Thanksgiving dinner is a beast, and we give full props to everyone who has mastered the logistics of this meal without a hitch. For us, there is always something that goes wrong, but we just embrace it and revel in the chaos. Plus, it makes the occasion memorable!
With so many people and food prep essentials, Thanksgiving requires impeccable organization, and it can take a few kicks of the can to become a seasoned vet. Even then, it's hard to keep track of all the details, but it's not impossible.
Get the turkey done right, your side dishes planned perfectly, and everything timed so that it's ready just as your guests arrive.
Here are 12 common mishaps and how to avoid them so that this year's Thanksgiving dinner can be pulled off as hassle-free as possible!
1. No Schedule for the Day of
Without a schedule, you won't know when the turkey needs to be in and how long you need to get your veggies cooked before everyone comes over. Careful planning and scheduling is key to pulling off Thanksgiving successfully.
2. Blunt Knives
Let's be honest, there is nothing worse! Cutting into your meat should feel like cutting into butter. Otherwise, you need to get out your whetstone. Sharpen your knives a few days before.
3. You Leave the Giblets Inside the Turkey
What are the giblets you ask? It's a bag that typically comes inside the turkey that contains the neck, gizzard, heart, and the liver. Most people just toss it, but others use these items to make gravy and stuffing. If you forget to take it out, it's not the end of the world if the giblets are paper wrapped. However, if the giblets are in a plastic bag, the chemicals from the plastic can seep into your meat. In this case, it's best not to serve the turkey. Make yourself a sticky note when you purchase the turkey, so you won't forget when the day comes around.
4. Overcooking Or Undercooking Your Meat
Over or undercooking is the number one fear of anyone who is in charge of the turkey, because it makes or breaks your entire meal! The best way to get it right every time is to invest in a quality meat thermometer. Take the turkey out when it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F and allow it to continue cooking on its own on the top of the stove for a few minutes before cutting into it. You just don't want it to reach 180°F to avoid having dry meat.
5. Gluey Mashed Potatoes
If you don't know what a gluey consistency is, you've been making your potatoes right. When your potatoes have been overworked, it's common for them to turn thick and starchy. To avoid this, add warm milk and melted butter into the mix as you use your handheld masher. Only mash them until the potatoes have been broken down into small pieces and ultimately fluffy and smooth. They should be the consistency of whipped clouds in your mouth!
6. Lumpy Gravy
You only get one stab at it when you're using juices from the turkey, so it's critical to get it right the first time. The key to smooth gravy is to whisk small amounts of flour into the juices. Then, whisk it vigorously over medium-high heat and watch it begin to thicken.
7. Soggy Stuffing
This comes in as a close second to a well-done Turkey at most Thanksgiving dinners. It's the main event that everyone is willing to put on their "Thanksgiving pants" for. The key is buying your bread at least 3 days in advance so that it's harder and brittle for the mixture. Fresh bread is often too soft and squishy for stuffing.
8. Poor Timing
Timing is everything, and unfortunately, there are no tricks to this than to do it and figure out what works best year after year. Just be sure you don't get discouraged, nailing the timing can take a few years to get down, but you'll figure out a system that works best for you.
9. A Lack of Oven Space
Your oven can only hold so many dishes, so the key is planning out every dish so you can swap them out and get everything cooked to perfection and on time for the festivities.
10. Not Enough Food For Leftovers
Underestimating how much people will eat can be unfortunate. As long as you have enough to go around on the day of you're technically fine. However, looking forward to those leftover turkey sandwiches the following week is half the fun! We always overshoot how much we need and end up with copious leftovers after the dinner, but that's not the worst problem you can have. Worst case, you can freeze the leftovers and take them out as you use them for lunches and upcoming dinners.
11. Not Having Enough Tupperware for Leftovers
This can be a bit of a pickle, especially if you're dividing things up for people to take home. Do a Walmart run and get a new Tupperware set before Thanksgiving. You can never have too many food storage containers because let's be honest, they always disappear in a matter of time, and they aren't' too expensive to purchase.
12. You Eat Too Much
This is a given at every Thanksgiving! The only tip we can give you here is to pace yourself and portion out all your options. However, feel free to send us any suggestions if you have them. This is a predicament that we try to avoid and fail at every year!
It’s Not too late to Take advantage of our thanksgiving promotion!
Kick your festivities off to a great start by making sure you get the star of the show in time!
If you purchase a ham or turkey from us between now and Thanksgiving, we'll throw in a FREE package of breakfast sausage to show you our THANKS!
Contact us to pre-order from our Calgary or Rosemary meat shops, or find us at the Calgary Farmers' Market to grab all your thanksgiving fixings at once.