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Tips for Solving 6 Thanksgiving Dinner Dilemmas



Thanksgiving dinner is no ordinary meal—and, correspondingly, Thanksgiving dinner-related dilemmas are no ordinary mistakes. Guests have traveled from near and far to attend, and you’ve dropped a pretty penny on all the ingredients—not to mention the hours you’ve spent in the kitchen over the past few days. With so much pressure, it’s easy for a small cooking hiccup to escalate rather quickly.

You’ll be happy to hear that most Thanksgiving dinner dilemmas can be fixed. We’ve got all the secrets on how to flip things around—with haste—below.

The Turkey is Still Frozen
You swore you put the turkey in the fridge with plenty of time to thaw—or, yikes, you didn’t know you had to thaw it out at all. It’s now the morning of Thanksgiving and you’ve got a partially or totally frozen bird.

If your turkey is partially frozen, leave it in its wrapper. Fill the sink with cold water and place your turkey in the bath, breast-side down. Every half hour, drain the sink and refill it with cold water. If your turkey is only a little bit frozen, it shouldn’t take long to thaw out. Otherwise, estimate half an hour per pound.

If your turkey is totally frozen, you’re actually in a better position—you can cook your turkey from frozen. It’s the in-between state that can be dangerous, so you’re safe to pop it in the oven if it’s hard as a rock—just know that it’ll need a little extra time in the oven.

The Turkey is Dry
Turkey is a fickle, fickle bird. It’s not easy to get the dark meat properly cooked without drying out the white meat, so this is a common issue.

Consider that a little gravy can cover a lot of sins. If your turkey is only a little dried out, make sure your gravy boat is nice and full. You can also try brushing or misting on some chicken stock after the turkey has been carved. It won’t reverse the damage, but it might fool your guests.

The Turkey Isn’t Cooked Yet
Your guests are hungry, but the turkey is taking longer to cook then you anticipated. It’s time to speed things up. First, set out a bunch of nibbles to keep your guests busy. Then, take the turkey out and cut it into smaller segments. You’ll miss the Thanksgiving turkey photo op, but the smaller pieces will cook much faster.

If you can’t bear to cut the bird prematurely, cover it in tin foil and turn up the heat. You can go as high as 450 degrees.

The Gravy is Lumpy
Those clumps floating around your gravy look a little unappetizing—let’s fix that. Pull out the strainer and pass the gravy through, catching the lumps and keeping them out of the gravy boat. You can also use an immersion blender to puree the clumps away—no one will ever know.

You Need, Like, 3 More Ovens
If you don’t have one of those fancy chefs kitchens, you’re probably puzzled as to how you can cook the turkey while simultaneously roasting the vegetables and baking the pie. And don’t even get started on the limited number of pots, pans, and stove burners…

First, consider what can be done ahead of time. For instance, you can make your mashed potatoes in advance and give them a quick re-heat just before serving. You can probably sneak your roast veggies in with your turkey towards the end of the cooking time—just allow for a little extra time if the temperature is on the lower end. You can prep your pie ahead of time and toss it in the oven while everyone is eating. Chances are good that no one will mind waiting a few extra minutes after the feast for dessert.

You Forgot the…
No matter how well you plan, how many lists you make, and how many trips to the grocery store you take, you’ll probably still forget a key ingredient or two.

First, consider how key the ingredient really is. Your guests might not notice you’re missing a particular herb if the recipe already calls for two other kinds of herbs. If you can’t skip it, see if you can delegate it to a family member or an en-route guest. Check to see if you happen to have any substitutes on hand—Google “substitute for ____” and see what suggestions pop up. If all else fails, scrap the dish. Unless it’s the turkey itself, you probably have plenty of other food ready to serve up.

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