Thanksgiving is inarguably the best food holiday of the year, the one day where it’s totally normal to have at least four side dishes with your entree and more than one dessert (not just pie, please!). But some of the traditional Thanksgiving foods — think, mashed potatoes — can be a little bland. Luckily, they don’t have to be. We sat down with Bobby Flay at the 15th anniversary party for his restaurant Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to ask him for his tips on making classic Thanksgiving foods a little more interesting, and he shared a mashed potato hack that left us reeling.
Flay’s restaurant is known for its bold southwestern flavors, and his favorite Thanksgiving recipe is no different.
When it comes to the one Thanksgiving recipe Flay makes every year, he told us, “There’s a mashed potato dish that actually is inspired by [Mesa Grill]. I make a big bowl of mashed potatoes and then I make a well in the middle, and we put a big vat of green chili queso sauce in the middle.”
If you want the complete recipe, thankfully, he shared it with the Food Network. Don’t expect to see any processed cheese here — the queso is made with roasted poblano peppers, milk, cream, Monterey Jack Cheese, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. We’re already drooling.
“It’s ridiculous…I’m telling you, it’s sick,” Flay shared. “You take a little mashed potato, you take a little queso…No matter what I’m doing that year, theme-wise, people are like ‘the mashed potatoes are gonna be there, right?'”
Honestly, we think that green chili queso would go well with pretty much everything at the Thanksgiving table. Drizzle it over your turkey, mashed squash, and even stuffing — gravy is nice, but can it really compete with homemade queso?
That wasn’t the only great Thanksgiving cooking tip Flay gave us. When it comes to livening up the rest of your menu, Flay recommends using chilies, another hack inspired by his menu at Mesa Grill.
“The poblano chili is a good starter chili for people that aren’t really well versed in them, because it’s got a great pepper background flavor but it’s not too spicy,” he said. “Roasted poblanos work really nicely.”
You could add them to a pan of cornbread dressing, mix some in with your green bean casserole to give it a kick, or even stir some diced roasted poblanos in to a bowl of whipped sweet potatoes.
Chili is also the answer to transforming your turkey from bland bird to star entree.
“You can buy all sorts of chili powders to put on the outside of your turkey, and use that as a red chili crust that’s not too spicy,” Flay advised. “You just put it with the salt and the peppers and put some red chili powder in there too and it works really nicely.
A little queso, some roasted chilis, and a spicy new kick to your turkey are all you need to make a flavorful Thanksgiving meal that Bobby Flay would be proud of.