- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
I made turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pecan pie using Guy Fieri's recipes.
Grocery shopping was complicated and preparing the Thanksgiving feast took me almost 10 hours.
Fieri's recipes were more difficult and confusing than I anticipated, but I would make each dish again with a few tweaks.
Surprisingly, Fieri's spicy cranberry sauce was the best dish of the whole feast.
Guy Fieri is one of the most well-known and popular Food Network stars, most recognizable for his bleach-blonde hair and popular show, "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives."
If you've ever seen him in action, you've probably heard him say one of his many catchphrases that include "funkalicious," "bomb-dot-com tasty," and one of my personal favorites, "Flavortown."
But some may not realize that Fieri is more than a polarizing food personality — he's got decades of culinary experience.
To put his cooking chops to the test, I tried out five of the Mayor of Flavortown's Thanksgiving recipes. After all, it can't just be his bold personality and zany sense of style that propelled him to international stardom.
Keep reading to join me on my nearly 10-hour journey, in which I shopped for and cooked five Fieri dishes in one day. And stay for the end, when I finally dig in and review each dish.
Shopping for ingredients was surprisingly complicated, especially when I got to the peppers
I headed to the supermarket with a long list since I was shopping for the ingredients for five Fieri recipes: Mean Green Turkey Machine, Adams' apple mashed potatoes, Red Devil Cranberries, pepperoni stuffing, and Southern pecan pie.
Grocery shopping was stressful but the most time-consuming part of my trip was when I got to the pepper section of my list.
Fieri's turkey recipe requires pasilla peppers, but all I could find in the store was a pepper labeled "pasilla poblano." But after some Googling, I learned that pasillas and poblanos are two different types of peppers.
Depending on where you are geographically, the poblano is known as the pasilla or instead refers to the dried version of a chilaca pepper. The poblano pepper, however, is a fresh, heart-shaped pepper. When dried, it becomes an ancho pepper.
It's even more confusing that the turkey recipe calls for the pasilla to be blackened, which wouldn't make sense as it's already technically a dried pepper.
Whatever the case, I think that blackening either a fresh poblano or chilaca pepper is what the recipe meant. After an hour of grocery shopping while researching peppers. I just bought the "pasilla poblano" and hoped for the best.
I was also unable to find the chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce I needed for the cranberry recipe, but more on that later.
Once shopping was done, I quickly learned that cooking a turkey is no joke
This was the first time I've ever cooked a turkey. And let me tell you, the amount of work that goes into prepping the turkey is stressful, especially when your bird is frozen.
First off, my turkey needed to defrost.
Since I did not plan ahead, I submerged my 13-pound turkey in a sink full of ice water overnight, draining it and refilling it as much as I could before I went to sleep.
I also didn't plan for the eight to 12 hours of brine time the turkey needed. As a straight-up newbie preparing this turkey feast, my time management was off to a terrible start.
Good news: Making the brine was easy
I started off by heating up 2 cups of water with the salt, agave syrup, red pepper flakes, garlic cloves, black peppercorns, and bay leaf until the salt dissolved.
Then I added the remaining 2 cups of water and allowed it to cool. The brine required only 4 cups of water total, but I felt like that amount should've been doubled.
This small pot of brine was the easiest thing to make, but I was disappointed that it wasn't enough to submerge even half of my turkey.
Fieri's turkey was supposed to take 25 minutes to prep, but I was an hour in and still hadn't made the stuffing
The fact that Guy had the audacity to claim that prep time for this turkey is only 25 minutes is shocking to me. That benchmark passed a long time ago and this bird wasn't even close to being ready for the oven.
To prepare my thawed-out turkey for the brine, I rinsed it in the sink, which was a slippery and gross process. But after the initial "ew" phase, working with the turkey became a fun, challenging experience.
Once the brine cooled down, I transferred it into my plastic oven bag and extremely carefully placed my bird inside before tying it up. I was scared that my bag was going to rip, and I wish I'd bought a proper brine bag instead.
Although the brine smelled and looked great, it hardly covered the turkey. I feel like the recipe must've had a typo because there wasn't enough liquid.
To counter this, I rotated the turkey in the bag halfway through the brining to ensure a nice, well-rounded soak. I would also suggest at least doubling the recipe if you make this brine.
Finally, I placed my turkey bag into a pot and put it in the fridge so it could soak for eight hours.
After the soak, it took me another 15 minutes to rinse and pat dry the turkey before seasoning it with a nice coat of salt and pepper.
Preparing the pepper for the turkey's stuffing was time-consuming, but not too difficult
Not long into preparing the turkey, I was about to learn another new skill: blackening peppers.
First, I set my oven to the broil setting and lightly sprayed my baking sheet with oil. I put the peppers in for about five minutes on one side then flipped them so they could cook another five minutes.
My oven started to smoke and I was worried I'd set the peppers on fire — but they actually came out perfectly blackened and blistered all around.
Once the peppers were finally cool enough to handle, I was ready to break them down for the stuffing.
I used a spoon to gently scrape off the skin, then slowly peeled off the remains with my nails. Taking the burnt and blackened skin off was extremely tedious but also kind of rewarding.
Then I easily removed the stems and sliced the peppers open to scrape out the seeds. This annoying pepper-prepping process took me at least 30 minutes from start to finish.
Once the peppers were ready, I moved on to the other stuffing ingredients
Before I heated my pan, I prepped my ingredients: cilantro, blackened peppers, garlic, and scallions.
Next I sautéed the peppers for a few minutes, then added the rest of my ingredients to the hot pan. After a few more minutes, I zested a lime and then cut it in half to squeeze its juice into the mixture.
The last step involved deglazing the pan with a 1/4 cup of tequila. It didn't say how long it would take to deglaze it so I sautéed it at medium-high heat until it stopped reeking of alcohol, which took about five minutes.
The mixture smelled amazing, but my stress levels were increasing. I had been hard at work for a few hours and the turkey wasn't even in the oven yet.
Still, I was confident I was on my way to Flavortown.
Finally, I was ready to 'create a pocket' of space between the bird's meat and skin for my stuffing
This part of the turkey prep was super weird, slightly comical, and oddly satisfying when completed.
This process involved me sticking my hand in between the fatty skin of the turkey and its meat, from the neck to the bottom, in order to create space to pack in my peppery stuffing mixture.
As I gently stuffed half the mixture into each side of the pockets, I was extra careful not to tear the skin.
Using my fingers, I tried to spread the mixture as evenly throughout the turkey as I could to ensure proper cooking and balanced flavor.
Once I had the skin prepped and ready to go, I filled the cavity with the leftover mixture, cilantro, and the lime halves.
I also decided to throw in an onion, some bell pepper, and celery for added flavor. I chopped it all and packed it in the turkey.
At last, I placed the turkey in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit
I found it odd that Fieri's recipe didn't say anything about basting, which can help keep meat moist as it cooks for long periods of time.
I felt that it needed to be basted because although it had a beautiful color to it, at one point it seemed dangerously close to burning.
In true chef fashion, I decided to make my own juice to baste the turkey with.
To do so, I boiled the turkey neck and gizzards in a pot with water and periodically poured the mixture over the bird.
The turkey took about three and a half hours at 400 degrees Fahrenheit to fully cook.
While the turkey 'rested,' I made the au jus
Once the pan drippings cooled off in a bowl I had put in the fridge, I easily scraped off the first layer of fat. I took the gelatinous bowl of drippings and added chicken stock to it in a small pot.
I reduced it for eight minutes then lowered the heat to add half and half and more tequila. I reduced it for about 10 to 12 more minutes at a high simmer until the smell of the tequila wore off.
Finally, I seasoned the mixture with salt and pepper and strained it.
While the turkey cooked, I started making my cranberry side dish
Although it was labeled as "easy," the Red Devil Cranberries recipe looked complicated and I was really hoping it would pay off.
After preparing my ingredients, I tossed the shallot and serrano pepper in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until they were soft.
I added the orange juice and agave syrup and brought the mixture to a simmer. Lastly, I added the cranberries and cooked them until they all popped — about 10 to 12 minutes.
I also added extra juice because the sauce was cooking down too quickly.
Once the berries popped, I added blood-orange segments and then attempted to make an adobo sauce
The sauce smelled amazing but things started to get complicated when I had to add the "minced chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce," which I'd never heard of and couldn't find at the grocery store.
When I turned to Google to find a substitution, I learned I could make my own adobo paste using ingredients that I already had in my kitchen.
I took a mortar and pestle and added 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 garlic clove, and one jalapeno pepper.
This adobo paste smelled absolutely fabulous. Since the paste had such a concentrated flavor, I only added about a teaspoon of it into the sauce, which already had a serrano pepper in it.
I cooked it down for about 10 more minutes, adding extra juice and water to keep the mixture from becoming too thick.
Fieri's pepperoni stuffing required a lot of prep
This stuffing seemed easy to make but required a lot of knife work. I started by preparing my peppers, onions, celery, pepperoncini, and other chopped ingredients.
Then I sautéed the pepperoni until it was crispy, removed it from heat, and let it rest on a paper towel.
I placed the yellow onions, pepperoncini, red pepper, celery, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes in the pan and sautéed until the onions were translucent.
In a separate bowl, I added the bread cubes, parsley, and green onions. In a different bowl, I scrambled the eggs with the pepper and paprika.
When incorporating everything together I was careful to mix slowly and thoroughly
From there, I poured the egg mixture over the bread, added the veggies and the pepperoni. I used my hands to mix the stuffing together and then slowly poured the chicken stock throughout it.
I didn't end up using the full amount of stock that the recipe asked for because I worried the stuffing would be too soggy.
To cook the stuffing, I set my oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly buttered a 13-inch by 9-inch pan. I covered the mixture with foil and cooked it for 36 minutes, then uncovered it and cooked for about 20 more minutes to brown the top.
I garnished it with Parmesan cheese and more pepperoni. It smelled like a big, fresh pepperoni pizza.
The mashed-potato recipe seemed pretty straightforward except for one twist
This recipe seemed really normal until I got to the last step, which involves folding diced green apples into the potatoes.
To start, I boiled the baby Yukon potatoes in a huge pot of water until they were tender, which took about 30 minutes.
While the potatoes boiled, I roasted garlic cloves with olive oil in the oven until they were caramelized, which took about 45 minutes.
Once the potatoes were tender, I drained and mashed them. I was starting to get tired.
I added half and half, butter, and roasted garlic to the potatoes and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Lastly and hesitantly, I folded in the diced green apples.
Pecan pie is one of my favorite desserts — and it seemed like this was the only recipe without a Fieri twist
The first thing I did was place my store-bought pie crust into the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until it started to look nearly golden. While it cooled, I started the filling.
I whisked corn syrup, brown sugar, salt, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Then I beat the eggs and whisked them into the corn-syrup mixture.
Next I finely chopped 1/2 cup of pecans and spread it evenly over the cooled pie crust. And then I had to chop even more pecans to add to my filling mixture.
This process was very annoying and I was sick of chopping pecans.
I didn't like having to decorate the top with even more pecans
The directions call for a cup of whole pecans to decorate the top with, which seemed like an unnecessary step to me. At this point, I just tossed them on and hoped they'd magically bake into some cool design.
After 50 minutes, the pie wasn't done cooking but the crust was starting to burn so I covered it with foil and put it back in the oven.
Since I didn't want the crust to burn, I took it out after an hour in the oven and crossed my fingers that it would settle into a perfect pie.
To my surprise, it firmed up after it cooled down and it looked perfect.
Finally, my feast was complete and ready to eat — but I had some thoughts while setting the table
Overall, Fieri's recipes were a lot of work and I don't think they're meant for inexperienced home cooks
Even though many of the recipes — except the "intermediate" turkey one — were labeled "easy," I think the chef assumes the reader knows a lot about cooking. I cook pretty often and I still found myself Googling so many questions as I followed these recipes.
That said, I was able to learn new skills and make substitutions where I had to. And I was still really excited to try the results of my hard work.
I started with the Mean Green Turkey Machine, which was a juicy dream
Even though the turkey was a huge endeavor, it came out incredibly tender and delicious. The skin had a beautiful golden color to it and even the breast meat was succulent and not dry at all.
The meat was so juicy that it almost didn't need any gravy or au jus, though the au jus was incredibly flavorful. It had just the right amount of richness and it had a complex flavor thanks to the tequila.
I thought the tequila was going to overpower the sauce, but it actually brought all of the flavors together once it was reduced.
Even though the pasilla-pepper mixture was a hassle to make, each bite of it felt like an absolute treat. The flavorful mixture didn't turn out spicy at all, but rather had a great Southwestern kick to it that was unexpected for a turkey recipe.
Overall, this turkey had complex and full-bodied flavors. My family loved it and I would cook it again.
The pepperoni stuffing tasted like a loaded pizza
If you like traditional stuffing recipes, you may not like this one.
This stuffing tastes like a deliciously salty, indulgent pepperoni pizza if it had a baby with a not-so-creamy chicken pot pie.
The flavors of this were great and my family loved it, too. I would make this gorgeous and colorful dish again, even if just to photograph it.
The mashed potatoes didn't need their star ingredient
My family and I liked these mashed potatoes, but we could've done without the green apples. The addition of them made no sense.
It just seemed like the chef who created the recipe got confused midway through making mashed potatoes and mistakenly thought they were baking an apple pie.
The apple chunks weren't bad, but they weren't necessary.
The Red Devil Cranberries were a huge win and surprising crowd favorite
The Red Devil Cranberries was not the easiest sauce to make. In fact, I was borderline mad it was so complicated until I tasted it and was shocked by its spicy, savory flavor.
Normally, cranberry sauce is sweet and gelatinous, but this blew me away. It had a great balance of sweetness and spiciness and it paired so well with the turkey and au jus.
This fantastically complex sauce was 100% worth the extra time and effort to make.
The Southern pecan pie was divine
The pie was gorgeous and it had no surprises, just classic flavors I knew I loved.
My family and I finished the entire pie by the end of the night — and ice cream is the only thing that could've made it even better.
Next time I would turn the oven down to 350 degrees and leave it in a bit longer to prevent overbaking the crust and undercooking the filling.
I would make everything again with slight tweaks and much more preparation
There were ups and downs throughout the cooking process, but I was pretty happy with how all of the recipes turned out.
I can also safely say that Fieri knows what he's doing in the kitchen. With a few tweaks and more prep time, I'd follow each of these recipes again. I would also shop for the peppers at a specialty grocer to save myself some stress.
All in all, this was certainly a successful Thanksgiving trip to Flavortown — and the recipes from its mayor did not disappoint.
Read the original article on Insider