CALM DOWN! Whatever you’ve done (or not done), things are going to turn out OK. There are all kinds of solutions to your problems. If not, there is at least a way to cover your tracks. I’ve seen turkeys black as soot, dressing dry as a bone, cranberry sauce as bitter as bird turds and desserts that, let’s just say, didn’t make the cut.
We place so much importance on this one meal that stress often overtakes the average home chef and things get ruined. There are only two things we can do to make the meal go smoothly: prepare and prevent mistakes or find out how to repair them.
Let’s start with the turkey. If your turkey isn’t thawed by now, you need to take action. There are not very many safe ways to expedite this process. Usually it takes a couple of days in the refrigerator to thaw. If you’re down to crunch time, lay the bird, still in the packaging, in the bathtub with a drizzle of cold water running over it. You can’t do this all day long, but maybe an hour or so. If it’s not ready, throw it back in the fridge. You’ll be cooking this one Friday or Saturday.
Some grocers get in fresh turkeys the day before. It’s a gamble to wait this long, so we usually buy frozen. If you can’t find a fresh one, it’s alright. You’ll be serving chicken.
Dressing is polarizing. I love most all, the exception being anything sweet. My grandmother always made a cake-like, dry dressing. Some people hate it. I love it because it begs for gravy. I also love a fluffier dressing that can shake like pudding. If you’ve dried yours out, just add chicken stock, re-season and taste. If you accidentally used sweet, yellow cornmeal, then nothing can help. Throw it out. You’re having Stove Top stuffing today.
What if your oven goes on the fritz? Once before a dinner party we had a gas leak. I was shut down. No range, no oven. It was a holiday. There was an impromptu dance of propane grilling and electric smoking. I even loaded up a charcoal chimney starter with coals just so I could sauté in a skillet. Point is, I got it done.
You’d be surprised what you can do in a microwave. I always make the cranberry salad in it with whole cranberries, sugar, ground cloves, cinnamon and apple juice. If it doesn’t require browning, a micro’ may be able to get the job done.
The last-ditch effort is to find a neighbor who is out of town. It’s best if it’s an older home. They’re easier to break into. Look for a hidden key first, but if you have to kick in a door or break a window, you’ll have two days tops to repair it.
None of this will happen to you, though. You’re going to kill it!
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