For every crisis, we’ve got a delicious fix—each equally useful even when all is going according to plan
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The Bird Is Still Frozen
It’s the morning of the feast, and there’s your turkey, still icy. Yikes. Normally it takes several hours to thaw in cold water and a couple more to cook, but dinner is at 5. What to do? Perhaps run out for a precooked bird (if you can even find one this late in the game)—or you could try this unusual method from Flip Wise, chef at The Way Home in Carbondale, Colorado. Pair it with one of the seasoning suggestions in the recipe from top chefs in the West, and you’ll have a juicy, flavorful turkey by dinnertime.
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The Turkey Skin Isn't Crispy Enough
What to do if your turkey hasn’t gotten crisp on the outside? Sarah and Evan Rich, chef-owners of Rich Table and RT Rotisserie in San Francisco, fry up shallots and spread them over carved slices to make up for that missing crunch.
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Yes, You Can
No judgment if guests prefer cranberry sauce straight out of a can, ribbed imprint and all. The heart wants what it wants, and it may beat even faster when you add legendary Bay Area chef Joyce Goldstein’s zippy flavor combo. Blend 1 tbsp. tangerine zest, 1 tsp. each lemon zest and finely shredded ginger, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper, 1/4 tsp. Chinese five-spice or ground allspice, and 2 cans (14 oz. each)cranberry sauce (smooth or chunky). If you have time, chill for a couple of hours so flavors can meld.
It’s time to make stuffing, but it seems that visiting family has eaten the bread. There’s no time to run to the store—and no boxed mix in the house—so what do you do? Use pasta instead! A tradition in some Italian-American families, it’s delicious.
Thomas J. Story
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Thomas J. Story
The Stuffing Is Soggy
Spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet or two and cook it at 350°, uncovered, until it starts to feel toasty when you touch the top, 15 minutes or so. Pile it artfully back into its dish and serve it forth.
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The Mashed Potatoes Look Like Glue
Did you use a food processor to make everyone’s favorite side dish? Or maybe someone with very strong arms simply overbeat the spuds. In any case, your mashed potatoes resemble Cream of Wheat. Use this tip from Grant Crilly, cofounder of online cooking school ChefSteps: Go with it, and turn them into aligot—a Southern French creation that’s more like fondue. The key is to stir vigorously while melting the cheese (a lot of cheese) completely. Then pasty and gummy will give way to silky and stretchy.
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Next Time: Keys to the Perfect Mash
Buy floury potatoes like russets rather than waxier ones like whites or reds.
Cut potatoes into at least 1-in. chunks, then boil until tender; any smaller, and they’ll absorb excess water.
Dry drained cooked potatoes in pot over low heat for a few minutes, stirring, to evaporate excess moisture.
Mash with a ricer or potato masher; a food processor or a zealously used hand mixer can overdevelop starch.
Add hot butter and hot cream to help offset any gumminess.
So you forgot to make (or buy) pie crust. Never mind—you don’t need one when the filling is fantastic. Angela Pinkerton, pastry chef at San Francisco’s Theorita, gave us this delicate dessert with toasted pecans on top for crunch.
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Pretty As Pie
Spiff up a store-bought pie with these tips from Marilyne Mitani, executive pastry chef of Paula LeDuc Fine Catering and Events in Emeryville, CA.
Leaf Stencil: Use fall leaves to make the stencil: Trace onto sturdy paper; then cut out shapes. Just before serving, set paper on pie and shower with powdered sugar.
Boozy Whipped Cream: Whip 2 cups whipping cream with 3 to 5 tbsp. bourbon and 3 tbsp. sugar. Pile onto pie; sprinkle with nutmeg if you like.