Dream Cheeky will help you know How To Fix Mushy Stuffing 2022: Should Read
Despite my limited kitchen experience and history of ruining the most basic meals, I’ve been designated Thanksgiving host this year. Chances are, I’ll screw something up. If you’re in the same boat, we should be prepared. Here’s how to prevent and fix a few common Thanksgiving fails.
The Turkey Is Overcooked and Dry
It’s easy to overcook a turkey. You have darker meat that takes a while longer to cook, usually at the expense of the breast meat, which can dry out a lot faster.
If you’re going to roast a turkey whole and don’t want it to be dry, make sure you brine or salt crust it beforehand. You also have to be mindful of its temperature (that’s what meat thermometers are for). SErious Eats recommends you cook your turkey to 140 to 150°F to ensure its juiciness. (Other sources and recipes vary, up to 165°F)
But let’s say it’s too late for that. The damage is done; your bird is dry. At this point, your best bet is to hide the evidence. Epicurious recommends a few options:
- Pouring broth over the turkey: Not too much, though, as you don’t want to completely drench it, either. Similarly, you could slice the turkey and dip in broth before serving, as shown in the video above.
- Add butter: Add butter to your gravy, then brush over the turkey.
- A gravy/broth mix: Create a thinned-out gravy and broth stock, then pour it over turkey slices, cover the pan with foil and warm it at 200°F for about ten minutes.
And then there’s the opposite problem, of course: an undercooked, frozen bird. A turkey can take days to thaw. If you didn’t thaw your turkey enough, it’s possible to roast it frozen, but it will take some extra time. According to Still Tasty, it takes 50% longer to cook a frozen turkey than a thawed one. If a thawed turkey takes 3 ½ hours to cook, for example, the same sized frozen version will take about 4 ½ to 5 hours to cook. Adjust your recipe accordingly (or chop it up first).
The Pie Crust Is Still Soft and Raw
My biggest pie problem is an undercooked crust. The filling is great and everyone scarfs it down until they reach the soggy, raw crust.
The easiest way to fix this problem? Blind baking. You pre-cook the crust before you add the filling. The video above shows you how it’s done, but it’s pretty easy.
Line the bottom of your pie crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil. To keep the crust from bubbling, add beans or rice to weigh down the foil, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 400°F. If you want a partial bake, for a pumpkin or pecan pie, you’ll stop here, remove the weights, add your filling and bake your pie per the recipe. If you want to bake the crust all the way through (ideal if you’re making a custard), remove the weights and put the crust back in the oven for another few minutes to dry out the bottom.
If it’s already too late, though, and you notice guests forking around a soggy mess, you can pop the pie back in the oven. All Recipes recommends covering the pie with tin foil, then baking for 12 minutes at 425-450°F. Depending on what kind of pie you’re dealing with, you could also remove the top crust and filling, then rebake the bottom crust, pour the filling back into the cooked crust, then crush and sprinkle the top crust on top of the filling. It won’t be the same, but at least your crust will be cooked.
If you have the opposite problem, a burnt crust, you can try to use a grater to remove the burnt part. You could also try masking the taste with powdered sugar.
The Pumpkin Pie Is Cracked
Baking can be a pain. If your crust isn’t soggy, then your filing cracks. This usually happens when your oven is too hot or the pie gets overcooked (it’s a common issue with cheesecake, too). The problem is, your pie looks perfectly cooked when you pull it out, but then it starts to crack as it cools. Fine cooking explains why this happens:
Residual heat continues to cook the filling even after you’ve set your pie on the cooling rack, so the proteins continue to shorten, tearing open cracks in your perfect custard. To minimize cracking, it’s a good idea to remove pumpkin pie from the oven as soon as the custard filling sets but before it’s firm; the filling should jiggle a bit in the center when the pan is nudged.
In some cases, you might be able to smooth out these cracks with a metal spatula as shown in the video above. Chill the pie for a bit and use a heated spatula to get the job done.
If you can’t put the cracked pie back together, the good news is it’s easy enough to hide. Cover it with some whipped cream (or in the case of cheesecake, cherry topping), and most guests will be none the wiser. You could even serve the pie already sliced so the cracks won’t even matter. Again, add whipped cream and you’re good to go.
The Mashed Potatoes Are Runny
It’s hard to screw up mashed potatoes, but if you’re like me, no kitchen disaster is out of reach.
Maybe you added too much milk. Maybe you boiled your potatoes too long. Either way, runny potatoes seem like an impossible fix, but there are quite a few solutions. For example:
- Bake or cook over low heat to dry them out
- Thicken with flour and water
- Grate some raw potatoes, boil them, then add to your soupy mix
- Thicken with instant potatoes
I’ve also made a separate batch of potatoes, slightly thicker, then added to the original runny mix. That’s only useful if you have more potatoes on hand, of course.
One of my favorite solutions comes from All Recipes, and you can see how it’s done in the video above. Basically, if your potatoes come out gluey, give up on the idea of mashed potatoes altogether and make potato gratin. Add the mixture to a casserole dish, top with cheese and breadcrumbs, then bake.
The Stuffing Is Soggy
Stuffing seems pretty foolproof, too. Boil some stock, add bread and herbs and—boom-you’ve got stuffing. Sure, it’s easy enough to make, but it’s also easy enough to screw up. If your bread is too moist, it can throw off your recipe and leave you with drenched, mushy stuffing. If you’re cooking inside the bird (which you shouldn’t do,) the juices from the turkey can oversaturate the stuffing, too.
Rick Rogers, a cooking instructor and chef who literally wrote the book on stuffing, says the best way to prevent this is to err on the side of dry. Add less broth (he suggests a ratio of 1/2 cups broth to 8 cups of bread), cook, and then add your moisture afterward, if necessary.
However, if it’s too late and your stuffing is a soggy mess, you have a few options. First, you could spread the stuffing on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at about 375°F. You could also just stir in more dry bread. If you don’t have any, All Recipes suggests using croutons or drying out fresh bread in the toaster.
Prevention is the best medicine with any of these, but when you host Thanksgiving dinner, you’re trying to entertain relatives, keep up with a zillion tasks, and juggle multiple burners. It’s easy to screw something up even if you’re prepared. Most fails are easy enough to remedy, though, and the worst case scenario isn’t that bad, anyway. There are worse things than cracked pie.
Illustration by: Sam Woolley