Do you remember the first Thanksgiving dinner you put together?
Like that first big job interview, a first date or first kiss, those first turkey attempts can be seared (or roasted) into your memory forever.
The big bird has the ability to bring out the best, worst and feathered brain in us all.
One of my most memorable bird experiences took place in the northern Ontario city of Sudbury. We had a tiny apartment on the top of a big hill, just under the water tower where in the still of the night we could hear the voices of the miners working far far far below us traveling through the rock.
High end it wasn’t, character building it was!
As a radio announcer we often have to work the holidays that others enjoy so it means many of my coworkers are far from home and pondering if KFC might be a viably alternative for Thanksgiving dinner.
I invited them all over to our house for a traditional “orphans” Thanksgiving dinner.
At final count we were looking at about 10 people plus us. So I did some research for the size of the bird: 2lbs a person was the final verdict. So at 12 people it was a 24lb bird give or take, and it was 2lbs to every 1kg, so I would be looking for a 48kg bird. Off to the grocery store I went to get my bird.
Did I mention that it was the afternoon BEFORE Thanksgiving?
Yup time was tight, but I had faith I would find my bird, and I did! It was odd, I picked up that big bird and was surprised at how heavy it was. I double check the weight and came to a brilliant conclusion:
The bird just felt heavier because it was FROZEN!
Home I went, I checked how long it would take to cook, did the math and figured we would be cutting it close! Now because the bird was SO big I would have to thaw it in the bathtub. I promptly named the turkey Alexander (because he was going to taste great) and warned my roommate not to plan to bathe.
The next day, as it was getting close to cooking time, I was doing the math over and over; how long was this going to take? At this point I realized that dinner might be late, and again realized that that the bird seem REALLY big. I transferred it from the tub to the kitchen and once again marveled at the weight, and realized it was no longer frozen, so my original hypothesis was shot out of the water.
How big was this…
I checked the label again. OH NO. No wonder this bird was still available to buy at such late notice, I had bought a turkey big enough to feed my guests, and the miners whose voices we could hear late into the night.
My math had been off and my memory flawed.
Aw well, this just meant turkey left overs would be around for a while. The turkey was stuffed and put SHOVED into the oven. The table was set, the side dishes prepared and guests arrived.
Out came the bird! Out came the stuffing! Out came A BAG OF GIBLETS???
What? Back up the turkey bus, where had those come from? After years of reflection I have figured out that the bird was still pretty frozen when but into the oven, when I had stuffed the bird and put my hand into the cavity I didn’t actually reach the back of the bird, but a wall of ice, that I thought was the birds end. Therefore I had never found the bag of giblets.
I also figured out that I had over cooked that bird by at least a solid 90 minutes, but due to the fact I didn’t have the oven hot enough and that it was essentially still frozen solid, It was the moistest bird we had ever had.
I have been part of many wonderful Thanksgiving dinners since that Sudbury Saturday night more than 15 years ago, and have many turkey tales I could share, but that story will forever hold a special place in my laughter.
I hope you have a “turkey tale” to tell and if you don’t yet, I hope you one day will.
Perfect Thanksgiving dinners are wonderful, but the joy comes from the fire alarms, exploding gravy, too big birds, and emergency fast food trips, that make us “thankful” on Thanksgiving that we have people to share these stories with.
From my family to yours Happy Thanksgiving!