(Note: This is a post I did on Facebook following Thanksgiving – Nov.29)
Feeling ambitious, I decided to host my first Thanksgiving dinner for the family. Have I ever made a turkey, before? No. The closet I’ve ever coming to making turkey is placing turkey slices on a sandwich. Viola, lunch is served.
The pressure was on. First I had to find a recipe. Mom passed along a Tyler Florence recipe that she made – Maple roasted turkey with sage. So, I downloaded the recipe and it looked simple enough from a preparation stand point. However, then I read on and found out what preparing a turkey really meant. Phrases like “remove neck and gizzards”, “clean cavity” and “massage sage butter underneath skin” really grossed me out. Top of my grocery list, rubber gloves.
Doing some quick mathematical calculations, cooking an 18lbs turkey meant waking up at 6.30a.m. I’m usually an early riser, but after having 4 beers the night before while making side dishes and dessert while watching ESPNs Feast Week…well, you get the picture.
Anyway…got up and the turkey wasn’t thawed! The darn thing had been sitting out since 3.30pm on Wednesday, so I panicked as I needed to keep on schedule with guests arriving at 12.30. So then began the task of thawing the turkey with water. Now, my kitchen sink isn’t the greatest and the overhead light isn’t the best. So there I am, in my pajamas, a mini hangover and running tepid water on a bird to thaw it out. The turkey thawed out enough so I could begin the search mission for the gizzards. Couldn’t find them! I think I would’ve had better luck finding oil in my backyard.
On instinct, I called mom (you know, 1800 BUTTERBALL). Talk about panic. She’s telling me what to look for; I’m telling her what I see in the cavity (I had to get out the flashlight). Still nothing. Even the bag it came in said they were in there. I actually called the Butterball helpline. Not one agent was available to take my call, and this was at 7.45 a.m. I’d like to know how many other people couldn’t find the bag of gizzards. I feel like if the bag says they are in there, they better be in there. I will be writing a letter to Shady Brook Farms to ask them to actually put the bag of gizzards in the turkey so first time turkey cookers don’t have a meltdown before 8am.
On to calling Jennifer, my second voice of reason. Her words: “Maybe they’re not in there, and if they are, don’t worry about it.” Mentioning the fact that she had cooked a ham WITH the plastic wrap on made me feel better. I did pull something out – the neck – and at first I didn’t even know what it was. Cleaning out cavity, check. Now on to the sage butter. Talk about gross. I was almost elbow deep in butter putting it under the skin. Talk about smooth skin.
In the oven it went. WHEW! I will say that the thought did cross my mind to have a beer at 8.30 with the reasoning being that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. Instead, I took two ibuprofen to battle the massive headache I had. The rest of the morning with the turkey was uneventful, since from that point on it’s a matter of basting with the maple syrup/hot water sauce and then shingling the bacon slices during the last hour of cooking.
WOW! It turned out awesome! It was the perfect golden brown and really moist. It also made the most amazing gravy! Between the drippings, maple syrup, bacon flavoring and chicken stock, absolutely delicious. And there was a ton of it. I always feel that gravy is the first thing you run out of the day of or the day after Thanksgiving.
So the fact that this made a lot was good, because I was able to keep back some and give some to Jennifer for her leftovers. Now that Thanksgiving is over, and the end result was a fantastic bird, I might rethink mom’s suggestion of ordering a prepared turkey and just throwing it in the oven. I’ve got a year to think about it. In closing, I would like to thank Mom and Jennifer for putting up with my early morning drama and talking me off my ledge.