Fixes & Help for Thanksgiving Disasters
1. Unexpected Guests
The more the merrier, right? Buying a backup boneless turkey breast or two will make feeding any late additions to your table a no-brainer. A 2-1/2-pound boneless turkey breast can be fully roasted in less than 2 hours. (The upside? Those guests might be toting with them some edible gifts or potluck recipes for your spread.)
2. Lumpy Potatoes
While some guests might enjoy chunky mashers, lumpy mashed potatoes are usually undercooked. Make your potatoes even creamier by pouring in some milk or cream and cooking your potatoes over low heat until the lumps disappear. Tip for the future: Test your potatoes' doneness by inserting a knife into the middle and seeing if it slides out easily.
3. Not-So-Smooth Gravy
A roux can be very temperamental; if you pour in the flour quickly, you'll end up with clumps. Avoid the clumps altogether by sprinkling the flour gradually and evenly over the gravy and incorporating it slowly. If you end up with a case of the clumps, try combining 1 part flour with 3 parts warm water and whisking into the gravy, then simmering to eliminate the raw-flour taste. If all else fails, just dump your gravy into a blender and puree.
4. Underestimated Turkey Cook Time
You've made a strict cooking and dining schedule that your turkey just doesn't seem to want to follow. If it's getting down to the wire, remove your turkey from the oven and separate the breasts, legs and thighs, then continue to roast. This will significantly reduce your oven time while making it easier for you to prevent any part of the bird from overcooking. Don't worry about the lack of a whole-bird presentation; it all gets carved and served on a platter anyway, right?
5. Cracked Pumpkin Pie or Cheesecake
If your custard has cracked (most likely due to overcooking or cooling too quickly), just top it decoratively with whipped cream. (You can't go wrong with either of these dessert favorites; they'll still be delicious.) To avoid cracked custards in the future, bake until only just set and not a minute longer. To cool the custard, turn off the oven and keep the door ajar, letting it get to room temperature before refrigerating.