Kitchen Helpline: Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is the time of year that gets many people into the kitchen. As they plan their turkey day meals, viewers have reached out to us with the turkey day questions weighing on their minds. Here are some commonly asked questions as answered by The Kitchen!

Question 1: "I want my turkey to look like a magazine cover--what can I do to make it look pretty?"

To make your turkey look camera-ready, consider altering the usual turkey platter. For a traditional look, go with a colorful earthen platter in place of the ubiquitous white or printed one. To give your table a more rustic feel, think outside the box and present your bird on a large cutting board. Add a base of fresh, leafy kale. This will help absorb the juices of the turkey and keep the platter or cutting board looking tidy. Place the turkey on a bed of kale and surround it with edible garnishes such as cut lemon wedges or orange slices. Scattered cranberries or halved pomegranates add a pop of color.

You can also tie together a bunch of unused fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme to make a "bouquet garni." Stuff it into the cavity of the bird and the heat from the turkey will warm the herbs, letting off a wonderful aroma when you present it to your guests.

Question 2: "Every year I wind up with lumpy mashed potatoes--how can I avoid this?"

Lumpy mashed potatoes are usually the result of undercooked potatoes or potatoes that haven't been mixed well. There are a number of ways to ensure smooth and creamy spuds.

  • Cook Your Potatoes Through: Cook peeled and halved potatoes. Halved potatoes absorb less water than potatoes cut into smaller pieces and are more likely to have a better consistency. Test for doneness using a fork; the fork should go through easily and the potatoes should break apart with little resistance.
  • Use a Ricer or Colander: Another trick to silky mashed potatoes is putting them through a potato ricer. A ricer can be purchased at your local kitchen supply store. If you can't find a potato ricer, use a bowl to push the cooked potatoes through a colander. The texture will be similar to that of the ricer and your mash will be nice and smooth.

Question 3: "I want to try something new this year without straying too far from traditional flavors. Any ideas?"

Cranberry sauce is a great low-risk place to play with new flavors. It's very easy to put out 2 types of cranberry sauce--one traditional and one with an interesting mix-in. Great options are minced fresh ginger, crushed pineapple, minced jalapeno or lime zest. You can also try different combinations of these flavors for an interesting twist on this holiday must-have. Katie Lee likes to use fresh minced ginger, pineapple and lime.