The countdown is on! Thanksgiving is just days away, and there's no shortage of stress. When trying to multitask in the kitchen -- roasting the turkey perfectly, making sure your sweet potatoes turn out just right and knocking your guests' socks off with a mouthwatering dessert -- it's easy to make a rookie mistake. That's why we chose this seven-point checklist to ensure your meal turns out just the way you want it – even if a few things don't go exactly as planned.
Choose Starchy Spuds for Better Mashed Potatoes
If you want perfectly fluffy mashed potatoes, look for Rusett or Idago taters, which are naturally starchy. The more starch in the potatoes, the more easily they'll fall apart and absorb all the butter, cream or other dairy products you plan on adding to them to create delicious side dishes.
Keep a Little Chicken (or Turkey) Stock Ready
This will save you if you under- or overcook your bird. If your turkey is a bit rare, bring some stock to a boil, add the undercooked meat, and cook it until it's done. On the flip side, if your turkey comes out on the dry side, add a bit of warm stock to it to add the moisture back in. It helps dry stuffing, too!
Choose the Perfect Bread for Your Stuffing
Use a thick breakfast-type bread and you'll be digging into dry-as-a-bone stuffing. Instead, choose an airy loaf, like basic Italian bread, that will soak up all the delicious flavors. The blog Serious Eats tested eight different types of bread and determined their favorites, with white sandwich bread winning out.
Choose at Least 1-2 Dishes to Serve Lukewarm or Cool
Oven space is a hot commodity on Thanksgiving day, so plan for a few dishes that can be eaten at room temperature or made before and simply nuked in the microwave. Brussels sprouts salads, wild rice salads, and chilled cranberries are just a few of the options.
Cranberry Sauce Not Cutting It? Add Booze.
New York City chef Jonathan Waxman told Food and Wine that his special trick for adding flavor to the cranberries is adding a shot of Grand Marnier and a bit of orange juice.
Be Thermometer Savvy
Need a refresher for when and where to take the turkey's temperature? The bird will ideally be 165 degrees Fahrenheit, so pull it out of the oven around 155-160 degrees since it will continue cooking after it leaves the oven. For a 14-16-pound turkey, check its temperature after 2.5 hours. For a 18-20-pound turkey, check after 3 hours. If you need additional cooking time, check every 15 minutes. When you do take the temperature, be sure to take it from the part where the thigh meets the breast.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
The surest way to stress yourself to the max is by signing up to do everything on Thanksgiving. Let your sister who loves to bake bring the dessert and put your cousin in charge of cheese and crackers as an appetizer. You can focus on the dishes you do best, which ensures an amazing event.
-- Mara Betsch
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