The task of cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is intimidating to most. No matter how easy they’re making it look, a whole lot of work goes into this spectacular feast, which means there are many potential pitfalls to watch out for. Here are some scenarios with quick fixes, brought to you by all the holiday food enthusiasts here at Food Republic.
- You know you’re supposed to brine that turkey. But what that means is still a bit of a mystery. Here’s how to brine a turkey in 8 easy steps.
- Still not sure how to carve the damn thing? Here’s how to carve a turkey.
- Feeling less than confident about your spuds? We answer the age-old question “Why do my mashed potatoes suck?” so that you can make ’em better.
- Did Aunt Mindy put you on vegetable prepping duty again? Wow her this year so she doesn’t yell because you did it wrong. She’s got enough on her hands.
- Burn the pie crust? Try to make your own pie filling and fail? Hey, it happens. Why not let someone else do the hard part of the baking and stick to dessert assembly: Pumpkin baklava is the answer.
- Run out of brown sugar? It’s going to be okay thanks to this hack.
- You absolutely, positively cannot bear to make another batch of stuffing from stale white bread cubes. Care for some fluffy, savory buttermilk waffle stuffing instead?
- Likewise, the thought of dumping cream of mushroom soup on top of green beans makes you sad. Here are 10 distinct ways to avoid that vegetable tragedy.
- The turkey’s out! But all you have is that one knife you’ve been meaning to sharpen forever. Rather than mangle that poor delicious bird, utilize the world’s easiest knife-sharpening hack.
- Did you make your gravy ahead and want to keep it warm? Now there’s an easy way to do that!
- Going all out with the sides and want to blow the crowd away with fried mac and cheese? It’s not easy, but here’s the way to do it right.
- Want to take your cocktails over the edge? Learn how to correctly flame your orange peel.
And a note on spatchcocking your turkey: Spatchcock your turkey, for crying out loud, as encouraged in our procrastinator’s guide to cooking Thanksgiving turkey! While it may seem an intimidating prospect to do something even a butcher recommends your butcher do for you, this is a task that can certainly be done at home with a surge of “fake it till you make it” confidence and a sharp, sturdy pair of poultry shears.
A note on those poultry shears: The set that came with your IKEA butcher block will literally not cut it. Poultry shears should be purchased individually for one purpose: shearing poultry. Here are our quality picks, from the basic “get it done right” to the mighty “hand these down to your favorite grandkid as an heirloom.”
Henckels International Poultry Shears, $19.95
OXO Good Grip Professional Poultry Shears, $32
- Lay the bird on a sturdy surface breast-side up, score deeply along both sides of the spine using a very sharp knife, then go in through the cavity and cut along both sides of the spine where you made the cuts. This may take a little extra time and effort if you’re tackling a very large turkey.
- Pull out the spine to use for gravy (there’s a huge amount of flavor hidden in there!), and the bird should easily lie flat. If it’s not lying perfectly flat, give it a few good pushes down with the heels of your hands.
- Trim off the visible ribs and you’re ready to go.
Now get crackin’! Prep time starts now!