Even the most seasoned of home cooks is susceptible to a kitchen disaster, especially on such a high-stress occasion as Thanksgiving. Despite your best efforts, the mashed potatoes turn out gluey. Cook a new-to-you turkey recipe, and it comes out dry. These things happen, and the most graceful of cooks knows to take them in stride.
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To arm you with as many tricks as you can fit up your festively colored sleeve, we've outlined some of the most common Thanksgiving fails — and how to fix them.
This is nothing a little (or a lot of) gravy can't fix. Pour it on generously, and make sure your mashed potatoes have healthy doses of cream and butter in them.
2. Those mashed potatoes came out gluey or lumpy
Make a well in the top of gluey potatoes, put a pat of butter in it to melt, and sprinkle on a little paprika. This will hide all ills. And, as with the aforementioned turkey, don't forget the gravy. For a lumpy mash, push them through a strainer or sieve — it's messy, but it works.
Haven't made your stuffing yet? Assuming the vegetables aren't so salty that they're inedible, add them to your stuffing and don't add any additional salt. Conversely, you can add these to an unseasoned soup, or save them for Friday morning and make your guests an impressive frittata.
4. There's not enough gravy
If you can, make extra drippings and/or stock the day before with whatever poultry you can get your hands on. Use this to stretch the gravy you have, or add in other flavorful additions like wine, pre-made stock, and herbs.
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As soon as you can, soak the bird in cold (never hot!) water, changing the water every 30 minutes. It should take about 30 minutes per pound. Then, cook it immediately. If you're left with a frighteningly short amount of time to cook it, try spatchcocking your bird — it will cut your cooking time almost in half.
Tell us: what are your best tips for saving the day in a pinch?
This article originally appeared on Food52.com: 5 Thanksgiving Disasters and How to Fix Them.
Food52 helps people become better, smarter, happier cooks. Food52 was named 2012 Publication of the Year by the James Beard Foundation and won Best Culinary Website at the 2013 IACP awards.