This story is part of with tips on the best ways to manage the holiday season.
Hosting of Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful even for experienced experts. It is a complex task that requires planning both inside and outside the kitchen: how many guests do you have, do they have dietary restrictions, do they have other meetings to attend and do you have enough room at your table?
Avoid common cooking errors to prevent a Thanksgiving day disaster. But remember, mistakes do happen. Whether you've dropped the turkey or forgot to cook the sandwiches, Thanksgiving is about spending time with loved ones. Stop worrying and enjoy the pampering!
Error No. 1: Do not plan ahead
This is definitely the most important advice of all. Thanksgiving day can be hectic, especially depending on the family or friends who are accompanying you. Do yourself a favor and check if you have all your ingredients ready for the big day. Take out pen and paper and plan each of your dishes, and make sure you choose them with different cooking times – you'll thank yourself later when you just have to take the cranberry sauce out of the fridge to serve.
Read more about Chowhound: A beginner's guide to addressing Thanksgiving dinner
Planning ahead extends to many of the other areas below, but a few more specific things to mention here: choose some Thanksgiving – recipes that you can make ahead and freeze, and make sure you start to thaw your turkey with enough time to thaw.
Error No. 2: Forget the appetizers
When you try to roast the perfect turkey while you also prepare different side dishes, it can be easy to forget those starter snacks. Reduce the pressure on yourself to get food on the table as your guests arrive and let them snack with some easy-to-prepare hors d & oeuvres while concentrating on the main event. Choose something light and easy such as stuffed peppers or squash bites.
Error No. 3: Making dinner too late
Thanksgiving parties are usually served as dinner. Between running around to prepare, to mingle and to wait for more guests to arrive, the meal is sometimes pushed to late hours. Beware of serving late and tempting your party to miss quality time and give in to tryptophan-induced sleep immediately after eating.
Read more about Chowhound: How to organize a Thanksgiving brunch
Error No. 4: Serving all hot dishes
Of all the Thanksgiving disasters that can happen, making your guests sick is one of the worst. To make it less likely, the USDA recommends to prepare stuffing outside of the bird. So, cook your "stuffing" in a frying pan. Try our recipe for filling apple and sage or our recipe for stuffing sausages.
Error no. 7: do not pickle the bird
In the hustle and bustle of planning for the big day, this is an essential step that is easily overlooked. Pickling is the key to avoiding a dry and tasteless turkey. Plan ahead what type of brine you want for your meal: a wet brine for juicier and more tender meat, or a dry brine for crisper skin and more turkey flavor (and the bonus of not having to process large amounts of liquid). However, if you want a wet brine, here are some tips:
Error No. 8: The turkey is not cooking sufficiently (or overcooked!)
Buy a meat thermometer! Even if you have cooked 50 turkeys in your life, it is worth checking if the meat is 170 ° F in the inside of the bird's thigh. Make sure the juices are also clear. Follow our guide for a simple roast turkey for tips.
Error No. 9: Wrongly cutting the turkey
As soon as you serve your perfectly roasted bird, the work is not over. You don't want a turkey being slaughtered in the wrong way to write off your hours of preparing a perfectly cooked bird. Don't be afraid to use a carving guide or outsource this task to your uncle's expertise. But before you cut, let it rest! Place the turkey from the frying pan on a plate and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes while making your gravy.
Error No. 10: throwing away pan waste
You can (and should) make a batch of gravy in advance, but you should also definitely plan to use your turkey waste for more gravy on the big day. It's simple and takes about 15 minutes, but don't throw away one of the most important ingredients: the pan drops!
Error No. 11: Do not set the table in advance
If energetic children are present at your event, this can be a good task to keep them busy, or you can do it & # 39; in the morning , if not the night before. Most importantly, don't let the food get cold (or burn it) while you walk around with cutlery at the last minute. We recommend creating a map as part of your schedule and setting the table the night before – especially if you have guests you may want to keep separate.
Read more: The correct way to set up a formal table for Thanksgiving
Error No. 12: Do not accept help
Hosting is not an easy task. You will run around all day to ensure that all your guests are comfortable, happy and well-fed. If after the main event you get offers to contribute or clean up, don't be shy to accept. After all, it is also your vacation. Confirm contributions with guests a few days before the party, so that you can plan well ahead. If Grandma & # 39; s filling & # 39; mornings need some oven space, you want to make sure you fit in it.
Error no. 13: becoming too ambitious
We recommend saving the inventive dishes for your role as a donor to a party, not as a host. You don't need to do more work for yourself by planning complex and creative dishes to impress your guests – they are there for tradition and your business! If you want to add a memorable dish that is a bit out-of-the-box, practice the recipe a few times before the day comes. You will be able to calculate the nuances of the dish before it is shared with all your loved ones. Similarly, you do not have the feeling that you have to grab a dozen dishes plus five cakes all from scratch; In addition to letting guests bring some things, you explore options purchased in-store, such as Trader Joe's Thanksgiving desserts.
For more Thanksgiving tips, hacks and recipes, view our Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide and our Ultimate Guide to Friendsgiving. CNET Holiday Gift Guide 2019