This anti-feast can be more fun, no matter what it is

Sausage and bowties in a pan
Sausage and bowties in a pan
Photo: Robin Gentry/EyeEm/Getty Images

It’s the night before Thanksgiving and the last thing most of us want to do is cook dinner. In any year besides 2020, the Wednesday before the holiday is one of the biggest bar nights of the year, which means wings, burgers, tacos, and drinking snacks.

Since the sensible among us won’t be hitting bars, it’s an opportunity to get creative, whether it’s a takeout spread or any dish that’s a Thanksgiving antithesis. By virtue of the fact that it sidles up to the turkey feast, tonight’s dinner is an underdog meal that’s more casual and just as celebratory. Whether…

‘By far’

A plate of roasted Brussels sprouts with garlic
A plate of roasted Brussels sprouts with garlic
Photo: @beckyblairh via Instagram

The other day we saw that the most popular Thanksgiving recipe over on NYT Cooking — “by far” apparently — is Bittman’s Brussels sprouts with garlic. And while that version starts with browning sprouts on the stove in a cast-iron pan, the one below, from the updated How To Cook Everything, is even easier.

Brussels Sprouts With Garlic

Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 pint (about a pound) brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


  1. For the crispiest sprouts, put the oiled baking sheet in the oven…

When you’d rather graze than feast

Chickpea fries
Chickpea fries
Photo: Burcu Avsar & Zack DeSart

I don’t know about you, but if I had to choose snacks over actual meals, I’d more often than not go with snacking because there’s an opportunity to try more things, you’re not pummeled by a big meal, and snacking can be fun.

I would not describe tomorrow’s snacking as “fun.” But I’m certain you’d appreciate a spread that includes a few of these dishes. Who doesn’t appreciate a snack to tide you over when nerves are frayed?

Note that I didn’t include sweets on the list: I wanted to keep the list in the spirit of snacks-for-dinner. …

Food can (and should) shape how you vote

In the nearly two years since Heated launched, we’ve built on Mark Bittman’s lifework by addressing inequality in the food system. We’ve also tried to encourage readers to look at our lives through the lens of food: How we grow food. How we treat food and restaurant workers. How we feed ourselves and each other.

We can always do better — and one way (we hope) we can commit to improvement on a more grand scale is in how we vote which, this year, means voting for Joe Biden. Below we’ve got 22 posts that explore the intersection of power…

Between the impending election and the Covid upswing, it’s time to eat your feelings

Overhead shot of a casserole dish full of baked macaroni, crispy breadcrumbs on top.
Overhead shot of a casserole dish full of baked macaroni, crispy breadcrumbs on top.
Photo: Aya Brackett

A friend told me last week she celebrated her birthday in part by eating her annual ration of macaroni and cheese, around which she says she has no self-control. Mac’n cheese seems especially fitting for a year as shockingly bad as 2020 has been so far.

As if it hasn’t been challenging enough to manage emotions this year, we’re days away from an election in which the president has threatened not to leave office if he’s voted out, and the entire world seems to be experiencing an uptick in Covid cases.

How are you coping? Sure, there’s meditation, or yoga…

Breathe some life into cooking routines

Bookshelves full of cookbooks.
Bookshelves full of cookbooks.
Photo: Melissa McCart

Raise your hand if you’re tired of cooking. I’m trying to pull inspiration from my colleagues Daniel, Kerri, and of course, Mark, but I have to say, like the rest of the cook-at-home universe, I’m fishing for how to recharge and to feel as committed about cooking at home as I was in March.

In some ways, this is timely, since I’m guessing, like you, I’d like to support our favorite restaurants as the government has left them for dead. But that’s for another post. …

More putzing than practical — but it’s the pandemic, so why not?

Guy using a drill to grind coffee.
Guy using a drill to grind coffee.
Alexi Morrissey using a drill on a Japanese hand grinder to grind coffee. Photo: Melissa McCart via Vimeo

This far into the pandemic, boredom meets inspiration, and power tools are making an appearance in home kitchens. While we’re not seeing any mini-saws multitasking as sourdough bread cutters, the drill is coming into its own.

Alton Brown, for example, is using a drill in seasoning his holiday rib roast. After rubbing meat with oil and salt, he wants to season it with two tablespoons of fresh ground pepper. But rather than grinding it by hand with a pepper mill, he takes a Japanese coffee grinder made for camping and swaps the handle for a cordless drill.

Over in…

Prime rib roast, pernil, and pot roast with cranberries

A prime rib roast before it’s carved.
A prime rib roast before it’s carved.
Photo: Night and Day Images/E+/Getty Images

Whether you’re in the mood for one of these projects this weekend or you’re thinking about what to serve for Christmas or New Years', all three of Mark’s straightforward recipes deliver what will amount to a special meal. Each recipe is geared for a small crowd but if you’re being conservative this year and don’t even plan on that, you’ll have leftovers and you’ll be happy about it.

Prime Rib Roast for a Small Crowd

Makes: About 6 servings
Time: About 1½ hours (largely unattended)

This is a simple roasting technique: high heat to sear the meat, lower heat to cook it through. If you want a…

December Holidays

9 tries at getting into a holiday spirit

Egg nog by the fire.
Egg nog by the fire.
Photo: kajakiki/Getty Images

We don’t blame you if you feel like skipping this holiday season. But with more pandemic-related challenges in front of us, perhaps we can turn to holiday dishes and drinks to lift our spirits, especially since we’re stuck primarily at home. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Make some sweet and spicy snacks.

Spiced nuts are more satisfying than you’d think, especially when you make them yourself. I like this strange flavor recipe, but the ones below are a bit more moderate, yet still match the savory-sweet juxtaposition.

Caramelized Spiced Nuts

And more holiday suggestions

On this night before Thanksgiving, even if your holiday is pared down, chances are you’re elbow-deep in some kind of prep. We’re here to help with a quickie recipe guide for the November holiday, plus a few for inspiration as we move into December.

We’re thankful for you, our readers; our families; and our health. We’re renewing our commitment to helping each other on this holiday and beyond. And we’re wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving (and relief from the jackboot of 2020).

The Most Popular Thanksgiving Recipe on NYT Cooking

Melissa McCart

Editor of Heated with Mark Bittman on Medium. Dog mom. Pho fan. Send me your pitches:

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