Thanksgiving Prep and Troubleshooting

There are a ton of great chefs, cooks, entertainers, and psychotherapists here. Along with makers, tinkerers, nuclear physicists, and etiquette ninjas.

So ask away! I will post one or two quick tips, then lets move on to averting disasters! (While keeping in mind that disasters make the funniest stories).

Fun fact: Julia Child refused to have her phone number unlisted on thanksgiving, and fielded more time with random phone calls than she did cooking. She loved it.


#Potatoes Matter

This is an easy one, but just as easy to mess up.

From @nothingfuture

Mashed: use russets exclusively. Those are the big brown guys. Save a cup of potato water to use with the cream or half and half.

Russet mashed look like this:

Red mashed look like this:

Yukon mashed look like this:

Roasted: in the US, use Yukon gold. In the UK, Maris if you can find them. Quater, boil, remove, cover with oil/herb/salt, then roast.

Whole, tossed in butter: fingerlings with a mix of red and white. Serve them whole with a side of horseradish, or like this pic–they are tiny, and garnished with scallion and caviar :smile:


#Cranberry Sauce

Easiest thing ever.

  • One package cranberries, 12 oz.
  • One cup sugar.
  • Juice from half a lemon.
  • Half a cup water.

Cook on medium low till all the cranberries have popped. Serve hot or cold.

These havnt popped yet, bit that is about the right amount of liquid.


Add a good two-second pour of Grand Marnier to this before cooking!!!


For Mashed, one can make a fantastic batch using Red potatoes (leaving the skins on, mind you, for the full “dirty” effect).

Likewise, as an alternative, white sweet potatoes can be coaxed into mashed as well- but skip the cream/milk entirely, and only add a bit of butter and salt. Works best if you bake them instead of boiling them.

Whatever you do, do not mix varieties of potatoes for a batch of mashed. Ever.
For roasted, you can mix and match provided:

  1. They are the same family (high starch/medium starch)
  2. They are all the same size

How many ounces? Please and thank you!

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Usually 16oz, 1lb, or 454gm.

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Sometimes, when feeling ambitious and wasting time, I’ll peel them, cut them small, and boil them. But just keep going and let it cook itself down. If the heat is low enough and you don’t scorch it, it will eventually thicken itself down to a very creamy super smooth potato paste which is DELECTABLE with butter and cream. And for a fancy variation, put masaman curry and coconut milk in. Masaman curry potatoes are wonderful.


Ocean spray here sells them in 12 oz packages, but it doesn’t really matter :slight_smile:


I always do 2 or 3 packages. You don’t want to get to the day after, you have your sandwich all piled up with turkey, stuffing, gravy and then you realize DOH! no more cranberry. Don’t make that mistake, just make extra cranberry.


My friends are making molé to have with the smoked turkey this year. There will be many pictures and a debriefing.


#My biggest T-day problem

I have three guests that always just sit alone politely. I don’t want to make them uncomfortable, but what do I do about wall flowers (I.e. my mother) so they have a good time?

Gracious greeting with flowers? Appoint them as DJ? Hand written thanks cards?

…dare I say home movies and perhaps a slide projector?


O! I always like to make some mulled wine… ideas for this?

this year, we’re not contemplating some tortillas!


Ooh! My favorite mulled wine is always Rose from a big, cheap box. Mixed 2/3 wine (or to taste) with good apple juice, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Perhaps a touch of sugar.

Keep away from kids :smiley:


First thing that comes to mind is, what is the sound/noise level like? Lots of conversation and background noise? Especially if it’s not a younger person, maybe it’s hard for them to distinguish sounds and take part in conversation, and they give up trying and just sit back and watch? If that might be the case, perhaps somehow arrange for the environment (at least around them) to be quieter?

Also, have you tried asking them each directly, ahead of time, for suggestions on what might make the party better, from their perspective? You may or may not get info you can use, but it might be worth a try.


Board games?


And @TobinL things are quiet, and board games are , ahem, on the table.

I had a quick phone call an hour ago, and I think a “goofy photograph tour” will be part of the fun. That, a few good board games, and a nice bonfire?

Ive learned over the years that the most important thing is to designate. My parents/step parents on the photos, my guy friends on the fire, their kids on the games, and the single people on the music?


Your thanksgiving sounds like it’s going to be amazing!


This is my #1 must-have Thanksgiving item:

No brining. No marinating. No dry turkey. And if I’m really careful, the pan barely even gets dirty!
One caveat: do not use these with a Butterball brand turkey. It will turn into tasteless turkey mush.

I second the recommendation for cheap wine. I usually just buy the pre-mixed mulling spices and add a cinnamon stick or two. Maybe an orange cut in half, and some sugar.

Also good to make: Hot Buttered Rum. Use hot cider instead of water and you’ll be under the table before you know it.


So, new turkey cooking tip from a friend! Soak a cheese cloth in butter (after putting butter underneath the turkey skin) and it does the same as the oven bags… but with butter!

Cheap wine is perfect for it. I like to mix up the spices, so…