Season 1, Episode 12 – “The One With the Dozen Lasagnas”
Yeah, yeah, lasagna may be an offbeat choice for a Thanksgiving meal, but guess what: It’s also an offbeat choice for mass quantity cooking, but that didn’t slow Monica down in the slightest when it came time to impress her Aunt Sylvia with her cooking skills. One thing that probably should have put the brakes on for Mon, though? Those dozen lasagnas needed to be vegetarian. Filled with meat (and one of them kitted out with Rachel’s waylaid engagement ring), they proved to be utterly useless to Monica’s own family…
Recipe: …but the same thing doesn’t have to happen to your clan this year. Toss the turkey, go Italian style, watch out for the diamonds.
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Season 2, Episode 8 – “The One With the List”
During Monica’s tougher days of unemployment, she turned to maybe one of her oddest jobs in the show’s history: working with Mr. Rastatter (Michael McKean!) to come up with Thanksgiving-themed recipes using a chocolate substitute called “Mockolate.” Monica does her best to get around the fact that Mockolate is “what evil must taste like,” according to Rachel, but when the FDA rejects Mockolate (“something about laboratory rats”) her Sisyphean ordeal comes to a close.
Recipe: Thankfully Mockolate is not real, but if you want to experiment with carob, the nature-approved chocolate substitute, these walnut brownies sound pretty great. (Though check out the comments for some helpful suggestions about substitutions.) Also, mockolate cranberry cake inspired us to check out cranberry cake recipes, and this one was particularly tempting.
Season 2, Episode 22 – “The One With the Two Parties”
“It’s a traditional Mexican custard dessert!” The Birthday Flan comes to us courtesy of Monica’s desire for a fancy, classy birthday party for Rachel. Monica’s heart might be in the right place, but maybe flan isn’t the dessert of choice for celebrating a new year of life.
Recipe: So many flan recipes in the world, but hell, it’s Thanksgiving. So here’s a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Flan. Get ready for the gelatinous fun!
Season 4, Episode 23 – “The One With Ross’ Wedding (Part I)”
A joke made brilliant in its simplicity, the “Joey Special” is humorous both for Joey’s simple-minded nature and his never-ending appetite. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he’s a very Americanized version of an Italian, making pizza a perfect favorite for the often broke actor. When we first discover it — as Phoebe tries to soothe Joey’s homesickness by assuring him she ordered the Joey Special for lunch — it’s a passing remark. But the legacy of Joey’s insatiable appetite only grows as the seasons go on, making this two-pizzas order an early staple of this jam-loving lad’s character.
Recipe: It may seem odd to order a couple of za’s for Thanksgiving dinner — either as your main course or a hearty appetizer — but there are quite a few restaurants offering deals on the Joey Special (even if it’s not referred to as such).
Season 5, Episode 9 – “The One With Ross’ Sandwich”
Imagine a sandwich so delicious that its unexpected disappearance could drive a man actually bonkers. You can picture it, can’t you? Layers of turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing, piled high on fluffy white bread, with a kicker: The Moist-Maker, a single slice of bread soaked in gravy and shoved in the middle of all that deliciousness. It could drive you crazy, right? And what if someone took it away while you were in the middle of a contentious divorce? Let’s hope your holiday isn’t quite that dramatic, but if it includes this sandwich as a leftover delivery system, it will definitely be memorable.
Recipe: The Moist-Maker is all Monica’s, but this means to use up your leftovers sounds pretty tasty (if carrying a less appealing name).
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Season 5, Episode 20 – “The One With the Ride-Along”
If asked to determine who was more attached to their sandwich — Ross with his moist-maker or Joey with this meatball, melted cheese and marinara number — it would be a tough choice. Both had a small psychological breakdown after some sandwich-related trauma. Both bragged about the contents of their sandwiches to their friends. Both risked their lives to protect the sanctity of the sandwich (Joey his actual life — so he thought — and Ross his professional one). If you’re deciding which to make for Thanksgiving, the edge obviously goes to Ross. But for a delicious daily treat, putting Joey’s together can’t be a bad choice.
Recipe: Meatball subs may not be a fitting dish to bring to dinner, so let us recommend the Italian Meatball Sandwich Casserole as a close sub-stitute. (*drum fill*) Your guests will be happy to have another side dish, and Joey would be pleased because it’s food.
Season 6, Episode 9 – “The One Where Ross Got High”
A layer of ladyfingers, a layer of jam, custard, raspberries, more ladyfingers, beef sautéed with peas and onions, a little more custard, sliced banana and whipped cream. Thanksgiving is the last holiday that’s suited for a single-pot meal, but if you’re pressed for space and/or time, just throw the whole damn thing into one dish and call it a day. It’s dessert, but it’s also a main course. It’s delicious, but it’s also disgusting. Does it taste like feet? Who cares, think of how easy it will be to clean a single trifle dish!
Recipe: Using the internet for your food recipes has many benefits, not the least of which is you can’t screw up the trifle because the cookbook pages stick together. Your real English Trifle should be a bigger hit than Rachel’s, but here’s a related backup just in case.
Season 6, Episode 19 – “The One With Joey’s Fridge”
Joey decides to eat all the food in his fridge after it breaks: “Cold cuts, ice cream, limes…” Joey has had better plans. In theory, he gets his fridge fixed by next week’s episode, but this week he and his stomach are in a world of pain.
Recipe: Joey doesn’t get specific about the food he eats, and — given that he’s eating some stuff that’s years old — we are pretty thankful. But based on the mention of ice cream and limes, we decided to look into ice cream recipes involving lime. This “Truly Key Lime Pie Ice Cream” recipe sounds fantastic. Graham cracker crumbs!
Season 7, Episode 3 – “The One With Phoebe’s Cookies”
You can’t beat the classics. Gussied up as a secret Buffay family recipe, Phoebe’s cookies were the source of much delight for the entire “Friends” fam — partially because of their mystery, mostly because of their taste. Even Monica was driven to distraction by the treats, nearly going mad when it came time to replicate them (those Gellers, food just makes them nuts).
Season 7, Episode 11 – “The One With all the Cheesecakes”
Guys, I have terrible news. Mama’s Little Bakery from Chicago, IL is not a real place. Despite what these shysters tell you, the Midwestern mecca for soft, creamy cheesecake is a myth. The bad news: That means you’re going to have to make it yourself. The good news: You don’t have to share.
Recipe: There are shockingly few recipes that include instructions to “steal” a cheesecake or to “drop it on the floor,” but there are quite a few tasty options for those who can figure out how to do those steps on their own. Our favorite is a New York Cheesecake (fitting for the Central Perk crew) made to share. More specifically, we’ll endorse the RITZ Mini-Crumb Cheesecakes because you won’t have to worry about dividing them equally between you and your guest(s), and the crummies on top should hide anything remaining on the cake from your last step in the baking process.
Season 7, Episode 16 – “The One With the Truth About London”
And lots of it! When Phoebe imagined what a marriage between Monica and Joey would be like, the most noticeable change came when the man of the house waddled his way through a suddenly tight bedroom door to sit down for a full dinner of…well, awful, awful food. French fries, onion rings, lasagna, chicken wings, mozzarella sticks and more covered a table made to comfortably seat four people. Tonight, it only held food for one.
Recipe: Health nuts will hate you, but you’ll be the hero to everyone else with this Thanksgiving dish lineup. Rather than worrying about undercooked stuffing from the back of the bird or tasteless stuffing straight from the box, why not deep fry it instead? This recipe even comes with an optional chan-berry side dish, making it the perfect pick for any Friendsgiving.
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Season 8, Episode 9 – “The One With the Rumor”
One of many classic “Friends” Thanksgiving episodes, “The One With the Rumor” is really best known as “The One Where Brad Pitt Shows Up and It’s Super-Awkward To Remember That He and Jennifer Aniston Used to Be a Hollywood Power Couple.” But in the background of all of those weird meta moments is Joey eating a 19-pound turkey by himself, basically on a dare from Monica. Will Joey succeed without dying from a tryptophan overdose? Probably not. He’ll probably die. But first, he’ll finish off that turkey with just a small sliver of pie.
Recipe: Well, turkey recipes, by and large, tend to boil down to “rub the damn thing with butter and throw it in the oven.” But what to do with the parts of the turkey that Joey doesn’t consume? How about some turkey soup! Here’s a delicious way to repurpose the carcass and other leftovers.
Season 8, Episode 21 – “The One With The Cooking Class”
Monica does not take criticism lightly. After getting a scathing review from a food critic, everyone’s favorite chef tracked down her lone hater at a cooking class he taught on the side and made him try her bouillabaisse one more time. She couldn’t change his mind, but she did succeed in building her own confidence back up with a killer batch of chocolate chip cookies and a few kind words from another teacher. A teacher from a beginner’s class Monica crashed to build up her self-esteem. Whatever works, I guess.
Recipe: Don’t let the fancy name fool ya. Bouillabaisse is just a stew, and it’s not that difficult to prepare. Some of the optional ingredients can get a little obscure, but don’t be afraid to substitute local delicacies or easy to find options. Start here and see what you can come up with in the end. Odds are you’ll be just as deserving of Monica’s self-made silver star as she was (and Joey).
Season 10, Episode 8 – “The One With the Late Thanksgiving”
Are you new to cooking? Are all the above options a little too intimidating? Well, get it together man! You can’t even order a couple of pizzas? Okay, okay. If you must make something for your holiday festivities, then go ahead and start with the cranberry sauce. It’s low-profile, hard to mess up and, as Monica says “no one really cares about it.” Even if you can’t make the name into a not-so-clever pun with your own, the “Chanberry” sauce is an easy first step for novice chefs.
Recipe: There are three ingredients in this, the most basic recipe for cranberry sauce we could dig up. If you can’t make this 15-minute combination of cranberries, orange juice and sugar come out tasting, well, good enough, than there may be no hope for you. Better get to that Joey special before another partygoer claims it.
Kate Erbland, Liz Shannon Miller and Ben Travers contributed to this groundbreaking story and wish you all a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
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