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Merrill's Last-Minute Thanksgiving Tips

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There's still time to make this Thanksgiving even better than the last. We asked our fearless co-founders for the back-pocket tips they live—and cook and entertain—by. Read on for Merrill's, and find Amanda's here

Merrill tackles the whole meal, dish by dish. 

  • Mashed potatoes: Always dry out cooked potatoes in the pot after draining them by stirring vigorously over medium-low heat for about thirty seconds. Mash in warm milk and soft butter for the best texture, and save some of the warm milk to stir in when you reheat the potatoes just before serving (mashed potatoes thicken as they sit). I always add a couple dollops of sour cream or crème fraîche with the butter and milk for tang.
  • Gravy: Don't be afraid to get your roux quite dark for a richer gravy. Add enough stock to make it a little looser than you want it to be at the table, since like your precious mash, it will thicken as it sits.

More: Make that gravy on autopilot—without a recipe.

  • Cranberry sauce: To add a little dimension at the last minute, try adding a combination of both orange and lemon zests.
  • Stuffing: Remember to use lots of herbs and aromatics, since this is where most of your flavor will come from. And drizzle plenty of (salted) melted butter over the top of the stuffing before you brown it in the oven for a really great crust.

  • Sweet potatoes and butternut squash: Salt them generously to balance out the sweetness, and make sure to incorporate an element of richness like olive oil, butter, or cream.

More: Incorporate 2 of the 3 with Amanda's recipe for Butternut Squash Purée.

  • Chocolate turkeys are also a sacred tradition in my family—if they're one in yours, too, seek out the smaller ones wrapped in cellophane so that they complement rather than distract from the table setting. And we switch up everyone's seats to spark new conversations, but only before dessert—because that's when people start to wind down.

What are your fail-safe tips for Thanksgiving? Tell us in the comments! 

Automagic Thanksgiving Menu Maker!
Automagic Thanksgiving Menu Maker!

Tags: Entertaining, Thanksgiving, Holiday, Tips & Techniques, Holiday Entertaining