Close encounters of the turkey kindIt sits in my refrigerator striking fear into my heart. It taunts me, makes my mind race and distracts me from other life tasks.
By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press
It sits in my refrigerator striking fear into my heart. It taunts me, makes my mind race and distracts me from other life tasks.
Its icy, hard-as-a-rock surface and misshapen body threaten to destroy everything I’ve worked for.
It is my Thanksgiving turkey and it scares me to death.
Why am I scared? Because this is my first turkey, during my first attempt at hosting Thanksgiving.
My honor is on the line.
Sure, I may have a pretty decent cooking record. Chicken? No problem. Roast? Could cook it in my sleep. Ham? Please, give me something challenging. But turkey, now this could be a feat that could trump all others.
You see, I’m only in my early 20s, so I’ve had a limited experience with your larger fowls. I was told it’s a cinch, “practically cooks itself” they say. But alas, most of those pep talks come from turkey veterans.
My worries officially started when I purchased the turkey. After selecting the perfect frozen turkey from a sea of birds, I proudly emerge from the grocery store, my prize in hand. Little did I know the challenge that awaited me.
Not having any kind of idea how to cook my fine no-longer-feathered friend, I took a peek into my grandmother’s original Good Housekeeping cookbook, circa 1942. Feeling confident the book will teach me how to cook the bird, I start to relax. My relaxation ends, however, when the book explains how to remove the head and feet. No thanks.
Adding to my worry, I’ll have four hungry people expecting to eat like kings on Thursday and my turkey is still frozen. I occasionally poke at the 13 ½ pound mass in my refrigerator finding it hard to believe it’s going to be thawed out by Thursday.
Secondly, I ask myself how to go about stuffing it. Is there a trick? I heard somewhere about other turkey cooking tricks like tying up the legs, putting on aluminum foil or basting the skin with butter, but to be honest with you I have not the foggiest what my turkey needs. Unfortunately, my turkey doesn’t know what it needs either.
Flavoring? Forget about it! Injections, rubs, marinades, when will it all end? I’ve looked up 50 different ways to flavor the turkey, all promising the best turkey experience.
The nightmare has only begun.
Cooking times, resting times, basting times, oh my!
Thankfully I won’t have to complete my mission alone. My mother and grandmother, both excellent cooks, have agreed to oversee the project.
It’s okay, I’m up for the challenge.
If I don’t burn it, over season it, under cook it or cook it too long, I’ll be in good shape.
If I haven’t burned down my apartment and half of Dickinson, it’ll be a miracle.
Operation First Turkey has begun.
Beth Wischmeyer is a first-time turkey chef and staff writer for The Dickinson Press.