As home cooks, we rely on our instincts, our knowledge, and our curiosities -- but we also have to rely on our tools. Which is why we're asking the experts about the essential tools we need to make our favorite foods attainable in our own kitchens.
Today: This Thanksgiving, we're keeping it in the family and asking Amanda and Merrill to walk us through their holiday tools checklist.
You might not be feeling overwhelmed about Thanksgiving yet, but in a couple of weeks you'll be debating between recipes for green bean casserole and scrambling to find matching plates for your guests.
To make your holiday as stress-free as possible, we've put the recipes and tips we rely on all in one place. But what tools do we use to get the food on the table and keep everyone happy and occupied? Today, Amanda and Merrill are sharing their must-have tools for Thanksgiving success.
Here are the goods you should stock up on before you track down your turkey:
1. Sturdy twine
You don't need anything fancy for trussing the bird. I prefer a slightly thicker twine in a natural color like the one in a turkey tools set -- I find it's easier to tie and maneuver than butcher's twine, and it won't tangle while you're wrestling with the bird.
2. Brining bags
Whether you're dry or wet brining, you need a sturdy bag to hold in moisture and keep the turkey juices from getting all over everything else in your fridge. You can use big plastic zipper bags, or something a little more specialized with a double seal.
3. Gravy separator
Yes, you can get by without one, but I for one don't want to spend valuable time skimming the fat off my pan drippings when I've got a zillion other things going on in the kitchen; instead, I just pour the drippings into the separator, do something else for a few minutes, and then pour off the juices that have collected at the bottom of the separator to make my gravy. I like this simple version.
More: Need more turkey advice? You'll find all of our top tips here.
4. Instant-read thermometer
Guesswork is never a good thing when it comes to Thanksgiving. Or poultry. Make sure you have an accurate thermometer so you know just when to take your turkey out of the oven (when the thermometer reads 165° F after being inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, not touching the bone).
5. A carving set
Without a good, sharp knife and a fork to hold your bird steady, carving a turkey will inevitably leave you anxious and sweaty. If you're doing the deed at the table in front of your guests, choose a handsome matching set. Otherwise, a freshly sharpened chef's knife and any sturdy, long-handled fork will do the trick.
More: What's a turkey without crispy skin?
6. Some good mixers.
Few hosts have time for making cocktails, but it's a good way to occupy guests. Set up your bar with spirits, a cocktail shaker, and some mixers, and let them go to town.
7. Small plates.
You can never have enough small plates at Thanksgiving. These hand-made rectangular plates function just as well as hors d'oeuvres plates as they do for dessert or a snack. The plain ones can easily mix with both modern and traditional tableware and are the ideal size for pie.
8. Extra flatware.
No host has ever complained about having too much flatware, and no one should have to resort to plastic on such a big day. Instead, invest a little -- and really, by flatware standards, it is little -- in vintage flatware. None of it will match but all of it will charm you.
9. A good candle for the bathroom.
Your entire house doesn't need to smell like Thanksgiving dinner. Offer your guests -- and you -- a respite from it all by lighting a great quality scented candle in the bathroom, like a forest-scented one by Christian Tortu.
What tools do you count on to make your Thanksgiving meal? Share with us in the comments below!