Common Gala Dinner Crashes and How to Fix Them

Despite my limited kitchen experience and a history of spoiled very basic dishes, I was named host for Thanksgiving this year. Most likely I’ll screw something up. If you are in the same boat, we must be ready. Here’s how to prevent and fix a few common Thanksgiving mistakes.

Turkey overcooked and dried

The turkey is easy to overcook. You have darker meats that take longer to cook, usually at the expense of the breast, which dries much faster.

If you are going to roast the turkey whole and do not want it to dry out, brine or salt it beforehand . You also need to be mindful of its temperature (this requires meat thermometers ). SErious Eats recommends cooking the turkey at 140 to 150 ° F to keep it juicy. (Other sources and recipes vary, up to 165 ° F)

But let’s say it’s too late for that. The damage is done; your bird is dry. At this stage, it is best to hide the evidence. Epicurious recommends several options :

  • Pouring the broth over the turkey : Not too much as you also don’t want to pour it all over. Likewise, you can slice the turkey and dip it in the broth before serving, as shown in the video above.
  • Add butter: Add butter to the gravy, then brush on the turkey.
  • Sauce and stock mixture : Prepare diluted stock and stock, then pour over turkey slices, cover skillet with foil and heat at 200 ° F for about ten minutes.

And, of course, there is the opposite problem: undercooked, frozen poultry. The turkey may thaw in a few days . If you haven’t thawed the turkey enough, you can bake it frozen , but it will take extra time. According to Still Tasty , frozen turkey takes 50% longer to cook than thawed turkey . For example, if a thawed turkey cooks in 3 ½ hours, a frozen version of the same size will cook in 4 ½ to 5 hours. Modify the recipe accordingly (or chop it up first ).

The pie crust is still soft and moist

My biggest cake problem is the undercooked crust. The filling is great and everyone strips it off until it comes to a soggy, raw crust.

What is the easiest way to solve this problem? Blind baking . You pre-cook the crust before adding the filling. The video above shows how this is done, but it’s pretty simple.

Line the bottom of the baking crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil. To keep the crust from bubbling, add the beans or rice to make the foil heavier and bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 ° F. If you want to partially bake the pumpkin or pecan pie, stop there, remove the weights, add the filling and bake the cake according to the recipe. If you want to bake the crust completely (ideally if you are making a custard), remove the weight and put the crust back in the oven for a few more minutes to dry the bottom.

However, if it’s too late and you notice that guests are falling apart in the wet mess, you can put the pie back in the oven. All Recipes recommends covering the cake with tin foil and baking for 12 minutes at 425-450 ° F. Depending on which cake you are dealing with, you can also remove the top crust and filling, then re-mash the bottom crust, pour out the filling. back into the cooked crust, then crush and sprinkle the top crust over the filling. Not the same, but at least your crust will cook.

If you have the opposite problem – a burnt crust, you can try to remove the burnt part with a grater . You can also mask the taste with powdered sugar.

Pumpkin pie cracked

Baking can be painful. If the crust is not wet, then the filings are cracked. This usually happens when the oven is too hot or the pie is overcooked (this is a common problem with cheesecake too). The problem is, your pie looks perfect when you take it out, but it starts to crack as it cools. Great cooking explains why this happens :

Residual heat keeps the filling cooking even after you put the pie on the grill to cool, so the proteins continue to shorten, breaking cracks in the perfect custard. To minimize cracking, it is a good idea to remove the pumpkin pie from the oven as soon as the custard hardens but before it hardens; the filling should wiggle slightly in the center as you push the pan.

In some cases, you can smooth these cracks with a metal trowel, as shown in the video above. Chill the cake slightly and use the heated spatula to finish the job.

If you can’t put your cracked pie back together, the good news is that it’s easy enough to hide. Top it with whipped cream (or, in the case of cheesecake, cherry filling) and most guests won’t figure it out. You can even serve a pie that has already been sliced ​​so the cracks don’t matter. Add the whipped cream again and you’re done.

Liquid mashed potatoes

It’s hard to spoil mashed potatoes, but if you’re like me, no kitchen disaster is out of reach.

You may have added too much milk. You may have boiled the potatoes for too long. Either way, liquid potatoes seem like an impossible solution, but there are quite a few solutions. For instance:

I also made a separate batch of potatoes, slightly thicker, and then added to the original liquid mixture. Of course, this is only useful if you have more potatoes on hand.

One of my favorite solutions is from All Recipes, and you can see how it’s done in the video above. In general, if your potatoes are sticky, ditch the mashed potatoes idea and make a potato casserole. Place mixture in a baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs, then bake.

The filling is wet

The filling seems to be quite reliable too. Boil the broth, add the bread and grass AND – boom- -You got the filling. Of course, this is easy enough to do, but also easy enough to screw up. If your bread is too moist, it can ruin the recipe and leave you with a soft, soft filling. If you are cooking inside the poultry ( which you shouldn’t ), turkey juice can oversaturate the filling.

Rick Rogers, a culinary instructor and chef who literally wrote a book about filling , says the best way to prevent this is to make the mistake of favoring drying . Add less stock (it suggests 1/2 cup stock to 8 cups of bread), cook, then add moisture if necessary.

However, if it’s too late and your filling has turned into a wet mess, you have several options. First, you can place the filling on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at about 375 ° F. You can also simply add more dry bread. If you don’t have them, All Recipes suggests using croutons or toasting fresh bread.

Prevention is the best cure for any of these, but when you have a Thanksgiving dinner, you’re trying to entertain relatives, tackle a myriad of tasks, and juggle multiple burners. It’s easy to screw something up, even if you’re ready for it. Most failures, however, are easy enough to fix, and the worst-case scenario isn’t that bad anyway. There are worse things than a cracked pie.


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