Thanksgiving Questions, Answered!



For the next few days, I'll post some questions and answers of course, about Thanksgiving food, cooking and the general stress and madness associated with our greatest feast day.

Let's talk Triage--Tell us how to save a turkey from the brink of inedibility?

Turkey is a tricky one--it is really hard to WRECK turkey unless it is

a. raw or

b. burnt.

So if the turkey is raw---open another bottle of wine and have another canape or six while you wait. This always works.

If it is really, really raw, have some pumpkin pie and have turkey later.

If it is overcooked, or burnt, there is only one way out--more gravy! Gravy is the panacea of many an overlooked beast.

Really, though, if the turkey is not cooking to your dinner timing, here are a few tips.

1. Remove the legs and thighs from the bird. They cook much slower than the breast as they are dark muscle with more liquid (blood). The breast is usually done a solid hour before the deepest part of the thigh on a 20 pound turkey. Ever wonder why the breast is often dry?

2. Add steam. Steam speeds up the bird's cooking, though it will keep the skin from getting as crisp as you may like. Solution? Tent the turkey with foil and pour some boiling water into the roasting pan to create steam,. Enough water to cover the bottom of the pan with 1/4 in deep of water will do. You can repeat this when the water has evaporated.

3. Desperation- Ok, so the natives are restless and they are on the verge of revolt.

It's Chef Mike to the rescue. Who is chef Mike? The MICROWAVE. While I do NOT recommend this as regular practice, in this situation, when the spears are flying and your own carcass is in the line, all will be forgiven. You can always carve enough turkey to feed Uncle Hal and assuage the disapproving Aunt Sophia. Put the slices on a place with a lil h20 and zap it for a minute or two to cook out the pinkness. Yes, it is a desperate measure, but in a pinch, it will cook your bird in stages and, in the words of Alton brown, you will survive to cook another day.

For Sides survival, remember--Don't try to do everything in one day. Thanksgiving was set on a Thursday so we can have all week to get the little things done. Things like mashed winter squash and yams and braised cabbage can be made up to three days in advance and simply reheated in the oven. Make them on Sunday and stash them, they are not leftovers because you haven't eaten half of them first. They are consciously pre prepped dishes. Tell everyone how much better they now taste once the flavors have had time to mingle. That line always works. Very good.

PS-- In a desperate pinch, serve frozen spinach or frozen cauliflower in cheesy bechamel sauce


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