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Prep your oven for Thanksgiving dinner  Smart Choices Archive

Prep your oven for Thanksgiving dinner

Photo: Fotolia

Holidays

If you’ll be preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year, imagine your worst-nightmare for that holiday. It’s likely to be that your oven breaks at the last minute and you have no way to cook the turkey, pies and traditional side dishes that your family members love. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

To avoid problems, get your oven ready for the big day. Now is a good time to do that. These suggestions may help you rest easier between now and your family gathering.

First, and most important, if you plan to use the self-cleaning feature on your oven, do it now so if a part burns out in your oven during the process, you can quickly get it fixed. Parts failure is a real possibility during self-cleaning cycles because when the oven reaches that high temp (up to 1000 degrees F), it can cause burnout of various parts, including the thermostat, control panel or fuse. One repair specialist suggests that instead, you use a vinegar steam by putting a bowl of white vinegar in the oven and set the temp to 270 degrees F. After the oven is preheated, don’t open the door, but turn the oven off. Let the vinegar sit for several hours and then wipe out the residue. (Check your warranty to be sure this is safe for your oven.)

Oven components to check now:

  • Check the oven temperature. If you don’t do a lot of baking, it’s wise to get a handle on whether your oven is off a few degrees. Check it with an oven thermometer to ensure it’s the same temp as your recipe requires. If it’s way off, you may need to replace your baking element.

  • If your oven has moisture appearing on the outside of the oven door or appears to “sweat,” it may mean you have a faulty door gasket. Since gaskets maintain proper cooking temperatures, replace it right away.

  • Make sure the oven door closes properly; otherwise, heat can escape. If it doesn’t close tightly, you may have broken or bent door hinges or door springs that should be replaced.

If you need to replace any components, ask for professional assistance so you don’t void your warranty, injure yourself or cause additional damage to your oven unit.

Other tips for cooking Thanksgiving dinner successfully:

  • You can bake several dishes at a time to save time and energy, but don’t cram in too many pans. If heat can’t circulate within the oven, you may end up with burned foods.

  • Don’t open the oven door to take a peek at what’s inside, as the oven can lose as much as 25 degrees every time it’s opened. This will affect cooking time. Instead, make sure your oven light works so you can flip the switch to check the cooking status of what’s inside.

  • Because you may not be able to fit all foods into your oven, use other appliances to carry part of the load. A microwave can steam veggies or reheat foods cooked the day before. A slow cooker can handle veggies, soups, sauces or potato dishes. Cook potatoes or nearly anything on an induction hot plate as long as you have the correct cookware. Warm rolls in a toaster oven. If you have an Insta-Pot or air fryer, there may be favorite recipes to cook in these appliances, too. Even a grill can take on a turkey or veggies.

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