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Thanksgiving Hotline FAQ

Radio

Thanksgiving Hotline FAQ

Martha Stewart Living Radio (Sirius 112 and XM 157) ran a Thanksgiving hotline from Monday, November 24, 2008 until Wednesday, November 26, 2008. Martha and friends including Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, and Tom Colicchio manned the hotline and answered all your Thanksgiving questions!

The most popular question? How to brine a turkey. Since the hotline was a huge hit we've compiled a list of other frequently asked questions. Enjoy!

Gravy

Cindy's question: I need to know the best ingredient and method to thicken gravy. 

Chef David Burke: Most people use all purpose flour. You can use cookies, gingersnaps -- use anything that has starch. You could also use bread. But most people use flour because it's convenient and traditional. I recommend throwing some gingersnaps in, to thicken the gravy -- it gives a holiday spice. You can also use corn starch and water [to thicken gravy]. I've always used a little bit of flour, but I like to add flavorings later on like ginger and sage. Add a little zip to your gravy with some vinegar, lemon juice, or black pepper. Apple juice is another thing you can add instead of deglazing with water when you make the pan dripping. Throw in a little apple juice, orange juice and then add your flour. 

Cindy: Second question -- I never seem to have enough [gravy] for my guests and leftovers. You can't have leftovers without gravy. How do you fix that? What's the ratio of liquid to person? 

David Burke: Most people are going to put 2-3 ounces on their plate, so make half a cup per person which is 4 ounces.

Cindy: How do you do that if you only have a finite amount of turkey? 

David Burke: You're going to add more broth or water and stretch it out. And don't forget butter! Butter is your friend! It's a holiday!

Stuffing

Susan's question: What's your favorite stuffing?

Chef Tom Colicchio: Mine's kind of a play on something my grandmother used to do: breakfast sausage. I like celery, onion and fennel in my stuffing. I also add giblets.Lately I've started using raisin semlina bread that I buy here in New York, but if you can't get that you can just put regular bread in and add golden raisins.

I also started adding diced pork belly and braised pork belly [to my stuffing]. Sausage wasn't enough -- you need more fat! There's also a good amount of butter, chicken stock and a lot of sage. It's on the soft side too. I put the [stuffing] in the bird and outside the bird -- the stuffing outside is a little crispy, especially on the top.

Thawing a Turkey

Molly's question: I bought a 20 pound frozen turkey this morning [Tuesday before Thanksgiving] -- my friends say it's too late to cook. I have it sitting by the fireplace right now.

Chef Emeril Lagasse: It should be thawing 3 to 5 days that size. Be careful, you don't want to contaminate the turkey. Don't panic, you're going to be okay! What you want to do is once you get dinner prepared, you want to get the sink all nice and clean and then put it in the sink. Run a little water on it or fill the sink up with lukewarm water and let it do its thing. It should be halfway there tomorrow and it'll be ready for you by Thursday morning.

Molly: Can I put it in the microwave?

Chef Emeril Lagasse: I wouldn't do that. I don't own one. Those things scare me! Run a little water on it, don't waste too much, or fill the sink up with lukewarm water and let it do its thing. You're going to be okay.

Turkey Soup

Caller: I was looking to make a turkey soup for the day after Thanksgiving with the leftover turkey. What is your suggestion for that?

Chef John DeLucie: Right after you carve the bird, throw the carcass into a stock pot. Fill it with water, some bay leaves, a little garlic, maybe some onions -- you know, the usual stock stuff and make your turkey stock. Cook it for a couple of hours and that can be the base for your delicious turkey soup. If there's turkey leftover, you can pick it into bite size pieces and put it right in.

Caller: If you made more of it, would you freeze it?

Chef John DeLucie: Absolutely.