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Charger Plates and Turkey Tools

The Martha Stewart Show, November 2009

Entertaining during the holidays often involves tableware and utensils that you don't use on a daily basis. Here's everything you need to know about some of the most useful holiday meal items: decorative charger plates and turkey roasting tools.

Using Charger Plates
Come holiday season, talk of chargers doesn't revolve around electronic gadgets, but rather the dinner table. A charger is an oversized decorative plate that sits beneath course plates.

Since many families put out chargers only for special occasions, it can be difficult to remember the proper etiquette for their use. If there is one rule for using chargers, it's this: They are for decoration, so food is not to be served directly on a charger.

From there, most people agree that first-course plates should be placed on top of chargers, both of which should be cleared before the main course arrives. Some choose to leave chargers out for entrees, but you should definitely remove them from the table before dessert.

Related
For more table-setting tips, including a glossary of tableware, see Setting the Table 101.

Essential Turkey Tools
On turkey day, it's especially important to have the right kitchen tools for the job to help you prepare a successful dinner. Here are the basics, from the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's, that every home chef should have for Thanksgiving.

  • Stainless Steel Roaster with Roasting Rack: Roasters are absolutely critical for a perfectly browned turkey.

  • Baster with Cleaner: Basting is the secret to a moist bird.

  • Pastry Brush: A pastry brush can be used to brush on juice -- or whatever you're basting your turkey with.

  • Fat Separator: This tool separates fat from juice, making gravy a cinch.

  • Meat Thermometer: A thermometer is essential for checking the temperature of your turkey, which should register 165 degrees at the thigh.

  • Casserole Pot: A large casserole pot is perfect for Thanksgiving staples such as mashed potatoes and green bean casserole.