ways to add color and variety to your spread.”

Three out of the six chefs we spoke to suggested brining your turkey before roasting, smoking or frying it.

“Always brine your turkey,” chef Ben Crumley of upcoming Little Em’s Oyster Bar said. “I prefer to stuff my turkey's skin with butter and aromatics, and then roast the turkey at a low temperature to cook thoroughly without drying the meat out. Finish at high temperature for crispy skin.”

A brine is, put simply, a saltwater solution that allows a home cook to coax a bit more moisture and flavor into the bird before it’s ready to roast. Most chefs suggest adding other ingredients, such as sugar, herbs or spices before submerging the bird for 12 or so hours prior to roasting.

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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Nina Rangel

Nina Rangel uses nearly 20 years of experience in the foodservice industry to tell the stories of movers and shakers in the food scene in San Antonio. As the Food + Nightlife Editor for the San Antonio Current, she showcases her passion for the Alamo City’s culinary community by promoting local flavors, uncovering...

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