Since its start in 2009, Smitten Kitchen has been the go-to site for home cooks in need of easy and delicious recipes. So with the biggest cooking holiday of the year coming up, naturally we turned to the blog’s beloved founder, Deb Perelman, for advice. The chef, who recently released her second cookbook, “Smitten Kitchen Everyday: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites,” gave us her tips for a triumphant and unfussy version of Thanksgiving’s superior iteration — Friendsgiving. Here’s how to host one, Smitten Kitchen-style.
Casseroles all the way
The 1950s are still alive in Perelman’s kitchen. The New Yorker says she’s a big fan of anything that can be cooked in a big casserole dish — easy to make in advance, stacks well in the fridge, reheats quickly and of course, allows you to make large quantities to feed your guests, rather than slaving over several smaller side dishes. She likes to make at least one rich gratin dish, like her root vegetable gratin, which combines sweet potato, yukon gold potatoes and celery root with gratin and heavy cream. And she says her homemade green bean casserole is always a hit.
Sheet pies, y’all.
The casserole mentality goes for desserts, too. “Eight wedges of pie is not enough for most people’s Thanksgiving,” she says. Instead, make Tina Fey proud with sheet-pan style pies (#sheetpieing?) which you can cut into squares and which yield plenty of leftovers. In her new cookbook, Perelman has a recipe for chocolate pecan slab pie, and on her website, a pumpkin slab pie with a cheesecake swirl.
F— a cheese plate
“I don’t like going to a cheese store and spending $100 on cheese wedges,” says the no-nonsense chef. Appetizer-wise, she’ll do olives and grapes, and bake a large gooey Camembert — “the $3 stuff from Trader Joe’s” — stuffed with herbs and garlic, which she says guests descend upon with crackers and devour instantly.
Grab a case of wine
Perelman recommends getting a case of wine — a mix of red and white — from your neighborhood liquor shop, which will likely give you a discount for the bulk order. Your guests will probably still bring booze, but if you start with an ample amount, then you can avoid stressing about running out. She also loves to kick off the night with a champagne toast: Rather than opening three of four bottles, go for a couple magnums of bubbly.
Potluck rule of thumb
The master chef usually cooks everything herself, but if guests do want to contribute, here’s her rule: “If you have some dish that [you feel] it’s not Thanksgiving without it, then bring it.”
Make conversation the main event
Perelman is not a games person. “I like the idea of conversation being the focus and the food being what fills you up,” she says. “You catch up, tell your friends what’s happening in your life and try not to talk about the election.”