Before I had my first child, I’d never cooked a turkey. I didn’t feel grown up enough for the task. To me, that mysterious arrangement of stuffing and those magnificent sides of creamy mashed potatoes and turnip apple casserole could only be produced by a mother. Many years later, I’m on the other side of countless Christmas, Easter and ‘just because’ dinners. For those who’ve not done it, it’s easy, yet time consuming.
I baked a lot this year, so decided to take a short cut when it came to Christmas dinner. Instead of making my own stuffing from scratch, I bought a frozen, stuffed turkey that I could remove from the freezer, unwrap, place in the roaster and cook. Three hours went by, then four, and still no delicious smell wafted from the oven. I kept checking until at last the turkey started to brown. Soon I put the lid on the roaster and cranked up the heat. Four hours later, the leg seemed wiggly enough to pronounce the thing done.
My family mostly stayed in the living room, which is how I like it. No problem, I thought, as I unloaded the huge bird onto a tray and proceeded to make the gravy. The other food went back into the oven to keep warm. It was when I started carving the bird that I realized I had a problem. At first, the meat just seemed moist and lovely. Un-turkey-like, one might say. But gradually, I realized that the darn thing wasn’t fully cooked. And it was past dinner time. After thirty seconds of cartoon-like panic, I started placing the carved meat in glass bowls for microwaving.
I must digress. When we got our new appliances, the microwave was too large for its usual spot. So we put it on a counter with no wall behind it. To operate it one must cradle it firmly, like an uncooperative lover, while attempting to press the door opener, also difficult. The counter was covered in glass bowls filled with meat and dressing. I was working up a sweat trying to beat the microwave into submission and save my family from a gastronomic nightmare.
The revelation came to me while I wrestled with my problem. Three days of -30 weather with the turkey parked on a garage shelf had caused my problem. It was a very large bird. And there was no room at the inn. I mean the freezer. It probably took four hours in the oven just to thaw out.
But at last all was ready, and I’m happy to say that no one got sick. So if you ever consider keeping your turkey in the garage, check the forecast. If you live in Manitoba, you may have a problem. On the other hand, half the turkey was left on the bone, and it made the loveliest broth.