Thanksgiving Troubleshooting Tips From Alex Guarnaschelli

Last-minute food saves.

— -- You’re bound to run into last-minute snags in your Thanksgiving meal. Instead of freaking out, let celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli solve it for you. Read through the below problems -- and fixes -- to make your Turkey Day a guaranteed success.

That funky pop-up thermometer in turkeys? Use it or lose it?

By the time that pops up to indicate the turkey is cooked, it is way overcooked. Better to judge by testing the thickest thigh meat with a thermometer with a goal of 155 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Help! I thought I had a thermometer but mine doesn’t work. How can I tell if the turkey is done?

Relax. Check the juices running through the thickest part of the thigh. They should be clear and blood-free. It’s the best way to check for doneness.

My turkey is underdone and I see it as I am carving.

Cut the turkey and break into sections. Place the turkey parts on a baking sheet and pop them back into the oven to cook for a little while longer. The turkey will cook quickly if underdone pieces are smaller.

How can I repair my dry turkey?

The easiest and best remedy is coating the meat with some of your gravy when it goes on the platter and then passing additional gravy around as people serve themselves. It’s the two-pronged gravy attack.

My stuffing is soggy. Any remedy?

Place the stuffing in a flat layer on a baking sheet. Run the stuffing carefully under the broiler or just bake in a hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes to freshen it up. The upside of dressing is that it stands a better chance at being less soggy because it’s cooked outside the bird. The upside of stuffing? It gets the great taste from cooking in the cavity of the turkey. My preference? I don’t judge. It’s your call. But I love stuffing. ...

My cranberry sauce is too sweet now that I taste it. How do I fix it?

Add a splash of red wine or apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt to lessen sweetness.

My cranberry sauce is too tart. How do I fix?

I like to add some honey or even a splash of agave so that I am not stirring undissolved sugar into the sauce, making it grainy.

My mashed potatoes are good but they lack excitement. How can I zest them up?

People love the classic mashed with their turkey, but adding buttermilk or sour cream in place of half of the cream in your recipe can add a special tang that makes them more exciting and, yet, still all about the potato.

What can I do to my Brussels sprouts to make them more exciting?

Browning them in a little butter and cooking until tender and then tossing with some fresh lemon can be the best way to have them fit into all of these complex flavors. They are wonderfully nutty in their own way. Sometimes treating them more simply, without the fanfare of bacon, maple syrup, etc., can actually make them better and lighter.

Help! Vegetarians showed up unexpectedly.

Try cutting a broccoli or cauliflower head in half to make two vegetable “steaks” and roast in the oven (or stovetop in a little oil) until tender. Add a splash of lemon or red wine vinegar for brightness.

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