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'Tis the season—for holiday cooking!
And with holiday cooking, you sometimes can't help but have a few kitchen-related mishaps along the way.
(You're juggling cooking and entertaining, with perhaps a few wine-happy guests — you're bound to undercook a bird or two!)
But fear not! Our good friend, Chef Jeff Mauro, is in the HOUSE, and in just under five minutes, he managed to put most of our major Thanksgiving kitchen disaster fears to rest with the simplest—and smartest!—solutions, starting with a purchase suggestion that you will surely thank the kitchen gods for…
(PLUS, he shared a recipe, too! Get Jeff's Dry-Brined Herb-Roasted Turkey with Ultimate Go-To Gravy here.)
DISASTER 1: MY BUILT-IN OVEN THERMOMETER ALWAYS LIES TO ME
SOLUTION: GET YOUR OWN!
"Why even let the disaster come to you?" Jeff asks, when you can have your first line of defense handy: your "best friend," a thermometer! And not just an instant read thermometer, which pierces right into the thickest parts of the meat to get you a read, but an OVEN thermometer, too.
"Much like the beautiful human species, we're all different — we're all special in our own way," says Jeff. "So is the oven! Your oven's 375 could be different than my oven's 375 — there could be a plus/minus of 10 degrees sometimes — so [the oven thermometer] will get you an accurate reading."
There are metal options that go right inside the oven and infrared thermometers, too, which, when pointed at the oven, can get a read from outside of it. Pretty nifty, eh? We've got editor-approved options for you for both below!
(Thanks for the suggestion on the last one, Rachael Ray In Season!)
DISASTER 2: MY TURKEY IS OVERCOOKED OR UNDERCOOKED!
SOLUTION: EMBRACE THE STOCK
"Always have a triple-serving of turkey stock [or] chicken stock ready to go," says Jeff. "It's the great glue of Thanksgiving." Why, you ask? Well, as Jeff notes, if your turkey's been sitting out for a minute, you can pour a little stock over it and instantly reinvigorate it.
Plus, Rachael adds, it course-corrects an under- or overcooked meal. “If it’s slightly undercooked, slice it and bathe it in the warm [stock]," she instructs. "If it’s a little overcooked, drizzle it over [for taste].”
Truly a one-stop shop!
DISASTER 3: I'M ALREADY RUNNING LATE + MY TURKEY ISN'T DONE!
SOLUTION: DON'T BE AFRAID TO BREAK DOWN THAT BIRD
Jeff promises that if you break your turkey down into pieces, it will cook "more even [and] quicker." Plus, he says, if any part finishes before another, you can pull it out and let the others keep working, making sure that each piece cooks just right for you. (Pro tip from Jeff: Once you remove the backbone, you can pop it in with the gravy to give it even more flavor. Huzzah!)
Another way to speed up the process? Pile the pieces over a tray of veggies. That little bit of extra height will help the meat cook a little quicker — and you know it will only add to the taste!
DISASTER 4: I *KNOW* THIS TURKEY NEEDS MORE FLAVOR
SOLUTION: LOOSEN THE SKIN
No dry, flavorless birds here! As Jeff demonstrates, if you get your hands in there and loosen the skin on your bird before cooking, you make just enough room to wiggle in the herbs of your choice for a big taste boost. Welcome to Flavortown—population: you + everyone at your table!
Want more fixes? We've got you. Sara Moulton's got a bunch more for you in the throwback video below — just press play!