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Avoiding Holiday Cooking Mistakes

(KTVI) – Snoopy always made preparing a Thanksgiving feast so easy.  But mistakes do happen.  

Chef Matthew Borchart, from L’ecole Culinaire Academy, explains some solutions to the most common mistakes.

Turkey Brining Recipe

1 cup Sugar
1 cup Kosher Salt
1 gallon Water
Add Herbs and Honey if Desired

The Turkey Hack Job

  • Take out the pop-up thermometer and use a digital thermometer
  • Carving is best done where there’s elbow room and a large, stable cutting surface and professionally sharpened knife.
  • Set the big pieces onto a cutting board where you can deal with them properly.
  • Take the breast meat off the bone in one piece, then slice crosswise, which ensures uniformity and allows for slightly thicker slices that are juicier and less fibrous than thin portions.

Your gravy is lumpy

  • One cause is the direct dumping of dry flour, cornstarch, or other thickener into the hot stock or broth.
  • Another: adding broth too quickly.
  • In any starch-based sauce, the thickener needs to be gradually introduced to the hot liquid it’s supposed to thicken. The easiest way, involves whisking flour into the broth mixture, then stirring until the gravy comes together.
  • If lumps happen, pass gravy through a sieve or strainer, or puree it.

Your mashed potatoes are gluey

  • Overcooked or insufficiently drained potatoes can become sticky, as can the wrong kind of potato.
  • But the main problem is overworked spuds.
  • The science is simple: Boiled potatoes develop swollen starch cells. When ruptured during mashing, the cells release starch. The more cells are ruptured, the gummier the mashed potatoes.
  • So if you use an electric mixer or food processor to mash your potatoes, you’ll probably beat them mercilessly and end up with wallpaper paste. Use a Potato Masher for the best potatoes.

My Pumpkin Pie has a sink-hole right down the middle!

  • A custard pie, which is what your pumpkin pie is, cracks because it is over cooked, has  too much starch in the mix, or cooled too fast.
  • The best way to resolve the issue is to pull the pie from the oven just as it sets, no longer – the custard will continue to thicken while it cools.
  • However, if you end-up with a crevasse down the middle of your holiday pie, it’s time to create the illusion of perfection, and whipped cream will be your ‘smoke-and-mirrors’.
  • Pipe or spread some lightly sweetened whipped cream to cover the entire top of your pie, try to make the repair with a decorative pattern.