Thanksgiving Day can be fraught with culinary anxiety–it is the biggest food holiday of the year, after all. So what’s one to do when there’s a true day-of kitchen disaster? First: don’t panic! Chef Candy Argondizza, vice president of culinary and pastry arts at Manhattan’s International Culinary Center has all the help you need.
The turkey is still frozen: Turkeys should be defrosted in the fridge for at least two days before cooking. But, if time got away from you and your turkey is still frozen, put it in a bucket with cool running water until defrosted (it could take a couple of hours, but better late than never!).
The bird is browning too quickly: This one’s easy–tent the turkey with aluminum foil to prevent any more browning.
You over-roasted the turkey, and it’s dry: This is the most common problem, because the breasts and legs cook at different rates. If it happens to you, add hot turkey or chicken stock to the meat once it has been sliced, which will help add moisture back. Just don’t put the jus over the turkey before slicing, because you will make the crispy skin soggy.
The mashed potatoes came out gluey or lumpy: The reason for this is usually cooking the potatoes and letting them cool too long before mashing and adding milk or cream, which allows the starch to build up and become gluey. Or, alternatively, you did not cook the potatoes long enough–to prevent this in the future, always test one to see if it’s fork tender before removing them all. For now, try running the potatoes through a food mill or blender to smooth them out, then add hot milk and cream to loosen the starch. Milk and cream should always be heated before adding to the potatoes, which allows the potatoes to absorb more liquid and results in a much smoother finish.
The gravy is lumpy: Blitz the sauce with an immersion or regular blender, then pass it through a fine strainer to eliminate any remaining lumps.