Turkey Day came almost two months after Thanksgiving. The meal was tasty, the timing was just about right, with the only menu item requiring reheating being the oven-roasted veggies. And the dinner guest brought in flowers in a vase and meal accompaniments—oranges, cranberry sauce, and Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake.
It'd been a few years since I decided to roast a turkey—maybe since I underwent a long period of being unemployed and had lots of time on my hands during the holidays. Another year, the refrigerator konked out about a week or so before Thanksgiving. Mercifully, it died before I bought all sorts of food in preparation for the holiday. We went out to a standard-fare TDay meal, reasonably tasty and economical. (Burp!) Brought the dessert home. (Burp more!)
I'd tried using a rotisserie at least once, as I'd mentioned in "Holiday Gadgets to Inspire or Not". I was almost tempted to retry that method this time, as I spotted some frozen turkeys at my supermarket last week that came VERY close to the 10-pound maximum for the appliance. However, my brain kept retrieving that video image from a few years ago of the turkey thump thump humping against the window with every rotation shortly after the start of roasting.
I had considered a week before the dinner that turkeys for sale would be frozen. I recalled that frozen ones seemed to require about four days to thaw in the refrigerator. One source said 24 hours for every 4 pounds, another said a day for every 5 pounds.
When it came to deciding how long to roast, I consulted a BIG-NAME paperback cookbook, which recommended 4 to 4 1/2 hours for a turkey 8 to 12 pounds. The turkey label, however, recommended 2 3/4 to 3 hours for the same weight turkey. What a time difference between the two sources!
The store excursion for the bird made me rethink about roasting a turkey after the holidays, as they were all frozen. Brrrrr!!!!! They were in a vertical, reach-in frozen food case and awkward to turn for viewing the weight and price. After turning over maybe 10 of them and finding most were slightly over 10 pounds and a couple about 18 pounds, I settled on one that weighed slightly more than 11 pounds.
I brought the bird home and made room for it in the fridge to thaw for 4 days. Settled on using a roasting pan because its oblong shape fit better in the fridge than a round pan. Almost thought about using that pan for the roasting. By the time I washed the bird on the 4th day, removed the giblets and neck, which were in different parts of the bird, I decided I'd go ahead with the round pan and lifter method.
After washing the bird, placing it in the round pan and latching the lifter ends, spraying some spray oil, and starting the roasting process (325° preheated oven), I fretted over whether to roast the veggies (celery, onions, carrots, crookneck squash, zucchini) at the same time or start them later. My sense of experience thought that three hours would be excessive, so decided shorter was better.
After an hour of prepping the veggies—cutting, washing, peeling as appropriate, I distributed them into the already-heating pan. More spray oil, including on the veggies. Some foil over the drumsticks and sternum. A second hour passed. More spray oil over everything.
About 2 1/2 hours of the bird roasting in the oven, I saw that the thermometer reading was fast approaching the poultry-done temperature. I turned the oven down to 300°. (The project manager in me told me it was time to start the brown rice, which has a cooking time of 35-45 minutes.) After about another half hour, the temperature already read slightly past done. OK, it was time to shut the oven off, remove the pan, and set it out for the half-hour recommended time for juices to set.
It was time to start the gravy, starting with making the roux (heating flour and oil together in a frying pan) for making gravy. The turkey lifter was handy for raising the bird so I could easily scoop broth for making the gravy with. Yum!!!!
The veggies cooled down, so I scooped the veggies with some of the broth into a Pyrex bowl and microwaved them. Afterward, I strained most of the fluid into the gravy. About the time our guest took pix, I thought hmmm, maybe I could get an article out of the event if one of the pix looked suitable. The profile view is the one I picked for the pixstrip. Amazing to me is that everything came out ready when they were supposed to. And, yes, yummy!
During the meal, our guest mentioned her attempt to prepare a turkey dinner one summer day. She was unhappy with the results—dry, weird tasting, and some other unsavory adjectives. I wondered if maybe the turkey she bought had somehow thawed and refroze before she bought it. The wrapper might also have had a hole that allowed freezer burn or odor contamination. The caution might be to buy and cook turkeys around the winter holidays when turkeys are plentiful in coming to market.
Well, I think I will roast turkeys more often than once every few years. The more often I do them, the more easy it will be to remember what to do. And I'll have blog articles like this one to remind me. :-)
Read a different type of Thanksgiving story ("Mom & A Thanksgiving Turkey: Story"). Her family's turkey flew out of the oven as though it were possessed.