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How to Solve the Most Common Thanksgiving Dinner Disasters

Don't panic! There's practically no Turkey Day fiasco that can't be fixed. Really.


  • Step 1: Thaw a frozen bird Forgot to thaw your turkey? Put it, still wrapped, in the sink or tub and cover it with cold water. Replace the water every half hour. It will take about 30 minutes per pound to thaw completely.
  • TIP: If you thawed the bird but forgot to put it in the oven in time for dinner, simply cut it into pieces, rub them with oil, pan-fry them until the skin is crisp, and then bake them at 350º for about an hour.
  • Step 2: Speed up the cooking Speed up a slow-cooking bird by turning up the oven to 450º (but no higher). Cover with foil to avoid burning the skin. Uncover the bird 10 minutes before taking it out of the oven.
  • TIP: Don't worry if you forgot to take the giblet packet out of the turkey; today's packaging is heat-proof and won't harm your bird.
  • Step 3: Fix the gravy Smooth lumpy gravy by putting it through a sieve. Thicken too-thin gravy by dissolving a teaspoon of cornstarch or flour into a few tablespoons of cold water, then slowly adding it to the simmering gravy. Thin out too-thick gravy with some water or chicken broth.
  • TIP: Spice up bland gravy with salt, soy sauce, pepper, chicken stock, and/or a dash of fortified wine, port, or bourbon.
  • Step 4: Moisten the meat Moisten dry turkey by putting slices into a casserole dish, covering them with two cups of chicken broth that you brought to a boil with some pan drippings, covering the dish with foil, and baking it for about 10 minutes.
  • Step 5: Rescue burnt rolls Rescue slightly burnt dinner rolls by scraping off the black parts with a cheese grater.
  • Step 6: Save soggy stuffing Save soggy stuffing by spreading it on a greased cookie sheet, separating it with a fork, and baking it, uncovered, at 325º for about 15 minutes.
  • Step 7: Transform gluey mashed potatoes Salvage gluey mashed potatoes by transferring them to a casserole dish, topping them with butter and grated cheese, and heating.
  • Step 8: Preserve the pie Solve practically any pie or cheesecake mishap by spooning the "good" parts of the dessert into parfait glasses, alternating with layers of whipped cream.
  • Step 9: Keep whipped cream around Speaking of whipped cream, keep a can or two on hand to artfully cover unsightly desserts or stretch any small ones. Your guests will never know the difference.
  • FACT: The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, established in 1980, is mostly manned by home economics teachers.

You Will Need

  • Aluminum foil
  • A sieve
  • Flour or cornstarch
  • Chicken broth
  • Casserole dish
  • A cheese grater
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Cans of whipped cream
  • or heavy cream for whipping
  • Salt
  • Soy sauce
  • Fortified wine
  • port
  • or bourbon
  • Chicken stock

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