How to Fix Thanksgiving Dinner Mistakes
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Thanksgiving. Just the name of the holiday alone brings to mind a mental picture of a fancy table filled with golden turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and all the fixin's and side dishes we like in our spread. For the one who’s cookin’ it all, it can be stressful to ensure juicy meat, lump-free potatoes, smooth gravy, and moist, but not overly moist, stuffing.
Whether you don’t know how long to cook a turkey or you’ve been the designated Thanksgiving chef since you learned to turn an oven on, mistakes can happen to the best of us. Even if you’ve over salted your soup, your turkey is overcooked, and your pie crust has cracked, your dinner can be saved. No really, we promise!
We've got some common Thanksgiving dinner mishaps, and how to fix 'em to ensure your day (and your gravy) runs smoothly.
Turkey Tips and Tricks
- Problem #1: It's time to start cookin' and your turkey is still frozen. Don't fret if you forgot to thaw your turkey, or even if you just ran out of time and need to start preparing it! Fill your sink with cool water and immerse the turkey, leaving it in its plastic wrap. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep the turkey chilled. If that doesn't work for you, you can still cook a turkey that's not completely defrosted - it'll just take a little longer to cook it!
- Problem #2: You spent all this time preparing your bird and it's dry as a bone. The dreaded dry turkey is a common fear among cooks, but in reality you've got nothin' to worry about! Just add some well-seasoned gravy - and lots of it! We recommend topping your turkey with our tasty Classic Pan Gravy. It'll add flavor and moisture to even the driest of meats.
- Problem #3: Everyone envisions a golden-brown turkey on Thanksgiving, and yours looks a little bland. If your turkey isn't browning quite the way you'd want it to, we've got a quick fix. Mix together some honey and melted butter and brush it on the turkey. The sugars will caramelize, creating a crispy skin, and your meat inside will stay moist.
Side Saving Secrets
- Problem #4: You got a little too salt-happy with your soup. Butternut Squash Soup sure is a tasty Thanksgiving side, but an overload of salt is the last thing you need! Toss in a peeled, quartered raw potato for 15 minutes to absorb some of the excess salt. Don't forget to take the potato out before serving!
- Problem #5: The stuffing is done cooking and it looks like it'll stick to the inside of your cheeks. Stuffing is arguably the most classic of Thanksgiving side dishes. Getting it right is key to having a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. (May we recommend our Holiday Sausage Stuffing?) If you try to serve dried out stuffing, you might have some angry guests. Luckily, this one's easy to mend. Just add some extra warm broth or butter to make it moist again. Remember to cover the entire dish so the edges aren't left dry!
- Problem #6: The opposite occurred, and your stuffing is lookin' a little soupy. Wet stuffing hardly sounds appetizing, so we've got a simple solution. Turn the stuffing onto a baking pan, break up the pieces, bake it a little longer, and then return the stuffing to its original dish! It's that easy!
- Problem #7: The mashed potatoes are a little lumpier than you prefer. So you're not a fan of lumpy potatoes - no worries! Lumpy potatoes typically mean they're a little undercooked, but to fix your potatoes in a hurry, put them over a low heat and just add some milk or cream to soften 'em up 'til they're lump free.
Tailored Turkey Toppings
- Problem #8: Your gravy is a bit chunky for the average turkey-lover's taste. Gravy can make or break your Thanksgiving meal, and we've got a sure-fire method to be confident yours will meet (and exceed) everyone's standards! If your gravy has lumps, pour it through a mesh strainer and mash out the lumps. Reheat slowly, and you've got a smooth, rich sauce!
- Problem #9: You picked out a beautiful turkey, but you don't know how to season it. If you don't know how to brine a turkey, you're in luck. We've got a step-by-step Easy Turkey Brine method to make a deliciously moist and flavorful bird. Or if you’re looking for some new Thanksgiving turkey recipes, give our Champagne Roasted Turkey a try!
- Problem #10: The gravy has too much fat. Like we said before, gravy is just one of those things you've gotta get right on Thanksgiving. It's easier than you'd expect to fix gravy with too much fat. A simple way to discard unwanted fat is to cool the liquid and skim off the top. This way, the fat will solidify and it will be a cinch to remove.
Dessert Done Right
- Problem #11: The top cracked when you took your prize-winning pie out of the oven. With dessert, if you mess it up, just dress it up! If your pie crust cracks, don't sweat it. Add a dollop of whipped cream, a sprinkle of some confectioners' sugar, or even a scoop of ice cream over the top and nobody will ever know the difference! Our Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake is perfect for Thanksgiving!
- Problem #12: You've got a lot of guests and a lot of different dessert diets to accommodate. Thought you couldn't serve dessert to those on sugar-restricted diets? Common mistake! We've got a bunch of diabetic-friendly recipes to satisfy everyone's dietary restrictions! How about preparing our Lightened Up Pumpkin Pie for a change? We've even got a tasty Pecan Pie recipe that's less than 300 calories a slice!
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