A roasting pan is a gimme, but there are other kitchen tools that are a huge help on turkey day too. We rounded up some of our favorite kitchen gadgets to have on hand for Thanksgiving (that are also some of the easiest to overlook).
There are alpha cooks across the country that approach the making of Thanksgiving dinner like a highly competitive, full-contact sport. The day's iconic football matchups are no match for the speed, strength and agility exhibited by this rare, and frankly, terrifying breed. Tag someone you know who's most likely to have everything complete, table set, glass of Beaujolais in hand, with only the turkey left to carve when the first guests start arriving. Then let's forcibly take a blood sample from those who are tagged and send it out for DNA-testing, to see if we can synthesize some of that ability into a water-soluble pill.
Then there are the rest of us who, until said pill passes USDA testing, might need a little help from other sources. Those of us who don't share the "what's the big deal?" attitude toward a meal that requires a month of planning, a week of shopping and several days of cooking and organizing, for approximately two hours of eating. (Excellent leftovers notwithstanding.)
Simplified recipes, turkey alternatives and expert shortcuts are somewhat helpful and all, but sometimes a little, old-fashioned retail therapy to equip yourself for the battle ahead is necessary. To that end, here are 12 kitchen gadgets and goods that promise to at least make it a fair fight.
Girding one's loins may be a bit extreme for the kind of battle you're going into, but you can think ahead to how much time you might be on your feet during the days leading up to the main event. Prevent some unnecessary foot and leg strain by putting a little cushioning between those trotters and your hard kitchen floor. Because nothing ruins the festive mood quite like the cook's feet up on the otherwise well-appointed table.
This is early in the lineup of helpful supplies to remind you that, if you are rolling out pie crust day of, you're already screwed. Pie crust assembly is one of the most blaspheme-inciting elements of Thanksgiving prep, IMHO. A nonstick surface, for starters, such as this silicone rolling mat, takes the potential for drama down a notch, and its useful geometric guide all but insures against personal damnation once the crust hits the pan.
Read more on Chowhound: Thanksgiving recipes you can make ahead of time
Perhaps you are already in possession of such a device from the beach and summer picnics of yore. If so, consider putting it to good use during your November feast. It's no fun to go all-out on a turkey brine and then realize you've nowhere to keep a 25-pounder cold overnight. You can either utilize the cooler, or use it to clean out temporary space in your refrigerator. Then once the turkey is safely in the oven, you've got a giant vessel handy to keep out on the porch or fill with ice for all the additional beverages in need of chilling you told people not to bring.
An oft-forgotten, yet necessary supply, for keeping your stuffed bird snugly bound during its mammoth cooking process. You don't want to take your chances in the junk drawer for bits of ribbon or rubber bands. Alternative applications include tying your hair back once the kitchen becomes too hot, or binding well-meaning but ultimately counter-productive would-be helpers to chairs in another room. (See how to truss a turkey if you're not quite sure what to tie where.)
Here's what inevitably happens when you roll without the Mercedes of thermometers: you keep opening the oven, certain that your golden brown turkey must have achieved the correct internal temperature, even though only an hour has elapsed. You will repeat this roughly every half hour, making it impossible for your oven to maintain its heat, adding a couple more hours onto the cooking time. Nobody has time for that. With this cordless device, set it and forget it.
Everything but the bird can be sliced up with a good, sharp mandolin, including your knuckles if you're not careful, so do consider your mental state before proceeding. If you're cleared for takeoff, quick work can be made of those finishing touches: a gorgeous Brussels sprout slaw, perfect slices for a fancy sweet potato casserole, rings of shallots for garnish or the onions for the green bean casserole you decided to frizzle yourself this year.
While just about everything to accompany the turkey can be made in advance and held warm, a gravy relying on the drippings from the turkey is potentially the most time-sensitive element to prepare, and just at the moment when the pressure is highest and the end is in sight. Here's a handy, fool-proof device that saves you a step in the gravy train, removing the fat and any particles from the flavorful juices that are destined to be the star of the show. (Yes, the gravy. Fight me.)
There's a lot to keep track of when it comes to such an epic meal, with multiple courses that require juggling multiple pieces of cookware in the oven and on the stovetop and paying attention to different cook times and garnishes. Write down all the pertinent info on this magnetic dry erase board that sticks to the fridge so it stays in sight and top of mind.
You know your family well, but perhaps you have forgotten from last year the stress of family celebrations of this scope, and what you thought was an ambitious supply of dinner wine turns out not to be enough. Whether you are providing a rich, white Meursault, or a light Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley (or both) you can get the chill on quickly when needed with this insulated wine bucket. Or if one won't cut it, try this trio of space-efficient gel pack bags. A little chill wouldn't hurt the proceedings by any of its meanings.
Does this sound at all familiar? While the turkey cooks all day you manage to prepare the whole army of side dishes, which are now resting in their vessels, ready to go, on the stovetop. You're just about to pat yourself on the back for your efficiency and prowess when you realize you have no place to put the turkey out of the oven. Or make gravy. Introducing the hot plate: a second stovetop specifically designed for moments exactly like this.
A hallmark of the Thanksgiving meal is that counter and table space becomes a premium as the day progresses, so when it comes to the big finish and those assorted pies, a pretty, tiered dessert stand is both a treat for yourself that you can employ all year, and a necessary verticalizing mechanism.
If all else fails, have this on hand for keeping people out of the kitchen while you either finish what you're doing, or have a total meltdown. Either way, it's good for laughter, the most powerful tool in the Thanksgiving supplies arsenal.