Tech-y Preparations for Turkey Day

Donated turkeys sit in a box at the Bay Area Rescue Mission on November 19, 2012 in Richmond, Calif. This year, Thanksgiving is getting a whole lot tech-oriented.

We're told the secret of humor is timing. So is the secret of rolling out the Thanksgiving meal. If I'm not missing my guess, today's the day for planning the complicated logistics. A food and recipe website has been running scenarios for the holiday eating extravaganza and has a piece of software that could be a guide to making sure everything gets ready on time. 

"Even the pros just cower in the face of Thanksgiving," says Jane Goldman, vice president of Chow.com, which released the app called the Thanksgiving Dinner Coach. "We take all the dishes that you're going to make, and we collate all the steps, so that starting from the week before, we will tell you what to do day-by-day and hour-by-hour."

Partnering with digital developers in New York, Goldman's crowd made flow-charts of various recipe permutations so that an iPhone or iPad can be your supportive sous chef all week. When does the bird go in? When should you be whipping potatoes?

Calming encouragement is a useful feature for an app that could be beeping at you every ten minutes or so.  If only it would tell you when to tell Uncle Zack to quit talking politics at the table. Goldman says an Android version is in the works -- but maybe for Thanksgiving 2013. 


Moving from technology and Thanksgiving to some basic science.

"Turkey is a fascinating thing," says Jeff Potter, author of Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food. "Different parts of the bird have different levels of protein, tissues... turkeys weren't designed to be good together, all at once in an oven.

There you have it: given their intended purpose, the birds have a design flaw. One solution is cooking fake turkey. Edible tofu sculptures have more consistent densities and are less prone to raw or overcooked spots.

Potter also suggests cooking turkey in the same way many cook duck: doing the legs in a slow-cooker for a number of hours, then cooking the breast in the oven like a roast.

He's also got a hack for whipped cream. Chill the cream and chill the bowl... and if you insist, add a dash of bourbon.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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