Thanksgiving Cooking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them: Part 3

We're officially less than a week away from Thanksgiving Day! So far in this series, we've discussed mistakes to avoid while planning your meal and cooking your turkey. Today, it's all about the side dishes.

Read on below for the most common mistakes you can make on the holiday's most popular side dishes and two different ways to correct them!

Mistake 1: Dry or soggy stuffing

We already pointed out the importance of cooking stuffing in a separate casserole dish in the oven while talking turkey, but your stuffing can still go one of two terrible directions: too dry or too soggy! If your stuffing comes out of the oven overcooked and dry, combine melted butter with turkey or chicken broth and baste it over the stuffing. Cover with foil and pop it back in the oven until it's nice and moist and your problem is solved!

On the other end of the stuffing spectrum, if the side dish is too soggy, spread an evenly distributed layer in a rimmed baking sheet and let it cook in the oven until it's dried out to a more edible consistency.

Mistake 2: Thin or lumpy gravy

Consider gravy the most important culinary topping on the table. However, making stovetop gravy can be a particular art, and the results can often turn out too thin or lumpy. If your gravy is too thin, form a paste by combining equal parts flour and water in a bowl. Bring your soupy stovetop concoction back to a boil and whisk in the paste dollop by dollop until it reaches the perfect, thick consistency. (Pro tip: replacing flour with cornstarch will also fix the problem.)

Have a gravy that just won't come together? Transfer the lumpy gravy from the stovetop to a blender and blend until the gravy is smooth and fully homogenous. Better yet, use an immersion blender if you have one on hand, and always make sure to reheat the gravy before serving!

Mistake 3: Gluey or lumpy mashed potatoes

Over-whipping (or -mashing) your potatoes will leave them sticky, gluey and the exact opposite of the fluffy consistency you're looking for. However, rather than starting over from scratch, improvise by adding some shredded cheese and an egg to the potatoes and bake them until they turn golden brown!

If your mashed potatoes turn out lumpy, that usually means they've been undercooked before you started mashing. Try adding a bit of milk or cream and cook the potatoes over low heat until the lumps soften and you can get back to mashing.

(Extra tip for the perfect potatoes this holiday: instead of mashing your spuds, try running them through a ricer. It's a different texture, but it'll turn the potatoes into thin, delicious starchy ribbons of pure bliss. Just add butter, milk and season to taste and enjoy!)