Thanksgiving Dinner Disaster Rescue: How to Fix a Burnt, Dry Turkey and More

With so many dishes on the go and trying to visit with family at the same time, your well-planned Thanksgiving recipes can turn into a mess easily. Here’s what to do if…


The Turkey …

Burns while roasting: Flip the bird immediately and continue to cook. After it is done, just remove any blackened skin and also meat below burnt area.

Comes out too dry: Put some turkey stock in a spray bottle and spray the sliced meat. Or, slice the meat and pour some turkey stock over it, cover it, then bake. Or, pour on extra gravy.

Even if it’s dry, it’ll still be good as leftover meat prepared in a variety of ways, including barbeque. See our article on what to do with your leftovers


The Gravy …

Is too thin: Remove it from the heat and wait a little while. It may thicken. If it is still too thin, add a tablespoon of cornstarch or more flour with some cold water.

Is too thick: Add more broth or more liquid from the turkey pan.

Is too salty: Add some lemon juice or cream.

Is too bland and pale: The secret of all secrets—add a few granules of instant coffee.

Is too lumpy: Spin it in the blender for a couple seconds until it’s smooth, or pass it through a sieve or strainer.

Is not enough: If possible, try to make some extra drippings using whatever poultry you can get.


The Mashed Potatoes …

Are too sticky: Add more milk or more butter. You can turn a mistake into an advantage by forming the mashed potatoes into patties and frying them for a unique dish on your Thanksgiving table.

For next time, be sure to use a potato masher and not an electric mixer or put the potatoes through a rice or food mill before mixing them with butter and hot milk.


The Rolls…

Are burnt: Unfortunately, the only damage control for this situation is to simply remove the burned part.


The Veggies …

Are too brown: Cook them for two minutes in salted boiling water, then remove immediately and plunge them into ice water. Don’t forget to warm them up again before serving!


The Pie…

Crust is too soggy: Serve the filling without the crust, scooping it into individual dessert bowls. You can adorn it with whipped cream or icecream.

Is too inconsistent: This can happen without enough water. Just add some more water, sprinkle with flour and let stand for about 15 minutes.

Is too puffy: This can happen with wedged or cubed fruit, for example, with apple pie. Unfortunately, there’s not much to be done. But for next time, try thinly sliced fruit which makes for a trimmer pie.   

Don’t forget to make three large slits across the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.

Is burnt: Find a time machine.


*Image of burned turkey via Shutterstock