Atlanta Chefs Give Their Top Tips For Holiday Cooking

Chef Duane Nutter (foreground) and Chef Todd Richards shared holiday cooking and leftover tips on ''City Lights.''
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE
Audio version of this story here.


As respected and nationally recognized chefs, Todd Richards and Duane Nutter get a lot of questions about cooking, especially around the December holidays.

Richards (executive chef at White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails and chef and owner of Richards’ Southern Fried) and Nutter (formerly executive chef at One Flew South and chef and owner of the soon-to-open Southern National) joined Lois Reitzes on “City Lights” to share their insights on common American and Southern Christmas dinners.

First up: turkey. Richards and Nutter strongly advise to give yourself enough time. According to Richards, “the best way is to always brine a turkey. No matter what, you have to inject some moisture inside.” The meat will appear pinker, but that is normal – even desirable: “It really enlivens the meat itself, so it brings out those beautiful colors inside.”

If you’re ready to experiment beyond the basic salt water brine, Chef Richards advises adding seasonal citrus flavors like kumquat and oranges.

Nutter has himself been experimenting with dry brines and spatchcocking (that is, removing the backbone and “butterflying” the bird). The result? A 12-pound turkey that cooks in 90 minutes with perfectly crispy skin.

Perhaps the most common side dish for holiday dinners is mashed potatoes. If you want to make your starchy side memorable, the chefs say to look at the ingredients you’re using. Richards recommends Yukon potatoes over Idaho potatoes, and 40 percent butterfat over 36 percent butterfat. As Nutter said, “elevate your ingredients, [but] the techniques remain the same.”

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