Local chef offers creative tips to help save Thanksgiving dinner

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE)- Start the ovens and set the timers. A lot goes into Thanksgiving dinner, but what happens when a day’s worth of cooking is seemingly ruined with a little too much of this or not enough of that? KRQE News 13 spoke to a local caterer to find out how to improvise when not everything goes as planned.

Andrew Bustos is a long-time chef and caterer. He says things rarely goes as planned in his line of work. The trick is not letting your guests know that.

Bustos says he specializes in helping others enhance their food.

Frying a bird for Turkey Day has become a popular alternative to baking, but maybe you’re opting for something a little different or you fried your turkey and it’s not quite cooked all the way through. Bustos suggests going to the grill. Cut your turkey in half, throw it in a bag of brine with herbs and seasoning or leave it plain and then grill it. You can even place a pan on top to steam it a little.

“You’re going to taste the smokiness, just a different depth of flavor and it’s going to be really cool. So, you have the moist, tender meat from frying it and now you got the crispy, smoky skin from grilling it,” explained Bustos.

If you’d rather grill the turkey the whole way through, remember it’s going to take longer. Instead of the typical 10 to 20 minutes per pound for the oven, it will likely be more like 30 minutes per pound for the grill.

He says he always keeps a pot of boiling water on the stove while he’s cooking.

“You can fix so many things with boiling water,” said Bustos.

That includes turning runny mashed potatoes into something you can actually serve your family. Bustos says your best option is dehydrated mashed potatoes. As you pour in the flakes, add your boiling water, gradually, along with a little butter to help maintain richness and hide the fact you cheated a little. If you don’t have the mix on hand, Bustos says you can also add flour or corn starch, but they’re not ideal.

“One way that’s kind of cool and it sweetens it up is pancake and waffle mix. It really does add some flavor depth and it stiffens it up quite quickly actually,” Bustos explained.

How about dry stuffing? If you don’t want to go with water or chicken broth, Bustos says be creative and try adding gravy or sour cream.

Of course, there’s dessert. Bustos offered tips for the perfect key lime pie. It can be tough to keep them consistent but using egg yokes instead of egg whites will help.

“Egg yokes make it denser, richer and a lot more firm, a lot easier to handle. You’re not going to see the cracks in it once it comes out of the oven,” said Bustos.

Be sure to heat those eggs in a double boiler. That means you’re stirring your eggs in a bowl on top of a pot of boiling water. That will hep you incorporate air, without getting it too hot. It should be about 60 or 70 degrees before you pour- comfortable to the touch.

“Just don’t panic is the biggest thing. If you mess something up, it’s okay. Everything’s fixable. Unless you burn it,” Bustos said.

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