It's no secret that Thanksgiving is a labor-intensive, somewhat stressful holiday for the host. As if cooking a 30 pound bird was not work enough, you're also expected to entertain the family, and make everything look good in the process. So, inevitably, there are going to be some Thanksgiving fails you'll need to fix in the moment, at least to the best of your ability.
Unfortunately, not all fails are fixable. If you drop a pie as you take it out of the oven, there's really nothing you can do to alter the situation (except give the family dog a holiday treat.) As a worst-case scenario plan, it's a good idea to have extra easy options on hand in case a dish is completely ruined and rendered inedible. Think things like frozen pies and a box of instant stuffing. Hopefully you don't have to use them, but if we've learned anything from the Boy Scouts, it's always be prepared.
But — good news! — some Thanksgiving fails are totally fixable with a few easy hacks. Dry turkey, soggy stuffing, not enough space — all of these issues can be overcome if you know what to do. Be Turkey Day Wonder Woman with these save the day tips.
1Your Turkey Isn't Ready
Thanksgiving is basically like one big math word problem. You've set your dinner time, and now you have to figure out what time everything goes in the oven — particularly the turkey. So what happens if you're moments away from chow time and when you go to check in on your turkey it might as well still be gobbling?
To speed up the process, Reynolds Kitchen suggests covering your turkey in foil, and cranking up the oven to 400 degrees. Keep that birdie roasting until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
2Your Turkey Is Ready Too Soon
If you have the opposite problem, and your turkey is cooked earlier than expected, don't stress out. Take out the turkey and let it rest 20 to 30 minutes as directed, then cover with foil. Make sure you let it rest before covering, though, so it doesn't keep cooking out of the oven.
If your turkey is crazy early, like over an hour, you may have to carve the bird after it's rested. Cover the carved turkey in foil, and then about 20 minutes before you're ready to eat, put it back in the oven to warm it up.
3Your Side Dishes Are Done Way Too Early
I wasn't kidding when I said this holiday is all about timing. If your fail consists of side dishes that are ready prematurely, take advantage of the turkey's resting time. While the turkey cools, pop your side dishes back in the oven for a quick warm-up. If you have hotplates, those are always a good option as well. Or you can even reheat them in the microwave. And whenever something is done, put a tinfoil cover over it to keep it warm until you're ready to serve.
4You Forgot To Thaw The Turkey
Yikes! Please do everything you can to avoid this mistake. Set alarms on your phone or leave Post-Its on the fridge. Just do whatever you need to do to not forget to thaw your turkey Wednesday night.
But, alas, mistakes happen and everyone forgets important things some of the time. If you do forget to thaw out your bird, your holiday is not ruined. Take a not from chef Thomas Joseph, and submerge the turkey in cold water. Completely cover your birth with cold water, switching out the water every 30 minutes. This process will take 20 to 30 minutes per pound though, so this can be time consuming. You can also just pop you're frozen turkey into the oven and add time to the baking, about 40 minutes per pound versus the 15 minutes per pound for a thawed out turkey.
5Your Mashed Potatoes Are Gluey
Turn them into a casserole! Using Today's recipe for a mashed potato casserole, spread them out on the bottom of a baking dish and cover with breadcrumbs and parmesan. Bake until browned and, viola, you've got yummy mashed potatoes that won't make your mouth stick together.
6Your Gravy Is Lumpy
This fix is so easy you won't believe you haven't thought of it before — strain it. If that doesn't work, you can also try putting it in the blender to make it smooth.
7You Overbooked Your Oven
Got more dishes to bake than you have space for? Think outside the oven and use a crockpot to create Thanksgiving dishes or even make some sides in the microwave. They will just as delicious as they would be coming from an oven.
8Your Stuffing Is Soggy
Just add in more dry bread to absorb the moisture. Or if you don't have any bread left, simply put the stuffing on a cookie sheet and put it back in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Sionara, soggy stuffing.
9Your Turkey Is Dry
Turkey is the superstar of the meal, and nobody wants to eat a dried out bird. But you can fix it thanks to stock. Life Hacker recommends carving the turkey and dipping the pieces in stock. Or, if you're short on time, you can spray your turkey with stock to re-moisten the meat.
10You Run Out Of Wine
This is actually a worst nightmare. But if the unspeakable does occur, switch to any other booze you might have in your home, like beer or cocktails. Add liquor to your after dinner coffee, cider or hot chocolate. No one will mind.
11Your Apple Pie Is Soupy
Reader's Digest makes soupy apple pie desirable with its apple pie sundaes. Simply puree the filling and serve over vanilla ice cream, along with whipped cream, nuts, sprinkles or whatever other treats you may have.
12You've Run Out Of Seats
Kids are picky eaters, but they aren't usually picky sitters. If you somehow miscalculated the number of guests, move the kids to a counter top, coffee table, or even a play table if they have one.
13You Way Burnt The Turkey
At this point, just call it a day and order take-out.
And remember, if you fail so hard that it's totally unfixable, it's okay. The holiday is not actually about food, but about family and being grateful.
And you'll have a great story to tell at Christmas.