Thanksgiving Day Cooking Tips and Secrets
Every Thanksgiving Day my phone starts ringing off the hook with questions from panicked cooks… “My turkey is still frozen, what do I do? How do I keep the lumps out of my mashed potatoes? How can I make gluten-free gravy?”
Here are a few Thanksgiving Day cooking tips and secrets to help keep you on track:
Make sure your turkey is defrosted! Buy your bird a few days in advance so that is has plenty of time to safely defrost in the fridge. It’s never a good idea to run warm water over your turkey in order to expedite the thawing process.
If you’re expecting over 20 people buy an extra bird, or better yet, a few extra turkey breasts. Running out of turkey is frowned upon, especially on Thanksgiving Day.
Make an extra pan of stuffing- it’s always the first thing to go.
Keep plenty of butter in the fridge. I use butter in my mashed potatoes, gravy, hot dinner rolls, and a myriad of other dishes… buy unsalted. Soft butter is easier to work with- put a few pounds out the night before.
If you have a few gluten-free guests, try using rice flour, corn or potato starch, or cream of tartar as thickening agents for gravy.
Keep a few extra cans of turkey and chicken broth in the cupboard just in case you need to make more gravy on the fly!
If your dinner guests will be consuming booze before dinner, have some munchies out so they have something to snack on- drunk dinner guests can often become unruly, and asked to eat outside.
I always make at least 4 quarts of gravy- that may sound like a lot, but it’s used on every Thanksgiving food item- it’s also fantastic heated up the next day.
Make as many dishes the day before that you can. Peel potatoes and place them in a big pot of water Thanksgiving-Eve. You can also make your stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, sweet-potato casserole, pies, and green bean casserole the night before.
Keep some real whipped cream on hand for people that think Cool Whip is blech.
Make only the dishes you’re comfortable with. Don’t pick Thanksgiving Day to experiment with complicated new fare.
Mashed potatoes- If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, try using the whip attachment instead of the paddle attachment- the end result will be fluffier, lighter mashed potatoes. Don’t forget the butter and heavy- cream!
Not everyone likes pumpkin pie- have a variety of treats so that everyone is happy during dessert.
A wide selection of sides will assure that everyone will have something that they like. Prepare a few extra dishes- you will surely impress your guests.
Make sure the kiddie table doesn’t have access to sharp or electric knives.
If you have any cooking tips to add, let me know and I will post them!
Chef Chuck Kerber