F&W Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki reveals the best ways to salvage your Thanksgiving dinner when common turkey disasters strike. Most importantly, remember this: “Gravy has a lot of magical powers,” says Ujlaki.
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Michael Symon's Perfect Turkey
1. If your turkey hasn’t defrosted… Season the still-frozen bird and put it in the oven. It’s safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Cooking time will be at least 50 percent longer than it is for a fully thawed turkey (for example, a bird that would ordinarily be done in four hours will likely take six hours to cook).
2. If your roasting pan is too small… Roast the turkey on the largest baking sheet in your kitchen or snag a deep disposable foil roasting pan.
3. If you forgot to remove the giblets… Years ago, giblets were usually packed in a plastic bag within the bird, which led to some scary plastic-scented roasts. But now most come wrapped in paper, possibly because poultry companies realized that so many people forgot to remove them. Cooking the paper-wrapped giblets won’t affect the taste or safety of the turkey—just remember to remove them before serving.
4. If you overcook the turkey… Use a very sharp knife to minimize shredding, and make sure you have lots of gravy. “There are so many other foods on the table that an overcooked turkey bathed in delicious gravy won’t be the focus,” says Ujlaki.
5. If you undercook the turkey… Since the breast finishes cooking first, remove the legs and wings, and put them back in a pan to continue roasting on their own. You can always pretend you’re serving the turkey in two courses: white meat first, then dark meat. Or save the dark pieces for awesome leftovers.
6. If one turkey isn't enough… When there’s a risk of last-minute guests, roast an extra breast instead of making two turkeys—few ovens have room for more than one turkey.
7. If your turkey is too salty… Counteract saltiness with a sweet gravy and sweet cranberry sauce.