So You Forgot to Defrost the Turkey. Here?s How to Fix It
Plus 6 other Thanksgiving meal saves
Certain things make for fond Thanksgiving memories: the smell of cinnamon and spice in the air, pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream…and a fully cooked turkey. But sometimes not everything goes exactly according to plan. Hey, we’re all human. With these solutions for the most common kitchen crises, you and your guests can still enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving feast.
PROBLEM: TOO MANY DISHES, NOT ENOUGH OVEN
Solution: Choose dishes that can be made ahead of time and refrigerated—pies, gratins, certain veggies. Plan to make them the day before. Then flag meal items that will take the longest (e.g., the turkey) and work backward from the time you want to eat, adding an extra 10 minutes per recipe. Group dishes that can be cooked at the same temp and set separate timers for each so you don’t accidentally overcook anything.
PROBLEM: THE TURKEY WASN’T FULLY DEFROSTED
Solution: Make sure the cheese, crackers and other appetizers are plentiful and keep the wine flowing. By the second glass, no one will notice the turkey is taking forever. Meanwhile, bump up the oven temp as high as 450°F and cover the turkey in tinfoil (so the skin doesn’t get too crackly). Add an extra two minutes per pound of turkey and then check the internal temp with a heat thermometer until it’s cooked through.
PROBLEM: THE STUFFING IS DRY
Solution: Liquid is your friend. Add a splash of broth (veggie or chicken are good options) or even something like apple juice for a slightly sweeter stuffing. Mix and keep adding liquid until the consistency is to your liking.
PROBLEM: THE GRAVY IS TOO THIN
Solution: Stay calm. All you should need is a thickener. Get out the cornstarch (1½ teaspoons per 1 cup of liquid), dissolve it in a little cold water, add it to your gravy and stir over medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens.
PROBLEM: YOU DIDN’T BUY ENOUGH SWEET POTATOES
Solution: Mashed isn’t the only way to serve sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. Think about adding chunks of apples (cooked with some brown sugar until softened) to chunks of sweet potato or topping the potatoes with a layer of bananas sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon. Pop the whole thing into the oven and bake at 375°F for about 45 minutes. Voilà, you have a whole new dish.
PROBLEM: THE CRANBERRY SAUCE ISN’T JELLING
Solution: First, congrats for making your own instead of plopping the canned stuff onto a platter. Second, note that jelling is a product of pectin and sugars reacting to each other. And that means a good amount of boiling. Start by turning up the heat and cooking longer. If it still needs some heft, add more sugar (this is the ingredient necessary for the thickening). Cool at room temperature instead of in the refrigerator to help the firming-up process along.
PROBLEM: THE PIE CRUST IS BROWNING
Solution: Since the edge is always the first to brown, cover it with a strip of aluminum foil, shaped to the pie plate, while the filling continues to bake.