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Josh Capon's Thanksgiving cooking tips for your tiny NYC kitchen

Ok, you're going for it. You decided to quit Seamless for the night and actually cook dinner.

But is your tiny kitchen/living room/closet up for the challenge of the most important feast of the year?

Chef Josh Capon (owner of Lure Fishbar, Bowery Meat Company, El Toro Bianco and B&B Winepub), admits that cooking in a small kitchen can be one of the hardest things to do. But not to worry, this pro has some tips for New Yorkers ready to take on the challenge of the biggest feast of the year.

1. Start your prep and cooking days ahead of time

At restaurants, mise en place, a French culinary
Photo Credit: FLICKR / jypsygen

At restaurants, mise en place, a French culinary term meaning "putting in place," is essential to timely service. After you decide on a menu, shop for ingredients and start cooking! Dice your vegetables and save them in containers, measure out your dry ingredients and even get a head start on the bird -- brine it in a solution of water, salt and sugar or take a bite from Capon's book and add fun ingredients like orange juice and soy sauce to your brine.

Doing as much as possible ahead of the big dinner saves tons of counter space not to mention time spent in the kitchen on Thanksgiving!

2. Have a set of good knives.

Sharp knives make cooking go faster and smoother
Photo Credit: FLICKR / thomaaas

Sharp knives make cooking go faster and smoother -- and your food may even taste better!

Capon recommends investing in a 22-piece knife block, which has everything you need for cooking, a sharpener and steak knives for dining. It's worth sacrificing some counter space.

3. Use a heritage turkey and make sure it's not too big!

If you're making a frozen turkey, it's barely
Photo Credit: FLICKR / photommo

If you're making a frozen turkey, it's barely worth it. Buy a fresh, heritage bird for optimum flavor -- it's harder to mess up when you're cooking with high quality poultry.

Capon gets his Thanksgiving turkeys from Pat La Frieda Wholesale, where he orders meat for his restaurants. Go to your local butcher to request a fresh heritage breed turkey -- and make sure it's not too large!

Ideally, the turkey will be under 15 pounds, which is perfect for that oven you use as a shoe closet most of the year. For large crowds, Capon suggests making multiple smaller birds rather than one enormous turkey.

4. Cook and serve your turkey in pieces.

We know, you want to impress guests with
Photo Credit: MELISSA KRAVITZ

We know, you want to impress guests with a beautifully roasted bird, but wouldn't it be better to show off your amazing cooking skills?

Capon says for dramatic effect you can use a plastic bird and then serve a deboned, delicious turkey meal for the real meal.

Deboning a turkey is fairly simple, though if you need practice, he recommends deboning a few chickens beforehand. Use a sharp knife to follow the lines of the bird, not cutting through any bones and keeping the skin in place. For tricky areas like the breast, go toward the left to separate the meat.

5. For the big feast, use an electric skillet.

Capon recalled his mother cooking pretty much everything
Photo Credit: JC Penney

Capon recalled his mother cooking pretty much everything on an electric skillet, which plugs into an outlet and cooks food at high heat without any flame. If you have kids who want to help out, this tool is key. Set it up on a table for an extra stovetop! Who said you didn't have enough burners?

Capon demonstrated his dishes on a Cooks 12x12" Ceramic Electric Skillet, currently $30 at jcpenney.com.

6. Use fresh herbs!

Fresh herbs add plenty of dynamic flavor and
Photo Credit: FLICKR / bookgrl

Fresh herbs add plenty of dynamic flavor and are very low in calories! Grab some fresh rosemary, thyme and parsley from your local market and use it in your cooking as well as a garnish on every savory dish you serve.

To really impress your guests, use potted fresh herbs as a centerpiece -- fine dining hotspots like Estiatorio Milos and Bar Primi do this -- and let them DIY their own fresh flavor during dinner!

7. Cuteness in your cooking can save a lot of space.

Waffle irons, muffin tins and more can be
Photo Credit: FLICKR / thirtyninepercent

Waffle irons, muffin tins and more can be key to your space-saving cooking! Capon said that pretty much everything and anything can go in a waffle iron -- don't underestimate its abilities on T-day leftovers -- so think stuffing, cornbread and more for quick, space-saving cooking.

For dessert, consider making your bread pudding or pumpkin loaf in muffin tins, which looks adorable to guests, is easy to serve and even easier to store.

8. Don't forget the apps!

Yes, there are plenty of helpful cooking apps
Photo Credit: Berries.com

Yes, there are plenty of helpful cooking apps you should probably employ for your big week (remember, it's not all done in a single day!) of cooking, but we're talking about appetizers.

Capon has crockpot chili with a toppings buffet for his guests as they arrive, but he's also a professional. If you can't make an entirely new dish ahead of time, order a cheese plate, pick up some assorted holiday nuts or request that your guests help out by bringing some hors d'oeuvres.

Not only does this meal pre-game keep unwanted company out of the kitchen, it ultimately leaves you with less food to prepare for the main meal -- and more leftovers if people fill up on chips and dip!

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