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Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner fixes

by The SUCCESS MANAGERS TEAM, The Chef Alliance

Holidays are a hectic yet wonderful time for a Personal Chef - you are not nly looking after your own family and friends, but you've also got to make perfect meals for your clients, who want nothing more than to sit back and enjoy the holiday.  

With so much going on, it's not unusual for something to go wrong - it's how you handle it that can make or break you.  We have served up a few tips on common things that can go wrong with the traditional turkey dinner.  

If you have a few more tips, we'd love to add them to the list along with your name!  Simply email us your tips!

Lumpy gravy - transfer to a blender and whiz for a few seconds to take out the lumps, before returning to the saucepan for warming before serving.

Thin gravy - combine equal parts of flour (or cornflour) and cold water in a bowl until it forms a paste. in a saucepan, bring the thin gravy to a boil and slowly add the paste; whisk until the gravy thickens to the desired consistency.

Too much fat - if you have added the drippings from your meat to elevate the flavours of your gravy, but there is too much fat, then cool the gravy and spoon off the fat, which will rise to the top.  If you don't have time to cool and then reheat it, fill a metal ladle with ice and run it across the surface of the gravy - the fat will 'stick' to the underside of the ladle, and can be wiped off before repeating until all the excess fat has been removed.


Soggy stuffing - spread it out in a thin layer and place in the oven at about 300F until it dries out.

Dry stuffing - whisk together a few tablespoons of butter and broth and sprinkle it over the dry stuffing; cover with aluminum foil and bake for a few minutes at 350F - the steam will moisten the stuffing.


Lumpy mashed potatoes - add a little milk or cream, and cook over a low heat until the lumps of undercooked potato have time to soften.

Gluey mashed potatoes - mix in some grated cheese and an egg, and scoop into lightly-greased a cupcake pan.  Pop in a 350F oven until the tops are crispy and a golden brown.

Soggy roast potatoes - this often happens if the oven is overcrowded.  Remove everything from the oven, spread the potatoes out on shallow baking trays and roast until crispy.  Make sure that you use an oil with a high burning temperature to coat the potatoes for the best results.


Over-cooking sprouts can be rescued - simply drain, return to a pan with a teaspoon of butter and a generous splash of cream and mash while cooking.  Season with salt, black pepper and a little nutmeg.  If you have them add chestnuts for texture and a gourmet twist.


Over-cooking root vegetables, leaving them soft and mushy doesn't have to be a disaster.  Simply convert them into a soup but pureeing them with broth and cream (if desired) - if there's not enough for a bowl for each guest, serve as soup 'shots.'


Frozen turkey - the best way to thaw a turkey is in a fridge, but this can take a few days, depending on the size.  A faster way is to submerge the frozen turkey in a cold water bath (e.g. in a sink or an ice cooler), changing the water often until thawed.  Another way is to cut the turkey in half along the breastbone, or into portions and then to roast the pieces on a baking tray with herbs and veggies (the breast will cook faster, so add it to the oven after some time has passed).

Dry turkey - spray or drizzle warm chicken stock over the sliced turkey, or pour the stock over the sliced/portioned meat, cover with foil and place in a 350F oven for about 8-10 minutes so that the meat can absorb some of the stock before being served.

Delayed dinner - it's common for guests to arrive late or for your clients to ask that you hold off on serving dinner while guests mingle for a while longer.  Keeping the turkey warm without drying it out is as simple as wrapping it up well in aluminum foil and then covering it with a few towels - it should stay warm for a few hours.

​Too big for the oven - simply trim it down so that it will fit.  For example, trim off the legs and braise or confit them.  Or, you can remove the breasts and roast them later on in the cooking cycle on the tray.

Undercooked turkey - if you have underestimated the cooking time for the turkey and it comes out a little too pink for comfort, simply carve it up as you would have done, spray with broth and cover with foil; then place it back in the oven until cooked properly.  Alternatively, place the portions on a hot skillet and saute until cooked through.​​

The Chef Alliance is the leading organisation of Private & Personal Chefs & Caterers in Canada offering Chefs a place to locate jobs, meet new clients, grow their business, benefit from peer support, discounts to lower their business costs, marketing services & much more.  This allows Chefs concentrate on what they do best - cook great food!