Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Turkey Lessons

A few weeks ago I bought a frozen turkey on an impulse. I love Thanksgiving dinner (my college dining hall served it every month, mmm) and a single turkey can make many meals for David and I (we freeze some of the cooked meat and make broth with the bones). I first attempted to roast a turkey by myself for Thanksgiving 2006, when David and I were engaged. I used a roasting bag and everything came out wonderfully. Here's me preparing the stock pot to boil while we ate:

And here's the spread:

Well, I decided to try again this past weekend. What resulted can be summed up in two words: learning experience.

1. If ice forms in the pickle jar in the back of your fridge, you probably need to turn the fridge's temperature up. If you don't, your turkey will not be thawed all the way through even after almost 5 days in the fridge.

2. When you reach inside the turkey to pull out the giblets, etc, and you find that it is still frozen inside, A) make sure you reach all the way inside and remove EVERYTHING, even though your hand is very cold, and B) run water through or something to try to defrost it, otherwise cooking time will lengthen drastically and the turkey will not cook evenly.

3. When you decide to roast the turkey in your new roasting pan (not in a bag), special considerations are necessary. Do not cover the exposed breast with tinfoil too early or it will not reach the desired temperature before the drumsticks are done (half an hour is too early).

4. Turkey is traditional fare for winter holidays because roasting them in your oven generates a lot of heat for an extended time. If you choose to roast a turkey in 90 degree weather, your air conditioner will run continuously and still not get your home very cool. You might not sleep well that night because of the remaining heat.

But I also learned something else: my husband is very patient, understanding, and dutiful (to the point of slicing and pulling as much not-quite-done meat off of the bones as possible after I was quite frustrated with said turkey). We turned off the oven and vowed to microwave the meat very well later. Needless to say, this is not the most moist and flavorful turkey we've ever eaten. But we're trying not to let it go to waste. At my mom's suggestion, I even put the carcass in the crock pot and made stock.

When we finally sat down to eat and thought through the experience, I declared that I would be roasting all future turkeys in those slightly expensive but oh-so-helpful roasting bags. But my dear husband came back with a very good question: do they leach plastic into the turkey during roasting? We're trying to avoid cooking in plastics, so we need to do a little research into this one.


Diane said...

Okay, here's what to do to avoid that plastic "contamination":


I've always wanted to try it. Hope that helps next time!

Adam said...

Yall just need to get with the times and DEEP FRY THE BIRD

Its so tasty and relieves that much pressure off the kitchen because it must be done outside.

Frances said...

LOL, Adam - I've never eaten deep-fried turkey, so I can't personally attest to or deny its reputed wonderfulness. I'm open to trying it someday. However, I will probably never do one myself as I LOATHE the smell of deep frying. Even if done outside, I'm sure it lingers... blech.

I do like the idea of the man/men being in charge of the bird, though. My mom suggested we try grilling one during warm weather someday.


Christi said...

Will cooks the best turkey ever in a paper sack!

Lillian said...

I know a family here with 7 children. They buy ALL their meat from local farmers. Well, ince a month they buy a HUGE, HUGE turkey and have turkey with all the fixings. She sets some of the cooked meat aside and freezes it. She then makes turkay cassarole, turkey soup, and other various yummy turkey meals. She can get an entire week's worth of meals in addition to the meat she freezes.

My dh doesn't care for turkey. Neither do my kids. but if they did, I would do the same. And she swears that fresh turkey is the best. She calls the farmer on a Friday and he kills it that night for pick up Saturday morning. Cool, huh!

Happy turkey feasting!