Getting ready to host a big meal isn’t a task to be taken lightly. It requires cunning, know-how, and a lot of patience. You have to be sure to wear several hats, and take on each role with a calming demeanor that makes your guests feel at ease and completely taken care of. But no matter how calm, cool, and collected you are, if something bad happens to your turkey on Thanksgiving, chances are you will panic.
To prevent you from losing your cool, we spoke with several chefs from noted restaurants to get the inside scoop on how to save your Thanksgiving turkey, and also how to prevent a few bad things from happening from the get-go.
We asked them to weigh in on every type of turkey emergency — from dry turkey to frozen turkey — and rounded up their fabulous tips to help you to save your Thanksgiving dinner!
"If it’s browning too fast, simply turn the temperature of the oven down. To slow, turn the temperature of the oven up or turn the fan on if it’s a convection oven."
— Chef Matthew McClure, 21c’s The Hive
"If you think you're turkey is browning too fast, lower the heat on your oven. During the last five minutes of cooking your turkey, crank up the oven to 500 degrees if browning too slow."
— Glenn Harris, chef/owner of The Smith
"Too fast: no problem, cover with foil and slightly reduce temperature. Too slow: increase the heat and or baste with a butter-soy mixture."
— Ford Fry, chef/restaurateur, Rocket Farm Restaurants
"Throw it in the trash and order in." — Glenn Harris, chef-owner of The Smith
"Ha! Once it's burnt, it's burnt! Break in to your neighbor's house with ski masks on and steal theirs!" —Ford Fry, chef-restaurateur, Rocket Farm Restaurants
"If you’re up for breaking Thanksgiving dinner tradition, start the 'leftovers' tradition early and whip up some sandwiches with a great aïoli and cranberry sauce. The condiments will make the turkey taste moist again!" — Matthew McClure, chef at 21c’s The Hive
"This will slow down the cooking time of the turkey, but shouldn’t be a problem. Just make sure to check the temp of the turkey before serving!" — Matthew McClure, chef at 21c’s The Hive
"No worries. Pull them out whenever, chop really fine, and add to stuffing or gravy." — Ford Fry, chef-restaurateur, Rocket Farm Restaurants
"Place the bird in lukewarm water with 3 percent salt, which acts as an 'express brine,' further tenderizing meat and adding additional flavor." — Eduard Frauneder, co-chef-owner of Edi & the Wolf, Seasonal, The Third Man
"If frozen: Thaw, thaw, thaw! Defrost turkey in the refrigerator on a tray (to catch the drippings) for about three days. If you wake up on Thanksgiving morning and your bird is still frozen, thaw in cold water (place in sink or cooler, and if possible, run water for the duration, which will help thaw the bird evenly). Depending on the size, it will take four to five hours."— Elizabeth Karmel, founder of Girls at the Grill and Carolina Cue To Go
"Turn oven down to 100 to 110 degrees. This will hold the bird warm without overcooking, and buy you one to three hours of time." — Matthew McClure, chef at 21c’s The Hive
"Separate the breast, thighs, and legs, and take all the meat off the carcass, and then put it back in the oven. Separate, smaller pieces will roast quicker." — Glenn Harris, chef-owner of The Smith
"Remove both breasts from the bone and both leg and thighs. Place skin-side-down on a roasting pan in a shallow pool of chicken broth and roast till done." — Ford Fry, chef-restaurateur, Rocket Farm Restaurants