It’s hard enough to get a big, complicated holiday feast on the table—piping hot and tasting great—with guests milling around your kitchen. The last thing you need is an unexpected disaster, so here are eight risk-proofing tips to prep your kitchen before feast day arrives.
Clean the oven, stovetop, and vents to reduce risks of setting off smoke alarms (or even starting a fire!); these appliances will be working overtime and getting much hotter than usual. As noted in our last post, never run an oven’s self-cleaning cycle right before entertaining as there are big risks of generating soot, trenchant odors, changing the taste of food, even burning out oven-heating mechanisms, or melting knobs.
Purge and organize utensil drawers. Make sure everything is exactly where you expect it to be, so you won’t have to go hunting for something when you’ve got pots and pans firing on all burners. Make sure everything fits easily and lies flat to avoid drawer jams. While you’re at it, inspect and sharpen knives and test your meat thermometer by calibrating in a glass of ice water.
Clean the dish washer. Inevitably (and if you’re lucky), at least one guest will offer to help clean up. Make sure your dishwasher is sparkling clean on the inside by running an empty cycle with a citrus-based solution made for removing mineral stains and other unsightly scum.
Clean your coffee maker. While you’re de-calcifying, hit up your coffee maker, too. Unless you’re an enthusiast who does this regularly, you’ll likely notice a dramatic improvement in joe you serve with dessert.
Clean the garbage disposal. Your nose has likely become accustomed to any subtle odors wafting up from your drain. Your guests won’t be so lucky! Pour a combo of baking soda, coarse salt, ice cubes, and lemon juice down the drain and run the disposal for several minutes with cold water. Pull out and thoroughly clean the rubber gasket part, too, as it can harbor some truly gross gunk. When cooking your feast, be super leery of what you put down the disposal; word from plumbers is that massive quantities of potato and fruit peels are the number-one reason they get called out for clogged disposals and drains on holiday feast days.
Purge and organize your storage-container supply. Match covers to bottoms, stack neatly by size, and discard any orphans. Doing so will help you assess whether you need to stock up on containers to stow all those lip-smacking leftovers neatly.
Finally, locate and take a quick inventory of all your serving platters utensils, gravy boats, and so forth. This will give you plenty of time to figure out whose house you left that oversized platter at during the last year before the very moment you’re trying to get food on the table hot.