It’s officially Turkey Time and this is your chance to take stock of your tool drawer to make sure you have all the essentials you’ll need to make your Thanksgiving meal prep as stress-free as possible.
So, cozy up to our table as we compare lists, share our favorites, and tell you why we think you shouldn’t go another year with out these tools:
Roasting pan with rack: A roasting rack’s job is to first, catch drippings and second, get the turkey in – and out – of the oven, hence they generally have nice high walls and raised handles to make both as ouch-less as possible. But why the rack? rack that sits down in the pan hot air to circulate all around the meat for even browning, all while keeping it from sticking to bottom of the pan.
Thermometers: We’re talking both for the oven, and for the meat – and not just the little red pop up button. Temperature plays a huge roll in getting the bird to perfect doneness – on time – without drying out the meat, or worse, serving an uncooked bird. Sounds tricky, but knowing the exact temp of both the oven cavity and the internal temp of the meat can be a good way to measure. Foodsafety.gov suggests a minimum temperature of 165 degrees f for poultry.
Brine Mix: Brining allows you to infuse the turkey with salt and flavors, rather than just seasoning the skin. Here’s a great tip from Chef Lisa:
“Save time on thawing and brining by doing both at the same time! 2- 3 days prior to your meal, place frozen to partially thawed, unwrapped turkey – breast side down – into your brine solution, completely submerged, in a refrigerator that is 40 degrees or colder. Place foil, cling wrap or a lid over it to ensure nothing falls into the brine. Remember that thawing can take 1-6 days depending on the size of the bird, so plan ahead.”
Grooved Cutting Board: Once your turkey has cooked and rested, it’s time to carve! Cutting boards with juice grooves on the outer edge will capture juices as you carve, cutting down on mess and slippage.
Fat Separator: Rather than spooning off fats from the pan drippings, a separator allows fat to rise so the flavored liquids can be poured off to make gravy. This particular model has extra features like a strainer lid that catches unwanted bits of meat and a shield that prevents gravy from spilling over the top as you pour. Plus it’s heat resistant and dishwasher safe. Need a sure fire gravy recipe? Try this one…
Serrated Peeler: Just look at the teeth on that thing! Trust us, they’re sharp enough to quickly and effectively peel even the slickest skinned veggies so you can go ahead and peel enough for everyone to get their second helping of potatoes!
Potato Ricer : Mashed potatoes are a staple in the Thanksgiving meal, but the methods to prepare them are as varied as the families who eat them. If you are looking for smooth, fluffy potatoes, a ricer can get you there with out overworking the starch. The theory is that by pressing the cooked potatoes through small holes, instead of trying to mash them with a wide wiggle wire masher, you get an even texture. If you like chunky, there’s a ricer for that which comes with changeable plates, if you like the traditional one pot method of mashing, the ‘World’s Greatest’ Potato Masher combines a ricing plate with the wire for double mashing action.
Dough Blender: Yes, two butter knives will do – and after thirty minutes of that, fingers do just fine to – but with a dough blender you can cut in butter and lard in even pieces without getting your hands all buttery. See our pie crust recipe here. (Don’t be distracted by this one‘s pretentious claim of being ‘perfect’. It is a really nice one, though we like the rocking ones that fit down in the curve of a bowl too .)
Pie Weights: If you’ve ever tried a pre-baked crust without them, you know what we mean when we say – it may look lovely going in the oven, but usually comes out wilted or puffed, or both. Pie weights keep crust in place while it cooks and cools, so it’s just as lovely as when you carefully formed it.
Oven Liner: Let’s face it, pies overflow and turkeys drip, but you shouldn’t have to climb into the oven to clean that mess up. An oven liner protects the inside of your oven from these unfortunate spills and splashes so that all you have to do is pull it out and wipe it clean for the next meal.
Double Oven Ranges: a recent trend in the slide-in range market. Rather than having a ‘pan drawer’ or warming zone, these ranges make us of that space for a second small oven. This allows you to cook at multiple temperatures, with multiple dishes so everything is ready when you are.
Dishwasher and Dish Detergent: We all know that dinner is the big show, but where would we be without the clean up crew? Save some thanks for the dishwasher! Without scraping, with the right detergent, bigger tubs and smarter water cycles, it’s easy to get that sink-full of dishes loaded and done! For more info how dish detergents can work harder so you don’t have to- check out this article.
Additional ‘nice to have’ tools you might not have thought of:
Twine, Turkey lifters, Carving Knife and Fork Set, Knife Sharpener or Steel, Gravy Boat, Pan Whisk, Garlic Twist (mincer), Pastry Wheel Cutter, Silicone Pie Mat with Pan Sizes, Rolling Pin, Pie Bird, Pie Crust Shield, and of course –
Apron (depending on how many times you are prepared to change your outfit, this can qualify as ‘essential’).