15 Mistakes You’ll Probably Make This Thanksgiving
Good news: We know how to fix your goof-ups.
Nothing will be ready on time
It goes without saying that the sweet potatoes will be ready three hours before the turkey, which will come out an hour before the cranberries, if you even remember to serve them.
Here’s what to do: Make a game plan and stick to it. Starting a week ahead of the Big Day, make a list of every dish you’ll be serving and figure out what can be made ahead of time and frozen, and how long everything takes to prepare and cook. Don’t leave out any step, including how long something will take to serve.
You’ll buy too large a turkey
On Thanksgiving, we’re all gluttons. (If ostriches were available at our local ShopRite, we would all serve them instead of a turkey). But size does matter, and too much turkey means more thawing time, more cooking time, and more turkey-tetrazzini-leftovers-eating time.
Here’s what to do: A good rule of thumb: one pound of turkey per person. So if you’re having eight guests for Thanksgiving, you’ll need an eight-pound bird. If your guests are a bunch of oinkers, you might be able to Amazon yourself that ostrich. Here are 10 tips for buying the perfect turkey.
You’ll forget to defrost the too-large turkey
“OMG! I bought the fittest turkey ever! Check out its rock-hard abs and pecs!” Sadly, the bird is rock hard because you forgot to thaw it out.
Here’s what to do: Give the bird a bath. Fill a large bucket, sink, or bathtub with cold water and let it bathe breast down. If it’s fully frosted, allow 30 minutes per pound. Don’t miss these 10 mistakes to avoid when prepping your turkey.
You’re going to leave the giblets inside the turkey
Do you recall studying giblets in biology class? Neither do I. But that burning smell coming from inside the turkey? That’s the bag of giblets you were supposed to remove before popping the bird in the oven.
Here’s what to do: Remove the giblets before popping the bird in the oven! Find out why you might feel sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner.
You’ll Texas Chainsaw Massacre your turkey
Let’s face it, you’ve spent weeks planning your meal only to have the carving board end up looking like a crime scene.
Here’s what to do: First things first, says Cooking Light, with the turkey on a carving board, remove the string tying the legs together (50 Shades of Fowl!). Then: 1. Remove the legs, thighs, and wings by slicing down until you reach the joint. Grabbing the leg or wing, push down until separated from the bird. 2. To remove the turkey breasts, find the breastbone. Position a long, flexible knife on one side of it, and slice downward, as close to the bone as possible. As you slice, use your other hand to pull the meat away from the breastbone in one piece. 3. To slice the breast meat, use tongs to steady the breast, position the meat so you’ll cut it at its shorter length. Slice against the grain, taking care to keep the skin attached. Use these other 16 tips for keeping your sanity if you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year.
All your focus will go to the main meal
from my point of view/Shutterstock
You’re in the kitchen, whistling while you work, oblivious to the nasty scene unwinding in the other room. Your hungry guests have gone from peckish to ravenous, and they’re starting to snarl at each other about how little there is to be thankful for.
Here’s what to do: Have simple snacks like nuts or cheese and crackers ready when your guests start trickling in. I guarantee no amount of hors d’eouvres will keep them from gorging themselves during the turkey dinner.
You won’t ask about dietary restrictions
Apparently, your cousin has gone vegan since the last time you saw her, and the only thing on her plate is cranberry sauce—even your Brussels sprouts have bacon in them. Now she’s digging around in your cupboard for something, anything to eat with her cranberry sauce.
Here’s what to do: Everyone deserves the opportunity to stuff themselves until they burst on Thanksgiving, so double check with your guests about dietary restrictions beforehand. You’ll probably need to have at least one vegetarian-friendly or gluten-free dish on the table, but you can also request your guests bring a dish they can eat (and share). These are 14 foods nutritionists would never eat on Thanksgiving.
You’ll try to do everything yourself
This is your big day to prove to your mother-in-law once and for all that you’re perfectly capable of cooking one simple meal, thankyouverymuch. So, of course, you want to pull out all the stops by making everything from scratch. Heck, you’ll even churn the butter yourself.
Here’s what to do: Ask guests to bring a dish, and have your family help with the cooking and setup. It’s not admitting defeat, it’s just protecting your family from the inevitable meltdown you’ll have T-minus 30 minutes from mealtime.
Your gravy will be lumpy
Ah, gravy, the finishing touch that pulls everything on your plate together and makes your (oops) dry turkey delicious. Too bad yours always ends up too lumpy or too thin.
Here’s what to do: The trick to getting gravy just right to take the drippings from your roasting pan (your turkey should set before you carve it anyway) and whisk in an equal amount of flour, according to thekitchn.com. Once that’s lump-free, keep whisking while you add the stock.
Your mashed potatoes will be way too sticky
You’ve finally served the food, your plate is loaded, and you’re digging in … only to have your mouth stick together from gluey mashed potatoes when you’re trying to grill your neice about why she hasn’t had kids yet. One crisis averted, perhaps, but there’s a potato problem on your hands.
Here’s what to do: That sticky texture comes from the potatoes’ starch, which gets released when you furiously mash those spuds again and again and again. Keep mashing to a minimum by using a potato ricer, and add butter before milk or stock so that the starch doesn’t absorb the water in the liquid, suggests Cook’s Illustrated. Check out these other 20 kitchen tools that make Thanksgiving so much easier.
Your stuffing will be soggy
“Soggy and mushy” were not the words you were going for when you were making your stuffing.
Here’s what to do: This is one of the few times when fresh isn’t best. Give your bread a few days to dry out (read: get stale) before making the stuffing, suggests delish.com. Try these 23 mouthwatering Thanksgiving side dishes that are easy to make.
You’ll overbake the pumpkin pie
You could have sworn you took the pie out of the oven in time, but now it’s over-baked and the top is cracked.
Here’s what to do: Your pie keeps cooking after you take it out of the oven, so take it out sooner than later when there’s “still a little jiggle in the center of the pie,” suggests Bon Appetit. Or you can always just top it with whipped cream and pretend it never happened.
You’re going to argue with your brother-in-law
You know someone will say something stupid, which will cause you to say something stupid back, which will result in someone else spewing their offensive brand of stupidity, which means…
Here’s what to do: “Do your homework,” says Gawker.com, and “anticipate” anything stupid that might be said. Research political arguments and reconsider past family scraps, this way you can “predict how you may react” to what’s thrown at you (preferably not the turkey).
You’re going to be a football widow
On that last Thursday of November, the thing that some people are most thankful for are the football games playing that day. If you’re not one of them, take heart.
Here’s what to do: The Los Angeles Times suggests that this is your chance to do whatever it is you’ve wanted to do, but Mr. or Mrs. Football wasn’t into. Work off your meal by going for a walk/hike or to the gym. Clean out your closets and donate whatever you don’t need. Read a novel. Or you can do what we do at my home: Pass out from all the food. For more Thanksgiving laughs, check out these 27 hilarious (and real!) calls to the Butterball hotline.
You’ll shop on a full stomach
The real sport on Thanksgiving Day isn’t football, it’s a game called Survivor: Mall! Millions of Americans will cut their holiday short in order to do their best Roller Derby imitation in an attempt to get great Black Friday deals. Will you emerge with a half-priced Sony TV or three fewer teeth?
Here’s what to do: Don’t go. Those cheap-o prices? Chances are they’ll get lower as the season progresses, says The Wall Street Journal. Besides, better deals can often be found at other times of the year. Plus, like Pavlov’s shopping dog, you see the sign “SALE!” and you’re bound to salivate, spending more than you’d intended. Learn how to recover from a Thanksgiving eating binge.