Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season and an important day for family gatherings. So, there's a lot of pressure to produce an amazing meal. You need beautifully cooked bird, stellar stuffing, lump-free potatoes, picture-perfect pies, velvety gravy and so much more. Don't panic if everything doesn't go according to plan! These easy turkey tips, gravy hacks and stuffing fixes from chef Curtis Stone will set your holiday back on track.
Your stuffing is too soggy.
Transfer the stuffing to a baking sheet or cookie sheet. Break it up to disperse it evenly over the baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, at 375°F for about 15 minutes.
Your stuffing is too dry.
Toss the stuffing with a mixture of warm broth and melted butter until lightly moistened. Cover with foil and bake until heated through.
Your gravy is lumpy.
Those little lumps are undissolved bits of starch and are easy to remove. Simply strain the gravy through a fine sieve. Allow the mixture to strain without pressing it through the sieve. If the gravy is too thin after straining, quickly thicken the gravy by adding extra starch: Mix together 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 2 teaspoons cold chicken broth or water or combine 1 tablespoon flour with 1 tablespoon room-temperature butter to form a paste. Whisk either combination into the warm gravy and simmer until the gravy thickens. If the gravy then becomes too thick, whisk in warm chicken or turkey broth a little at a time.
You can avoid lumps by whisking your roux vigorously as you slowly pour the cool broth into the pan. Alternatively, you can blend the gravy in a blender until smooth.
Your gravy is bland.
Toss the turkey neck in a roasting pan with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400°F until brown, about 20 minutes. Place the pan on a burner, add 2 cups broth, a thyme sprig and sage sprig, and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes to extract flavor from the turkey neck. Strain this flavorful stock into the pan drippings you already have, or use the fond at the bottom of your roasting pan. Deglaze the pan with water or broth, then strain the richly flavored liquid and add it to your gravy.
Make a quick gravy using foods from the fridge.
Bacon: This is what we call an arsenal ingredient; it makes everything taste better. Sauté some bacon until crispy, then chop it up and stir it into the gravy and simmer to pull out the flavor. Strain the gravy before serving.
Sausage: Do the same as with the bacon but keep it chunky and skip straining.
Onion: Caramelize onions with fresh herbs in butter until deep brown and simmer them in your gravy.
Fresh Herbs: Just throw whole sprigs into your gravy and simmer to pull out their flavors. Pluck them out before serving. Boil white wine with shallots and/or onions and fresh herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary or tarragon) until reduced by half, then strain it into your gravy.
Mustard: Only Dijon or whole-grain will work. A little goes a long way. Whisk some into your gravy with fresh herbs.
The turkey won't cook in time.
If you find that you are running short on time and won't be able to cook the whole turkey in time for dinner, no worries! Here's a way to cook it quicker: Section the turkey into eight pieces — two legs, two thighs, two wings and two breasts. Arrange these pieces separately on a baking sheet and roast them as you would the whole turkey, only requiring less time until they're done. Roast the backbone separately and use it for making stock for your gravy.
The turkey is overcooked.
If you've overcooked your turkey and it is dry, thin your gravy with a bit of turkey stock so that it is thin enough to just gloss the sliced turkey meat and seep into the meat. This will help add some moisture to the meat. To avoid overcooking your turkey in the first place, use an instant-read meat thermometer (and always rest before carving!).