Thanksgiving is always a time for experimentation for me and I never fail to make a few mistakes along the way. Normally I keep the pizza parlor number on quick dial if mistakes are too big to fix when trying to get a normal weekday dinner on the table, but this is Thanksgiving. I could never ever serve the family pizza for the holiday dinner…Pasta maybe, but not pizza! So I have compiled notes over the years on how to fix my “Oops’s”. Here are some of them. I will save myself the embarrassment of telling you how I got into some of these predicaments. I am sure your imagination or your own experimentation will answer your own curiosity.
1. Need Leg Room – Give the turkey a first class seat. Use a generous size roasting pan with plenty of room to spare on all sides of the turkey. Preferably a heavy-duty pan, not the disposable foil kind that may (and will) collapse.
2. Probes Work – Use a probe thermometer that stays in the turkey (preferably deep in the thigh not touching bone) and remove bird from oven no sooner than 160 degrees F. DO NOT trust those sill little pop-up do-hickies that typically come with the grocery store bird.
2a. Revive dried-out meat with plenty of hot stock or gravy.
3. No Hack Job – Remove the legs and slice the meat and place on serving plate. Do the same with the breast meat; remove the breast meat from the bird and place on cutting board and slice against the grain. Do me one favor – please do not try to recreate the Saturday Evening Post Cover photo with “Pops” carving the turkey and “Mother” standing next to him with apron on and a glazed look of love and wonder (ie. way to much wine while prepping the whole day) as she watches him carve the giant beast (turkey) at the dinner table while the rest of the family wait with bated breathe… It doesn’t work that way!
4. Forgot To Stir – Burned the soup? Do not dislodge the mess at the bottom. Just transfer to a new part and leave the scorched stuff behind..soaking…in the sink…for hours…
5. Wallpaper Paste? – Invest in a ricer if you prefer super smooth mashed potatoes. A hand masher works well too. Electric mixers will beat the day lights out of the potatoes and make a very gluey glutenous mess. Use a russet baking style potato or a yukon gold.
6. Ultimate Meltdown – This happens to the young and inexperienced cook who takes on more than they can handle. Ask for help and enjoy the livelihood in the kitchen. Turn up the music, dance, sip some wine and have some fun cooking while everyone is enjoying as well.
7. Lumpy and Limp – Whether using flour or cornstarch to thicken your gravy, always loosen it with quarter cup or so of cool liquid (broth or water) before adding to hot gravy/pan drippings. If you still get lumps, strain through a sieve. Also, dress your greens and/or vegetables right before serving so they stay crisp and colorful.
So there you have it. Good luck and most importantly have fun. Thanksgiving is not just the meal, but all the events of the day you share with those you love! Be Thankful we have a holiday like this to give Thanks!!