The tools that could save Thanksgiving: Day 1
The first in a three-part series of kitchen gadgets that will help home cooks pull off the big meal on Thanksgiving Day. Part one focuses on the main event, the turkey.
Now that Thanksgiving's just around the corner, it's a good time to take stock of the equipment in your kitchen to make sure you have everything you need to pull off the big feast. We've put together a three-part series of gadgets that can help with every stage of the meal. Today we'll focus on cooking the bird, with side dishes on Thursday, and desserts on Friday.
The bulb baster is a tried-and-true turkey tool used to keep the skin of the turkey moist and flavorful. Recently though, there's been a trend toward injecting turkeys with combinations of juice, water, herbs, and spices to boost the flavor of the meat. Cuisipro now has a device that marries the old with the new. This dual baster/injector has two interchangeable heads: one with an injecting needle and one with a shower-like baster.
Since every oven is different and turkeys at Thanksgiving tend to be big, a meat thermometer is essential for making sure the bird is cooked all the way through. A digital thermometer takes the guesswork out of determining doneness, so you don't have to overcook your turkey to make sure it's safe to eat.
This Maverick Redi-Chek remote thermometer allows you to simply select the type of meat you're cooking and how well you want it cooked. It monitors the temperature of the meat as it cooks, then sets off an alarm when it has reached the proper temperature. Lots of digital thermometers do this, but the Redi-Chek's best feature is that it comes with a remote pager that operates within a 100-foot range, meaning cooks don't have to miss out on the Cowboys-Jets game while they monitor what's happening in the oven.
If you're starting to think there's a silicone alternative to just about everything in the kitchen...well, I think I have to agree.
Wrapables.com has a silicone "looplace," which can be used to close the turkey cavity. It's dishwasher safe and comes with a mesh bag for storage and for running through the washer. The company's food loops can be used to truss the turkey (and to keep wrapped or stuffed meat and fish nice and tidy during cooking).
Lifting a finished turkey from its roasting pan can be tricky business. For large gatherings, a turkey can weigh upwards of 20 lbs. and is usually perched atop a pan of blazing hot grease. Moving a hot turkey from the roasting pan to a cutting board or serving platter should always be a two-person job. But turkey lifters can help give you about as good a grip on the bird as you'll get, the key being getting support underneath the bulk of the weight.
These Norpro lifters are available at Amazon.com, but their fork design is pretty standard, and similar utensils can be found from other suppliers. Bed Bath & Beyond has another style that's designed to help cooks airlift the bird out of the pan.
Even the most skilled carver won't be able to serve good-looking, evenly sliced turkey without a sharp knife. So make sure you have a quality carving knife ahead of time so you don't end up hacking your perfectly cooked Thanksgiving turkey into a mangled mess.
Purists might prefer a manual carving set, but electric carving knives will make quick work of any big roast and they can help carving newbies or people who don't have a lot of hand strength turn out nice, even slices. This Black & Decker EK800 Slice Right gets America's Test Kitchen's nod as the best one available today.
When making gravy from scratch, the fat needs to be separated from the lean drippings. The easiest way to do that is to let it cool down so the fat starts to solidify on top and can be spooned off easily. But that, of course, takes time that might not be available at that stage in the game.
This OXO fat separator allows you to separate out the fat while the drippings are still hot, so you can get crackin' on the gravy right away.
It's always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher on hand and easily accessible from the kitchen, but it's especially important during the chaos of Thanksgiving cooking and particularly for those deep frying their turkeys.
The HomeHero is not just a stylish fire extinguisher. It can also be integrated into a networked fire safety system that uses dual smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. When one alarm goes off, all alarms in the house go off. And when a fire extinguisher is in use, the whole house is automatically alerted that there is a fire. What's more, rather than simply setting off a beeping alarm at an ungodly decibel level, a voice recording calmly instructs residents on what immediate steps to take. The HomeHero fire extinguisher was named one of 2007's IDEA design award winners. When it becomes available, it will be sold exclusively at Home Depot for $25 a piece, according to the Daily Olive.