If you’ve read Stacie’s brilliant How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey tutorial, you should be well prepared for the big day. But with so much going on in the kitchen, a little turkey trouble is bound to happen. My advice? Open a bottle of wine and breathe deep, because we’ve got your back.
These five simple solutions to common turkey problems will help you avert a meltdown in the kitchen. Keeping the kids from having a meltdown is your domain.
5 most common Thanksgiving turkey problems — and solutions
Dilemma #1: The turkey is still frozen.
Solution: Fill your sink with cold water and submerge the wrapped turkey. If the turkey is partially thawed, you may only need to leave it for 30 minutes. If it’s really frozen, change the water every 30 minutes until thawed.
Dilemma #2: You don’t have time (or the will power!) to brine a turkey.
Solution: Use a dry brine: At least 24 hours before you plan to cook your turkey, season the bird with salt, both inside the cavity and all over the skin. A good rule is to use a ½ teaspoon for every pound of turkey. Place the salted bird on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate overnight.
Dilemma #3: The turkey skin is getting too brown or not brown enough.
Solution: If it’s browning too quickly, tent the turkey with aluminum foil and continue cooking. If you notice the turkey skin isn’t browning and it can stand being cooked a little more, crank the oven to 450 for the last minutes of cooking until skin turns golden brown.
Dilemma #4: The turkey skin is burnt or flabby and, well, not very pretty.
Solution: Get rid of the skin! Pre-slice the turkey and arrange on a platter. Tuck in some fresh herbs to add a little color.
Dilemma #5: You slice the turkey and it’s undercooked.
Solution: Keep slicing. Put sliced pieces on a rimmed baking sheet or baking dish and return them to a hot oven. Timing will depend on rareness, but keep a careful eye on them so that the turkey doesn’t dry out.