Thanksgiving Dinner for the Beginner: Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Sweet Potatoes Thanksgiving Dinner for the Beginner: Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Sweet Potatoes for beginnersThanksgiving dinner wouldn't be the same without creamy mashed potatoes, thick, rich, turkey gravy, or yummy yams. These tips will help even the beginner make each one like a pro.

Mashed Potatoes

A commonly used guide to determine how many potatoes you need is to make one large potato for each person attending Thanksgiving dinner. It is a good idea to throw in a couple of extra potatoes, because some people will want second helpings. Wash potatoes, peel them, and then rinse them thoroughly. Dice into 1/2" pieces and boil. Some people salt the water, but that step is optional. Boil until potatoes are soft (about 20-30 minutes at full boil). Drain thoroughly. While potatoes are still hot, mash them until they reach the consistency of thick oatmeal. Add 1/4 cup of milk (or evaporated milk for extra richness), two tablespoons of butter or margarine, and a pinch of salt and pepper, per every six potatoes. Mash until smooth or use a mixer to whip potatoes. Cover with foil to keep warm until ready to serve. Stir before serving and sprinkle with a pinch of parsley flakes if desired. Garnish serving bowl with small stalks of parsley.

Making Gravy

After removing the turkey from the roasting pan, skim the grease from the drippings. Carefully pour the remainder of the drippings into a saucepan and heat over a medium flame. Mix one teaspoon of cornstarch with 1/8 cup of water until smooth. Pour slowly into drippings to thicken gravy, stirring constantly to avoid lumps (you will need approximately 1 teaspoon of cornstarch per every two cups of gravy). Continue adding cornstarch until you reach the desired thickness.

Sweet Potatoes

Bake one large sweet potato per every two guests or use one large can of yams, per every four guests. Wash, peel, and rinse whole potatoes. Bake for one hour at 350. Let cool to touch, then slice into 1" slices. Lay sweet potato slices evenly in a greased casserole dish. If using canned yams, simply drain and place in baking dish. With either variety, the next step is to sprinkle potatoes generously with brown sugar and dot with butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. Bake at 350 until butter melts and brown sugar dissolves. Top with marshmallows if desired and return to oven. Check every two minutes as marshmallows burn quickly, especially if using miniature marshmallows.

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