5 Ways to Avert Last Minute Thanksgiving Disasters

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, the day where family and friends get together to sit down for a nice meal, and spend some quality family time. While we’d like to think that everything on this day goes perfectly, sometimes a few little snags happen along the way to the dinner table. If you’re looking to avert or recover from some potential Thanksgiving disasters, you might find these tips useful:

Extra Guests
Problem: This always happens to me. A few folks forget to RSVP, and then show up to dinner, expecting to be fed. While I always try to plan a little extra for leftovers; however, if more than two or three extra people were to come to my doorstep, I would be in fix.
Quick Fix: Going out and getting a bigger turkey isn’t an option at this point, so there’s a few things you can do to stretch your meal without adding a lot of costs to your meal. Extra potatoes, rice, salad, and pasta side dishes can help stretch your meal. If you’re like me, you usually have extra of these items around the house. If you’re running out of room at your table, setup a card table next to the big table and have the kids sit there. It creates more room, and makes the kids feel like they’re having their own special Thanksgiving.

Undercooked Turkey
Problem: Ideally, when you cook your turkey, the top should be a light golden brown and the dark meat is cooked thoroughly. However, sometimes, you’ll find that the turkey breast cooks faster than the legs, and you’re in a dilemma: cook the turkey some more and risk drying out the breasts.
Quick Fix: First, if you start cooking the turkey upside down in the pan, you’re less likely to have an uncooked bird. However, if you’ve already prepared the turkey, and it’s not all the way done. Take it out of the oven, remove the undercooked pieces and put them in a baking dish. Then finish cooking them separately.

Burned Pan Drippings
Problem: While you were cooking your turkey, the juices in the pan dried up and now the bottom of the pan is burned and you have nothing to make your delicious gravy with. Turkey without gravy just doesn’t seem like Thanksgiving.
Quick Fix: While you’re basting your turkey, you may need to add a little extra chicken/turkey stock as the cooking progresses. You can use water too, but chicken/turkey stock works much better. If you’ve already made the mistake, then you can cut off some of the browned skin and meat from the underside of the turkey. Chop the pieces finely and put them in a skillet, sauté them in bacon fat or butter with fresh herbs such as sage, parsley or thyme. When the mixture is browned and soft, add flour and broth. Keep in mind, the more flour you add, the thicker the gravy.

Too Salty
Problem: Sometimes when preparing side dishes, we’re not conscious of how much sodium is already in them. Or our hand gets a little overzealous with the salt shaker. Don’t fret. It can be corrected.
Quick Fix: If you add too much salt to the dish while you’re fixing it, just double your recipe. The more you make, the more you can dilute the salt. If you’ve over salted and already cooked your dish, it may not be a complete disaster, if you can add an acidic ingredient that cuts the salt, such as lemon juice, vinegar or wine. It doesn’t remove the salt from the dish, but it can distract from it.

Dinner Is Burned
Problem: You get distracted as the guest arrive, get into a conversation and the next thing you know, the smoke alarm is blaring and smoke is coming from the kitchen. You run in with your fire extinguisher, and put the fire out, but at this point, your Thanksgiving dinner is a cinder.
Quick Fix: This is probably the worst case scenario of a Thanksgiving dinner disaster. Don’t panic. Just jump online, do a few searches online and find a restaurant that’s open on Thanksgiving. Sure, it’s not the ideal dinner you were looking for. But everyone will get fed, and it will be an exciting story for future Thanksgivings.

Remember, there’s always a potential solution to your Thanksgiving disaster so don’t panic and get creative. If you have a Thanksgiving disaster story that had a happy ending. Please share it with our readers!

About the Author

The following post is from Kathryn Katz, a Certified Personal Finance Counselor who works for Consolidated Credit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Their non-profit agency helps families through financial crisis using credit counseling, debt consolidation and financial education.