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19 Thanksgiving Questions and How to Save your Dinner
Need help answering the Thanksgiving questions crossing your mind? Don't worry; I have got your back. If you have wondered why your feast turns into a mess every time you aren't looking, you are not alone. Each year, lots of cooks get the not-so-pleasant surprise of a partially or completely ruined Thanksgiving meal.
Sometimes the turkey is as dry as the
Sahara Desert, or the potatoes are ideal to mold jars. Angry
relatives, disappointed friends, and upset children are the result of
the mishap. It is my intention to help you do what
you need to do in case any of those disasters threaten to show their
head into your kitchen. 99.9% of the time you can avoid them by
following a few easy-to-do steps.
The 19 Thanksgiving Questions you Need to be Answered
Cooking is not an easy task and the
more help you can get the better for you. Here is a list of the most
often asked questions during the Thanksgiving celebration and their
1. How do I know when the turkey is done?
Knowing when the turkey is ready is vital. There are several ways you can do this. The easiest way by far is by using an instant-read thermometer. Place and check it in the thickest area of the upper thigh about one minute before the turkey is finished. The temperature should be around 180°F (82°C). Take readings every 15 minutes to make sure it remains steady.
Another way to do it is by using the more traditional meat thermometer. Before putting the turkey in the oven, you must place the meat thermometer in the upper thigh. Remember to avoid touching the bone with the thermometer, or you won't get the proper reading. When it reaches 180°F (82°C), the turkey is ready.
detail a lot of people forget is that if you are cooking the stuffing
inside the turkey, you also need to check the temperature at
the center of it.
As soon as you get the right
temp in the meat, take the thermometer (either meat or instant-read)
and place it in the stuffing. A reading of 165 °F
means the turkey is ready to go.
2. What is the best way to use the leftovers?
you want to maximize the yield of your leftovers, there are one or
two things you can do. There isn't a right or wrong answer, by the
way, just the one you like the most. Take the remaining turkey, cut
it into smaller pieces, and mix it with any leftover potatoes. Take
the newly concocted hash and brown it in a skillet for a crispy
texture. You can take it to the next level by pouring some gravy over
it for extra flavor.
3. Is it bad to cook the stuffing inside the turkey?
Most people love to cook the stuffing inside the turkey; however, it may not be the best idea. As you cook the turkey, the stuffing inside may remain several degrees below the temperature of the turkey. So, for example, if the thermometer inserted in the turkey reads 180 °F (82 °C), you are likely to believe that the stuffing is ready but that isn't the case.
Experts suggest that you either cook it outside or keep it inside the turkey for longer. Now, if you leave the bird too long in the oven just to make sure the stuffing is well-cooked, you risk a dry turkey.
So what can you do?
Cook the stuffing
outside. That is the simplest way to ensure your guests' safety and
getting that crispy texture
we all love.
4. Is it possible to have all dishes ready at the same time?
One of the most stressful things when making a Thanksgiving dinner is to make sure everything is in place to be eaten at the right time. It isn't an easy task to have a turkey, pumpkin pies, potatoes, and other side dishes done at the same time when your guests are prepared to chow down. You have to be some kind of superhero, or even better, a master planner.
your side dishes in advance and reheating them later
will make everything easier, but that's not
the only thing you can do. There is the alternative of putting them
together just after the turkey is finished and out of the oven. The
only thing you need
to do is cover the turkey with aluminum foil and wrap with a towel to
prevent it from getting cold while your side dishes get cooked.
5. How can I store the turkey?
While cooking your turkey correctly is a must, keeping it in mint condition for its debut shouldn't be overlooked. You can always store it in the freezer, but there's a more efficient way of doing it.
Get a big tray and
place it at the
bottom of the fridge. This is the reserved spot for your turkey. The
tray is there to prevent any juices from spilling and making a mess.
Your future Thanksgiving main course should be stashed for about 4 days
prior the big day. Also, do not remove it from its packaging
unless you are ready to season it.
6. What if I cook mashed potatoes ahead of time, is it any good?
potatoes the night
before your Thanksgiving meal is an excellent idea. Not only will it
help you save time, but also simplify your life during the tense the
moments of turkey cooking. I'm well aware that some people have
gotten grainy or gluey
potatoes after storing them; however, there are ways around it.
Adding a bit of extra heavy cream
among other ingredients can preserve the potatoes'
flavor and consistency.
7. How can I get yummy crispy roasted potatoes?
In addition to the turkey, your potatoes must be in pretty good shape if you want to impress your guests. One approach to doing this is by delivering crunchy roasted potatoes to your table. Not many dishes can match the tenderness of a well-done turkey with the crunchy-but-soft-at-the-same-time potatoes.
You can easily do
this by first
parboiling the potatoes in water before any roasting takes place.
Once they are done, scrape them a bit to increase their surface area
and finally throw them in a baking tray with some olive oil.
8. How big should the turkey be?
all depends on
how hungry your guests are (just kidding). A good rule of thumb is to
plan for 1 pound of turkey per person. So for 15 people, a 15-pound
turkey is good enough. That doesn't mean each is eating one pound of
turkey as only some parts of the turkey are edible. It will be closer
to 8 ounces of meat or less per guest. Still, that's more than
9. Which is better, a big turkey or two small ones?
I think two small turkeys are better than one. Why? It isn't a secret that large birds take longer and are harder to cook evenly. Getting the precise moisture you want is more challenging for the big ones as well.
turkeys, everybody wins. They are easier to cook, moist, and can make
your guests happier. You will have more variety in the turkey pieces
as some people are fascinated by the wings and the drumsticks rather
than the breast (my father is one of them).
10. What if I want to deep fry a turkey?
If you want to deep fry a turkey, go for it. However, there are a few things you must keep in mind. First, always deep fry the turkey by itself. Why? The stuffing turns into a giant oily mess when it falls out of the turkey. Second, do it in an open space like the porch or the backyard. You want a lot of ventilation when deep frying.
Here is quick video answering common Thanksgiving questions:
11. Can I just cook the frozen turkey?
Nope, it will never
work. If you risk
it, the most you will get is burned skin with a frozen solid
interior. Even if you set the oven to a very high temperature, it
won't make a difference. In other words, this a huge don't in
12. What can I do if my guests are vegetarians?
You could always cook a tofu turkey, or another vegetarian “meat” as there are different alternatives in the freezer area of most grocery stores. And you can also still make great mashed potatoes with a dairy free milk (unsweetened) and “butter” spread or an amazing potato salad with vegetable mayonaisse.
a shepherd's pie filled with veggies,
vegetable “meat” or chopped
mushrooms (instead of ground beef), as an extra side dish is an
almost guaranteed success.
13. How can I defrost a turkey fast?
There are several possible approaches to do this. The ideal one is leaving it in the fridge on a tray for 3 to 4 days (1 day per 4 lbs).
Another one, which is
more of a quick
fix, is submerging it in
water in a large cooler or the sink (still wrapped in the packaging).
The breast part should be facing the bottom, and you should rotate it
every 30 minutes. Water must be cold and changed hourly.
14. Can I use a
slow cooker to prepare any part of the Thanksgiving meal?
To save time read some tips for leaving them already set up.
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