10 Thanksgiving Disasters and How to Fix Them

I don’t think I have had one Thanksgiving that went as planned. Every year, without fail, something does not turn out right. I remember my first really big Thanksgiving that I hosted, my turkey was seriously dry. On another year,  I somehow made my dressing way too wet.  And one year I’ll never forget, a squeamish family member nearly threw out my turkey giblet stock that had been simmering all day, because she said it looked disgusting. Oh, and I can’t tell you how many years I have forgot the cranberries. I have also had many other kitchen mishaps happen to me, like catching my hand mixer on fire while whipping the potatoes, dropping the uncooked turkey on the floor, and leaving the neck in the turkey.

I know that even with the cooking experience I have, something will go wrong this Thanksgiving. And I’m okay with that, because I know how to fix or cover up just about anything. So just in case something goes wrong in your kitchen this Thanksgiving, here’s 10 Thanksgiving Day disasters and tips on how to fix them, so you can enjoy a stress-free holiday.

  • Turkey is still frozen 1 of 10
    Turkey is still frozen
    Maybe you didn't start thawing your turkey in time, or maybe you just bought it yesterday, and it's still an icy mess. Don't worry, you can thaw it quickly and safely in cold water. Just put your turkey in a large pot (or your clean kitchen sink). Then submerge your turkey in COLD water. Then change the water every 30 minutes until turkey is thawed. A 8 to 12 lb turkey takes about 4 to 6 hours; 12 to 16 pounds takes 6 to 8 hours; 16 to 20 pounds takes 8 to 10 hours; and 20 to 24 pounds takes 10 to 12 hours. Then to further reduce your cooking time, cut the bird up the same way you would a chicken, before roasting. See this video for instructions on cutting up a turkey.
    If there's no time to thaw, you can safely roast a frozen bird. You just have to add 50% more cooking time for it.
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  • Top of turkey is burning, and turkey is browning unevenly 2 of 10
    Top of turkey is burning, and turkey is browning unevenly
    This one is an easy fix. Just get some aluminum foil and shape it so it will fit over the breast of your bird. The foil will protect your turkey from burning too much on the top and give the rest of the bird a chance to brown.
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  • Turkey breast is dry and strigy 3 of 10
    Turkey breast is dry and strigy
    Okay, first off, don't carve your turkey as shown in the photo above. See this tutorial from my friend Georgia on how to properly carve your bird. After you have cut the whole breast off the bird, and have sliced it in thick slices against the grain, dip it in warm chicken or turkey stock. Then cover it in gravy. No one will ever know.
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  • Turkey pink and bloody 4 of 10
    Turkey pink and bloody
    You take out your browned bird from the oven and you go to cut off a drumstick, and out pours turkey blood. The meat is pink and raw. Don't worry, it's okay. Keep cutting up the bird, as shown in this tutorial. Add it back to the roasting pan, and return the turkey to the oven. Cutting it in pieces will cut down on the cooking time. Make sure to cook until the internal temperature of the meat is 165°, or until the juices of the bird run clear and meat is no longer pink.
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  • Lumpy Gravy 5 of 10
    Lumpy Gravy
    Okay your gravy does not look like grandma's or the one shown above. It's a hot lumpy mess. Don't stress. You can either pour it in your blender and puree it, puree it with an immersion blender, or strain it.
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  • Burned Gravy Roux 6 of 10
    Burned Gravy Roux
    Okay you wanted a rich dark brown roux for your Grandma's famous turkey gravy. You patiently went through the blonde stage of your roux, and all the brown stages, and somehow it got away from you. Now it's burned. Unfortunately there's a thin line between dark brown and burned, and there's absolutely no way to fix it. This one your going to have to start over on. To avoid burning again, you might want to settle for a lighter brown roux for your gravy.
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  • Mashed potatoes are gooey and glue like 7 of 10
    Mashed potatoes are gooey and glue like
    This is a predicament I have been in myself in more times than I would like to admit. Your going for fluffy whipped potatoes, and you come out with a glue-like hot mess. It's okay. Spread your potatoes over the largest casserole or baking dish you have, so that they are in a thin layer. Then top with shredded cheese and bake until melted and lightly browned.
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  • Pumpkin (or other pie) Pie is cracked 8 of 10
    Pumpkin (or other pie) Pie is cracked
    This one is a super easy fix. Just dollop a big spoonful of whipped cream on your pumpkin or sweet potato pie. For a messy apple pie that just won't come out of the pie plate in one piece, just à la mode it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • Burnt marshmallows on sweet potato casserole 9 of 10
    Burnt marshmallows on sweet potato casserole
    You meant to return your sweet potato casserole to the oven for just a few minutes to lightly brown your marshmallows under the broiler, but you started talking to Aunt Gina and smoke started to fill the kitchen. The marshmallow topping on your sweet potato casserole is a firey black mess. It's okay. Just blow out the flames, peel off the burnt marshmallows and try again.
  • The dog ate the turkey. 10 of 10
    The dog ate the turkey.
    Your bird dog is on point in the kitchen staring down your bird. Your chatting up your friends and family before you begin to carve the bird. Then your cousin just insists on showing you the pics of her new nephew. You walk over to the table, and while everyone is ooing and awwing over the cutest baby in the world, Ginger, your bird dog, has managed to swipe the turkey off the counter and has ran away with it.
    Hey this could happen, and has happened. If it happens to you, don't despair. Just enjoy the rest of dinner, and go to your local deli the next day and get then to cut a few lbs. of roast turkey breast, so you can enjoy some turkey leftovers for sandwiches.
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Tell me about your Thanksgiving food disasters and how you were able to fix them in the comments below.


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