Thanksgiving Entertaining with Elle Simone

This year, the Detroit native will be celebrating traditions—and recipes—old and new.

Published Oct. 26, 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. Find all of our Thanksgiving recipes and tips in our Thanksgiving Guide.

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 November 2). This week, Elle Simone shares the details of her holiday celebration.

Entertaining with Elle Simone

Home or away?

Home is “away” for me, so Thanksgiving is almost ALWAYS in Detroit!

When do your festivities kick off?

Tuesday is usually the time we start planning and assigning dishes, airport pick-ups, and group trips to the market for food supplies.

Elle's Thanksgiving Picks

Any special diets to consider?

I grew up in a religion where pork was not permitted, so there are usually a lot of other protein options.

What’s your favorite recipe?

Cook’s Country’s Sweet Corn Spoonbread is my all-time favorite recipe. My grandmother used to make this staple on Thanksgiving, our favorite holiday. From time to time, my birthday falls on Thanksgiving, and when it did, she’d make and stash for me my own portion of “corn pudding,” as she called it. Although I miss her recipe, I know she would’ve fallen in love with this version of the Southern comfort classic.

What’s your family’s consensus pick recipe?

My Aunt Edith is always chosen to bring the roast beef, because she feels that turkey gets old real fast. I’ve hipped her to the Cook’s Illustrated recipe Classic Pot Roast with Root Vegetables. This awesome recipe, matched with her many years of savvy, makes an amazing, slightly nontraditional touch to our holiday.

Any new recipes this year?

In the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holiday dinner, one thing always finds itself to be an afterthought: bread. It never fails that we stand around the table and notice that “something’s missing.” This year, I’m going to make Cook’s Country’s Butter Fan Rolls. It’s likely that you have all the necessary ingredients right in your pantry. They’re easy to make but taste like you put in work.

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

I feel like having proper tools is essential to any dinner gather, especially Thanksgiving! The Smart Carving Kit, equipped with knives and a cutting board, will be helpful for all the meat offerings for your holiday meal. Also, the Cuisinart 14-cup Food Processor is a pure timesaver for all your chopping and shredding needs.

What’s your pie preference?

Our dessert staples are sweet potato and pecan pies. The first is our family's secret recipe, but I plan to shake things up a bit. Instead of pecan pie, I plan on introducing one of my favorite recipes from ATK season 17, Ultranutty Pecan Bars. I may be able to start a new sweet tradition.

When will the first turkey sandwich get made?

My mom will make her first turkey sandwich on Friday. She makes a salad of the leftover turkey and spreads it on toasted bread. My grandmother would make a stew that included onions, peas, and celery with a creamy base, served over rice. I’m going to be adventurous and make Cook’s Country’s Rustic Turkey Tart, perhaps for breakfast.

Will anyone be watching football?

My family will not be watching the NFL this season; they actually prefer to watch classic movies and cooking shows. I’m sure, since I haven’t seen them in a while, we’ll sit around and watch ATK season 17!

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. And for more of our editors' holiday plans, check out this article (and check back for more in the coming weeks!):

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