Plus, the creative ways he uses his leftovers after the big day.
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a photo of Guy Fieri
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If you hear "Flavortown," it's likely that only one person comes to mind: Guy Fieri. Here at EatingWell, we are longtime Fieri fans, not only because of his popular show, but also for his numerous philanthropic endeavors that range from bringing meals to those fighting wildfires or setting up the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund during the pandemic. We even named him one of our 2021 American Food Heroes!  

We most recently spoke to Fieri about something that's top-of-mind for many people right now: Thanksgiving. Fieri partnered with King's Hawaiian to share his tips for leveling-up your recipes on the big day and for the inevitable leftovers that it creates. Here are Fieri's all-time favorite dishes, entertaining tips and a recipe to help you level-up your leftovers. 

EatingWell: What is your best tip for someone hosting their first holiday gathering? 

Guy Fieri: Practice, to me, is always the thing. Like how does your oven work? Go roast a turkey. Go make the dish. Take the next few weeks before Thanksgiving or the holidays and do a couple practice runs. One of the things that happens with people is that they get overwhelmed, and cooking is timing. So, I think one of the best things to do is to experiment or cook a couple of the recipes. It's not like you wouldn't love to have some stuffing in the middle of the week on cold winter nights, so go do that. Go roast a turkey, figure it out. Do the brine and the whole thing, it's not like you're not going to eat turkey for turkey sandwiches and so forth. Maybe don't do a full mock Thanksgiving, but giving everything a run-through is a good way to keep yourself from getting hung up when it's game day. 

EatingWell: What is one of the holiday traditions you look forward to the most? 

Fieri: We have anywhere from 40 to 60 people every Thanksgiving—we're up at my ranch—and I've made turkey pastrami, I've made roast turkey ... I think this year I'm going to deep-fry a turkey (I haven't done that in a long time). But the key is—I have very strict marching orders from my wife— there has got to be enough leftover turkey for copious amounts of turkey sandwiches the next day. 

EatingWell: What is one dish that we would definitely find on your table Thanksgiving day? 

Fieri: I am a big green-bean-casserole guy, but not the way that everybody typically does it. I make everything from scratch, so I bring in the cremini mushrooms and I start two days ahead of time making gravy. I'll bring in a bunch of backs, necks and a few of the drumsticks and start roasting my bones and start my gravy so I have it ready to go. Gravy goes in my stuffing, it goes with mashed potatoes, it goes with the green bean casserole and so on. So making the turkey stock is a really big piece. I don't want my [green] beans soggy, I want nice crispy fried shallots on top of it. But a real cheffed green bean casserole is a must. 

EatingWell: What is one dish we would never find on your table on Thanksgiving?  

Fieri: Sweet potato casserole—nope! Not at all. Horrible, my least favorite. I'm not a sweets guy in the first place. Now, really good cranberry sauce is a must, but I make it spicy. I put a jalapeño in it and a little orange zest, so that's always my go-to. But no sweet potato casserole. 

EatingWell: What is your favorite way to use Thanksgiving/holiday leftovers? 

Fieri: I try not to have too many leftovers, but turkey I have to. I cook one whole turkey just for leftovers. I love making a turkey cake out of the stuffing. I take the stuffing, chop up the turkey and mix it together and fry it off like a crab cake in a pan and put a nice little crust on it. Of course, [because of] our family at King's Hawaiian and this partnership I have with them, I make sure we have a stocked pantry of the rolls—there're so many things you can do with them.

One of my favorite things—my mouth is starting to water when I say this—is that we do a ham. I do a pineapple-glazed ham with mustard. Taking the slices of that ham and making my ham sandwiches with the King's Hawaiian [rolls] is one of my all-time faves.

Then, just depending on what [the leftover] is, it gets incorporated into salad. I always do a farro salad with cranberries and stuff like that. But those are usually the go-to's. And, on top of it all, there's always a soup that comes out of it. 

EatingWell: How can someone simplify their weeknight meals between holiday celebrations? 

Fieri: It depends on who they are and what they cook and what they like. I look at every meal like you should capitalize on it because it might be your last. Just do it the best you can. I think [the meals between holidays are] a nice way to get yourself warmed up, get your knife skills warmed up, get your prep skills warmed up, [so] when the holiday comes, it's go-time. I'm not a real "cut a corner" guy when it comes to the season. Personally, though, I'll eat lighter in between. I'll try to make some salad-focused meals—we're a taco salad family. You're going to be indulging, [so] I think it's time to get some more vegetables in there and definitely do some more roasting of vegetables and not eat as heavy. That's usually what happens with me. 

EatingWell: At EatingWell, we've always really appreciated your unwavering commitment to supporting other people in the food industry, whether it's through your numerous TV shows or your philanthropic endeavors like the Restaurant Employees Relief Fund or serving meals to those fighting wildfires. Can you talk a bit about what inspires you to take on so many varied projects? What is the most rewarding part for you? 

Fieri: I love this industry. It's always what I wanted to do. I went to France and was an exchange student over there and really got this huge perspective on the world of food—all of these things combined together. I just love the industry and think there's so much need. It does so much for us; it's not just about the food. Restaurants are central meeting places. Restaurants are the first jobs a lot of people have. Restaurants take care of folks on so many different levels—for second jobs and so forth. And the same thing goes for the first responders and the veterans. There are just so many people that have done so much for all of us in so many ways that when you see the need, it's great to be able to have the influence and the people around you [to] be able to lean into it and give support. I think that's how the country was founded and that's what we're about, and I always try to encourage people by being a positive example that you can make a difference. It's what my future is. Everybody always asks, "What are you going to do when you're retired?" and I always just say [I'll] continue on with philanthropy and continue on trying to help other people. 

Guy Fieri's Turkey "Picnic" Sandwich

Yield: 6 servings

Serving size: 2 rolls 

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (12-pack) King's Hawaiian Original Sweet Rolls
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
  • 3/4 cup leftover stuffing
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 24 dill pickles, thinly sliced
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese
  • 12 ounces sliced oven-roasted or smoked deli turkey
  • 3/4 cup jellied cranberry sauce, divided
  • 2 cups BBQ kettle chips
  • 1½ cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced radicchio
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper

Directions:

Step 1

Grease a griddle pan with oil and preheat over medium heat. Remove the King's Hawaiian Original Sweet Rolls from the package, keeping the loaf intact. Using a long bread knife, carefully slice the entire loaf open to create a large top and bottom set of connected rolls.

Step 2

Brush the inside of the rolls with melted butter. Place them buttered-side down on the griddle and toast until golden brown. Use a large spatula to flip and lightly toast the outside of the rolls.

Step 3

Take the remaining melted butter and place in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leftover stuffing and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until well browned and crispy around the edges.

Step 4

Remove the toasted rolls from the griddle and spread the mayonnaise on both halves of the rolls from edge to edge.

Step 5

Place the rolls on a flat surface and start with the bottom section. Evenly spread out the slices of pickle, then the Swiss cheese. Place the stuffing on top of the cheese and spread out evenly. Layer the turkey on top of the stuffing.

Step 6

Spread the cranberry sauce evenly over the turkey and place the BBQ chips on top of the cranberry sauce.

Step 7

Combine the shredded lettuce and the sliced radicchio in a mixing bowl. Dress with vinegar, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Spread out evenly on top of the BBQ chips and top with the other half of toasted sweet rolls.

Recipe courtesy of Guy Fieri.