10 Gadgets You Need To Cook The Best Thanksgiving Dinner
InStyle consulted Susan Spungen, author of What's a Hostess to Do ($15; amazon.com), for the best kitchen gadgets to use on Thanksgiving. The acclaimed food stylist worked on the film Julie & Julia and was the behind-the-scenes mastermind of the Sole Meunière (the dish that brought Meryl Streep as Julia Child to tears of joy.)
While you may not be seated at Spungen's Thanksgiving table in the Hamptons this year, you can still get the download on the tools she finds essential to make a meal to remember. "Most of these gadgets are fairly low tech, but you do truly need the basics," she says. "I'm not a believer in having a hundred gizmos that sit in a drawer, but things like good thermometer and baster make the whole cooking process go more smoothly and with better results."
Instant-Read Digital Thermometer
"A good meat thermometer is so important for safety but also to retain the turkey's juiciness. Super experienced cooks can tell if the turkey is cooked by just the look and feel of the meat, but using a thermometer is an excellent way to teach yourself how to make it perfectly.
Also, if you do stuff your bird, the center of the stuffing needs to be 165 degrees F to be a safe temperature, and the thermometer lets you know. There are new designs that you can leave in the oven like this one, which registers the temperature on your iPhone so you don't keep opening and closing the oven to check (thus losing heat)."
John Boos Au Jus Maple Cutting Board
"A carving board with a well keeps all of the juices from running onto the counter when you?re carving the turkey."
"When it comes to making mashed potatoes, always use a ricer rather than an immersion blender or a regular blender, which will make the potatoes gluey. I love the OXO food mill because it has a slip-free grip on the bottom. I use it to make apple sauce, too."
"A fat separator is super important on Thanksgiving. It is so cleverly designed: a spout at the bottom of the pitcher allows you to pour the 'good' gravy from the pan, and avoid the grease that rises to the top."
Long-Handled Measuring Spoons
"These long-handled measuring spoons fit into the narrow openings of spice jars, unlike many designs which nine out of ten times won't fit. Now you can measure cinnamon or nutmeg for pumpkin pie without any frustration."
Pastry Wheel Cutter
Tapered French Rolling Pin
"I like to use a long, tapered French rolling pin because it gives you more control when making pie crust than the cylinder shaped designs with handles. The tapered shape lets you push down on the dough using your body weight. I store it in a canister on the countertop rather than in a drawer. You can also splurge on a hand-turned French rolling pin from Canoe in Portland ($40; webstaurantstore.com)."
"A high quality dripless turkey baster keeps the gravy from dribbling inside the oven (a pain to clean up later) and on the floor. You want the gravy to go exactly where you want it!"
Roasting Rack and Pan
"A heavy roasting pan with high handles is such a good investment, even if you only use it once a year. Do not use disposable foil pans! Not only do you not get good drippings, they're flimsy and therefore dangerous when lifting a heavy turkey out of the oven."
Quality Oven Mitts
"A good pair of oven mitts with long sleeves protects your arms when reaching in and out of the oven to move the turkey. I like the designs that are not too stiff or too large so that you can actually hold things with some assurance. It can be awkward with a big roasting pan because you can easily burn your arms on the oven rack or the handles, so longer sleeves on the mitt are key. You should never use a dish towel, by the way, instead of mitts. It can catch fire on the heating elements in the oven."