Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Disaster Averted: Thanksgiving Edition

So you have done all of the prep you possibly can and everything is organized and ready to go.  But obviously the day comes and something is bound to go wrong.  Here are some quick fix tips to solve any major Thanksgiving disaster!

1. Turkey
Either the turkey is underdone or overdone, neither of which is good for Thanksgiving.
If your bird is underdone: Most of the time the turkey breasts cook faster than the dark meat on the bird.  If you find this happening while you are cooking, cover just the white meat with aluminum foil and uncover the dark meat.  If the bird is already out of the oven and you notice your dark meat is pink, here is the best cover up.  Put the whole bird on the table so everybody can see it and thinks you made the most perfect turkey ever.  Bring it back into the kitchen and cut off the breasts, slice them up and serve them.  While everybody is eating the white meat, have the dark meat cooking in the oven until it isn't pink anymore.  Slice that up and serve it.  Then nobody is waiting for the turkey to be done and you aren't killing anybody by serving raw poultry!
If your bird is overdone: The best way to avoid this disaster is to keep basting the bird.  If you find the turkey has been left in the oven too long and has turned dark, just peel the skin off.  Nobody will notice missing turkey skin when it is all sliced up on a beautiful platter.  If it is dry on the inside, after it has been sliced, pour all of the leftover pan juices over the sliced turkey.  They will look shiny and moist and absorb some juice.  And to be honest, there is so many things on the plate already the turkey will probably get mixed with 5 different other things and nobody will notice its dryness.  And another quick tip: Gravy makes everything delicious and moist.  Use this to your advantage!

2. Stuffing
There are always so many problems caused by stuffing the bird with stuffing.  Either the stuffing is overdone while the bird is raw, or the turkey is done and our stuffing still has not come up to temperature.  Here is some advice: Don't stuff your bird.  The raw juices soak into the stuffing, and even though heat can kill the bacteria, since the stuffing is all the way inside your 15 lb turkey, it is the last thing to get hot.  If you must have a stuffed bird, cook your stuffing separately and put it into the bird after everything has been cooked (and no raw bacteria can contaminate the food).  But honestly, make things easy and just serve your stuffing on the side.

3. Gravy
So I have already said that gravy can really cover up any kind of disaster, but what happens if the gravy is a disaster itself?  If you notice your gravy gets lumps once you add flour or constarch, quickly shut the eat off and continue whisking.  Then run it through some kind of sieve without pressing anything through.  What happens if you burn the gravy? Again quickly shut off the pan and pour it into something else without scraping anything off the bottom.  Most of the burnt part will be left in the pan.  And here is another little gravy secret: Keep some store bought gravy and packets on hand.  No harm in making a semi-homemade Thanksgiving.  These store bought alternatives do the same thing as the homemade version.  Moisten anything that has been made dry and fulfill the once a year gravy craving.

4. Mashed Potatoes
So mashed potatoes are usually everybody's favorite, so messing these up isn't the ideal situation.  To avoid lumpy mashed potatoes, use a ricer or food mill.  If your mashed potatoes get gluey add some sour cream and cheese, put it in a baking cheese with bread crumbs on top and bake them in the oven.  The dry heat of the oven will take the gluey texture out and then your guests think they got some new fancy potato dish.  Same thing goes for mashed potatoes as the gravy: Have on hand some store bought option.  These are always creamy and fluffy and can be made in the blink of an eye if a disaster strikes at the last minute.

5. Pies
So pies can be difficult to make.  Especially Thanksgiving ones like pumpkin and pecan pie.  I am sure everybody has made a soupy pecan pie or a cracked pumpkin pie.  For the pecan pie, always have lots of ice cream on hand.  Spoon ice cream into cups and scoop the filling on top with whipped cream.  Then crumble up the crust for an additional crunch and call it deconstructed pecan pie.  For the pumpkin pie, if you find that is has cracked.  Pipe pretty mounds of whipped cream on top.  Now you look like a fancy cake decorator and I am sure nobody will complain about additional whipped cream. 

So hopefully none of these disasters will happen to you, but if they do here are some quick fixes.  Some of these fixes I might just do from the beginning (Pecan pie sundae sounds pretty good to me).  Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Pin It Now!