Published On: Wed, Nov 23rd, 2022

You can cook a delicious Thanksgiving meal with the help of some basic science

By Gillian Brooks

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 7:30 PM BRT|Updated: 22 hours ago

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – If you’re cooking dinner this week, chances are the stakes are high to serve a delicious Thanksgiving meal.

Lizzy Davis is the Dietician Education Program director at UAB. She said whether or not the food turns out good, it is all based on science.

“When you think about cooking, adding the different ingredients, all of those react and combine. On a molecular level, react and kind of ultimately impact the flavor or the consistency or texture of your dish,” said Davis.


The tip to a moist turkey is to brine it rather than basting. When you baste the turkey, opening the oven over and over extends the cooking time, drying it out. For a brine, submerge your turkey into a salt bath for 12 to 24 hours before you cook it. For a brine its 2 cups salt for every 2 gallons of water. You can also add additional seasonings or vegetables to the bath.

Davis said the salt helps lock in the water meaning the turkey will stay moist.

“When you have the salt all in the muscles from that turkey in the brine, the salt breaks down the muscles and doesn’t allow them to contract and get rid of that water.”

Mashed Potatoes:

For the potatoes, it starts with what kind you buy. Davis recommends a more starchy potato such as a russet potato. They mash better based on the water to starch ratio. When you go to boil the potato, make sure each piece is the same size.

“If you have some large pieces and some smaller pieces, the smaller pieces are going to cook faster and become mushy and break up and it will give you an end result that you do not want.”

Davis said to add the butter before you mash to create the perfect amount of fluffiness.

Pie Crust:

A pie crust is only five ingredients. Flour, water, salt, sugar and butter. The key to a flaky crust is cold butter. That’s because when it cooks, it melts, creating that consistency.

“It vaporizes! It basically goes from a liquid to a gas. That vaporization process creates little steam pillows.”

While the meal plays a huge part in Thanksgiving, spending time with your loved ones is most important.

“Food though is a sense of culture, it’s a sense of family. It’s a sense of communication. And so that’s really what Thanksgiving is all about.”

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