Help for Thanksgiving Kitchen Emergencies

Avoid a recipe nightmare with our Kitchen-Tested problem solvers.
The Bird, Stuffing, and the Gravy

The Thanksgiving kitchen can be a bit chaotic, and mistakes are bound to crop up. Here are some surefire turkey-time tips that will come to the rescue when disaster seems imminent. Print this article and post it on your refrigerator just in case something goes awry.

The Bird

Got a stubbornly frozen bird on your hands? Place it in a clean sink full of cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. Don't be tempted to thaw at room temperature, in warm water, or in the microwave, all of which are invitations to harmful bacteria.

If the turkey breast is cooking faster than the thighs and is beginning overbrown, cover the breast of the turkey lightly with aluminum foil and continue roasting.

Stuffing

If the stuffing you've baked outside the bird in a casserole dish isn't crisp on top when it's done baking, put it under the broiler for a minute or two. You can do the same thing with the stuffing that's been baked inside the turkey; after it's done, just transfer it to a large oiled baking dish. Bake it at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes or so, and then broil it for a minute or two. It will be crisp on top and moist inside.

 
The Gravy

Gravy looking a little pale and tasting a little flat? Enrich the color and flavor with a few shakes of soy sauce, or add a teaspoon or two of instant coffee powder or unsweetened cocoa powder.

If your gravy has burned, stir in a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter to smooth out the rough edges and soften the smoky taste.

Don't salt your gravy until right before you serve it, as its flavor intensifies as it cooks. If you find that it is too salty, you can fix it a couple different ways:

  1. Peel a raw potato and cut it into large chunks and add it to the gravy. Cook it for 5 or 10 minutes then remove the potatoes.
  2. You can stir in 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vinegar.

If your gravy has separated, whirl it in a blender at low speed until it's smooth. Pour it into a clean pan and cook over very low heat.

If your gravy is too thick and pasty, whisk in a little chicken broth or dry white wine over low heat and cook until bubbly.

 
Continued on page 2:  Cranberry Sauce, Vegetables, and Pie