Thanksgiving Entertaining with Julia Collin Davison

Our TV shows’ host may not know yet where her family will be celebrating, but she knows what will be on the menu.

Published Oct. 19, 2017.

We hope this Thanksgiving will find you and your loved ones sitting down to a perfectly cooked turkey, an array of favorite sides, and a pie or three. If you’re hosting dinner or making a side or dessert to take on the road, we’re here for you. After testing thousands of Thanksgiving recipes and cooking for our own families over the last 25 years, we know exactly what needs to happen between now and November 23rd—the planning, the shopping, the cooking.

Each Thursday until the big day, one of our test kitchen experts will share their go-to recipes, which will be available free on our member websites for one week (until October 25). This week, TV host Julia Collin Davison shares the details of her holiday celebration.


Julia Collin Davison Thanksgiving Menu

Home or away?

I’m not sure yet! I know that sounds kind of nuts, but my family does everything at the last minute. My guess is that we’ll be headed to a relative's house somewhere in town.

When do your festivities kick off?

The night before as long-distance family members come into town.

Stuffing, Spanakopita, Pie

What’s your favorite recipe?

Make-Ahead Gravy. It’s a serious game changer at Thanksgiving. Even if you’re going to someone else’s house, showing up with a pot of amazing, homemade turkey gravy makes you look like a total rock star.

What’s your family's consensus pick recipe?

Classic Bread Stuffing (without sausage). My mother tried to skip it one year to save time (and carbs), but the family revolted.

Any new recipes this year?

For me, new recipes come in the form of appetizers–especially if I’m not hosting but bringing something to someone else’s house. This year I think I’ll bring Spanakopita from Cook’s Illustratedit feeds a crowd, it holds well, and it’s not your average cheese ball.

What’s your must-have gadget for Thanksgiving cooking?

Do kitchen towels count? Sounds lame, but I hate cooking in a dirty kitchen. I constantly wipe down the counters, sink, and stove as I cook, and I always have a stack of the test kitchen’s winning kitchen towels at the ready. Sometimes, I put a laundry basket in the corner of the kitchen so I can toss the dirty towels right into it as I cook.

What's your pie preference?

I used to be an “apple only” person, but since working at ATK, I’ve become a pecan lover. The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Perfect Pecan Pie (I think it dates back to the late ’90s) is by far my favorite.

When will the first turkey sandwich get made?

Later that night. In fact, I often roast an extra turkey just so that we have enough for sandwiches. A roasted turkey sandwich with all the trimmings (which we call a “gobbler”) is my husband’s all-time favorite.

Will anyone be watching football?

Probably not. We aren’t really a football family. We do, however, always take all of the dogs for a nice long walk somewhere pretty.

Meals that impress

All-Time Best Holiday Entertaining

Celebrations call for meals that impress, and with thousands of meticulously tested recipes to our name, guaranteeing that perfect outcome is central to what we do at Cook’s Illustrated. In this definitive collection, we have gathered the absolute best dishes for making your next celebration memorable, stress-free, and, above all, delicious.  
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How do you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving this year? Let us know in the comments!

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