(Once again applying the “past midnight but I haven’t gone to bed yet” rule.)
I have hosted Thanksgiving twice in my life, and both times, the actual cooking-of-the-turkey part was a bit of a disaster.
Back in 2010, I decided to try a method suggested by friend Mike in which you actually start roasting the bird while it’s still frozen, something that was apparently endorsed by the FDA*. The problem with this: You cannot remove the giblets from the cavity when it’s frozen. Thus, per the instructions, you do this halfway through the cooking process.
This is a stupid, stupid idea, because the turkey itself is really hot and you don’t want to reach into the cavity and burn your hand. 22-year-old me’s solution: Put on a pair of rubber gloves and go at it. There are photos of this somewhere on Facebook. I will not share them.
Because I had no idea how one was supposed to actually cook a turkey (thermometer? Why do you need one of those?), the meat ended up being dry. I do not specifically remember any of my friends complaining about this. Bless them.
I then avoided hosting for the next two Thanksgivings, which really worked out well for me. The holiday is much happier when you don’t have to worry about providing everyone with the main course.
Then this year, after moving into my lovely new apartment, I thought, “Hey, I can probably try this again. It might work out.”
It actually wasn’t that bad at first. I decided to try a dry brine recipe (found basically through Mike again, though this time inadvertently), which I followed to a T. I used a roasting rack. I bought a thermometer and thought I had inserted it properly. I couldn’t find the giblets for some reason, but you know, whatever, maybe they forgot to put them in or something. Everything was going to be perfect.
So when my turkey claimed to be of the correct temperature less than two hours in, I thought, “Wow, that was fast! I guess I’m already done! No stress!”
It was not until people were actually over and I was trying to figure out how to carve a turkey that I discovered that while the breast was perfect, the dark meat wasn’t even close to cooked. And that bag of giblets I couldn’t find was definitely still inside the cavity. I had failed once again.
Saving the day was the bonus turkey brought by two attendees (thank you, Courtney and Melvin, for realz). I served the breast meat and threw the dark meat into a pan to roast for another hour.
I have since decided that future mishaps will be avoided. How? By perfecting my technique with practice. I intend to roast one a month until Thanksgiving this year.
The Great Turkey Experiment of 2014 began today, with me prepping my free-range, cage free, organic turkey (*cough yuppie cough*) with the same dry brine recipe I used in November.
I recognize that this is probably ridiculous, but I don’t care. I’m going to do it anyway**. I plan to change up the prep methods from month to month to see which ones actually do produce the best tasting bird.
All results — the good, the bad, the miserable — will be posted to this blog.
Wish me luck.
*If I ever find this method, I will link to it so everyone can see how much of a bad idea this is.
**This is my life motto.