Nov. 17, 2010 — -- How can you make sure that your turkey is done on time or that your mashed potatoes taste fresh? Sara Moulton tells you how avoid these Thanksgiving Day disasters with a few simple organizational steps.
Top 10 Thanksgiving Mistakes:
1. Trying to cook too much at the last minute.
2. Planning a menu composed of either all baked items or all stove-top items.
3. Overcooking the turkey -- it should be taken out when the leg thigh joint registers 165 F.
4. Not letting the bird rest for at least 20 minutes, or preferably 30 minutes.
If the bird is carved right after coming out of the oven all the juices will come streaming out and you will have a dry bird.
5. Opening the oven door too much when cooking the bird.
If you're going to baste the bird on a regular basis, take it out of the oven quickly and close the oven door. Baste it and then return it to the oven quickly (get a partner to open and close the door). The constant opening and closing of the door reduces the oven temperature significantly and will extend the turkey cooking time.
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture also offers these tips for how to safely roast a turkey
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6. Not removing the wishbone before carving.
You can't carve the white meat off properly and neatly if the wishbone is still in.
Top 10 Thanksgiving Mistakes
7. Over-processing the mashed potatoes.
High starch potatoes also known as baking potatoes or russets (the most famous is the Idaho) will get very gluey if you mash them too much. And whatever you do, do not puree them in the food processor; you will break it.
8. Serving hot food cold.
Have some hot stock available to pour over the sliced turkey before serving and make sure all the other dishes are properly heated.
9. Serving too much food before the actual meal.
Keep the hors d'oeuvres on the light side and don't serve too many. A cheese platter before the meal is a deadly idea.
10. Leaving the food out for hours after the big meal to be revisited later.
That is a bacterial nightmare. Prepared food should stay out at room temperature for no longer than two hours tops.