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The Daily Dish Top Chef

Gail Simmons: What to Cook for the Holidays

The Top Chef judge gives her tips for spicing up your feast.

By Sarv Kreindler

Gail Simmons has a challenge for you this holiday season: try experimenting  in your kitchen! The Top Chef judge is divulging some tips and secrets for getting out of the holiday rut and finding something new and delicious to feast on this month.

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Try a turkey with different flavor profiles.
"I think there are so many ways to bring in new flavors or meld flavors that people are really craving," Gail tells The Daily Dish. "I recently had this amazing turkey that [Top Chef Masters winner] Marcus Samuelsson flavored with North African flavors—it had so much richness. He did a buttermilk and quinoa dressing for it as opposed to regular stuffing."

Or how about an Asian-inspired option?
"If I am cooking and I do parts of a turkey or a smaller bird, I'll grill the pieces separately and glaze them with Asian ingredients like soy, ginger, sriracha and fish sauce," Gail says. "Then you can glaze the bird with that dressing and brown sugar so that it caramelizes—and make a sauce with brown butter. That's delicious and it changes the flavor profile."

Don't be afraid to spice it up...
Gail recommends adding a little heat to your side dishes. "I'm not a huge sweet and savory person; I don't like marshmallows with sweet potatoes," Gail says. "But I love sweet potatoes with things like chilis and lots of citrus and things that are in season at this time of year."

...Or add a little color!
"For root vegetables, there are parsnips and turnips and carrots that everyone uses but you can also use things like kohlrabi or interesting purple potatoes," Gail advises. "There are all these purple yams I'm seeing in the market right now. And they would make for a beautiful play."

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