Holidays can be a mess… here’s how to fix it!
While it’s the most wonderful time of the year… it can also be the most stressful time of the year. And the pressure of hosting a large dinner gathering with so many things going on at once can leave you distracted in the kitchen. Which leads you to making some mistakes… no worries, it happens to the best of us! Embrace it and move on… worst case scenario: Uber eats! But for most mistakes there are simple solutions. Here’s what to do when Holiday cooking goes wrong…
-Put aluminum foil around pie crusts before baking so they don’t burn
-Bitter gravy? Strain any burnt pieces.. add brown sugar or honey to balance the bitter flavor if you don't have time to try again.
-You forgot to order a turkey! Buy a mix of turkey breasts, drumsticks, and thighs (10 pounds will feed about 8 people)
-Your bird is burning! Use a spoon or turkey baster to drizzle turkey stock all over your bird's crisping skin to help keep it moist. But be quick about it: Every time you open the door, your oven loses heat, slowing down the roasting process. Tenting is another option: Using non-stick aluminum foil, loosely cover the turkey to protect its skin from the oven's heat.
-My pumpkin/sweet potato pie has a huge crack in it! Spread some sweetened whipped cream over the top and sprinkle with cinnamon. No one will be able to tell!
My guests are really late and food is getting cold! Here's where the warm setting on slow cookers comes into play.. and warming trays. If you don't have either, set your oven to 200 degrees. Cover dishes with foil and place in oven up to 30 minutes. Have some chicken stock on hand to ass to gravies, stuffings, turkey, and veggies so that they don't get dried out.
-My thermometer broke! Whether your instant read or meat thermometer is on the fritz, the back up method is to watch the color of the turkey juices to determine doneness. This isn't the most reliable technique, but if you prick both thighs and the juices run clear, your turkey is most likely ready.
-My gravy is a mess! Lumpy? simply strain them out with a fine-mesh strainer. Too thick? Thin with stock to avoid diluting flavor. Thin gravy can be gently boiled down to reduce and thicken it. Or add a butter and flour roux or a cornstarch and water slurry. To make a roux, the ratio is 1:1 for butter and flour. Melt butter, then add flour whisk, letting the raw flour cook to a golden color before deglazing the pan. To make a slurry, combine equal parts cold water and cornstarch, whisk them slowly into your gravy, and bring the mixture to a boil to thicken.)
Do not, and I repeat.. DO NOT FRY A TURKEY INDOORS! Better yet, watch a YouTube video and remember to use a bigger pot that you think you need.. and do not fill it with oil. You need space for displacement when you add the turkey... otherwise it is a serious fire hazard.
If you’re seriously stressing, think about making it a potluck feast. Ask your guests to bring their favorite dish … just make sure to ask what each person is bringing ahead of time or assign dishes so you avoid 4 trays of mashed potatoes.
And if your family is more stressful than the cooking.. consider making a seating plan to avoid arguments and have each person’s name already at their table setting. Having a couple of games on hand is great too- get everyone in on it with something like Karaoke, Head’s Up or doing a “Talent Show.”