It was decided.
The powers that be decided that I would be hostessing Thanksgiving at my house this year, which meant that I had to cook the turkey.
Cue the scary music.
The last time I cooked a turkey, I left the bag with all the giblets and stuff that was supposed to go into a special dish of stuffing for those who enjoy eating a turkey's parts, inside the bird! Yes, I've heard that this is a common mistake, but how much of a dummy do you have to be to think that the yucky looking neck portion and it's related tissue were, in fact, the giblets?
Apparently a dummy like me.
It's not the actual cooking of the bird that frightens me, as it really is a simple task. Especially if you just think of it as being a very large chicken! But, the thought of pulling off a perfectly timed, delicious and amazingly elegant dinner for my family gives me shivers.
Just saying the words "I'm doing Thanksgiving" gives me goosebumps.
So, I dusted off Grandma's china and cleaned corners of my house that hadn't seen a feather duster or vacuum in a few years (probably since the last time I had Thanksgiving). I got out my trusty "Joy of Cooking" and read all about cooking the turkey. When that proved way beyond my culinary expertise, I grabbed my tattered stand-by, "The Betty Crocker Cookbook," and read how to do my bird from it's pages instead.
Oh, but wait!
I need a turkey!
One week before the day, I was in a mad rush from supermarket to supermarket in our area in search of a fresh (not frozen), free range (shouldn't the turkey have lived a happy existence before becoming our dinner?), organic (just because if you're going to insist upon the other two, you may as well go "organic" too!) turkey. One more thing, it had to be between 17-20 pounds because we all wanted to have leftovers for hot turkey sandwiches and whatever else one does with leftover turkey (enchiladas, anyone?).
My first stop was a bust.
No turkeys meeting my exact specifications were available. I could try calling in 2 days to see if they happened to get more in, but I'd be pressing my luck.
My second stop yielded no favorable results.
And neither did my third.
Panic-stricken, I racked my bird brain to conjure up some solution to my dilemma.
Should I buy a Butterball and pass it off as an organic, fresh, free-range turkey? Surely I'd be caught, and I'd never enjoy eating it as much as the turkey of our dreams. What to do? What to do?
I remembered the butcher.
Yes! The butcher will surely be able to help! And after playing phone tag for 2 days, it was confirmed. I would be the proud recipient of a 16-18 pound perfect turkey - I had to compromise on the size, it was all they had available.
And then I engaged in turkey talk with my sister-in-law. She informed me that every turkey she'd bought from this particular butcher was actually frozen (nooooooooo . . . )! So she advised me on how to deal with that if, when I picked up my "fresh" turkey the Monday before Thanksgiving, it was indeed frozen.
And then I panicked again.
I can't deal with a frozen turkey 2 days before Thanksgiving! Every horror story I'd heard about a raw-in-the-middle turkey flooded my mind. My pulse quickened.
We were having a b-b-q- the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I just succumbed to the notion that I'd be getting a frozen turkey sold to me as fresh and I'd deal with it. I was not pleased and as I passed all the frozen turkeys wrapped in their yellow netting in the grocery store, they mocked me.
"You could've had one of us, but no - you had to go and get all fancy!"
I had to look unusually hard for the hamburger patties I needed for our b-b-q. It seemed like everyone and their brother was going to grill burgers the weekend before eating quite possibly the largest meal of the year and needed to practice by throwing a quarter-pound angus burger down their gullets (us, included). But I finally found the patties I was looking for. And what should my wandering eyes should appear beneath them?
Fresh turkeys. With labels that said "free range" and "organic."
"That's funny," I thought. For this was the very place that had just told me a few days before that there would be no more turkeys.
I picked one up and searched for it's label - thinking that there was no chance that it would be the right size, but I'd check anyway.
Into the cart, off to the check-out, and home into the refrigerator. Mission accomplished.
This time, I'll remember to take the bag of stuff out of the turkey BEFORE I cook it!
*originally published November, 2007