Video: Padma Lakshmi’s 5 Game-Changing Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving

11/20/2014 at 01:52 PM ET

If your Thanksgiving game plan didn’t involve buttermilk or apples, you might want to take a listen to Padma Lakshmi’s sage Turkey Day wisdom.

During her appearance on The Tonight Show Wednesday night, the Top Chef judge gave host Jimmy Fallon five quick tips for hosting Thanksgiving — even though he only requested three. Since we’re all about lowering the stress on Turkey Day and upping the deliciousness, we took copious notes on Lakshmi’s advice.


“The first thing I would say, is invite some strangers, or mix up your invite list,” she says, to which Fallon jokingly asks if she means pulling guests from off the street.

“No, no, no. But you know, Thanksgiving is always really hard because you’ve got all this family fighting and stuff. It’s nice to have a varied guest list so there are strangers that your family would maybe be embarrassed about arguing in front of,” she clarifies. “So they’d be on good behavior.”

So, while you might not have originally thought to invite the new neighbors, Lakshmi says doing so could keep your crazy Uncle Ron in check for the feast. Got it — on to the grub!


“Cook your turkey beforehand,” Lakshmi says, explaining that her family starts cooking the bird at midnight the night before. “It’s exciting, getting up early in the morning and making sure that turkey is beautiful. And that way, the hard part is done. I never understand when people are cooking turkey after everyone gets there, and it’s like a nail-biting experience.”

Turkey goes in at bedtime, comes out early in the morning — check!


“You want to soak the turkey in buttermilk — not milk — buttermilk that’s salted and sugared,” Lakshmi says, adding that the enzymes in it will break down the dark meat.

She instructs to place the bird — legs first — in a tall, narrow vessel, ensuring that the legs and thighs are fully immersed, and let it marinate for three days.


When it comes time to cook the turkey, Lakshmi says to insert apples and oranges into the bird. “So it gets rid of the gaminess,” she explains.


“You’re going to have all this juice. Don’t be afraid of the juice when you’re done!” Lakshmi says. “Take that juice, add some butter and flour to it and that’s your natural homemade gravy.”

Turkey juices plus flour and butter equals gravy. Done and done.

Fallon is thrilled by Lakshmi’s straightforward, two-minute tutorial. “We never give out tips,” he says. “I’m so happy!”

As are we. Off to buy some buttermilk!

—Morgan Gibson

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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Sian on

My mother always did the buttermilk marinade. Her turkey is the est! Definitely work it.

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