Thanksgiving meal helpers

By: Kelly Burgess on November 16, 2017

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No gifts to buy and wrap. Minimal decorating. Just me and my daughter cooking traditional foods for those we love. But that's where our old-fashioned vibe ends. We're all about modern cooking tools and techniques, and these five products are ones that have been Burgess-kitchen tested and approved under the most challenging holiday conditions.

Roasting pans are on everyone's mind at Thanksgiving, but if you're like me you use one year-round for making chicken, game hens, beef roasts and roasting vegetables. The Cuisinart MCP117-16BR MultiClad Pro 16-inch Roaster (Est. $80) conducts heat beautifully for gravy-making or searing, and is large enough for a 20-pound turkey or a generous batch of vegetables for roasting. If you're cooking for a smaller crowd, though, we recommend the Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 14-Inch Roaster with Rack and Lifters (Est. $100).

Deep frying turkey is all the rage right now, and I have tasted the reason why: crispy skin on the outside, succulent meat on the inside. The classic method for deep frying is to set up a pot, like the Bayou Classic 3025 30-Quart Aluminum Turkey Fryer Pot (Est. $45) over a portable propane stove in your driveway. For the stove we recommend the Bayou Classic SP10 High-Pressure Outdoor Gas Cooker (Est. $50). If you're not too sure about standing outside on a cold day, check out the Masterbuilt Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer (Est. $130). And, if you're not quite ready to deep fry a turkey, but would like to dip your toe into the home deep fryer market with wings or fries, take a look at our deep fryers report to find a few that can expand your culinary game without contracting your wallet.

I know what you're doing while the turkey is cooking: chopping, slicing, dicing and mincing. Speed up that side dish prep with the right kitchen knives. Personally, I use the Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef's Knife (Est. $45), because I love its light weight and secure grip. My daughter/sous chef is in charge of the delicate work, so her go-to knife is the Victorinox 3-1/4-Inch Paring Knife (Est. $9). But in her own kitchen, the Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-Piece Cutlery Set (Est. $300) sits on the counter and gets plenty of use.

Once you're ready to pop the side dishes in the oven, it's time to turn your attention back to the turkey. Don't rely on those silly pop-up turkey timers to know when it's done, though, you might end up with a bird that's either disgustingly dry or dangerously undercooked. A meat thermometer can tell you the exact internal temperature so you can remove the bird from the oven at just the right time. Go ahead and give its thigh a poke with the ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4 (Est. $99) beginning about an hour before you expect it to be done -- it's easy to do when you open the oven to baste. I rely on the Thermapen instant-read at Thanksgiving, but the rest of the year I prefer a leave-in, like the ThermoWorks ChefAlarm (Est. $60), so I can keep my oven temperature stable.

Yes, we just recommended the best kitchen knives, but carving a turkey requires its own special tool. Electric knives were practically a mainstay in our parents' and grandparents' kitchens, and they're still a great choice for carving large cuts of meat. An electric knife is also terrific for slicing bread, especially thick, artisanal loaves, without crushing them. Right now, the Cuisinart CEK-40 (Est. $50) is pretty much the only name you need to know when it comes to electric knives. It's fairly inexpensive, comes with two blades and a storage rack, is easy to use and works for both right- and left-handers.