Well, tomorrow's the big day. I never played organized sports, so I'm not exactly sure how a good pep talk should work, but—elaborately cracks knuckles and motions for everyone to gather in a huddle—we've got this. Take a deep breath, stick to your plan if you've got one, and let's do this, team.
Chances are, everything's going to go as smoothly as a pomme purée, or as a cider sage gravy, or as a—you get the idea. But just in case, we've pre-troubleshot a few common mishaps.
Read on for six frequent Thanksgiving "disasters," and importantly, how to fix them. Psst: Don't forget to use our hotline if anything out of the ordinary comes up. We'll be there until Thursday at 8 p.m.
2. My gravy won't thicken. Is it trying to tell me something?
It's all gravy!
Simply make another roux in a separate saucepan big enough to fit your whole gravy. Once the roux is ready, slowly whisk your too-thin liquid into it a little bit at a time until you have a smooth, thick gravy. (If it's lumpy, run it through a sieve, or purée with an immersion blender.)
3. I Can't Tell If My Turkey's Done.
Make a small slit where the thigh meets body, and press down lightly—the juices that flow from the slit should run clear.
If they do, grab a good meat thermometer—like an instant-read one—and take your turkey's temp. Aim for the thickest part of the meat in each of a breast and a thigh. According to the USDA, it's finished when the thermometer indicates 165°F.
4. My Mashed Potatoes Look Like Gluey Wallpaper Paste.
Over-mashing happens to the best of us. No matter: Just spoon them into an oven-safe dish, and grate a bunch of cheese over the top. (If you've got panko or breadcrumbs laying around, sprinkle a big handful over the top as well.) Pop under the broiler for a few minutes—keep an eye on it!—until the cheese is melty and bubbly, with toasty browned spots in a few places. Voila: You'll have a delicious alternative potato dish.
You're in luck—stuffing is incredibly versatile. Give it a pat (or taste) so you can get a sense for exactly how dry it is. Then, brown some butter (start with a half-stick or so) and drizzle it over the top, along with a few tablespoons of stock. Season with salt and pepper, then throw it back into a low oven to warm through. Taste for moisture and flavor, and add a little more of everything as needed. And just remember: A garnish of chopped herbs never hurt anyone.
If your pie is really scorched up top, you can cut the top layer of pastry away with a knife or kitchen shears, and make a quick streusel topping. Sprinkle it all over the exposed pie interior, and bake at around 325°F until the streusel browns and crisps, about 15 to 20 minutes. Ta-da, you have a delicious pie-crumble.
If the top of your pie and the top of the filling are burnt, go to plan B: Scoop the non-burnt portions of the filling (from the bottom of the pie) into ramekins, and top with a festive blob of whipped cream to serve as individual puddings.
Ella Quittner is a a writer at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.