Are You Prepared to Host a Great Thanksgiving Dinner?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Oh, let's face it: None of us are ready! But the big day is bearing down on us fast, so we've prepared a quiz that will help you refine your Thanskgiving dinner know-how!

What is the minimum time in advance you should purchase the ingredients for your meal?

Even fresh foods like fruits and vegetables will keep for three days. A shorter timeframe, and you run the risk of the stores running out of important staple foods.


Which of the following can be made a day ahead?

Soups and stews are often better when the flavors have had time to mingle. This is in marked comparison to salads and vegetable dishes, which are best cooked from scratch the same day.


A good cheese tray has a mix of textures: a soft cheese, a hard one, and one of medium texture. Which of the following is a medium-textured cheese?

Camembert is soft, like brie. Parmesan and Manchego are both hard cheeses.


What herb best complements the taste of turkey?

Turkey and sage go together like chicken & waffles. Actually, sage complements chicken really well, too. But not waffles. (There are limits).


Why shouldn't you defrost a turkey in warm water?

If pathogens are present in the meat -- they aren't always, but it's possible -- they will breed in warmer, quicker defrosting methods. Either thaw your turkey in the refrigerator or submerged in cool water.


Which two ingredients are often cooked simultaneously, in the same oven?

The stuffing, of course, usually goes inside the turkey. It heats throughs, softens, and blends flavors as the turkey cooks. However, that leads us to ...


Which of these is a reason NOT to cook turkey and stuffing together?

We've all stood around at at a Thanksgiving dinner where the turkey took much longer than expected to be done. Cooking the stuffing separately avoids that -- and as food writer Mark Bittman points out, can also avoid food-safety issues that arise with an undercooked turkey.


To what internal temperature does turkey need to cook to be safely eaten?

To measure this, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of a thigh, or well into the breast. Going all the way to bone can give you a false reading. When in doubt, ask a knowledgeable cook for help.


The turkey's done, and you've just taken it from the oven. Where do you start carving?

If you try to carve a turkey when it's right out of the oven, the juices will run right out, and the meat will become dry. A 10- to 14-pound turkey should rest at least a half-hour.


Okay, the turkey has rested. Now where do you start carving?

Bear in mind, though that leaving the wings on can provide stability -- like little training wheels -- for a bird that can otherwise slip around on the cutting board. (Thanks to the Culinary Institute of America for this tip. FYI, they do a good series of videos on YouTube).


Turkey gravy commonly includes finely-chopped giblets. What exactly are these?

Nobody said a traditional Thanksgiving was going to be easy! Anyway, you probably have these on hand if you bought your turkey whole.


As you're making gravy, you'll need to scrape up browned bits of the drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan. What is this called?

It's somewhat similar to the scientific term "emulsifying." That simply means, "to suspend a solid in a liquid." Cooking and science go hand in hand.


How long should it take to make gravy from scratch? (Not counting the time the turkey roasts).

Making gravy from scratch is an acquired skill. If you're a first-time Thanksgiving dinner host, you might want to make gravy from a dry mix instead -- and many of them are really tasty.


A time-saving way to cook poultry is to split the breast and flatten it on a grill or under a broiler. This is called ______.

This is a good option if you don't want to bake the stuffing inside the bird, nor the giblets. A variation on this is a Tuscan style of grilling which flattens small hens under -- we're not making this up -- a brick.


An alternative to traditional turkey gravy is mole poblano sauce, a Latin American specialty. Which of these is not traditionally an ingredient in mole sauce?

A good mole poblano sauce is a multi-ingredient affair. Fortunately, mole sauce in jars can be found at most supermarkets now.


If you're going for a comfort-food Thanksgiving, making chicken and dumplings would be a good choice. In what are dumplings usually cooked?

Dumplings don't have to be cooked in water. Asian-style dumplings, like shu mai or gyoza, are pan-fried or steamed in a bamboo steamer basket.


Which harvest vegetable tastes great when glazed with maple syrup?

With Thanksgiving having its roots in the foods and traditions of New England, it's no surprise this pairing was made. To be fair, maple syrup can complement other winter vegetables, so feel free to experiment! Just maybe not on Thankgiving Day itself.


According to traditional etiquette, is it ever appropriate to eat asparagus with your hands?

This actually used to be a fairly common practice. To be safe, always look to your host and hostess for a cue. This means if you're the host, you get to decide.


Homemade cranberry sauce includes cranberries, sugar, water and what?

Seriously, it's nearly as easy as making Jello -- and every package of whole cranberries in the store has the instructions on the back! However, you can always improvise -- thinly-sliced pear and crystallized ginger, for example, make great additions.


If you want your dinner to be classically North American, which of these grains would be best?

WIld rice is only a distant cousin of Asian rice. It grows in shallow water in cold climates, and was important to Native American tribes like the Ojibwe.


True or false: A white wine, like Chardonnay, is a perfect choice for a Thanksgiving turkey dinner.

According to many sommeliers, a dry, oaky Chardonnay won't stand up to the rich flavors of a Thanksgiving dinner. Whether red or white, they recommend something fruity.


Okay then, what type of wine should you serve with Thanksgiving dinner?

A wine should first and foremost be "drinkable," so Thanksgiving isn't the time for real connoisseurs to uncork an acquired-taste wine. Also, watch the alcohol content: people tend to overindulge at holidays, and you don't want your guests to get plastered.


Which of these apples is NOT considered a good choice for an apple pie?

Petite red Empires are great to eat fresh, especially straight from the stand. But the other varieties offer a better mix of sweetness and tartness and don't get mushy when baked.


Other than cinnamon, which spice can be added to hot apple cider?

Cider is a great drink to experiment with. Cinnamon and nutmeg are its traditional spices, but clove and cardamom wil give you a Middle Eastern flavor.


Many pie-crust recipes call for a pastry blender. If you don't have one, you can use which more common kitchen item?

You'll use your two knives to cut in a crossways motion through large chunks of shortening and flour. After enough blending, the dough should be in crumbles about the size of peas.


If you're disturbed by the color and texture of shortening, you can use what instead?

Butter might seem like a more palatable choice while you're actually cooking. But be warned: That melt-in-your-mouth pie crust you had at an old-fashioned diner? Almost certainly made with shortening or lard.


Guests-with-dietary-restrictions round, Part 1: Which of these traditional dishes would have to be avoided by someone on a gluten-free diet?

It can be very hard to do any version of stuffing that doesn't include bread. The other dishes are usually gluten-free -- but watch out for additives containing wheat gluten. For example, gravy or dip from a dry mix might easily contain some.


Guests-with-dietary-restrictions round, Part 2: One of your guests has advised you he's vegan. What does this mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, the word "vegan" has older roots than many might think, first turning up in print in 1944. Vegans often refuse to buy any animal products whatsoever, like suede or leather clothing. The main point is to keep animals from being harmed for any commercial reason.


Guests-with-dietary-restrictions round, Part 3: If you're making your own vegetarian broth -- to moisten stuffing, for example -- what should NOT go in it?

Tomatoes are acidic, which can adversely effect the flavor of a broth. An excellent faux-chicken broth is simply celery, onion and sage, as these flavors are commonly paired with chicken anyway. Add salt to taste.


Guests-with-dietary-restrictions round, Part 4: What takes the place of eggs to hold together a vegan pumpkin-pie filling?

A classy alternative to pumpkin pie is a pumpkin-flavored cheesecake. This too can be made vegan, if you use vegan cream "cheese."


Guests-with-dietary-restrictions round, Part 5: Which of these grains is NOT safe to serve a gluten-free guest?

If you said that couscous isn't even a grain, you're right! It's a very tiny round pasta, made from wheat. In Middle Eastern cooking, people with celiac disease often substitute quinoa, which is a grain native to Bolivia but similar to couscous in size and texture.


For Thanksgiving rebels, Part 1: You're making a pork roast, not turkey. Which of these vegetables is NOT a good choice to cook in the pan alongside the meat?

Broccoli won't hold up well to long roasting, nor complement the pork. The other three are great, combined, especially with an apple-cider glaze.


For Thanksgiving rebels, Part 2: People who live in warm-weather areas might want to cook their turkey on the grill. What device allows them to start a fire without using lighter fluid?

These look like a large metal can with a handle. You put crumpled newspaper in the bottom and briquets on top, then light the newspaper. The coals slowly catch, by being exposed steadily to flames from below. This technique can take time to master, so don't try it for the first time when guests are coming over.


For Thanksgiving rebels, Part 3: Speaking of grills, what's the name for the technique that allows you to use your grill like an oven?

This involves keeping the hot coals all around the perimeter, and clearing a space for a foil-lined drip pan in the middle. The meat goes over the pan, and then you'll put on the lid (with the ventilation holes open). This is a preferred method for large cuts of meat like roasts or whole birds. Bear in mind, you'll need a large grill to do this with a turkey -- a little hibachi won't cut it.


For Thanksgiving rebels, Part 4: Which of the following was a big Thanksgiving trend among millennials in the 2000s?

This involved gallons of oil, very high temperatures, and sometimes even an A-frame ladder to use as a kind of derrick. Were there a few 911 calls as a result? Do you even have to ask?


Which of the following books provided information for this quiz?

All of these books were helpful, and recommended, as well as Sunset Magazine and the previously-mentioned Culinary Institute of America. We hope this quiz helped you a little with your holiday plans. Happy Thanksgiving!


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