A few suggestions to help make sure your Thanksgiving feast is a success:
Gravy: If at all possible, use real turkey stock as the base of your gravy (augmenting with pan drippings). Gravy made from canned broth doesn’t have the same full, rich flavor. Make a batch ahead of time (keep it in the freezer for up to three months) using turkey wings or other parts that your butcher can provide.
Mashed potatoes: For best results, heat the milk and butter in a large Dutch oven, run the hot cooked potato through a food mill or potato ricer straight into the milk mixture, then mash the potato and liquids together. Heating the liquids ensures that the potatoes won’t cool off during the mashing (which can make them gluey), and the food mill/ricer breaks them down uniformly and preserves the potatoes’ cell structure, which also guards against gumminess.
Turkey: Brining has become a highly popular method for preparing turkey, and can result in a juicy, flavorful bird. But be certain that you don’t use a turkey that has already been injected with a saline solution (look for it on the label), or your Thanksgiving centerpiece may be too salty to eat. Many major poultry producers inject their frozen birds with a saline solution to preserve moisture and flavor. Obviously, it’s overkill to brine such a bird. If you’re brining, use a fresh turkey. This way, the seasonings are all your own.