Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: Don't panic -- here's our complete guide to pulling off Thanksgiving without a hitch.
Thanksgiving not only kicks off the holiday season, it's the sounding horn for a month-long marathon of cooking, baking, eating, and drinking. Like any extreme sporting event, being prepared for it comes down to two things: focus and endurance.
To coach you through it, we've collected our most helpful tips, tutorials, and advice in one place. From prepping, cooking, and carving a turkey to better side dishes and desserts to avoiding kitchen disasters, we've got you covered. So get out there -- and show Thanksgiving what you've got.
- When it comes to a juicy, tender bird, brining is a foolproof technique. You can opt for traditional wet brining, or you can avoid a bit of mess by dry brining instead, like in this genius recipe for The Judy Bird.
- Spatchcocking is a fancy way to say that you're butterflying your bird -- it also means quicker, more even cooking.
- If you're the adventurous type (and you think frying makes everything better), then it's time to familiarize yourself with how to deep-fry a turkey.
More: If you can't be bothered with a whole bird, this genius turkey breast recipe -- it's just crazy enough to work.
- Everyone knows that Thanksgiving is really about the sides, and mashed potatoes are a major player. Here are some strategies for making the best mashed potatoes Thanksgiving has yet to see.
- Gravy is nothing without a good roux. Learn this basic technique, and you'll be set to drizzle Thanksgiving's resident sauce over everything.
- If gratin is on the menu, a good place to start is by making your own breadcrumbs.
- Take dessert from just-another-Thanksgiving-pie to extraordinary with one of these 6 nontraditional pie crusts (we'll tell you what to fill them with, too).
- If you're a traditionalist, be sure that your pie crust-game is on point. Here's how to make a perfectly flaky pie crust.
- Does blind baking scare you? Pish posh. You've got this under control -- we promise.
- Your pie needs a supporting cast -- we're talking whipped cream and no-churn ice cream.
More: It's the most important meal of the day. Here's what to serve for breakfast this holiday season.
Setting the table -- and the mood
- Just because you're hosting Thanksgiving doesn't mean you should be stuck in the kitchen or scrambling to get dressed. Ina Garten is here to help you through the mayhem with the holiday's best-kept secret: almost the entire meal can be made ahead of time. (We'll never tell.)
- You'll get in the holiday spirit and feel prepared by dressing your table with a pretty holiday centerpiece a couple of days in advance.
- Punch is also a great stress-reliever -- be sure to have it on hand for guests and to sip on while you cook. To keep it cold all day long, learn how to DIY an ice ring for punch.
- Are you hosting a crowd? Save yourself some time and learn how to make big batch cocktails.
Last but not least: Don't panic.
- Murphy's law dictates that something is likely to go wrong on Thanksgiving. But that's no reason to throw in the towel -- because for every Thanksgiving kitchen disaster, we have a solution.
More: If you're in the holiday spirit, stop by our holiday pop-up market in New York City!