7 cooking hacks to save your Thanksgiving from disaster

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Lumpy gravy? Try making a beurre manié instead of a roux. We’ll explain below.
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April Walloga

Even the most confident Thanksgiving cooks make mistakes.

There’s always one dish that doesn’t come out as good as last year, as bolder family members may remind you. Indeed, the pressure to cook the perfect holiday meal is heavy, especially if it’s your first time.

A former private chef and graduate of Paris’ Le Cordon Bleu, Elana Karp knows this pressure well.

She’s cooked more Thanksgiving dinners than she can remember. And in the test kitchen she manages for Plated, a popular subscription meal service, Karp writes and perfects 11 recipes every week. Identifying cooking shortcuts and hacks is her specialty.

We visited her kitchen to learn solutions to seven problems cooks commonly face on Thanksgiving.


Welcome to Plated’s New York City headquarters.

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April Walloga

This is the test kitchen where all of the recipes that end up in your Plated boxes are created.

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April Walloga

And this is Plated’s culinary vice president, Elana Karp. Today she’s demonstrating hacks for common blunders with turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and pie.

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April Walloga

1. LUMPY GRAVY: What do you do if your gravy is lumpy and there aren’t enough turkey drippings to make a second batch?

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April Walloga

First, grab a few cubes of butter and a couple tablespoons of flour.

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April Walloga

Then mix the two together until they form a paste. This is called a beurre manié (“hand butter”), and it can be used in place of the more lumpy prone roux.

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April Walloga

A roux is made by mixing raw flour into a pan with browned butter. It’s tricky to get right if you’ve never done it before.


One by one, drop bits of the beurre manié into a pot of boiling, low-sodium chicken stock and whisk vigorously until the gravy thickens.

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April Walloga

After about five minutes, you’ll have perfect, lump-free gravy. Don’t forget to add salt and pepper to taste.

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April Walloga

2. BURNT TURKEY: If areas of your turkey are getting a little burnt, pull that sucker out and put aluminum foil bandages over its burnt spots. You can’t turn back time, but you can prevent further scorching.

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April Walloga

3. RAW TURKEY: Worse than a burnt turkey is a raw turkey. If you realize your bird is still raw mid-carve, don’t panic.

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April Walloga

Arrange the fully carved turkey in the roasting pan and stick it back in the oven. Carving the turkey and re-roasting it is also a good hack for crisper skin.

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April Walloga

4. NO ROASTING RACK: Simply use nature’s roasting rack, potatoes.

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April Walloga

Slice potatoes into 1/4 inch rounds and lay down one to two layers in the bottom of a roasting pan. Not only will they keep your bird from stewing in its own juices, they’ll absorb the drippings and taste AMAZING.

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April Walloga

5. DRY TURKEY: This one’s easy. Just carve the turkey and pour gravy on top of it before you serve.

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April Walloga

6. LUMPY OR SALTY POTATOES: If your potatoes are too salty, try adding more milk. This will thin them a bit, but it’s better than boiling and mashing extra potatoes if you’re in a hurry.

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April Walloga

Throw lumpy potatoes into the stand mixer and you’ll get a perfect consistency every time. You can also use a hand mixer for the same result — but avoid the blender at all costs.

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April Walloga

7. PIE CRUST PROBLEMS: The best way to deal with a pie disaster is to turn the pie into something else.

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April Walloga

In this case we’re styling an apple pie into a crumble. Our pie is cooked everywhere but the middle of the bottom crust, a common pie fail.

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April Walloga

So we scraped the filling into another pie dish and put the raw pie crust back in the oven to finish cooking.

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April Walloga

Then we crumbled the perfectly cooked pie crust on top of the filling and added ice cream. You can also do this with small serving dishes and make individual crumbles.

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April Walloga

Finally, the ultimate Thanksgiving hack is to outsource some of your sides to Plated. This holiday they’ll be delivering recipes and ingredients for acorn squash with apple-sausage stuffing, pumpkin baked pasta with sage, pecan pie bars, and more.

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Plated

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