Making the Thanksgiving meal can be stressful because there are many things that can go wrong. So, here are fixes to the most common fails.
But first we’re going to make an emergency kit like an insurance policy in case of disaster. You’ll want a meat thermometer, lots of chicken broth, a packet of instant turkey gravy mix, a spray can of whipped topping and a frozen pizza.
There are few kitchen disasters that can’t be fixed. But if everything goes to heck in a cornucopia, relax. You can always serve the pizza.
Now, I’ll anticipate your calls for help.
Help! My turkey is …
Frozen: No big deal. You can cook it from frozen. Remove plastic wrapping and place turkey on a rack in a baking pan. Cook frozen turkey at 325 degrees for 23 minutes per pound. For example, an 18-pound turkey would take approximately 7 hours from frozen. After 2 hours, remove the partially cooked turkey to remove the bag of giblets from the cavity. Now, brush the turkey with butter, season with salt and pepper and return to the oven. When it’s done, use the thermometer to check for a temperature of 175 degrees at the thigh and 165 degrees at the breast. Let it rest, covered, before slicing.
Raw: It’s still pink inside? Well, stick it back in the oven and use that thermometer. If you’re running out of wine and the biggest issue is time, cut the bird into pieces — whole breasts, legs and thighs — and pop them on a sheet pan and stick ‘em back in the oven to quickly continue cooking.
Dry: Thickly slice the dry turkey and place into a baking dish. Add chicken broth to cover and stick it in the oven for about 10 minutes. And make extra gravy.
Help! My potatoes are …
Lumpy: They’re probably undercooked. Stop mashing and find a lump and smoosh it, if it feels solid, put the pan back on low heat, cook until softened and mash again.
Gluey: Oh, no, you over mashed the potatoes, releasing starch, resulting in wallpaper paste. So, never use your food processor or mixer to mash potatoes. A good old-fashioned potato masher does the trick. If it’s too late and you’ve got gluey potatoes, mix in a bunch of cheese and butter and season liberally. Put the potato mixture in a shallow casserole dish and top with buttered breadcrumbs. Bake until your “potato casserole” is lightly browned on top. And make extra gravy.
Help! My gravy is …
Lumpy: Easy fix. Pour your gravy through a fine mesh strainer and reheat.
Thin: Mix 3 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch with enough cold water to make a smooth paste. Whisk this into the gravy a bit at a time, letting the gravy simmer until thickened to your liking. Or, add some of that instant gravy packet from your insurance policy.
Bland: Most likely, it needs more salt. Add some chicken or vegetable bouillon. Or, add that emergency gravy packet and some broth.
Help! My stuffing is …
Dry: Melt a tablespoon of butter into a cup of warm chicken stock. Add to the stuffing and mix well. Cover and put it back in the oven for about 5 minutes to reheat. And make extra gravy.
Soggy: Spread your stuffing out on a rimmed baking sheet and put it in the oven to dry out a bit.
Help! My dessert has …
Burnt crust: Carefully remove the crust and either add a crumb topping. Mix flour, oats, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Sprinkle it over the filling and bake until golden. Or, use the whipped topping in your emergency kit to pipe a pretty boarder.
Cracked: If your cheesecake or pumpkin pie has a cracked top, use the whipped topping to make a pretty design over the top.