Find answers to the hottest, most frequently asked holiday dinner help questions, from how to fix lumpy gravy to tips for frying turkey safely.
You probably want to get both a red and a white wine and plan on about 5 standard glasses per bottle. Count on each person drinking between 3 and 4 glasses over the course of a long dinner. A fruity pinot noir is a good choice for the red; riesling or viognier would be good picks for the white.
There are a number of non-alcoholic wines available in supermarkets, as well as some sparkling fruit juices that are always a festive choice. You can also serve a signature drink, such as a festive fruit tea, in lieu of alcoholic beverages.
Don't worry about preparing every dish from scratch–select a couple of recipes you'd like to make, then fill in the menu with some store-bought items such as cakes, pies, bread and frozen vegetable casseroles. If you don't have time to thaw a whole turkey, consider serving turkey breast or turkey tenderloins.
The minimum safe internal temperature for turkey, according to the USDA, is 165 degrees. When cooking turkeys at high heat, like the Blast Furnace-Roasted Turkey, the thermometers that come with the bird may pop early, so make sure to keep a regular thermometer on hand. To check, insert a thermometer in the thickets part of the breast. Wash the thermometer between tests to ensure you don't cross-contaminate the bird.
Don't lose your mind whisking out every single lump. Instead, pour the gravy through a strainer. Smooth gravy flows through a medium weave strainer, leaving lumps behind. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, though: to avoid having lumps to begin with, be sure to mix the flour with a cold liquid before adding it to the hot grease (this is called making a "slurry").
In many families, people have favorite dishes. If possible, keep these favorites on the menu and ditch the odd dishes out. If no one really remembers the salad, exchange the family recipe for a festive new one. Or, experiment with the turkey. While everyone remembers "their" dish, it's rare that they recall whether the turkey had a rosemary rub or a molasses brine.
Fried turkey is delicious! Make sure to thaw it completely before frying. Line the patio or driveway with aluminum foil to protect from splatters or spills. Slowly lower the bird into the oil to avoid splashing (and a trip to the emergency room). If frying turkeys is really your thing, consider investing in an infrared turkey fryer, which doesn't require oil at all!
Breakfast is a wonderful meal because it can be as fancy or easy as you'd like it to be. Bake and freeze muffins ahead of time, prepare a breakfast casserole the night before, or whip up a five-star brunch the next morning (you saint, you) to please your guests.
A turkey (and the cook!) should rest about 30 minutes after baking to let the juices reabsorb, so pop the vegetable casserole in as soon as you remember it. Most cook quickly, so it shouldn't take too long. If your guests are anxious to get eating, go ahead and carve the bird and bring the dish out when it's done. By the time everyone has started serving, your forgotten dish will be piping hot and ready to eat.
To find all the hot spots for delicious white and dark meat. Go slow, use a sharp knife, and take your time. Also, check to make sure you didn't cook it upside down. If so, there's a gold mine of meat waiting on the bottom for you!